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Retro Food - The Magic of Jell-O

  • c

Mom found an old (late 60's?) recipe book for the many wondrous uses for Jell-O. I'm flipping through it and can't believe the things General Foods expected you to do with the stuff. Examples:

Frosty Melon: Basically peel a whole honeydew or cantalope, leaving it whole. Cut a slice from one end, scoop out the insides and drain. Meanwhile, make your favorite fruit flavor of Jell-O and add desired fruit chunks. Spoon Jell-O mixture into melon and replace the cut slice. Secure with toothpicks and chill. Next (this is the capper), cover the whole thing with a milk & cream cheese mixture! Slice and serve and wow your guests. Presto: Frosty Melon! Does anyone find this entire concept bizarre? There's even a lovely photo (if I had a scanner I'd post it).

Avocado Pie: Prepare one box of lime Jell-O. Drain a can of crushed pineapple (!). Dice half of one avocado. Mash the other half and add cream cheese until creamy. Then fold this with the diced avocado, pineapple, and a cup of whipped cream (!). Spoon this horrific mixture into a graham cracker crust and chill. Garnish with pineapple slices, and be the envy of your neighbors at your next key party!

What other unthinkable things were unsuspecting people expected to conjure up in their kitchens in times past?

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  1. What do you do with the lime jello in the Avocado Pie?

    5 Replies
    1. re: Jenny

      Sorry -- rushed paraphrasing. The avocado/whipped cream/pineapple combo gets folded into the Jell-O, which has been thickened with the leftover pineapple juice and some lime juice.

      If you are actually interested in making this, I can e-mail you the verbatim recipe!

      1. re: Chowderhead

        According to Harold McGee, fresh pineapple has an enzyme that prevents gelatin from setting. I thought that applied to canned pineapple as well. Maybe it is eliminated in the canning process?

        1. re: lucia
          c
          Caitlin McGrath

          Yes, canned pineapple or canned or boiled pineapple juice do not inhibit gelatin from setting, just the fresh does.

          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

            other fresh ingredients that challenge jell-o's firmness are kiwi, papaya, guava, figs, & ginger root.

          2. re: lucia

            At the time this cookbook came out, crushed pineapple was only of the sweetened variety, so the juice was probably more sugar water than fresh pineapple juice. That wouldn't interfere with the jello setting.

      2. I think Jello is cool!! (no pun intended!)

        1. c
          curiousbaker

          I remember being completely enchanted by The Jello Cookbook as a child. I was very unhappy that I couldn't make half the recipes, because in my house there was only Cool Whip, not Dream Whip or real cream (apparently, you can substitute Dream Whip for whipped cream, but whatever chemicals Cool Whip is made from, they are not Jello-compatible). I do remember making whipped Jello layered over unwhipped jello, as well as numerous Jello "salads" with various canned vegetables or fruits suspended in Jello mixed with mayo, cream cheese, or something else terifying. I think of these now as "tragic aspic." And I remember being amazed the first time I made a bavarian as an adult and realized that this was the same thing I had made in a bastardized version as a child with Jello and melted ice cream.

          Never did get to make the rainbow Jello, though. Rainbow Jello was nine flavors of Jello, layered in brandy snifters that had been tilted during the molding process so that the stripes were on a diagonal. i thought it was the epitome of sophistication, but my mom said it took too much Jello. Sigh.

          3 Replies
          1. re: curiousbaker

            There is a recipe in the book for the "multi-stripe delight". Five stripes of different Jell-O on a diagonal in a brandy snifter, topped with frosted grapes (grapes dipped in egg whites and sprinkled with any flavor Jell-O). I love this recipe book.

              1. re: Missy2U

                Brilliant, that is the exact page from the book. As you can see, as an homage to the book I changed my handle to the name of the first item I describe above (I used to be Chowderhead).

          2. Here's a link that has LOTS of stuff related to Jell-o. Enter at your own risk.

            Link: http://www.boston-baden.com/hazel/Jel...

            1. Odd you should mention this. My grandmother gets a seniors' newspaper on Sundays which lists a few recipes each week. Last Sunday's included some travesty of a salad involving lime (or lemon, or lemon-lime! you pick!) jello and assorted vegetables, including onions.

              I remember having seen one of these Jello cookbooks too. I think jello and meat should not ever, ever be combined, but I guess you'll never know until you try it. I will never know.

              For even MORE disgusting comestibles, visit The Gallery of Regrettable Food!

              Link: http://www.lileks.com/institute/galle...