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June 24, 2003

La cuisine de Nouvelle Zion
Posted by Teresa at 04:00 PM *

Some years back, Claire Eddy came over to spend Thanksgiving with us, and while I was cooking she got to browsing through my family’s cookbook. It’s just a little spiral-bound thing my mother and my Aunt Ruth Ann Crandall put together after collecting favorite recipes from everyone in the family. As an artifact, I’m very fond of it.

Claire’s people were Hell’s Kitchen Irish Catholics for I don’t know how many generations. She’s a Manhattan girl, and to her, everything in my family cookbook was exotic. So was the Queen Creek Relief Society Cookbook. Claire kept flipping through them, looking more and more bemused. Finally, she burst out, “What is it with all the marshmallows?”

I’ve had a lot of time to think about it since then. What I’d say now is that Intermountain West Mormon cooking classifies marshmallows as a vegetable or fruit, depending on the dish in which they occur. Then, I could only shrug helplessly, and say I’d asked myself the same question a lot of times when I was growing up.

Back then I was also taught to make candle salad, only we dipped our bananas in Dream Whip and rolled them in crushed cornflakes before placing them upright in their pineapple rings and sticking half of a red maraschino cherry onto the tip. It takes a very, very clean mind to think that up.


1. Salads

Every year, I get into a misunderstanding at St. Augustine’s Pentecost parish potluck picnic. It goes like this: Partly on account of the Pentecost speaking-in-tongues thing, and partly because St. A’s has a polyglot congregation, with services in English, Spanish, and Haitian Kreol, and a parish bulletin that looks like the Rosetta Stone, Father Bob always encourages everyone to bring the food of their native land. This works out to ten or twenty variations on rice and beans, something involving short ribs in a reddish sauce, a big pan of that yummy Philippine cold noodle thing, and me with my strawberry jello fruit salad. If you want ethnic, it’s that or Funeral Potatoes; and the bright red jello looks nice for Pentecost.

The problem is that every year I absentmindedly put myself down for a salad on the sign-up sheet, and every year the ladies of St. Augustine’s take one look at what I’ve brought and declare it a dessert.

This would never happen back home. It’s jello, which is understood to qualify as salad until proven otherwise. It has fruit in it, over 50% by volume, which is also understood to have the salad nature. And it doesn’t contain coconut, Cool Whip, miniature marshmallows, or instant pudding mix, which in Zion is practically austere. The following are all considered salads:
Quick and Creamy Fruit Salad

2 14-oz. cans fruit salad
2 cans mandarin orange segments
1 can pineapple tidbits
8 oz. Cool Whip
1 c. buttermilk
1 small pkg. instant vanilla pudding

Pour all the fruit into a strainer and drain for at least two hours. Put the instant pudding and buttermilk in a bowl and mix well. Add the Cool Whip and mix again. Fold in fruit. Chill for at least one hour before serving.
Pistachio Salad

1 4-ounce pkg. instant pistachio pudding mix
1 20-oz. can crushed pineapple
1 c. miniature marshmallows
1/2 c. chopped nuts
8 oz. Cool Whip

Drain pineapple, reserving 4 T. of the juice. Mix the instant pudding with the pineapple juice. Mix in pineapple, marshmallows, and nuts, then add the Cool Whip. Refrigerate. Best if made overnight.
Orange Sherbet Salad

3-oz pkg orange gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup whipped cream
1/2 pint orange sherbet, softened
1/2 cup mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water and chill to egg white consistency. Whip with beater and fold in whipped cream. Add sherbet and remaining ingredients. Chill until ready to serve.
Mormon Pioneer Salad 1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c. vinegar
leaf lettuce, torn

Whip the cream with the sugar and salt until the mixture begins to thicken. Stir in the vinegar and then toss with torn lettuce. Makes about 1 1/2 cups dressing for the lettuce.
2. Confusion I won’t give the whole recipe for Yam, Apple, and Cranberry Crisp; I’ll just note that the family cookbook says it can be served as a side dish during dinner, or served afterward as a dessert. If an anthropologist asked me the difference, I’d say that it would be improper to put Cool Whip on top of it if it were being served as a vegetable. But really, the biggest source of confusion is that you can do things with jello that ought not be possible.
Pretzel Jello 3 c. thin pretzels
3/4 c. margarine
16 oz. cream cheese
2 c. sugar
2 pkg. Dream Whip
6 oz. strawberry gelatin powder
2 c. pineapple juice
2 c. frozen strawberries

