Making Pies in Iowa's "American Gothic" House
Beth left Iowa after high school to make a life in Portland, Los Angeles, New York and Germany. On a college bike tour, she got caught snatching apples from the Washington orchard of an old pastry chef, who then took her in as a pupil in the art of making pie. Later, she landed a job in a Malibu, California, bakery making pies for the likes of Spielberg (coconut cream) and Streisand (lemon meringue). "The shop asked what my qualifications were for making pie," she says. "I told them, 'I'm from Iowa,' and they hired me."
A few years later, she found herself a widow at 48, mourning the sudden death of her husband, Marcus. Casting about for emotional moorings, she returned to Iowa in August 2010 to judge a pie contest and stumbled across the American Gothic house in Eldon. It stood 15 miles from where she grew up--and was available for rent from the State Historical Society of Iowa. "It was adorable and instantly recognizable," she says. "The next thing I knew, I was moving in."
(The house actually has two Gothic windows; Beth's lease requires her to keep light lace curtains in the famous front one.)