Our Family Table Event with Smucker’s

Well everything was going just swimmingly but alas, I am stuck in Chicago. It’s a long story. We could share airline woes all day long, but I’m trying to keep my cool. Speaking of which, I have a great new ice cream recipe courtesy of Eagle Brand! I’ve discovered the soothing qualities of having an Uncrustable in one’s purse and I’ve renewed my relationship with Crisco. We were on the rocks for a time due to so much hype about butter, but I do love a pie crust made with a little shortening and I’m going to stop apologizing for it! Baker’s use it.

Anyhow, I managed to somehow delete my post from yesterday via a boring app technicality (or my failure to use said app effectively), so here are some more photos from the trip.

Smucker's store

As I mentioned before, the headquarters, located in a little town outside of Akron called Orrville, has a nice little general store where they sell just about anything under the Smucker’s umbrella. You can bet that a lot of people in the nearby area shop there and that it’s a great place to bring tourists. Since Smucker’s owns Pillsbury’s baking aisle products (cookie mix, frosting, etc.) the Doughboy was well represented.

But we didn’t just go to Smucker’s to shop. We tasted all kinds of Millstone, Folger’s and Duncan Doughnuts Coffee, made pie crusts and learned tips on how to do it better, visited the sensory and research labs and met the scientists (the ones who listen to Christmas music all year round) and got to know the test kitchen staff as they guided us through lessons on how to be a barista and get this — BAKING COOKIE! Yes, I learned to bake cookies yesterday. Seriously, it was fun baking with real test kitchen people and having access to brand new recipes. This is a Banana Bran Cookie made with bananas, bran flakes and a base made of homemade cookie mix, which you make yourself and use a myriad of ways. I’ll be sharing that recipe when I get back home to Texas.

Yesterday I also mentioned we made Eagle Brand ice cream and I was skeptical as to how it would taste. A few of you mentioned you’d tried it and loved it and others said they thought not using an ice cream maker would make it grainy and/or it would taste like condensed milk. After letting the ice cream sit in the freezer all night, I can tell you that it was not grainy but rather ultra-smooth and indulgently rich. You can kind of taste the condensed milk, but only in the vanilla. Most people who made ice cream yesterday added all kinds of flavorings to theirs. Also, since you start with soft ice cream, you don’t have to soften it before adding it to pies or molds. You just whip it up and pour it in the pan! When I get home I’m going to try making a Neapolitan loaf with three kinds of mint.

All in all it was an exciting trip and I have lots more (and better) photos to post. Since I’m on a sketchy wireless connection I’m going to post this now.

Feel free to comment, as I loved the last comments about Ohio, condensed milk, etcs. Plus, I need comments to keep me company here in Chicago. Also, if you have some time I’d be interested in knowing what fat you use in your pie crust. I go back and forth between butter and shortening and sometimes I combine the two.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I think you’re smart enough to know this, but the trip and all its related expenses were paid for by Smucker’s. Since I’ve been using their products for the past 30 something plus more years, I was happy to go!

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  1. says

    Did you get “buzzed” from all the caffeine? I am a decaf or no caf drinker…while visiting my mom in the hospital a few weeks ago I had some “decaf” in the waiting room (the movable sign in front of the pot said decaf) and then later when I went back for more the sign was in front of the other pot..needless to say I was up for 24 hours!
    I am glad to hear the condensed milk ice cream gets a thumbs up!!! Can’t wait for the recipe post!! I think you could show those testers a thing or two about baking cookies!!! I usually use Pillsbury refrigerated crust or make an oil crust…my crusts are nothing to write home about..
    I hope Chicago airport has a lot of stores to shop…

  2. says

    Gloria, Smucker’s is like a coffee wonderland so yes, I think I was a little buzzed. Nicole from Baking Bites really enjoyed the Bustelo (a Cuban coffee) and a lot of others enjoyed the Folger’s Black Silk. My favorite is the Dunkin Doughnuts coffee, which Smucker’s has the license to sell. I bought a few bags in their store to take home.

    About your pie crusts, it’s no myth that people feel intimidated by the thought of making it. I’ve been making it for years and have dozens of recipes, but what I really needed was a pro to show me the little details that help the process. It’s a science, but since flours vary by brand and weather conditions affect how much flour you need, and people handle dough differently, it’s also an art.

    I’m going to add some links to the recipes when I get back. The test kitchen people were great. Baking with the other bloggers was interesting as well, since most of us bake by ourselves or with little kids. I kept talking to my partners like I would a ten year old.

  3. Diane Turley says

    Hope your travels today are timely. I always go back to my basic pie pastry recipe from my baking class in college, using shortening. (back when home ec was a major) I prefer the flakiness and flavor of crust made with shortening.
    I love Eagle Brand Condensed Milk in anything, looking forward to the ice cream recipe.

  4. says

    Sorry to hear you’re stuck, and extra sorry to hear that your post got deleted. That would drive me absolutely crazy (I back everything up 3 or 4 times just in case… :).. especially since my hard drive failure earlier this year).
    I’m a lard guy for pie crusts, mostly because this is what my aunt uses for her butter tarts, and they’re terrific crusts (not to mention it’s the only pie crust I have had any success with). Lard has gotten a bad wrap, but if you take a look it’s better for you than butter AND it produces the flakiest pie crusts :). I’m actually planning on making some pie crusts this weekend, I need a way to use up a few sugar pumpkins :). Oh… and man I love coffee :).