Chop or coarsely grind pretzels and mix with 3/4 c. melted margarine. Press into a 9”×12” pan and bake for 10 minutes at 400 F. Let cool. Cream sugar together with cream cheese. Spread over pretzel crust. Whip two packages of Dream Whip and spread over the cheese mixture, reserving 1/2 cup for decoration. Heat pineapple juice to boiling and dissolve Jello powder into it. Mix in 2 c. frozen strawberries and keep stirring. When the mixture begins to jell, spoon it on top of the layers in the pan. Decorate with remaining Dream Whip when fully set. Keep refrigerated.
Jello Plum Pudding (a Christmas dessert)

1 pkg. cherry Jello
3/4 c. Grape-Nuts
3/4 c. raisins
3/4 c. cooked prunes
3/4 c. candied orange peel
3/4 c. chopped nuts
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
2 c. boiling water
a pinch of salt

Pour boiling water over Jello. When it has dissolved, add Grape-Nuts and let stand about five minutes. Stir in all the other ingredients and refrigerate until very firm. Serve with lemon sauce or whipped cream.
3. Classics

I’m missing a recipe for a Mormon classic: potato salad. I know, I know—everybody makes potato salad. Ours is different. My friend Mike Farren didn’t know his family was Mormon until he ate my mother’s potato salad and identified it as the same distinctive recipe he’d only previously known his aunt to make. He started asking around. Turned out there’d been some kind of kerfluffle in the previous generation, and his entire family had left the church and never talked about it afterward. But the potato salad remained.

Maybe Mom will send me her recipe. She makes the best. It’s right up there with Uncle John’s baked goods and Aunt Gay’s fresh peach ice cream.

As for the rest of these recipes—well, you know that thing where you add cream of mushroom soup to the string beans, then take canned onion rings and either stir them in, or sprinkle them in a layer on top? These recipes are like that. They’ll never make you brag about your culinary technique, but they will assuredly get eaten.

Missionary Dessert (also known as “Bishop’s Dessert”, for no very good reason)

1 large can fruit pie filling
1 large can crushed pineapple
1 boxed cake mix
2 sticks butter or margarine
1 c. chopped nuts

Drain pineapple. Mix with fruit pie filling. (Optionally: just use two cans of fruit pie filling.) Spread it in the bottom of a sheet cake pan. Spread the dry cake mix evenly on top of it. Sprinkle the nuts on the cake mix. Take the melted butter and thinly drizzle it all over the top of the cake mix. Bake at 350 F. for 45-60 minutes. Let cool before serving.
And, unavoidably:
Funeral Potatoes (simple)

2 tbsp. melted butter
1 can cream of chicken soup
1-1/2 lb. frozen hash browned potatoes (shredded are best)
1 c. sour cream
4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

Dump everything in a bowl, mix thoroughly, cover, and bake at 350 F. in a greased 9”×13” pan for 45-60 minutes.
Funeral Potatoes (classic)

6-8 potatoes, cooked, peeled, and grated or cubed
1/2 c. minced onion
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pint sour cream
1/2 c. grated cheese
3/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. melted butter
1 c. crushed cornflakes

Spread potatoes in a buttered casserole dish. Heat soup, sour cream, and onion in sauce pan, then pour over potatoes, but DO NOT STIR. Sprinkle cheese on top if you’re Aunt Marilyn Crandall; if you’re Julie Nielsen, mix the cheese, butter, and cornflakes together, and then sprinkle them on top. Bake at 350 F. for 30 minutes.
And that’s that. Bless all the people who weren’t here this time that they may be here next time amen.

[Recipe Index]

Comments on La cuisine de Nouvelle Zion:
#1 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2003, 06:12 PM:

Pretzel. Jello.

If James Lileks had run across this when he was compiling his Gallery of Regrettable Foods, he'd give up, shut down his site, and stick with writing columns about visiting the Mac store with his toddler.

Mind you, I'd be willing to give it a try.

#2 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2003, 06:25 PM:

"Zion" is another one of those overloaded terms, isn't it?

#3 ::: Karin ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2003, 06:34 PM:

What's eerie about the Jello recipes (well, to me, at any rate) is the strong resemblance to various Southern Alabama dishes that I grew up with. Although I'm reasonably certain that the ladies' clubs of Opp, AL never thought of putting pretzels with Jello. And the Jello Plum Pudding recipe just makes my brain hurt.

Mom still makes her cranberry-strawberry Jello salad with walnuts to accompany Christmas dinner every year. It's served in slices on an iceberg lettuce leaf.

#4 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2003, 06:40 PM:

Karin: Once, coming back from sales conference, our bus got stuck in a traffic jam in the Lincoln Tunnel approaches. I was back in the back with a couple of other Tor employees -- one good ol' gal from Tulsa, and one guy from a bitty Georgia town where they still call Jello "congealed salad". Somehow we got to talking about Jello, and could trace strong phylogenetic similarities between our home cuisines. What's the link? Very long, very hot summers. Jello doesn't heat up your kitchen, and when the weather's so hot you can't imagine eating anything hot or greasy, it looks pretty good.

