With the holidays coming up, chances are your thoughts are drifting to the ultimate comfort food: pie. Apple, pumpkin, you name it; this is the time of year to truly indulge. I’ve been thinking about pie a lot over the past months, and strangely enough, it all began with a search for a long lost friend.

On a snowy afternoon last December, I idly wondered what had happened to Beth Howard. We’d met in Seattle a decade ago, hit it off, then lost touch after she moved with her new husband to Germany and I came to Wisconsin to work for Kohler.

A quick Google search revealed much more than I’d expected. The World Needs More Pie? Iowa? The American Gothic house, immortalized in the familiar Grant Wood painting? I had to know more.

I contacted Beth, and she was happy to hear from me. Yes, she was indeed living in the iconic American Gothic house. And yes, she sold pies she made herself—emblazoned with the pitchfork made famous by the painting—to tourists on the weekends. A personal tragedy had drawn her to Iowa, and her immersion in pie was a way to heal while helping others. And all the while, she was blogging about it.

I soon became a regular visitor to her blog, The World Needs More Pie, where she discusses life in the small town of Eldon, the pie classes she teaches and anything else that’s on her mind. Just as I remembered, Beth is opinionated and honest, and she doesn’t mince words. In one post last spring, she mentioned the small, crummy stainless steel sink in the American Gothic house kitchen and how she’d like to replace it.

I immediately pictured an expansive sink in a traditional yet updated style that would give Beth plenty of working space and really complement her kitchen. Our new Whitehaven™ apron-front sink and popular Vinnata® faucet turned out to be a perfect fit. The folks from Caesarstone donated the beautiful countertop in–appropriately enough—Nougat. Beth is thrilled—even more than she thought she’d be–with this beautiful new addition to her workspace.

In late August, I drove to Eldon, Iowa, to meet up with Beth again. We laughed, we cried, we talked about old times, and of course—we made pie. It was great to see the steady stream of visitors making the pilgrimage to this humble, yet uniquely American landmark—and to see their faces light up when they discovered there’s homemade pie to go along with it.

I’m so proud of Beth—of her energy, her courage, and her dedication to “pie-ing it forward” by helping others through her work. Her book, Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie, is coming out this April, and I can’t wait to read it.