The Question(s)... Does Jell-O have a place at your dinner party? Is Jell-O mold hip?
Friends whom we had lost touch with for years invited us to an intimate dinner party in their beautiful new home last summer. We had drinks outdoors. The landscaping was magnificent, the pool light caused a romantic glow, and the grill -- I didn't know they made them that big. When we went inside to dine, the formal dining room was set with china.
Dinner was served buffet-style -- the chicken and beef grilled to perfection, the organic micro-green salad and exotic quinoa grains filled beautiful glass bowls, grilled vegetables with a hint of olive oil were plated and sprinkled with Himalayan sea salt. But what was that over there at the end of the buffet? Yellow Jell-O? Yes, a Jell-O mold had been invited to dinner! Even better -- it was layered -- it had to have been made with Cool Whip.
"Jell-O mold!" I exclaimed in excitement, but it came out as a question.
"Yes, it's lemon!"
"Wow, I love Jell-O mold! I just haven't seen a Jell-O mold at a dinner party in a really long time. Like forever!"
"Really?" She was stunned. She couldn't believe it. And I couldn't believe she couldn't believe it.
"Everyone makes Jell-O mold!" she explained to me. "Either this lemon one or the cranberry one."
"No they don't. No one makes Jell-O mold any more. Only on Thanksgiving. And it gets thrown out."
"Yes they do." Awkward silence, then my husband gave me the eyes that said, "enough already about the Jell-O mold." I politely changed the topic.
Was I missing something? This woman, who was upsizing when everyone else was downsizing, who served lemon mold at her fancy dinner party -- did she have access to special information? Did Jell-O mold never go out of style, or did it become hip again and I missed it? Is it trendy now to serve a mold of artificial sugar and hooves alongside the microgreens and gluten-free dessert?
I read your story about Jell-O mold with horrified amazement. I, for one, haven't seen a Jell-O mold at a party -- well, a good party, anyway -- since I was a child. My mother was the queen of Jell-O mold.
I was tormented by Jell-O molds nearly every single time I sat down to dinner. Just the sight of them made me slightly queasy. I don't know if it was the garish colors, the bits of fruit poking out here and there, or the odd shape the Jell-O took on from the mold itself, with its interchangeable discs that were inserted into the bottom of the pan (Flowers! Fruits! Animals!).
Every night my mother and I would have this conversation:
Mom: "Sharon, would you like some Jell-O mold?"
Sharon: "Mom, I hate Jell-O mold. I tell you that every night."
Just recently I went to my mother's house for a party, and she served -- you guessed it -- Jell-O mold. It was carnation pink, with heaven knows what suspended in it. The original mold having long disappeared, my mother made it in a pyrex baking dish, topped with a few dollops of whipped cream.
Honestly, it couldn't have been any less appetizing to me.
This time, though, she didn't ask if I wanted any -- she knew better.
If ever I am at a (good) party and someone serves a Jell-O mold, I will hold back my laughter and politely decline. If day-glo food is your thing, who am I to judge?
What do YOU think? Is there a place for Jello mold at your dinner table? If so, you might want to check out these recipes:
The Old Standby with a New Twist -- The Best Raspberry Lemon Jell-O
6 ounces each raspberry and lemon jell-o packages
8 ounces cream cheese
12 ounces frozen raspberries
- 1. Drain juice from a 12-ounce package of frozen raspberries.
- 2. Add enough water to equal 2 1/2 cups.
- 3. Bring liquid to a boil and add a 6-ounce pkg. of raspberry jell-o. Stir until dissolved.
- 4. Grease a jell-o mold with butter.
- 5. Pour berries into bottom of mold. Pour raspberry jell-o over berries and chill until set.
- 6. Soften cream cheese and whip with a mixer.
- 7. Boil 2 1/2 cups water and stir in a 6-ounce package of lemon jell-o. Dissolve completely.
- 8. Using mixer, stir a very small amount of jello into the cream cheese. Mix well. Keep doing this until you have used all the lemon jell-o. Cool to room temperature or slightly thicker.