#5 ::: anna ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2003, 07:21 PM:

I read this entry out loud to my roommate from Pittsburgh who, after every recipe, said, "I've had this." I said, "Are you Mormon?" and she said, "No -- white trash." Apparently these dishes are the staple for working class Protestant Pittsburghers.

She says: "The side of the family that creates these things? Totally Protestant. The Catholic side is very Victorian -- you know, here's some lettuce and cottage cheese."

This could be an interesting study.

#6 ::: Charlotte Freeman ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2003, 07:43 PM:

Oh Teresa -- thanks for the stroll down memory lane. Not Mormon myself, but after five years in SLC for grad school, well, I hold a small nostalgia for all those dear nice students of mine. Candle salad. Oh my. Brings back memories of trying to teach my sincere freshmen to deconstruct photographs ... they were sometimes reluctant to even admit subtext might exist. Candle salad. Sigh.

#7 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2003, 09:17 PM:

Candle salad, eh.... I wonder what they would make of the dish resurrected by the local SCA cooks' guild, involving two peeled hard-boiled eggs flanking a stalk of broccoli standing on its head. (Additional carving optional; either way, it was referred to as a "blatancy" since it obviously wasn't a subtlety.) Would that overload their purity filters?

A fascinating point on jello and hot-weather cultures -- it does take boiling water to make jello but I suppose that's over quickly compared to most cooking. (And did you know jello was kosher? According to a story some years ago (on the plant north of Boston that once supplied most of the powdered gelatin sold in the US) the rabbinical council determined after a visit that gelatin was so processed that it lost all trace of the animal it came from.)

My mother came from Pennsylvania-Dutch stock, which had its own peculiarities; the only place I ever knew to put poppy seeds in coleslaw was an allegedly Pennsylvania-Dutch rib place just down the hill from the old Disclave hotel. But either they don't do jello-is-a-vegetable or she left that behind when she came to DC.

#8 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2003, 09:26 PM:

My mother told me that in Germany you used to be able to get celery and woodruff flavored Jello, used for making more salad-ish style Jello salads (ie. all vegetables, no fruit).

What was truly frightening was the time her Vietnamese students from her ESL class all came to a party and brought jello salads, but Asian style, made with slightly sweetened almond flavored agar-agar and done in molds that made plaques with cherries or flowers or goldfish, all the individual colors perfectly tinted, some opaque, some translucent. They were beautiful. They also didn't taste that great, and the students only ate one, leaving us with six more.

We kept them in the fridge to show visitors, deciding that when they grew mold, we could happily throw them out.

They never grew mold, and finally we gave them away to let other people appreciate the art. We never heard of them growing mold either.

We decided that these were the Vietnamese equivalent of the fruitcake.

#9 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2003, 09:35 PM:

Kevin: Instant celery or woodruff would be great, but: Take fresh herbs of the desired sort. Make a strong solution of unflavored gelatin, keeping it quite hot. Pour the gelatin over the herbs and let it steep for a while. Strain it off and use it to make your jello.

Those Vietnamese gelatins sound fabulous, albeit nicer to look at than eat.

General question: Who here knows the trick where you put 7-Up in your jello?

#10 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2003, 09:36 PM:

Charlotte, as far as I can tell, the denial of subtext is one of the great unidentified characteristics of the church.

#11 ::: arthur ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2003, 09:40 PM:

Historical jello note: back before all the farms had electricity, refrigerators were a luxury item in rural America. Jello needs a refrigerator (at least in the Summer). How can you brag about your refrigerator to people who aren't in your home? Unlike the new truck, you can't take it along. Bring a jello to the church supper! It served a signaling function: only the wealthy carry jello around. Sort of like gold chains, not quite so obvious.

#12 ::: Stephanie Zvan ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2003, 09:50 PM:

Teresa, I read your comment about the long, hot summers and thought to myself, "Then why do we eat so much Jello in Minnesota (land of Lutheran church suppers)?" Then I came to my senses and reminded myself that it's currently close to 90 degrees and just about 100% humidity. It was nice to forget for a moment, though.

I do think, however, that the common denominator is something other than weather. It probably has more to do with close communities/congregations, where group meals and food to share are one's instant passport to family in a world where things are not supposed to be instant.

The things that these recipes have in common are ease and speed of preparation and lots of ingredients that handle long-term storage well. One only has to plan far enough ahead that the Jello can set, and one always gets to say, "Oh, I made that." It has a better ring than "I picked something up at the store." Even my ailing grandmother can contribute Jello salad to a meal and still feel she cooked for us (although I did think adding the celery was a little too salad-ish).

