One of my favorite parts of the marathon weekend in Duluth was driving along Scenic Route 61, from Duluth to the small lakeside town of Two Harbors on Friday afternoon. The drive featured stunning views of Lake Superior, an endless expanse of crystal clear water that stretches as far as the eye can see. Along the way, large pines, small motels, and quirky antique shops dotted the roadside. Karen and I pulled off the road for a few minutes to sit on the rocky shore and take it all in. The water was calm, but the skies were quickly turning dark, a silent warning of impeding showers. We quickly snapped a few pictures, and then headed back to the car as raindrops began to fall.
After our stop, we drove a little past Two Harbors to a small diner called Betty’s Pies, which has been a popular north shore destination for over fifty years. Karen had heard about Betty’s through a friend, and thought I might like to check it out. The experience seriously made my weekend. Betty’s Pies is a very busy, classic diner with retro vinyl booths and big glass cases stocked with dozens of cream and baked fruit pies ready to order. After much debate, I chose a slice of the toffee cream pie, which was magnificent—definitely the best pie I have ever tasted. I savored every bite and quickly polished off the entire piece. Karen thinks my choice in pre-race foods may have contributed to my stomach explosion at mile 15 of the marathon the next day. I think not. That pie was nothing but goodness.
Wanting to make the same amazing pies myself at home, and also wanting to learn more about the history of Betty’s Pies, I purchased Betty’s Pies Favorite Recipes at the diner. Complete with an inscription from 82-year old Lake Superior icon Betty Lessard herself, the book features forty-five of her favorite pie recipes, and dozens of other bread, cheesecake, and pie crust recipes. Over the last few days, I’ve been devouring the text and accompanying pictures, with a keen fascination for Betty’s interesting and whimsical tales of pie making experiences and her long life on the north shore. It’s the best cookbook I've ever bought; I will certainly treasure it forever. I can’t wait to start trying to recreate the many delicious recipes. If you ever find yourself passing through Duluth, you must visit Betty’s Pies. You can also order full pies online at http://www.bettyspies.com/. For $20 plus shipping, one of Betty’s pies will arrive at your doorstep the very next day. Or you can stop at my house for a slice once I get these recipes down!