Thursday, May 21, 2009

Seven Similar Salads: Jell-O and Dairy

Memorial Day is fast upon us, and it's time to think about salads and sides to take to barbeques, picnics, and potlucks. I've always been a fan of Jell-O based salads, be they molded or unstructured. Thankfully, as my friend Heather pointed out, The Fruit of the Spirit: 100th Anniversary of Bittinger Lutheran Parish offers up seven (seven!) similar salads, so we can take our pick of those that fit our needs/desires/fears/etc.
I'm In A Hurry Salad
Linda Buckel

1 (8-oz.) pkg. cottage cheese
1 sm. box orange Jello
1 sm. ctn. Cool Whip
1 can mandarin oranges
1 can pineapple

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate.
I assume we're draining the liquid on the fruits here. If you're making this for a party that will have rum-fueled punch, I suggest reserving the liquid to throw in your punch bucket.


Yes, I said "bucket." At my last (okay, "only") tiki party, I mixed up my rum punch in a big paint bucket. Worked great.

I'd be tempted to throw shredded coconut and bananas in here, too, but that might just be because I'm fondly remembering the tiki party. On to salad #2!
Jello Salad
Ruth Ann Beckman

1 (3-oz.) pkg. Jello (flavor of choice)
1 (3-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 can crushed pineapple
1/3 c. sugar
Dash salt
1 pkg. Dream Whip, whipped

Combine Jello, pineapple, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Heat until Jello is dissolved; cool. Whip Dream Whip. Mix in cream cheese. Add pineapple mixture. Pour into mold.
And here, let's assume we're not draining the pineapple. I know, I'm being all sorts of guess-y about it, but I think the Jell-O needs some liquid to dissolve. Since this involves both cooking and setting, it doesn't get a pithy title like "I'm In A Hurry Salad," above. No, it's more of a "I Knew About This Potluck A Day In Advance, So Actually Did Something Requiring Some Planning" Salad. But what about when you're looking for something a little more festive?
Lutheran Recipe for Holiday Jello
Marvin Beckman
1 sm. pkg. green Jello
1 c. boiling water
1 sm. pkg. cream cheese

Mix these three ingredients together and let Jello set until fold stage. Whip 1 small carton of whipping cream. Add to Jello, along with 1 small can of crushed pineapple and just enough chopped walnuts. Chill and serve.

Hint: Do not use red Jello for this recipe!
...I wonder what happens when you use red Jell-O for this recipe? I also wonder if Marvin is husband, son, cousin, or some other relation to Ruth Ann, whose Jello salad looks to be a bit better documented. Why did Marvin leave out the whipping cream in his list of ingredients?

And what happens if you use red Jell-O?
Orange Jello Salad Dessert
Ethel Buckel

2 (3-oz.) pkgs. orange Jello
2 c. boiling water
1 sm. can frozen orange juice
1 sm. can mandarin oranges
1 med. can crushed pineapple
1 pkg. lemon pudding mix
1 c. milk
8 oz. Cool Whip
Chopped nuts

Dissolve Jello in boiling water. Add orange juice. When jelled, add one small can mandarin oranges, drained. Add pineapple, juice and all. When set, top with one package lemon pudding mix, made with one cup milk. Mix with 8 ounces Cool Whip. Top with chopped nuts. Makes 9 x 13-inch pan.
Blame it on my upbringing, but I automatically think "good food here" when I see something served up in a 9 x 13-inch pan. Salads. Cakes. Casseroles. Lasagnes. If you do it in a 9 x 13-incher, you are clearly thinking of feeding a crowd.

The pudding mix in the recipe is pretty clearly supposed to be instant pudding mix, which makes this a natural for using more than one Jell-O brand product in one recipe. Personally, I'd not be putting nuts on top -- too many of my friends are nut-allergic. I'm thinking crushed Nilla Wafers or graham crackers would add a crunchy component if you think one is missing from the toothless joy of this dessert.

I think the Buckels are orange Jell-O loyalists. I can get behind that. But, let's get back to that maligned red Jell-O...
Star Cranberry Salad
Lois Watson

2 c. ground raw cranberries
2 c. sugar
2 boxes red Jello
2 c. hot water
2 c. pineapple, drained and juice reserved
2 c. celery, cut fine
1 c. chopped walnuts

Mix the cranberries and sugar. Set aside. Mix the Jello into the hot water and pineapple juice until dissolved. Add cranberries. Mix in celery and walnuts. Refrigerate until thick. Best if made a day ahead.
Jell-O and celery, folks. Celery. In your Jell-O.

Maybe that's what happens when you start using red Jell-O. Unexpected vegetables start sneaking in and trying to come to the party. (Okay, actually, I suspect one shouldn't use red Jell-O in the previous recipe because the salad has no cranberries in it, and a holiday table with a red gelatinous salad should have cranberries...)

Not sure why this is "star" cranberry salad. Should one use a star-shaped mold? Is it the star of any buffet table it graces?

We'll close out the Jell-O parade with a salad that seems a lot like our first option at first glance.
That's It Salad
Opal Fazenbaker

1 pkg. Jello (any flavor)
1 sm. can crushed pineapple
1 sm. ctn. cottage cheese
1 sm. ctn. non-dairy whipped topping

Transfer pineapple to microwave-safe container and heat in microwave, about 90 seconds. Dissolve the Jello mix in the hot pineapple; let cool to room temperature. Add cottage cheese and mix well. Add the whipped topping and mix well again and that's it!
How's it different from "I'm In A Hurry"? Well, there's no mandarin oranges (I'm sure the recipe could take 'em, though, if stirred in at the same time as one of the white and creamy elements -- just drain first). Also, the heating and dissolving is going to give a different texture. As for me, I'll admit it -- I really do like salads that have Cool Whip and undissolved Jell-O powder. They remind me of my childhood, and they make me smile. If the idea of seeing grains of fake coloring and gelatin in your salad makes you a little squeamish, try "That's It," instead.

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