I, on the other hand, attend food events rarely enough that they just make a great excuse for pulling out some complicated recipe I've never made before. But hey, if it doesn't work out, I've always got Jello in the cupboard (and Dream Whip and canned fruit and mini marshmallows, oh my).

Could I please have the recipe for the crisp? It sounds like an interesting combination of flavors, but I wouldn't have a clue as to where to start with proportions or amount of sugar.

#13 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2003, 10:42 PM:

But... but... jelly (Jello brand or otherwise) has 100% desert nature and 0% salad nature. That was decided by League of Nations, ratified by the United Nations and informally agreed to by Nato.

Even North Korea doesn't break that rule. For the sake of world peace, we must have careful delineations between desert and salad. The alternative is too terrible to contemplate.

#14 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 12:16 AM:

We've got a lot of woodruff in the backyard, so may try the woodruff gelatin soon.

Was just talking with my mom about the "candle salad" and found that she'd learned to make the same as a dessert in Germany, this taught by her mother, so it goes back quite a ways. However, the German variant has no dream whip or cornflakes, and instead of the cherry at the tip, the tip is hollowed into a small well with an almond as the flame/wick. The resevoir is then filled with high proof brandy and set alight, brought into a dark room for presentation.

There's also a quarter pineapple ring put on the saucer to form the rest of the candleholder so there's much less chance of it being mistaken for something else.

Another great use for alcohol--it keeps your candle salad from looking suggestive.

On a separate note, I brew mead. I have a fairly complicated list of herbs and spices I use for metheglyn, but it turns out quite well.

#15 ::: S. Addison ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 12:25 AM:

Who here knows the trick where you put 7-Up in your jello?

[waving hand wildly, bouncing in the seat]

(Though it took all the fun out when Jell-o started producing flavors which were *meant* to have fizzy drink mixed into them.)

It's been around a decade now that I have been unable to contemplate Jell-o fruit salads without thinking of a line a friend of mine wrote into his first play: "If God had meant peaches to float above the table, he'd have filled 'em with helium."

#16 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 12:27 AM:

Here go, Stephanie --

Cranberry, Yam, and Apple Crisp


2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1-1/2 t. salt
1-1/4 t. baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter
1 egg

Mix dry ingredients, cut in butter, mix in egg, set aside.


2 med. yams, peeled, cut in 1-1/2" cubes
4 T. unsalted butter
2 lbs. Granny Smith apples, peeled, cut in 1-1/2" cubes
2-1/2 c. fresh cranberries
1-1/2 c. sugar
1-1/2 c. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 t. ground cloves
3/4 c. cornstarch
3/4 c. orange juice and zest (orig. brandy or bourbon)
1 c. heavy cream, whipped cream, or ice cream.

Saute yams in butter until soft (or steam, boil, or bake). Add remaining ingredients except cream. Butter a 9"x12"x2" baking dish. Place filling in dish, top with topping. Bake in a 400 F. oven for 45 minutes. Serve warm topped with cream.

#17 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 12:57 AM:

woodruff flavored Jello,
Oh, that sounds so good! Hmm. I bet you could do an infusion of woodruff and use regular gelatin. Hmm. I have a May Wine recipe using woodruff that might make a good jello type dish. (Note to self: remember to make pond scum at Christmas so you can have a May Wine party next spring.)

Even North Korea doesn't break that rule
Hmm, you know. I bet kimchee would work in lemon jello.

Of course Jello has salad nature as well as dessert. What else would you call orange jello with shredded carrots? (One of my childhood favorites) And that pretzel thing actually sounds nice. I like sweet and salty things together. Wonder if it's warm enough for Salty Dogs yet?


#18 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 01:11 AM:

Oh and I just realized. Marshmallows don't melt in hot weather. Well not outside Death Valley. And they're white and fluffy and cool looking.


#19 ::: Derryl Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 01:55 AM:

I still regret not getting the lime-jello-with-cottage-cheese pin that was released for the Olympics. I do have in my possession, however, a copy of my letter to the editor of the Logan Herald Journal, written during the annual Health Care Should Cover Birth Control kerfuffle, that suggests that birth control should be included in packets of jello.

#20 ::: Eleanor Rowe ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 07:41 AM:

This is fascinating. Until today I had no idea there was such a thing as Intermountain West Mormon Cooking. I have also never encountered Jello (jelly) as anything but a desert (pudding)and find the whole idea of carrots in orange jelly bizarre. We're having a family picnic at the weekend I have to make this. I would like to protest, however, that there are absolutely no circumstances under which marshmallows can be considered to be vegetables.

