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Sat, Jun 21st - 9:13AM

See Where Jell-O Can Lead

Let’s talk Jell-O. I just asked a friend for a recipe. Do you remember that Lime Jell-O salad with pineapple, cottage cheese and nuts? Now, my mother never made it, that I remember, but I’ve had it over the years and love it. The Fourth of July is bringing a large gathering so I’m planning food. Why not that Lime Jell-O dish?


My Mom, Grandma, and aunts never seemed to make that “fancy” lime Jell-O, but we ALWAYS had a Jell-O dish at family gatherings. And, we all loved Jell-O. My Mom would most often make raspberry Jell-O (we had a lot of raspberries). She’d put berries and bananas and marshmallows in it -- always marshmallows. Sometimes it would be topped with whipped cream. 


My husband recalls that his Mom made lime Jell-O but always with fruit cocktail and grapes. If company were coming she would, at times, make strawberry Jell-O and stir in sliced strawberries.


Being a Baby Boomer there have been so many food innovations in my life, I’m jaded. Emerging products, like Jell-O, must have been fun for our mothers. As a teenager, I remember loving the pizza in a box. (My family had never made pizza before and there were no chain restaurants, only a place called Pelton’s Pizzeria in our town to which we never went.) The pizza in a box (my husband thinks it was made by Chef Boy Ardee, I'm not sure) had a package of flour to which you added water (somehow the yeast was already in it or something) and a can of pizza sauce with bits of pepperoni or whatever. And, I think, some Parmesan cheese – geez I can’t remember now. It did, though, bring pizza to our house and I remember making it myself. That was remarkable because I never cooked. How did my folks let me get away with that?


Today we take pizza for granted, Chinese food (again, available only in one place in my town in the 1950’s, a restaurant called The Oriental) and could you imagine Sushi Bars emerging in mid-century small town America? 


1950’s summer gatherings in my small western town would produce some amazing, though basic, food. Fried chicken (juicy, crispy, yummy fried chicken), potato salad, Jell-O salad, condiment plate (stacked with deviled eggs, dill and sweet pickles, green olives stuffed with pimentos, black olives that you could put on your finger tips, celery stuffed with pimento cream cheese from those little jars), baked beans, Cole slaw with pineapple, and here’s a weird one my husband’s Mom used to make - Angel food Cake it’s hole stuffed with grapes, walnuts, miniature marshmallows, bananas, pineapple and whipped cream. My husband’s family would have rolls. I can’t remember bread at our summer gatherings. There must have been – white bread fans that they were. Oh, wait, now I remember. I had an aunt named Neola who was famed among the family for her rolls – they would have Neola’s rolls. My husband remembers his Mom for very special gatherings would get ten pounds of shrimp (yeah, but they were from Las Vegas – close to California and you know those Californiaites). No form of seafood appeared at any of my family dinners. Oh wait, I lie. There was sometimes my Mom’s lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise salad with a can of shrimp in it. My husband’s Mom’s dressing for lettuce salad, like my Mom’s, was mayonnaise. Sometimes, though, his Mom would add catsup to the mayonnaise and call it Thousand Island dressing. My Mom never thought of that.

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June 2008
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