A quick dessert, an unexpected ingredient, or a sneaky way to include veggies in any meal … available in a rainbow of flavors and colors … tah dah – it’s gelatin!
Since 1682, this versatile ingredient has been used as a simple source of protein ideal for soldiers on the move. But within 200 years, patent-holders and cooks pushed that proverbial envelope and began mixing the granulated gelatin with fruit juices and syrups to make tasty jellies.
I am delighted to write about gelatin because I have two vintage cookbooks that elevate this wiggly-jiggly desert of my childhood to unexpected – and sometimes bizarre – culinary heights.
From the 1928 cookbook comes a sponge made with pineapple juice and rice. Other delicacies include a shrimp and orange salad, or the refreshing cucumber and Cayenne pepper salad.
Included near the end of the same cookbook are certain Rules that hold true even today; Metal molds chill more quickly than those made from other materials; placing the filled mold in a bowl brimming with crushed ice and salt speeds the jelling process considerably, and a rotary beater is necessary when whipping the dissolved gelatin.
Although undated, the ‘newer’ cookbook appears to be an early 1970s collection of recipes. Returning to gelatin’s roots as a basic protein, some of the recipes combine lemon, orange or cherry gelatin with ham, duck, bleu cheese, chicken or crab meat.
At first those might sound like unnatural pairings, but the flavors of ham and pineapple or turkey and maple are really quite good- even without the neon coloring.
So, here are some handy ideas for easy gelatin desserts that have been inspired by 1928 cooks and 1970s kitchens. Have fun!
1 ( 3.4 package) Jello gelatin
3/4 cup boiling water
1 cup heavy cream
Stir the instant gelatin in the boiling water until completely dissolved. Cool in fridge until syrupy. Add the heavy cream, and whip until soft peaks form. Serve immediately or chill in fridge. As mixture chills, it will become more firm.
It tastes much better than it looks – really it does!
Mix equal parts Whipped Blue with Creamy Delight, while still soft.
Chill and serve … perhaps with gummy fish?
1 tablespoon brightly colored gelatin powder
1 1/3 cups coconut
1 clean jar
Combine powder and coconut in jar, shake vigorously until coconut is uniformly colored.
1 pkg cake mix, flavors such as yellow or white are best
1 small pkg instant gelatin, any flavor
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
- Preheat oven to 350*
Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Mix until smooth, but do not overbeat.
Pour into prepared tube pan. Bake for 50 minutes, or until knife inserted in center come out clean. Dust with powdered sugar, colored sugar or coconut.
One of my favorite dishes is veggies and rice … or veggies and cheese … or veggies and eggs … or just plain veggies.
For those of you for whom gardening is like breathing; walking outside and picking a clean dishpan full of onions, peppers, okra, corn and tomatoes is the first step in preparing any summertime meal.
Unfortunately, I am not a particularly successful gardener, but I have been spoiled by the bounty of – and learned many lessons from – gardens tended and loved by Aunt Betty, Isabelle and of course, Mona.
As I wash the radishes and slice the onions, I revisit those fragrant gardens of the women who guided me; who shared their quiet strength and immeasurable beauty through their actions; who loved me and taught me and rolled their eyes when I pulled up perfectly good plants, mistaking those oval leaves for mere weeds –again.
If you have a gardener’s soul, know that you are treasured by those of us who cannot grow a vegetable garden so lovely it becomes a wonderland of color and flavor and scent.
So simple, but so lovely and delicious. These tarts are perfect as a little something to take to a potluck, or to share with the office, or to give as a thank you gift.
Make as many or as few as you need; taking into account their nibble-bility factor!
Choose your favorite, most flavorful preserves and prebaked, ready-to-use tart shells.
Combine two parts preserves to one part confectioner’s sugar, adjust as needed until thickened. Add two teaspoons almond extract. mix well.
Spoon into prepared tart shells.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Add a touch of whipped cream or frosting.
In honor of this incredible planet, this post celebrates gardens and gardeners.
Salads are actually quite a lot of fun to create – the components are limited only by the season, one’s preferences, and the size of the bowl. Any memory of salad as iceberg lettuce with pale tomato quarters drenched in heavy dressing is nothing more than a fading gastronomic nightmare.
Fresh greens are just the beginning.
Add some fruit, a splash of fresh lemon juice …
Homemade dressing, beans, shredded veggies and cheese …
Hard boiled eggs, raw cauliflower, a sprinkle of seaweed …
With sun and rain and fish emulsion (yuck), bright and happy gardens will flourish and soon fill farmers’ markets and our kitchens with dew-fresh veggies and fragrant fruits. Splurge, indulge and delight in the bounty that is spring and summer!
When the sun scorches and the breeze is nothing more than moving dust, the following recipe can be relied upon to bring some much needed blizzard-cold refreshment.
(It is also a perfect ending to a rich meal, or a light lunch.)
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
3/4 cup lemon juice
Bring water to a rolling boil.
Add sugar, stirring until completely dissolved. Remove from heat, allow to cool.
When cool, add lemon rind and juice.
Freeze in metal tray or bowl – or cake pan.
To serve, use fork to shave ice, scoop into cold individual serving dishes – serve immediately.