As a child, I spent my days with my Grandma Is. She took care of me while my mom worked. We would play cards. She read the “Daily Citizen” newspaper from beginning to end and painted her fingernails her favorite bright red color.
Summer days followed a familiar routine. The tv was never turned on (it was only re-runs anyway). I played with neighborhood kids or worked on my coloring books. The best part of the day was lunch…my favorite.
We’d go into the kitchen together, she’d set a small pot to boil on the stove. While it got hot, she sliced 4 pieces of summer sausage and laid out 3 sweet bread and butter pickles in a shallow bowl. Once the water was boiling, she would carefully and precisely measure exactly one cup of noodles. I would cajole her to make a heaping cup…so she would compromise by adding a pinch more noodles.
Once the noodles were done, she’d dump out the water and add butter and salt before adding them to my bowl. A glass of milk in a pastel metal drinking glass completed the meal. But not all meals are so simple. Holidays were a time for creativity to shine against the golden turkey and creamed beans Gram’s specialty (which we still make) was a jello.
You use lemon or lime jello and add shredded cabbage, carrots, and pineapple to it before putting it in a circular jello mold to firm up. To get it out of the mold, you run it under warm water for a bit and then place it on a plate. But that’s not it. In the center hole, you place a dish of Helman’s mayonnaise. So, to serve, you cut a slice of the veggie-filled circle and then frost your slice with the mayo. YUM!
There are only a couple of family members who truly appreciate the creation. We are the same ones who look forward to the creamy, buttery rutabaga that I serve at the same holiday event. It makes my mouth water just thinking…we only eat them at Thanksgiving, maybe Christmas or Easter, if we’re lucky. But whenever they are served…they bring me right back to my childhood.
The cooking you are raised with becomes the comfort food of adulthood.
Recipe for veggie jello “salad”
2 pkg (6 ounces each) lime Jell-O
4 c boiling water
3 c cold water
2 c finely shredded cabbage
1 c finely shredded carrot
1 c crushed pineapple, well-drained
1 pkg (3 ounces) lemon Jell-O (plus water called for on the package)
1 c mayonnaiseCombine the 2 packages of lime Jell-O with 4 cups of hot water in a large bowl, stirring until dissolved.Stir in cold water.
Immediately add vegetables and well-drained pineapple. Pour the mixture into a mold or serving dish. Refrigerate until mixture has set (about 2 or 3 hours).
Refrigerate the salad for several hours more or overnight. Unmold by dipping into hot water for 10 seconds.Serve with a “sauce” made of 1 cup mayonnaise. Spoon over salad as it is served.