Fort Wayne – Just north of South Whitley on Indiana 5 sits a ranch home with a sign in the front yard that says The Pie Lady on 5.
Carlene Staller, 58, is the woman behind the business, which will mark its first year July 4.
When I started, I just sat pies on a table outside out by the road, she says. The first day I did 10 to 15 pies and they all sold. We get a lot of lake traffic, people going to the lake. This is one way to go to the chain of the Barbie lakes; there’s five or six.
Staller, the mother of five and grandmother of 14 with another expected in September, is in the middle of a major kitchen remodel. Included in the project are double ovens, which she says will be helpful when the busy season comes. She makes between one and a dozen pies a week for the business.
Thanksgiving was my busiest. (The day) before Thanksgiving, I had 23 pies I baked, she says. July to September was pretty good. When the apples come on, people want apple pie. I also make apple dumplings.
Apple pie was the first pie she made, she says.
I was dating my husband, Ross, and I wanted to make him an apple pie. I called my mother and asked her how to make a pie, she says.
Not sure how to make a pie crust, her mother told her, You’ll know. It’ll feel right.’ I didn’t know what she meant. I do now. People think it’s hard to bake pies. I love to bake pies.
Staller has a list of available pies on Facebook at www.facebook/ThePieLadyOn5. She says her best sellers are sugar cream and rhubarb cream.
And her favorite pie?
Oh, the rhubarb cream. I like it a lot, she says, smiling.
Q. What’s your favorite cookbook?
A. I do have a lot of cookbooks, but I find I don’t use them a lot. I have Brethren Bounty from Corinth Brethren Church. I tend to use the same recipes I had. We get something we like and we stick with it. I still use the Betty Crocker cookbook.
Q. What do you do to keep meals healthy?
A. I try not to fry stuff. We had a lot of fried chicken in the early days. We had chickens. We eat more salad. We cut down on fat. (It’s) hard to cut the sugar. If pies are here, they’ll eat them. We had pie every Sunday growing up. My husband had dessert at every meal (growing up). I tell him, only for company. You know how it is, if you have a pie, you go by and take a little sliver and another little sliver and another little sliver.
Q. What’s your favorite vegetable?
A. I’m not a vegetable eater. I like corn. I wish I liked more vegetables. I like raw vegetables rather than cooked. Or corn on the cob with no butter. I love it plain.
Q. Who’s your cooking idol?
A. My grandmother, the late Ruth Garshwiler. She was a good baker, too, not just a good cook. At 65, (she) bought a restaurant in Bippus and she baked pies there. They served lunch there, all from scratch. I come from a long line of bakers.
Q. What do you make for special occasions?
A. Sugar cream pie. I won’t give that recipe out, but three years ago, we had my family’s side here. I decided to give them the recipe. One of the nephews asked me, Are you going to die? We all laughed.
1 cup sugar
3 cups water, plus 1 juice can full, divided
1 (12-ounce) can frozen orange juice, thawed
5 bananas, smashed
1 (21-ounce) can crushed pineapple
1 (10-ounce) jar maraschino cherries, cut into pieces
Combine sugar and 3 cups water and stir until dissolved. Add orange juice and can of water. Add bananas, pineapple (with the juice) and the cherries (with the juice). Stir to combine. Pour into freezer-safe container and freeze. Stir occasionally, if you have the time. Thaw for about 1 to 2 hours before serving. Stir well to get the cherries mixed in as they tend to sink during freezing. Leftovers can be refrozen. Makes 16 servings.
Rhubarb Cream Pie
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup flour plus 1 tablespoon
Pinch of salt
1 cup whipping cream
2 cups fresh rhubarb or 2 1/2 cups frozen rhubarb, thawed
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine sugar, flour and salt. Stir in whipping cream. Mix. Add rhubarb. If using frozen rhubarb squeeze out the water. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Makes 8 servings.
Spinach Bow Tie Pasta Salad
12 to 16 ounces bow tie pasta
1 (16-ounce) bag baby spinach, stems removed
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup candied pecans (Recipe below)
1 cup oil
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 red onion
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
Cook pasta. Combine dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until mixed well. Pour dressing over pasta. Cover and refrigerate for a day. Before serving, add spinach, dried cranberries, cheese and pecans. Makes 20 servings.
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Mix in a small saucepan or skillet. Bring to a boil. Turn down and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes or until the syrup is mostly gone. Put on parchment paper to cool. Break up and use in salad.