#21 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 07:59 AM:

Derryl, I believe I can help you with that. Some while back I found the website of a dealer who specializes in Olympic Pins. You'll want his Food and Beverage section, where there are several different Jello-themed pins for sale.

#22 ::: Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 08:22 AM:

I know it's unlikely that you'll ever be in London at a time when my daughter's school does it's regular trawl for people to bring in food that 'reflects their native culture'. But if you are, I think we could blow their minds. Ha! I laugh at your pakoras, saltfish dumplings, and chocolate rice crispy cakes. Quail before the power of Jello salad!

#23 ::: Eleanor Rowe ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 08:30 AM:

Also, re: candle salad, I have to say that, being British, I obviously have no idea what you are talking about.

I really don't know what Dream Whip is though - some kind of artificial cream?

#24 ::: Karin ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 09:20 AM:

Speaking of agar-agar, there's actually a rather interesting article about the stuff in last week's Washington Post.

The Jello-hot climate correlation makes perfect sense, of course. And I had forgotten about the lovely phrase "congealed salad".

And I was wrong about the the ladies of Opp not combining pretzels and Jello. A quick glance at the Opp Three Arts Club cookbook reveals, yes, pretzel salad, the recipe for which is nearly identical to Teresa's.

#25 ::: Mike Kozlowski ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 10:09 AM:

I looked at the first "funeral potatoes" recipe, and thought: "What! No cornflakes!" So I'm relieved to see the second recipe.

Cornflakes are as essential to those potatoes as potato chips are to tuna casserole, Ritz crackers are to broccoli-Velveeta casserole, and the dried onions are to green bean casserole. The crunchy top layer is always essential.

#26 ::: Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 10:54 AM:

"I read this entry out loud to my roommate from Pittsburgh who, after every recipe, said, "I've had this." I said, "Are you Mormon?" and she said, "No -- white trash." Apparently these dishes are the staple for working class Protestant Pittsburghers."

*** Interesting! My family (from one of the better-off suburbs of Pittsburgh) did not serve Jello as a salad except for my Aunt Goldie's Cranberry Salad at Thanksgiving and Christmas -- and Aunt Goldie was more of a town person. My husband's family, however, did serve jello salads with shredded carrots and so on -- they were from a poorer and more urban suburb of Pittsburgh.

#27 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 10:58 AM:

The funeral potatoes as requested, thanks. Didn't know them by that name but had them many times at Louisiana Episcopal Lenten potlucks, along with various forms of green Jello -- its not just for white trash anymore . . .

. . . as far as I can tell, the denial of subtext is one of the great unidentified characteristics of the church.

Hmmm, nice thought, I'll try that one out on a theology graduate student friend and see what happens. I wonder, is it denial, or unconscious baptizing of the subtext? Consider the traditional Easter Vigil rite, where the base of the Paschal candle is dipped into the water of the bapismal font. It is known as an adaptation of a fertility rite, but has been continued with a variety of newer symbolisms layered on.

#28 ::: LNH ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 11:21 AM:

I confess, reading those recepies makes me go "Oog!" in very Pogo lettering. Except for the potato salads.

About a month ago, we stopped in a cafe in Moab that claimed to have "the best green chile in Utah!" Which got us wondering—just how much competition did they have? For green jello, sure, but green chile? Eventually I realized what it meant: culturally, Moab is not in Utah but Colorado.

Which explains a lot about Moab.


#29 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 11:57 AM:

Did I blink or did the recipes for Rice Crispies Treats pass me by? (After Jell-O salad, rice crispy treats seem to be the number two standby at ward functions.)

On a side note, while I hate 90% of Jell-O salads, except for pistachio and whipped cream Jell-O salad, I do have a major thing for funeral potatoes. Sadly, my father does not, and he rushed us out of the last funeral before we could get funeral potatoes.

#30 ::: marty ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 12:03 PM:

When I developed Diabetes I gave all of my sugar based jello to Leslie What. She uses it in a yearly Jello competition for Jello sculptures. There is a web site somewhere showing some of the winners. The Ken and Barbie one was memorable.

#31 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 12:32 PM:

On the subject of rice krispy treats, it's always been an intention of mine around the holidays, when the newspapers have those "make your own gingerbread house" competitions, to make a classic gingerbread house with Hansel, Gretel and the Witch fleeing in terror as a giant rice krispy treat Godzilla steps through the roof.

Godzilla would be best decorated with Japanese rice candies, but since I keep putting it off, I'll happily put the idea out there in case anyone in fandom wants to do it.

#32 ::: Derryl Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 12:32 PM:

Thanks, Teresa. $160 for the original? Yow. And I did not know that they had funeral potatos pins as well. I may bag a couple of the less expensive ones for my Dad, the pin dude.


