by Lorna Collins
Recipes at the end of this post.
In August of 1998, we moved to Japan to build the Universal Studios Japan theme park in Osaka. Prior to our move, we had hosted six Japanese students in our home. One of the perks of living there was the opportunity to see our ‘kids.’
On Thanksgiving, we invited our Japanese daughter, Yuka, and her friend, Yoko, to enjoy a real American-style dinner. However, actually preparing the meal was quite a challenge, especially making the pumpkin pie.
At first, I had thought about making Larry’s family favorite, Auntie Wanda’s Pumpkin Pie. But there were some ingredients, like molasses and condensed milk, impossible to get on short notice. I also hadn’t seen any heavy whipping cream or solid shortening for a crust. Instead, I decided to make my Aunt Muriel’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie. In anticipation of the holidays, I had already ordered some prepared graham cracker and shortbread crusts and a case of canned pumpkin from the Foreign Buyers’ Club, our source for American products. The only problem was we had to order a case, and we had to place our order a month or more in advance.
I had packed a couple of boxes of Cool Whip, and I was certain I had taken several boxes of instant vanilla pudding necessary for this recipe. I was in the middle of making the pies when I discovered I didn’t have any. And there was no option of running to the market to get it.
So I made my favorite custard filling recipe from scratch and added the pumpkin to it. The result wasn’t as firm as it should have been, but it tasted good. At least, the girls said they enjoyed it.
Aunt Muriel’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
1 pkg. Dream Whip
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup milk
instant vanilla pudding
1 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
baked pie shell or graham cracker crust
Prepare Dream Whip with 1/2 cup milk and vanilla. Combine 1 cup with instant pudding. Add 2/3 cup of milk, pumpkin and spices. Beat thoroughly. Mix about 1 minute. Put in pie shell. Cool for two hours and serve topped with remaining Dream Whip.
The following year, I planned better and made sure I had all the necessary ingredients for a real pumpkin pie. Auntie Wanda’s recipe was a tradition in my husband’s family. I not only made one for Thanksgiving, but I made several others during the holidays. Our Japanese friends did not like sweet desserts. They hated fudge! But they loved pumpkin pie.
Auntie Wanda’s Pumpkin Pie
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 can (29 oz.) pumpkin
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup undiluted evaporated milk
2/3 cup half & half
1 tablespoon molasses
2 unbaked pie shells (9” each)
Combine ingredients in order given. Pour into pie crusts. Bake in preheated 425? oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350?. Bake 40-50 minutes more or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool. Serve topped with whipped cream.
I included the challenges of making American food in our memoir of living in Japan, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park.
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