Not all pumpkins meant for pie!

I wonder if Betty Crocker ever had a flop. I imagined myself as ole Betty last night when I ran a test in my kitchen. I wouldn’t say my efforts were a total failure and neither would my taste tasters, but, it was dangerously close.

This is the story of a pretty pumpkin that may not have been meant for pie!

For a donation that went to missions, we plucked a large and handsome pumpkin from the vast assortment on the lawn at Zion United Methodist Church in Grand Forks. Our pumpkin wasn’t meant for carving. Rather when it had served its purpose as a Halloween ornament, Jim wanted to toast its seeds and I wanted to bake it to use in pies. The seeds turned out great and when the “meat” of the pumpkin was oven tender, it puréed very nicely in the blender. It was, however, not a rich orange color!

Sometimes wanting to try something new and different, I found a recipe for a “No Bake Pumpkin Pie,” in the Upham (N.D.) Betterment Club Cookbook published in the 1960s. My mother loved this cookbook before she gave it to me and now I love it, too. It has a wonderful recipe for banana bread – the only one I ever use.

I’ve made lots of pumpkin pies in my day, but never a “no bake” one where you cook the filling on top of the stove instead of pouring it in a pie shell and then baking it in the oven.

Why not give a “no bake” pumpkin pie a try?

I made and baked a pastry pie crust (no store bought crusts for me) and cooked the filling on top of the stove. When both had adequately cooled, I poured the delicious filling in the pie shell (I know — I licked the spoon) and refrigerated it overnight. This morning I cut a narrow test slice for myself and Jim took the rest of the pie to his Century 21 Red River Realty office. His co-workers were warned that I had singled them out as taste testers.

The findings: The filling was very flavorful but it turned out not orange in color like pumpkin pies usually are. This was more the hue of refried beans. Plus, it did not set up firmly and was like pudding. However, the combination of the filling with the crust was delicious.

Here are three comments from Jim’s co-workers:

“Your no bake pie was very tasty,” Sandy said. “It had soft custard like texture that was a bit different than I expected from a pie. It fell apart easily, but none the less it tasted good!

Ernie said the crust “tasted good.” But, Ernie doesn’t like pumpkin pie so the fact that he tried it made me happy.

I think Laurel liked it because I’m told she said, “yummy yummy,” all the while eating it.

I’m thinking that my large and handsome pumpkin may have been the kind meant for making Jack O’Lanterns and not for pie purposes. I read today that the smaller sugar pumpkins are better for pie.

I’m not going to give you the recipe I used, but rather one for “No Bake Pumpkin Pie,” that I found online. I’m going to be brave and try it tomorrow with canned pumpkin. And, I want to give you my sister, Lori’s, pie crust recipe that is unbelievably easy, delicious and perfect for pumpkin and pecan pies.

LORI’S PIE CRUST

Put the following ingredients in a pie pan, mix together well, and pat evenly on bottom and up the sides of the pan:

1 ½ cups flour
Dashes of salt
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup oil

NO BAKE PUMPKIN PIE

2 ½ cups cooked pumpkin
2 cups milk
1 ½ cups sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon ginger
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 10-inch baked pie shell

Combine all ingredients in a heavy sauce pan. Consistently stirring, bring to boil over medium heat and boil until thickened. Cool before pouring into a pre-baked pie crust. Refrigerate until eating. Enjoy!

By the way, did you know Betty Crocker never actually existed?

The Washburn Crosby Company of Minneapolis, one of the six big milling companies that merged into General Mills in 1928, received thousands of requests each year in the late 1910s and early 1920s for answers to baking questions. In 1921, managers decided that it would be more intimate to sign the responses personally; they combined the last name of a retired company executive, William Crocker, with the first name “Betty,” which was thought of as “warm and friendly.” The signature came from a secretary, who won a contest among female employees. (The same signature still appears on Betty Crocker products.)

In 1924, Betty Crocker acquired a voice with the radio debut of the nation’s first cooking show, which featured thirteen different actresses working from radio stations across the country. Later it became a national broadcast, The Betty Crocker School of the Air, which ran for twenty-four years.

Finally, in 1936 Betty Crocker got a face. Artist Neysa McMein brought together all the women in the company’s Home Service Department and “blended their features into an official likeness.” The widely circulated portrait reinforced the popular belief that Betty Crocker was a real woman. One public opinion poll rated her as the second most famous woman in America after Eleanor Roosevelt.

Over the next seventy-five years, her face has changed seven times: she became younger in 1955; she became a “professional” woman in 1980; and in 1996 she became multicultural, acquiring a slightly darker and more “ethnic” look.

Personally, I’ll bet Betty never had a flop!

Until Soon

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