- 9. When the raspberry jell-o has gelled completely, pour lemon jell-o mixture over the top.
- 10. Let set and then invert onto a plate for presentation.
And a new party "Drunken" Jell-O Mold
- 4 1/2 cups water, divided
- 6 3-oz packages flavored gelatin dessert mix
- 3 envelopes plain gelatin (6 tsp gelatin powder, divided)
- 3 cups flavored rum or vodka, divded
- 1 1/8 cup vanilla yogurt, divided
- Place the bottle of liquor in the freezer for several hours before beginning recipe.
- Lightly spray bundt pan or gelatin mold with non stick cooking spray. (I used a 10-cup bundt pan.) Wipe off the excess spray with a paper towel. A slight residue should remain, just enough to help unmold your gelatin, without affecting the taste or appearance.
- Pour 3/4 cup water into a saucepan and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the plain gelatin. Allow gelatin to soak for a minute or two. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is dissolved (about 5 minutes). Wisk in the first package of flavored gelatin. Whisk for at least 2 minutes, or until completely dissolved. (I find the sugar-free mix dissolves much faster than the regular!)
- Remove from heat. Add 1/2 cup of the cold liquor, and stir to combine.
- Pour 3/4 cup of the gelatin mixture into the prepared mold, and place in refrigerator. Allow to set for 20 to 30 minutes, until the gelatin is a little firm, but still sticks when touched. Very important -- if the layers set up too much, the next layer won't bond appropriately.
- Refrigerate the remaining gelatin mixture in bowl for about 5 minutes or until slightly thickened (consistency of unbeaten egg whites). Gradually stir in 3 tablespoons of yogurt and stir until well blended. This cooling step is also important - the gelatin must be cooled to room temperature before adding on top of other layers, or the layers will not be well defined!
- Gently spoon the gelatin/yogurt mixture over set gelatin and return to the refrigerator Refrigerate about 15 minutes or until gelatin is set but not firm. (Again, it should stick to finger when touched.) As the layers progress, the setting time will become shorter as the pan and gelatin becomes colder, and the layers become thinner as more layers are added to the mold.
- Repeat steps with remaining gelatin flavors, for a total of 12 alternating clear and creamy gelatin layers.
- After completing all the layers, refrigerate the gelatin overnight. To unmold, fill a larger container or clean sink with warm water (not too hot!). With clean fingers, loosen the gelatin around the edges of the mold cavities. Next, dip the mold almost to the edge into the warm water for just a few seconds (10 seconds worked for me). Dry the bottom of the mold with a towel and check the edges to see if they are loose, if not, repeat the dip for just a few seconds. Place your serving plate on top of the mold and invert. Voila! (Recipe from http://www.tablespoon.com/recipes/spiked-rainbow-ribbon-salad-recipe.)
Los Angeles-based Patti Londre runs Camp Blogaway each spring near Big Bear, California, where 100 food bloggers from across the country gather. At 58, Londre, has been cooking since she was 11. Every job she's held since age 16 has been food-related. Now she has hobby jobs, she says, including writing Worth The Whisk and a travel blog for mid-lifers contemplating retirement. She describes her cooking style as "unpretentious, frugal and Larry-approved." Larry is her long-time, well-fed husband.
Want to know Patti's secret to this recipe? There's no scotch! Click here for a full description of how she made this creamy pudding.
Here's one way to avoid dreadful holiday shopping lines: Take Patti's advice and use her very filling, low-cost soups as gifts. A full recipe can be found here.
We're not sure what this extra cheesy mac n' cheese has to do with Ronald Reagan, but it looks delicious. Click here for a full recipe.
Dorothy Reinhold, 56 and from Malibu California, may shop the farmers' markets with the stars, but her cooking is very down-to-Earth. Reinhold stresses seasonal fruits and vegetables in her recipes. She's even been known to check what's on sale at the local markets and come up with a timely recipe for it. She writes at Shockingly Delicious which in foodspeak means "scary good," she said. Reinhold comes from a newspaper editor/PTA president/financial-planner-so-let's-keep-it-frugal background. Nothing like a mid-life working mom/family juggler to know how to simplify cooking without sacrificing deliciousness.
