The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Everybody Has a Story

October 20, 2010

A Pie-O-Neering family

QUINLAN — Lisa Arnold has always been a cook, inheriting her skills from her mother and, in turn, passing those skills on to her daughter, Shannon.

Now Arnold has concrete proof of her bakery skills, along with her family’s creation of award-winning recipes, in the form of a first place prize in the State Fair of Texas Pillsbury Pie Baking Championship, which she won with her Fresh Berry Custard Pie.

Arnold was born here in Greenville, where she remained until moving to West Tawakoni in 1969. She married in 1971 and one year later opened her beauty shop, the Magic Mirror.

“I’ve been a hairdresser for a hundred years, but I’ve always been a cook,” said Arnold.

Arnold’s father worked at a flour mill as she was growing up and her mother stayed home with the kids, baking pies and selling them to friends and neighbors in order to supplement the family income.

“My mother was an excellent cook,” she said. “My daddy remarked on how lucky he was because his mother was a good cook, his wife was a good cook and his daughter was a good cook. Of course, he died before getting a chance to sample Shannon’s cooking.”

Shannon had a lot to do with Arnold’s entering the contest, as Shannon herself was ineligible to compete.

“Last year Shannon entered the fair’s pie contest and took first place with her buttermilk pie,” said Arnold. “In April, she opened a pie store called Just Pie here in Tawakoni. All her recipes are family recipes from the 1940s and 1950s.”

Now that Shannon is considered to be a professional, she is no longer illegible to enter the contest.

“I decided that I would enter because they’re our recipes and regardless of whether she makes them or I make them, if they’re prize-winning recipes they’re prize-winning recipes,” said Arnold. “So, I did and we took first prize in the Pillsbury contest with my Fresh Berry Custard Pie.”

Arnold also entered itin the fair’s pie contest, earning it an honorable mention, along with an apple cranberry pie, a sugar free coconut cream pie and a blueberry lemon pie, none of which placed.

“You would not believe the competition at these things,” said Arnold. “There were 289 pies, the most that had been entered since the 1960s. I didn’t count the pies in the Pillsbury contest, but there were quite a lot entered there as well.”

One of the requirements to enter the Pillsbury Pie Baking Championship was to use Pillsbury pie crust in the creation of the pie. This was no problem for Arnold.

“Now, I’ll tell you the truth,” said Arnold quietly. “I can’t make pie crust. Absolutely not. My pie crust is horrible. I’ve always had to use Pillsbury pie crust, but Shannon makes pie crust to die for. Mine, you can slam against the wall and it wouldn’t break.”

The prize for the first place Fresh Berry Custard Pie was an apron, ribbon and engraved pie server announcing her as the 2010 State Fair Pillsbury Pie Contest winner, along with a $200 prize and an entry into the National Pillsbury Pie Contest. A copy of her recipe has been posted on the Pillsbury Web site, along with a photo.

In addition to Arnold’s mother sharing her inherent cooking abilities, she also shares some words of wisdom that both Arnold and Shannon have taken to heart.

“There’s a saying in our family, “if you put sugar in something, you gotta put salt,’” said Arnold. “So she put a pinch of salt in all her pies. Now, my mother is 92 years old and we believe her. In fact, last year was the first she didn’t make the pecan pies for Christmas or Thanksgiving.”

Fresh Berry Custard Pie


1 package Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust, unbaked (2 crusts)


1/2 cup flour

3 cups sugar

4 cups fresh berries

4 eggs, slightly beaten

1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk (1 1/2 cups)

1 teaspoon vanilla


2/3 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place two Pillsbury pie crusts in two 9-inch pie plates. Combine flour, sugar and berries and toss to coat fruit. Divide equally into pie crusts. Mix eggs, milk and vanilla and pour equal parts over fruit.

For topping, mix flour with sugar. Cut in butter and vanilla until topping resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle crumb mixture equally over berry fillings. Bake the pies at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until done. Yields: 2 pies.

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