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Sour cream raisin pie — the way to at least one man's heart.
Sour cream raisin pie — the way to at least one man's heart.

Friendly Competition

Jul 19, 2012

So I’ve been asked to be a judge for the Family Heirloom Recipe Competition at the South Dakota State Fair on September 2. It’ll be the first year for the contest in South Dakota, although the Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance has held similar events in other Midwestern states.

To compete, cooks share treasured family recipes that date back to before 1950. Full details are available on pages 38-39 of the state fair’s exhibit premium book. The contest is designed to teach us more about South Dakota food culture and traditions, so the history of the recipe is nearly as important as its taste. If you want to get an edge on the competition, this judge very jokingly recommends you bring pie — that’s my favorite.

It’s my grandpa’s favorite too, and the women of the family know it. In fact, the Mark ladies have been using pie to vie for the affections of Grandpa Donald for well over 60 years now. It’s been a very tasty squabble.

It all started when my grandparents were first married. My grandmother was just 19. Being relatively inexperienced in the kitchen, Maridell’s cooking could not hold a candle to her mother-in-law’s — and her new husband wasn’t afraid to tell her so. Donald’s mother was of the “a pinch of this, a handful of that” school, a naturally gifted cook with years of practice feeding her family of hungry Danes. It was a major victory when Grandma Maridell finally found something she could make better — sour cream raisin pie, her husband’s favorite dessert.

Alas, her victory was short-lived. Once her daughters came of pie-making age, they too mastered the secrets of sour cream raisin, and have been competing ever since to win their father’s heart through dessert. My mother thinks she is the champion, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Donald bestowed the ultimate compliment on whoever had most recently supplied him with pie. He’s wily that way.

Sadly, I have never made this popular recipe, so it is impossible for me offer up any advice or to elaborate on the admittedly brief instructions. I have been barred from the Mark family competition, as I am already dangerously close to being Grandpa’s favorite. It doesn't bother me, though. Sometimes you don’t have to play to win.


Sour Cream Raisin Pie

From Maridell Mark

2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cloves
1/2 cup raisins

Combine and cook in heavy pan until thick. Add to baked pie crust. Top with meringue and brown in oven. 



10:47 am - Thu, July 19 2012
Kristi Renken said:
It is way to grandpa's heart is through his stomach!! Not a battle I will win. Great story Laura!!
05:45 am - Fri, July 20 2012
*Just Fran* said:
I *LOVE* Sour Cream Raisin Pie. This recipe is very similar to the one shared with me by a local pie specialist. Judging the competition sounds fun. Wish I could join you.
10:44 am - Fri, July 20 2012
Hi Laura....I'm wondering....did that ask that I should also help with the judging? MMMMMM how I love Sour Cream Pie....
01:39 pm - Sat, July 21 2012
Marsha Peterson said:
Yes, I am one of those "Mark" ladies who compete for Dad's affections through pie baking! I thought that I had total custody of that recipe until Grandma made a little" Grandma's Favorite Recipe" album for each of the grandchildren the Christmas before she died. Making that was quite a project for her with an old word processor and minimal computer skills. It really was an act of love! A note on the recipe: go light on the cloves until you decide how much you like! As for cooking competition--according to Grandpa Donald anything that Laura makes is the best so she is in the competition!
02:37 pm - Mon, July 23 2012
Julie Scheel said:
Oh, Laura--I enjoy reading every one of your columns and this is one of the best!
You have just as good a way with words as you do with culinary delights. We've eaten that raspberry jam, you know! Thanks again for a mouth watering and heart warming story.
07:35 am - Wed, July 25 2012
Rebecca said:
Very cute story!

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