#33 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 12:38 PM:

It looks like you can get jello olympic pins and many others much more cheaply on eBay:

A rather amazing assortment, in fact.

#34 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 12:41 PM:

Oh my.

It must be a site of Mormon pilgrimage.

Behold the wonders of The Jell-o Museum

#35 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 12:52 PM:

"Lime jello marshmallow cottage cheese surprise..."

People actually eat those things?

I mean I've had jello, or "jelly" as we imaginatively call it where I come from, but I don't think it's ever had anything more exciting in than bananas, or possibly mandarin oranges.

#36 ::: Mike Kozlowski ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 12:55 PM:

Jo, I can confidently say that you're missing great culinary treats. The two best things you can do with Jello are:

1. Lime Jello with canned pineapple and cottage cheese

2. Orange Jello mixed dry with Cool Whip, with mandarin oranges and cottage cheese

I used to beg my grandmas to make these for me.

#37 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 01:36 PM:

Assorted comments:

For the orange jello carrot thing. Make the jello as specified on the package. As it begins to jell (about the egg white stage) finely shred and mix in lots of carrots. Probably at least 3 or 4 large ones, depending I guess, on which size Jello pkg you use. Stir in and let it finish jelling. The carrots should populate the gelatin uniformly and thickly. I can't be more exact as I haven't made it since I left home more years ago than I want to add up now.

Dream Whip is a whipped cream substiture that comes dry in boxes. You take one of the pouches and add liquids and beat with your mixer. I've never understood why this is better than real cream which is quite easy to make. Of course, I guess the Dream Whip can be easily stored for long periods on the shelf. Cool Whip is a whipped cream substitute which comes frozen in a plastic container. My entire family, except me, prefers it to whipped cream. I adore whipped cream. They all think I'm nuts, but they've thought that for many years now and it doesn't bother me.

The funeral potatoes are very similar to a dish my sister served some Christmases ago which I ate so much of she found the book and gave me the recipe. It involves frozen hash browns and canned soups. It's everything I deplore in midwestern cookery, but it's lovely comfort food and I adore it. I gave a dinner party once I dubbed The Comfort Food Dinner where I served those and the shredded beef thing from the original Silver Palate cookbook. It was a big hit.

#38 ::: Daniel J. Boone ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 01:52 PM:

As a small boy I loved Jello, as small boys will. I keenly recall my sense of betrayal when my mother served a gelatin product (after the main course, when I was expecting dessert) which she had made of unsweetened Knox brand gelatine, flavored and colored with tomatoes and full of very adroitly chopped celery slices.

She announced that it was "aspic" and a gourmet delight. I announced that it was disgusting Jello and that I'd have no more of it. To this day I still have an irrational disinclination to eat Jello products with veggies in 'em, even though they are not, objectively speaking, usually awful.

#39 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 02:05 PM:

Jo: I've never had anything like this, either; it may not be a New England thing, or I may not move in the right social circles.

Jello to me means hospitals.

#40 ::: Tina Black ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 03:40 PM:


I was late to dessert at a friend's house in FL and just got a couple of tablespoons of wonderful stuff. If mine eyes do not deceive me, it was Missionary Dessert! The pretty-apostate Mormon background of mine hostess almost guarantees it.

So now I can make it if I can ever get off this diet :(

#41 ::: Rivka Wald ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 04:09 PM:

I'm not Mormon, but I have fond memories of my mother's Jell-O cake. You prepare a white cake from a mix, and prick it deeply all over with a fork. Then you pour over the top a package of strawberry Jell-O dissolved in boiling water. You frost the cake with Cool Whip, of course, and serve it chilled. It's strangely tasty and refreshing.

For extra credit, especially at this time of year, you can draw an American flag on top with sliced fruit. Strawberries and bananas for the stripes, and a square of blueberries in the upper left corner.

#42 ::: Rachel Heslin ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 04:36 PM:

My great aunt (Jewish and raised in Asbury Park, NJ) made what she called Pink Stuff: dry, strawberry Jell-O, canned fruit and slivered almonds mixed with Cool Whip. Wonderful when frozen.

#43 ::: Stephanie Zvan ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 08:35 PM:

Thanks, Teresa. Now to wait for fresh cranberries. One quick question: Are the cranberries really meant to be put in whole, so as to be little tart bombs? Yum.

Which reminds me of my grandmother's cranberry salad, eminently suitable to this discussion: crushed/chopped raw cranberries, sugar, canned crushed pineapple, mini marshmallows, and whipped cream. I don't have a recipe where the proportions work out to anything less than about two gallons, but I've never had to throw any away. Of course, it does freeze well.

