‘Pie Lady’ turns family recipe into tasty claim to fame
She’s the Pie Lady of Crescent Bar.
Just ask her physical therapist, or her neighbors, or her husband, Bob, (not the baseball coach, his dad), who says people probably point at him and say “there goes the husband of the Pie Lady.”
In real life, her name is Elaine Duda, but she has earned her moniker, and then some, by baking hundreds of pies during the past decade.
Banana cream, blueberry, strawberry-rhubarb, mixed berry, and of course, apple, are in this 81-year-old’s tasty repertoire of flavors. She has also tried her hand at the salty side of things, with chicken pot pies, but most of her creations appeal to a sweet tooth.
“I haven’t really gotten to selling chicken pot pies to people yet,” she said.
A former member of the Red Hat Society, she says she started baking pies for a Fourth of July celebration with her chapter of the society.
“The Red Hat ladies would do a bake sale after the parade and that’s how it started,” she said.
After the group disbanded, Duda said that she never forgot how well-liked her pies were during the bake sale, so she started making pies on her own.
“My friends here in Crescent Bar would come to the door and ask if I had any pies,” she said. “Sometimes in a long weekend, I would make 10 to 15 pies.”
Duda’s pie-making happens thanks to one single oven, where she snugly fits three pies at a time, mainly during the warm-weather months. It takes a lot of standing-up to make those pies, she says, and in addition, Crescent Bar has a lot more people when the weather is warm. She bakes a few during the colder months, but she’s busiest in the middle of the year.
Rain or shine, oven on or off, the nickname stuck.
“I didn’t set out to become the Pie Lady,” she said. “But I have become the Pie Lady.”
In places as far as Arlington, about an hour north of Seattle, friends of her daughter know her as the Pie Lady.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun for me to know that people want my pies,” said Duda, who says a good pie “is all about the crust.”
She learned how to make pies from her mother. A native of Canada, Duda said there’s no secret ingredient, but it’s kind of a Canadian pie crust.
“People here aren’t into making homemade stuff,” she said. “Before I moved from Canada, I never used to buy cake mix. Canadians are more (into) homemade stuff.”
An American citizen, and a resident of the U.S. since the late 1960s, she openly cheers for her concoctions (“They are all good,” she says when asked to pick a favorite) but says that making the pies and selling them is as far as she ever intended to go.
“What I do is what I do,” she said. “That way, if I want to quit, I can quit easily.”
Despite the fact that there will never be a Pie Lady Bakery, Duda says she’s quite content.
“I like being known as the Pie Lady,” she said. “It’s kind of my claim to fame.”
By Sebastian Moraga, firstname.lastname@example.org