Sunday, October 29, 2006

There's always room for

No matter how much we overindulge at a meal when dining out, we still pause a moment to consider something from the dessert menu.
Pie, layer cake, tiramisu, creme brulee, decadent chocolate brownies, cookies, Don Tot, Bananas Foster...
What about Jell-O? That simple concoction of sugar, water, gelatin and a wee bit of food coloring. It's still a viable dessert option for even the most satiated of post-meal tummies.
What a shame that Jell-O gets passed over for fancier desserts. Gosh, most of the time it isn't even offered.
Is Jell-O too simple? Too common? Too.....pedestrian? (I luv this word!)

Never no mind. I still like Jell-O.

Mom had the most unique way of prepping Jell-O. She'd do the one cup of boiling water over the sugar crystals, followed by a cup of cold. She stirred the mixture, but not too much. Mom didn't do this on purpose, she just wasn't the most thorough of stirrers...

After the required chill time in our old Frigidaire, the top 3/4 of Jell-O in the bowl would be nice and firm, yielding as expected on the palate. The bottom 1/4 was almost always rubbery. In that layer were also visible grains of crunchy sugar that went undissolved.

My brothers and I would complain and tease Mom about her results, but she'd continue making it her way. Referring to Mom's chewy crunchy Jell-O became a running joke in our family. Then - wouldn't you know, I really got to liking that thicker layer, and looked forward to finding it at the bottom of the bowl. It was the unusual texture that won me over. The special chewiness that made for a bite of Jell-O which lasted well beyond the average melt-in-the-mouth spoonful. In later years, I purposely tried to recreate 'Mom-style Jell-O'. More often than not, I over-stirred.

My all-time fave Jell-O dessert innovation was Jell-O 1-2-3. It was the first gourmet dessert I ever whipped up in my parents' kitchen. After spooning the frothy mixture into little glass dishes and stemware, I'd sneak a peek into the fridge as the 1-2-3 set up. Eating it, I would savor each of the pretty layers. The top was bouncy and foamy. The center creamy and smooth. The translucent bottom layer closest to unadulterated Jell-O. It saddens me that Jell-O 1-2-3 is no longer available. There is, however, a petition...

More recently, I discovered a 'recipe' on the web for orange-flavored Jell-O in scooped out orange halves. Sliced into wedges, these are so cute!

At the Jell-O website, you can check out the history of Jell-O, add the Jell-O museum to your 'must see' travel list, view the Jell-O ad campaigns; even try out a few dishes made from Jell-O. The site also provides main dish recipes (sans Jell-O). Guess what else? Jell-O arts and crafts!

I don't indulge as much now as I did in my youth, but I still get cravings for a l'il bowl of the sweet jiggly stuff. Alongside the dried Asian foodstuffs, bottles of extra-virgin olive oil and whole grains / legumes in my kitchen larder - I still stock a few boxes of Jell-O. At this writing I've got Lime and Orange (sugar free).

Jell-O ~ There's always room for it:
  • use less water and Jell-O can be picked up and eaten with your fingers w/o any mess.
  • it can become a 'salad' (no celery or walnuts please)
  • as shots (no thanks).
  • you can make a tub full and wrestle in it (some folks are into this, but I personally find Jell-O wrestling messy and downright wasteful)
So, is there Jell-O in your cupboard?


justducky said...

oh, joy, jello arts and crafs...check out the pastels project, "may be a little sticky even when dry" I gues so!
Remember when the jr. high kids were putting in their hair to get not only color, but high rise mowhawks!

justducky said...

it's the daylight savings time change...I can't spell or write for another 2 weeks... I'll talk to you then.

Anonymous said...


Yes, there is Jell-0 in my cupboard. Raspberry. Did you happen to come across a recipe for jello jewels? have you ever heard of/eaten them? if not, it is a cross between that bottom layer of jello, minus the crunchies, that your mom accomplished with her lack of stirring, and the 1-2-3 jello parfait you mentioned, when it has a layer of cool whip, that's mixed with the jell-o to form a creamy top.

i think jell-o is overlooked too. orange flavor and lime flavor remind me of my dad's was always in her fridge.
my favorite flavors are lime, black cherry, raspberry, cherry and black raspberry.
think i'll go make some right now!!


ps: i always stir mine plenty, but always use less water than is called for, so it gets that harder, rubberier texture!

pear said...

our friends mom always has a "moldy salad' for dinners. From years ago someonelittle coulldn't say "molded" .

Anonymous said...

Dear B

Long time no post. But j-e-l-l-o, oh yes indeed! Just got back from my maiden voyage cruise (to the Mexican Riviera where we nearly ran into (literally) Hurricane Paul. Now you talk about your desserts! Just about all you do on a cruise is eat and somehow fill in the time before eating again. Such wonderful meals to be had and all those wonderful rich desserts. Still, at least in the Lido, a buffet-style dining experience, there was room for jello at least a couple of times for me. My favorite is the green (lime). The only jello flavor I refuse under any and all circumstances: red (cherry). Reminds me too much of the liquid medicine I was forced fed in my youth for an asthmatic condition. We didn't have inhalers back-in-the-day.


jessamynit said...

my dad's stepmom used to make "nothing", i.e., super whipped jell-o. yum! I once made an avocado jell-o mold for friend's "weird food" party (also on the menu: "smurf tongues", chopped strawberries in blue dyed yogurt. very weird.), from this gross 70s jell-o book my parents had (I have it now). but, yuck, it called for mayo!!

now we just use the vanilla pudding mix to make an awesome sherry cake... very 1950s!

baffle said...

The Jell-O flavors I don't care for are watermelon and peach (those flavors did exist once, didn't they?).
Have to admit I do like red, but that may be because I had to eat it by default - so may as well enjoy it.

Jell-O jewels = sounds sparkly yum!
Jell-O in mohawk hairstyling = sticky?
Moldy Jell-O = fun!
Avocado Jell-o mold = ptui!
Mayo in the mixture = cack!

Pudding in sherry cake (this I have tried)(and yes, it's tasty!)(thanks for the reminder!).
I'm going to check out some recipes!

justducky said...

How about those alternative / drama / punk kids making jello for a b'day party?

Put lime, cherry, strawberry, lemon, blueberry, orange...the whole kit and caboodle! ~ You get a kinda blackish goo.