#44 ::: vfc ::: (view all by) ::: June 25, 2003, 09:22 PM:

Here in Hong Kong "sa-la jeung" (basically a slightly runny mayonaise-like substance that often comes in squeeze bottles) features prominently in "salad".

Canned fruit salad is also prominent in "western style" food. Many potato salads come mixed w/ canned fruit salad.

One of the strangest dim-sum-like things I've been sreved at a big family dinner in Taikoo Shing is what I called "deep fried mayo". It's a "seafood salad" (bits of shrimp and fruit cocktail mixed up w/ sala jeung) assembeled in a rectangular shape, coated w/ batter and then deep fried.

Dip in hot chili sauce, red vinegar, or soy sauce.

Strangely, it's not that bad.

#45 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2003, 12:22 AM:

Jo: ...surprise: I was wondering how long it would take for somebody to bring up Bolcom and Morris. But they finally topped that number at a concert a few weeks ago: "My Favorite Things" sung to Pirate Jenny's song.

#46 ::: Elise Matthesen ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2003, 10:14 AM:

CHip -- yep, Morris and Bolcom it was indeed, from the Minnesota Public Radio CD "Keepers: Morning Show Favorites."

I was going to find a link for "Keepers," but I got led astray into the Morning Show site, and wound up reading about the Sherpa SUV from Intimida, and Bullwinkle Salmon, and political commentary from the Honorable Loomis Beechly, and a word from sponsor Spendie/Popper about golf and little pills, and a truly disturbing bit about Famous Name Mushrooms from Genway (the folks who brought us Bullwinkle Salmon), and now I am giggling in horror, so I can't tell you much more about the Morning Show other than that they put together an amusing compilation that we played for Jo and company when they were here a visit or two ago, and that Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise is a definite highlight of that CD. (And now I will have to check out more Bolcom & Morris, I guess!)

#47 ::: Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2003, 02:04 PM:

I just want to say, after reading all this, tht I'd rather be part of the French empire.

#48 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2003, 04:12 PM:

I grew up on white bread, Velveeta, bologna, Miracle Whip (a kind of fake mayonnaise) and Cool Whip (the last not served with the others).

I now would rather starve all the way to death (which would take a loooong time as I'm rather chubby) than eat any of them.

Cool Whip is a petroleum product as far as I'm concerned.

#49 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2003, 04:22 PM:

There's a cook book I've seen, Square Meals, which collects more of these. It's the food of the children of pioneers, I think--stuff that can be made out of mostly heavily preserved ingredients or lasting ingredients (potatoes!) with whatever one happens to have on-hand that's fresh and perishable.

I believe the technical term is "eep!" I could not eat a regular diet of from that menu and stay healthy--too much stuff included as preservatives that aren't healthy for me: salt, saturated fat (not actually a preservative, but occurs in preserved dairy products), sugar.

Next week: a discussion of Vegemite?

#50 ::: Cassandra ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2003, 06:58 PM:

One of my friends here at college has a family who, at one point, was Ba'hai. She told me that she'd long suspected that the Ba'hai faith had a secret punch recipie--every drop of punch she ever tasted at a religious gathering tasted exactly the same. Even when she went to Poland.

#51 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2003, 12:13 AM:

I think I remember the Candle Salad recipe from my mom's early-50's BETTY CROCKER COOKBOOK. The cookbook was eventually passed on to me, and after a few efforts from it, I decided it was the WORST cookbook I'd ever tried to use.

That honor got topped last year, though, with a copy of THE FIX IT AND FORGET IT COOKBOOK. I've yet to try a recipe from that thing that hasn't required major adjustments to make the food edible. When the Quality Paperback Book Club made it one of their selections, I sent them an irate note about "quality."

#52 ::: Eleanor Rowe ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2003, 06:07 AM:

Final thoughts. Thank you Mary Kay for instructions on the shredded carrots & explanation of dreamwhip.

This school of cuisine is 'back to the future' cookery - while I can take on board the need for cold food in hot weather, there are other ways. This is all about how human beings controlling the natural world. I remember when I was growing up watching adverts for powdered fruit juice where the message was that, while of course you could buy a whole bunch of grapefruit, take then home and squeeze the juice out why do that when you could - pour cold water on some powder, et voila! So much better that the real thing!

All these recipes involve foods that are processed. We don't make cakes out of flour, butter eggs and sugar, we are not fools, we make cakes out of 'cakemix', 'white cakemix'. And then we pour jello into the white cake and cover it with dream whip (so much better than real cream) and, basically, we tell the food where to get off. We're in charge of the food.

A lot of the recipes also subvert the food - so you thought cornflakes were just a breakfast cereal, no, look, you can smish them up to make a crunchy coating for a dessert or a savoury!

