Salads – Lime Jello Mold

Merry Christmas! 

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 Therefore this is the chief article, which separates us from all the heathen, that you, O man, may not only learn that Christ, born of the virgin, is the Lord and Savior, but also accept the fact that he is your Lord and Savior, that you may be able to boast in your hear:  I hear the Word that sounds from heaven and says:  This child who is born of the virgin is not only his mother’s son.  I have more than the mother’s estate; he is more mine than Mary’s, for he was born for me, for the angel said, “To you” is born the Savior.  Then ought you to say, Amen, I thank thee, dear Lord. (From Martin Luther’s sermon on Luke 2)

Lime Jello Mold 

This recipe (p. 12) comes from Donna H., who made several great contributions to the cookbook. It’s a tasty treat! I used sugar free lime jello and boiling water instead of the heavy pear syrup.

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It didn’t take long for it to set up. Delish! Thank you, Donna!

Salads – Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Cooking Fail

So on Sunday afternoon, I was feeling like cooking or baking, and now with all of the cookies finished (more to come soon on that), I thought I’d work ahead for Thanksgiving and make Donna H.’s Strawberry Pretzel Salad (p. 15). Before I settled on making the salad, though, I had a fairly epic baking failure.

So at the last cooking club, these cooking geniuses all showed up at the library with their amazing Thanksgiving dishes to inspire our own holidays. One woman brought Parker House Rolls. They melted in your mouth–like butter! They were so delicious!

I said to someone, “I’m not sure I’m brave enough to try this recipe,” and my friend responded, “What’s there to be afraid of? You’ve got the recipe all laid out for you.”

Well, there’s a lot to be afraid of when you’re kind of a disaster-waiting-to-happen like me.

Recently, I heard a description of what happens when an airplane crashes. Most of the time, the author said, the pilot is blamed for the final mistake, but often the fault can be laid at a series of small mishaps and errors made by a variety of people. The co-pilot might spill his coffee on the control panel, and then when the tech is called in, he doesn’t notice that another part of the panel shorted out. Once aloft, they run into a storm, and lightning strikes the plane. This isn’t always a big deal, but because part of the controls were already compromised, it causes major problems. And then when the pilot turns left instead of right, an engine fails, and the flight is doomed.

I think this is how it is with most things, and is definitely true for me in my cooking when one mistake after another piles up to a giant snowball of cooking failure.

My first error? I didn’t study the recipe carefully to see how much yeast to buy. So I was trying to do my best to halve the recipe.

My next task after figuring out the math was to proof the yeast. So I heated water to the just-right temperature, between 110-120 degrees. I heated it in the microwave for a little too long, so I added some cold water, and bam–I got 118 degrees. Okay, ready!

So I dumped my yeast packets in the water and started stirring, only after I realized I had not measured the water. I had dumped all of my yeast into what amounted to about 3 times the amount of water I needed. Sheesh…

Well, there went that recipe down the tubes.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

So, instead, I decided to make the strawberry salad (p. 15). I assumed when I started this recipe that it was similar to the strawberry cream cheese salad my family makes, which is basically a strawberry jello salad with chunks of cream cheese added. Yum.

But this one is more of a layered deal. First step is to crush the pretzels. I just sort of squooshed them in a plastic bag. Hopefully I got them crushed enough.

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Then, combine pretzels with some sugar and butter. By the way, butter is not in this recipe, so I added 4 T, and that seemed to be enough. Press the mixture into the bottom of a pan (I used a 9×9 pan and only made 3/4 of the recipe since our family is small) and bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 min.

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Then the creamy layer of sugar, whipped topping, and cream cheese is added. This layer could definitely be lightened up. It calls for a full cup of sugar–I think half of that would do just fine.

 

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This layer is followed by the frozen strawberries and jello.

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And here’s the finished product. Looks great, eh? Once is sets, it’ll be perfect for our Thanksgiving dinner, along with cranberry sauce.