  5. says

    I’ll fess up and tell you that I almost always make pie crusts with Crisco. I love the flakiness and how the dough handles. It’s just about the only thing I use shortening for but after testing a lot of other recipes I have to say I prefer Crisco crust. One exception is pie crust made with real lard, not the sticks or chunks you find now in grocery stores but the old fashioned stuff you can sometimes find at a meat locker. That stuff makes an awesome crust if you can find it. One time I made pie crust with duck fat and that was pretty awesome too, but I think I used it for a savory crust.
    Are you at O’hare? I haven’t spent time there in years due to on time flights, but I’ve heard they have some cool art. If you have time you might see what you can find? Sorry you’re stuck!!

  6. says

    I cannot make a decent pie crust. It is the one thing I always just buy from the Doughboy. I have tried the condensed milk ice cream method and I loved it–did not try vanilla, however.

  7. says

    Thanks for the comments! You all have cheered me up.

    And just to clarify, I’m stuck in Chicago but stuck in the airport Hilton with a fresh cup of coffee so life is good.

    Diane, I mentioned this yesterday but accidentally deleted my post. Eagle Brand is going to have a pull top! I think the new cans came out two weeks ago. Not sure if they’re on the shelves everywhere quite yet.

    Adam, you are so right about lard! I need to order some good Leaf Lard off the Internet. Crisco is so much easier to find, though. As for coffee, I don’t know what I would do without it. So grateful to those goat herders in Europe who noticed their goats got frisky eating the beans. Seriously. What if they just ignored it?

    Sue, duck fat?? Wow, could you taste the duck in the pie? Duck fat would be perfect for a black bird pie, wouldn’t it? Oh no. My coffee is kicking in.

    Angela, thanks for the review of that ice cream. Yes, I could taste the condensed milk in the vanilla version, but it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Plus, it gave me an idea to make a Tres Leches flavored ice cream. Nicole suggested making Tres Leches ice cream and swirling Dulce de Leche through it. chocolate would also be good.

    Thanks again for the comments. I’m reading all of them.

  8. CindyD says

    I make oil pastry pie crust from a recipe in an old Good Housekeeping cookbook. I think even flour is dried in the desert because I usually need to add more water than called for to make the dough rollable.
    You made me miss Ohio! We once bought a pie from some Amish at the turn to Orville on Route 30. It was awful! – all liquid, very little fruit in the filling.

  9. says

    The duck fat crust didn’t taste like duck but it was really rich and golden with a unique crispiness and as I recall it was slightly salty but in a good way. No one left so much as a crumb anywhere! If you ever make duck, save the fat. It has a variety of good uses.

  10. Darlene says

    I’m looking forward to the homemade cookie mix that can be used as a base for various cookies that you mentioned. Judging from the Banana Bran Cookie you show, we will be able to combine a wide variety of cookie flavors to use with it.
    Have a safe trip home.

  11. says

    Anna, I’m sorry you’re stuck! I used bacon fat once when I was making a savory pie and found the bacon flavor gave the pie a nice touch 🙂
    I’ve used blue cheese as the “butter” for puff pastry before as well, and that went well as a pizza base!
    But normally, it’s a mixture of butter and Crisco… 2/3 butter to 1/3 Crisco, both always ice cold before going into the flour mixture. Oh, and a little white wine vinegar as well.
    Love your goat herder story; is that real?!

  12. Louise says

    Duck fat makes great fried potatoes. 🙂 Actually, Crisco makes great fried potatoes too, as well as some other things, such as pie crust.

    Sorry to hear you are stuck in Chicago, but it could be far worse. I’d hate to tell you some of the places I’ve been stuck. 🙂

  13. says

    Hello from Gate C4. The 3G here is awesome!

    Cindy, was it a grape pie? I think I saw a picture of one of those.

    Sue, I can’t see myself ever making duck, but I’d buy a jar of duck fat if someone convinced me it was awesome.

    Darlene, it’s probably on Crisco.com, but I’ll find the link for you when I get home. It makes a great gift.

    Jen, I’d probably be more apt to try bacon fat than duck. Goat herder story is totally true (so far as I know).

    Louise, I had duck fat fries once in Las Vegas and thought I could taste the duck. It was was all in my mind, though. I’ll bet you have some great airport stories.

  14. Carol says

    Anna, sorry you are stuck in Chicago. I was stuck on the way home from my husband’s interview out here by Pittsburgh 6 years ago. We got on an evening flight, started to taxi and felt like we hit something on the ground. We stopped, waited, got off the plane, waited some more and then were bussed home to Peoria, IL and arrived at 1 or 2 am. Both of us had to go to work the next day. Luckily my sister-in-law was happy to keep our boys for an extra night.

    For pie crust-I use Crisco, a small egg and a 1/2 tablespoon of vinegar for a really good crust. I have had a couple of people tell me it is the best crust they have ever had. I think the recipe came with a pie plate from Longerberger.

  15. Brenda Berndt says

    Taught pastry making 30 years ago by a pastry chef in the Navy. He made me make pastry at least 10 times-until I learned the feel of the dough. I prefer to use hands over Cuisinart-can feel when the moisture is correct-like Play-Dough.I use 1.5 c. flour to 4 oz. lard and 3/4 oz. (1.5 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, 3/4 t. salt and 3 Tablespoons cold water.

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