So, this is all about the triumph of science and free will over foolish nature. These days when all my friends are buying organic fruit and veg and worrying about genetically modified tomatoes, jello salads seem sweetly quaint.

Sorry for the long post, but there's probably a whole thesis in this - Changing attitudes towards foodstuffs in the home 1930 to present - or similar.

I'm still going to make the shredded carrot in orange jelly salad thing, in hommage of simpler times.

#53 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 29, 2003, 06:01 PM:

Synchronicity Department: On the most recent ep of Stargate SG1, Teal'c (think Spock) is wounded, and feeling pretty down because he can't regenerate like he used to. The camera shows us half a dozen plastic cafeteria cups of lime jello on his bedside table.

"I believe," explains Teal'c to a visitor, "that this offering of colored gelatin is O'Neill's attempt to express sympathy."

#54 ::: Ericka ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2003, 04:33 PM:

Re: Missionary Dessert (also known as 93Bishop92s Dessert94, for no very good reason)

In the Mormon communities in 6 of the states that I've lived in, I've never heard it called anything other than Dump Cake. A boxed spice cake with apple pie filling will disappear instantly. Cheers!

#55 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2003, 05:49 PM:

Is there someone here who can explain English "salad cream"? (Is it the Hong Kong "sa-la jeung"?)

There are plenty of "pantry dishes" that don't involve food processed so hard; I agree with Eleanor that this must have something to do with control, and those generations that assumed "New!" was "Improved!". Also with dulling the senses; heavy salt and sugar will do that. (They hardly ever smell very good, excepting the pleasure of hot oil and onions.)

Marshmallow are sweetened vegetable; one made them, once, of marshmallow roots. When you don't have a natural marsh, you plant them next to the necessary household bog - yes, the privy pit - they're tall enough to serve as a screen in summer, too. There I can see the appeal of processing them hard enough to forget their origins.

#56 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2003, 01:05 AM:

A boxed spice cake with apple pie filling will disappear instantly.

Sounds good to me.

#57 ::: anthony ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 04:39 AM:

i had to dig my mothers version of the relief society cookbook, and remember it fondly, especially the 20 pages of jello recipes, filed under salad.

(my favourite was pineapple/chicken)

#58 ::: Eleanor Rowe ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 12:32 PM:

If anybody still wants to know about British salad cream - it is the bastard cousin of mayonaisse. It resembles mayonaisse in texture, colour and usage, but it is chock full of vinager, salt, sugar, preservatives etc. The nicest adjective I can think of is 'tangy'. It is a very low class condiment and is not found in good restaurants or nice homes.

I quite like it.

#59 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 02:31 PM:

Eleanor, sounds like "Miracle Whip" salad dressing...only perhaps, unlike that vile excrescence, not completely disgusting (since you quite like it).

#60 ::: Anne ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2003, 05:45 PM:

Hey, Miracle Whip's one of those gross-but-delicious things that you know you shouldn't like but do anyway. Kinda like Swiss Cake Rolls.

#61 ::: Eleanor Rowe ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2003, 07:18 AM:

We don't get Swiss Cake Rolls, but we have little cakes called Fondant Fancies which are composed of about 90% sugar to 10% fat and have no nutritional redeeming features. Sickeningly delicious.

Salad Cream is bathed in nostalgia from my childhood, when I believe it was compulsory if you had lettuce and cucumber on the same plate. If Miracle Whip is made by that company with the 57 varieties it probably is the same stuff although Miracle Whip is a much better name -It's not just a salad dressing! It's a Miracle! (presumably performed by St. Zita, patron saint of cookery).

I'm wondering what would happen if you put some on one of the Jello salads above - at the very least there ahould be some weird chemical reaction that would leave your fork really, really clean.

#62 ::: Eleanor Rowe ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2003, 07:30 AM:

Correction. The patron saint of cookery is St. Martha. St. Vita, while known as 'the little cook' is patroness of servants.

#63 ::: Michelle A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 14, 2003, 05:21 PM:

All the recipes that you have from your Mormon cookbook are almost exact copies of the ones in my Canadian Lutheran Ladies cookbook, printed in rural Alberta. Secret Mormons, obviously.

The one I remember most vividly from my youth is one that was served at Christmas time, made from lime jello, chopped celery, whipping cream, cottage cheese and pineapple. Made, of course, in a Tupperware jello mold with convenient lid. The only thing that qualified it as a salad was its green colour.

I only ever saw these during winter, however. I thought it was to make up for the scarcity of edible fresh vegetables other than bitter cabbage, wilted iceberg lettuce and limp celery. In summer, they melted too quickly to be useful.

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