Sunday, June 12, 2011

Three Jell-O Salads; Presbyterian Palate Pleasers, The Presbyterian Church, Hagerstown, MD

Chefly Husband and I are headed out to Wolf Trap today to hear the Indigo Girls perform, and to hang out with friends, and to picnic, picnic, picnic. There's lots of cooking going on, and not a little bit of assembly. It's all very summery.

Yesterday, we hit St. Alban's annual sidewalk book sale. I am constitutionally unable to restrain myself at such things. There shall be cookbooks! Oh, yes. There shall. I did show some restraint -- we left with only four new-to-us cookbook treasures. One is a great single-color comb-spined church cookbook from the Presbyterian Church up in Hagerstown, MD. It cost me all of twelve and a half cents. Half a quarter. You can't beat it! So, this week, before I head out to the wilds of Taiwan for a fortnight, we'll be exploring Presbyterian Palate Pleasers. Ya can't beat that title, either.

Going through the cookbook last night with my trusty Post-it flags, I found far too many cool recipes for one week, so on some days, we're going to have multiples.! Today, you get three -- three! -- molded salads, of varying difficulty.

Cherry-Coke Salad

1-lb. jar red bing cherries
1-8-oz. can crushed pineapple
1 small pkg. orange jello
1 small pkg. cherry jello
2-6-1/2 oz. bottles Coke

Drain juice from cherries and pineapple. Add enough water to make 2 c. liquid. Heat and bring to boil, then add 2 pkgs. of jello. Stir, dissolve and let cool. Add pitted cherries and pineapple. Add Coke and mix well. Refrigerate at least 3-4 hours. Serves 8.

Floyd Bingaman

Now, I like to do a little Google stalking of people who contribute to these great old cookbooks, and I was a bit surprised to see how many Floyd Bingaman hits I got. I seemed an odd sort of name. Seems that it's a family name in Hagerstown, MD. I'm suspecting that the Cherry-Coke Salad Floyd is the father or grandpa of the unfortunate Floyd who was sentenced for a terrible crime not so very long ago. (What is it with these old cookbooks and the connections with the unsavory? The Maine islanders were all linked to stories of arson and abuse, and now child murder. :shudder:)

I didn't choose this recipe for lurid tales. No, I chose it because it reminded me of a recipe from the Jell-o (let's use the preferred brand spelling, shall we?) cookbook I had as a kid. I remember making a streamlined version of this years ago, with Coke replacing water while making cherry Jell-o. Tasty stuff, and the bubbles seemed sophisticated.

Odds are, you can actually find tiny bottles of Coke at the grocer's these days. I won't think poorly of you, though, if you use the cheaper 12 oz. can. Honest.
Bloody Mary Aspic

1-24-oz. can cocktail vegetable juice
1/3 c. vodka
1-1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Hot pepper sauce
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
Salad greens

In a 1-1/2 qt. saucepan, over 1 cup cold cocktail vegetable juice, sprinkle gelatin. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until gelatin is completely dissolved. Remove from heat; stir in remaining vegetable juice and other ingredients, including a dash of hot pepper sauce. Do not add greens. Pour into a 1 qt. mold. Refrigerate until set. To serve, unmold on salad greens. A delicious salad for luncheons and dinners. Serves 6.

Frances Machen

I ran across a chilled tomato and vodka soup recipe the other day, and yelled "Just call it a Bloody Mary In A Bowl and stop with the soup pretense!" No pretense here, though Frances does stop before calling this "big Bloody Mary Jell-o shots." She also gives the helpful advice to not gunk up the salad by putting the veg IN the salad. Trust that this sort of guidance is vital in old cookbooks. You never know what someone is going to tell you to put in there; it's nice to be told to hold something back.

It seems Ms. Machen died a year ago at age 78. She had a music store, and was known as Aunt Fran to her friends' children.

See, that's the happier kind of story I like to associate with cookbooks and Jell-o.

All in all, the Bloody Mary Aspic sounds pretty tasty. You have your V8, your Tabasco...all clean bright colors. But, where is the fearful sort of molded salad we all love to read about and fear will land on our plates? Never ever think the Presbyterians are going to let you down!
Presbyterian Jello Salad

1 can tomato soup
1 box lemon jello
1/3 c. chopped celery
1/3 c. chopped green pepper
1/3 c. chopped onions
1 c. mayonnaise
2 c. cottage cheese

Melt soup and jello together over low heat, stir constantly. Add the celery, green pepper, onions, mayonnaise and cottage cheese. Chill until firm. Serves 6.

Claudia Strite

Oh, Claudia. I suspect this serves a lot more than 6.

Claudia had a big, big heart, from an early age. This, from a 1937 slave narrative:
Henry killed a man in anger and was sent to Parchman. Friends in Pontotoc intervened when they saw Emmeline's tears. Henry was made a trusty, then transferred to Jackson as a chauffer and house-boy to Governor Earl Brewer. Henry became the especial friend of the Governor's youngest daughter, Claudia, former society editor of the Daily News, now Mrs. Samuel C. Strite, of Hagerstown, Maryland.

One day Claudia, a very young miss, stuck a note under her father's plate, 'Please set Henry free.' Governor Brewer when he left office gave Henry a pardon, and the freed negro was hired as strawboss on a delta plantation, 'but I guess he was too biggety by then,' his whitehaired mother says, 'because it wasn't long until he got into another scrape and got killed.' Henry's grave in the delta is marked by a tombstone that Claudia placed there.

Okay, I just teared up. Not ashamed to say it. Much of that tale is sad, too, but the fact that the governor of Mississippi's little daughter was concerned about Henry, and years later still cared enough to place the tombstone? It's touching. And I'm a sap.

This is what this blog is about: scary recipes, warm hearts, and a generosity of spirit that shines across the years.

1 comment:

  1. Did you know Claudia's dad was a key player in Brown v. Mississippi? True fact! He argued before the Supreme Court and won an appeal for his clients.

    Perhaps the scary salad will have to be made, just to honor the Brewster/Strite family.