When Nate was eight, doctor’s orders called for him to go on a clear liquid diet for two days. In sympathy, Mac and I went on the diet with him. Among the too few things we were allowed to eat (if you can call it that), was Jell-O. By day two, as our son’s cries for “real food” got louder (as did the shouts and murmurs of our collective stomachs), I came to the conclusion that Hendrick’s gin was, in fact, a “clear liquid.” Mac agreed, and we raised a toast to our health while Nate hoisted 7-UP. I bring up this dramatic dietary episode because in its aftermath, my son refused to eat Jell-O “ever again.” And then, a couple months ago, he got the Jell-O jones. Which brings me to today’s post.
Jell-O salad for breakfast? I just ate this.
As chefs in restaurants everywhere continue to play with agar-agar in the name of molecular gastronomy, home cooks everywhere else continue to play with Jell-O in the name of Old Hunger. Which, as you may recall, is the hunger for the foods of your childhood. My Jell-O memories involve something called Whip ‘n Chill (a Jell-O product) while Mac’s lie distinctly in the “Heavenly Hash” camp (my mother-in-law is still a big fan). Nate’s may someday involve a Hendrick’s shooter (and you’ll know who to blame), but I’ve added another, far more appropriate Jell-O classic to the list.
It’s one I learned to love as a young adult while seated at my father’s Thanksgiving table: it’s called Raspberry Salad and that’s a big slice of it in the photo above. I made it last night, and even Mac (who professes to dislike sour cream) and Nate (whose preference for Jell-O is the grotesque Tropical flavor) agree it’s delicious. I’ve found many variations of this recipe online, but here’s the one I’ve made many times over. Meanwhile, I was wondering: do you have a favorite family recipe for Jell-O? Want to share it?
2 3-ounce boxes of raspberry Jell-O
1 cup boiling water
1 10-ounce package frozen raspberries, thawed (I used mixed Berries Jubilee from Remlinger Farms)
1 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple, drained
2 large bananas, diced
1 pint sour cream
12 x 8 x 2-inch dish
Combine Jell-O with boiling water and stir to dissolve.
Fold in at once: berries (with their juice), crushed pineapple and bananas.
Turn half the mixture into the dish as first layer and refrigerate until firm (about 1 1/2 hours), leaving the other half at room temperature.
Using a spatula, evenly spread the sour cream over top of set mixture and spoon on the remaining mixture. Refrigerate until fully set.