Salad – Red Hot and Applesauce Salad

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Don’t you love this tag line? “Delicate. Delightful. Dainty.” Yes. My wiggly, wobbly jello is oh-so dainty.

I’m now deep into the salad portion of the cookbook, and honor-bound by all that is good and holy to devote an entire post to Jell-O.

Jell-O actually dates back to 1845, but was not popularized until the turn of the 20th century. It’s kind of an endearing story. A carpenter was experimenting with creating a cough remedy when he came across a formula that turned into a gelatin dessert. He gave it to his wife, May and named it “jell-o.” He sold the recipe to a businessman in 1899, who was more successful at selling the product to the public. But at its heart, Jell-O is a story about a husband creating a sweet dessert for his wife.

I found two interesting books at Elmhurst Public Library on vintage recipes. One, The American History Cookbook by Mark H. Zanger, refers to a cookbook from 1895 in which is a recipe for “Pyramid Jellies.” The directions encourage use of “liqueur glasses with tall but not recurved sides” in which to mold the jellies. Pretty photos of tall, pyramid-like jelly molds accompany the recipe. Now, this was before the days of Jell-O, so it’s not hard to understand why cooks around the turn of the 20th century latched onto Jell-O so readily.

I counted 8 recipes in the Salad section of the cookbook that call for Jell-O. Today’s recipe is from Kim L. and includes lemon jello, red hot cinnamon candies, and thick applesauce. I’m curious to see what the consistency will be since it sounds like everything melts together.

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I accidentally bought only one package of lemon jello, so I halved the recipe. It took longer than I expected for the red hots to melt. Here they are not quite melted.

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So I transferred the mixture to a plastic bowl and put them in the microwave for about a minute. That did the trick. Once they melted, I added the applesauce and chilled.

The jello came out perfectly after a night’s chilling in the frig. Sad to say that it got mixed reviews from my family, but I liked it. It tasted kind of lemony/cinnamony/appley all at the same time. Give it a shot the next time you have a family gathering and see if your guests can guess the secret ingredient (the red hots!).

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If you don’t know about Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, do yourself a favor and give yourself an education. I searched to see if he featured Jell-O in any of his church skits, and sure enough, found one.

Oh, Jell-O, you are the unsung hero of every church social, potluck, and ladies’ luncheon. And we owe our debt of gratitude to a carpenter from LeRoy, New York who made something sweet for his girl.

Salad – Corned Beef Salad

The recipes I love the most are the ones passed down from my mom and grandmother. I’ve already touched on those in my cookie posts.

But sometimes our expectations of grandma’s recipes are different from actuality. We pull a yellowed, stained card from our grandmother’s recipe box and think we’ll find a no-fail pie crust, a savory beef stroganoff, or a well-loved chicken pot pie. But we may be surprised.

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How ’bout we throw a tossed salad together and mold it into orange jello, yeah, that’s a good idea!

Today’s recipe is corned beef salad (p. 9). I found a funny post about corned beef jello, not too far off from this one. And here’s one about shrimp frosted jell-o. Yikesies.

Grandmas’ recipes seem like they should be filled with heavy cream, butter, and yumminess.

But it seems our mothers and grandmothers in the middle of the 20th century veered off onto an odd tangent. I mean, come on: meat and jello?

Today, the official Jell-O website only touts the food as a snack or dessert–not a main dish. So, I guess our tastes have changed.

Still, I must say I tried this corned beef salad at a gathering in December, and it was pretty good. Nancy remembers her mother making this for ladies’ lunches at her home, and she pulled it into our gathering that evening because it fit with the theme of the night of southern food.

What I love about including all of these interesting recipes is the way they’ve come to us. Nancy has fond memories of her mother serving this dish, however odd it may seem to our sensibilities about jello. And besides, this recipe gives the salad section of our cookbook character.

I’m working on some other posts about vintage recipes, so I’ll touch on this subject more later.

And…

…wait for it…

…an entire post about Jell-O is coming your way! I knew you’d be excited.