This walking tostada is a 1980s recipe from Dorothy's mother. Click here to find out how she does it.
Lentils stand in for the ground beef, and once you taste them, you might prefer them over traditional tacos like we do! Find this heart healthy recipe here.
Dorothy used to love Trader Joe's kale and edamame bistro salad, until she realized she could make it herself for a third of the price. Click here for the full recipe.
While we're talking Hollywood, you can't overlook the musings or makings of David Latt -- an Emmy award-winning ("Hill Street Blues") TV producer for 25 years. He got through the long hours and stress of dealing with production craziness by cooking. "Sometimes after a really difficult week, I’d cook all weekend. Eight, 10 hours each day, I’d stand over the cutting board and stove, cooking. Cutting carrots calmed me down and gave me hope again. Other people in my profession took up gambling or drank or went crazy chasing women. Not me. I went home and cooked," he says on his blog Guys Who Like To Cook. His first eCookbook, "10 Delicious Holiday Recipes," is available on Amazon, and in his spare time, he updates his second food blog, Men Who Like To Cook.
As if this chicken did not look filling enough, David paired the dish with onion rings. Click here for a full recipe.
This egg salad reminds David of beach picnics he used to have with his family as a kid. Click here for the full recipe.
This dish is not for someone looking for a quick meal, and can take as long as 5 days to fully pickle. Click here for the full recipe.
After losing more than 40 pounds on the South Beach Diet, blogger Kalyn Denny of Salt Lake City, Utah became convinced that lower-glycemic cooking was the way to stay healthy. Her blog, Kalyn's Kitchen features recipes that she's created or adapted to use low-glycemic foods. The glycemic index is a measure of how quickly foods turn to sugar in the bloodstream, so this type of cooking is good for people with diabetes, pre-diabetes or anyone who's trying to lose weight on a lower-carb eating plan. Many of her recipes are also gluten-free since she focuses on not using flour.
You can put this pot roast in a slow cooker before you go to work, and it will be ready by the time you come home. Click here for the full recipe.
These stuffed green peppers are cheap, easy and healthy. Click here for the full recipe.
According to Kalyn, if you like sweet potatoes and feta separately, then you are going to love them together. Click here for the full recipe.
Jean Layton, 52, became a doctor after she lost her first husband to cancer. Her cooking and blogging goal is to educate people that "food is truly the first medicine." She writes Gluten-Free Doctor from Bellingham, Washington, just south of the Canadian border. She is gluten intolerant, as are her husband's twin teenage daughters. "Food is a healing tool," she said. This year she's focused on non-GMO and organic foods -- and is happy that the marketplace is finally producing gluten-free and organic in the same product.
According to Jean, orange is the color of fall, making this recipe perfect for the holiday season. Click here for the full recipe.
Cheryl D. Lee, who blogs at Black Girl Chef's White, is a 50-year-old chef and food blogger who shares her home with her five-year-old daughter and her 82-year-old mother. She cooks for both and strives for dishes that both will eat. Oxtails? "My mom and daughter both love oxtails, so I have a few oxtail recipes on the blog," said Lee. She's also blessed with a five-year-old who loves vegetables and a Mom who appreciates good food.
Cheryl first created this dish in an attempt to recreate the flavors of her former Brooklyn neighborhood. Click here for the full recipe.
According to Cheryl, using snow pea shoots are a great way to jazz up an ordinary salad. Click here for the full recipe.
While this is one of Cheryl's Cinco De Mayo recipes, it can be great any day of the year. Click here for the full recipe.
Sodium Girl is a girl with a mission. Jessica Goldman Foung was facing kidney failure from Lupus complications when she decided that nothing would stop her from having a full life and a full belly. She found that a well-controlled, salt-free, low-sodium diet was her key to staying healthy and active. While not a mid-lifer herself -- she is 29 -- her recipes will work for those with hypertension (high blood pressure).
Do you have left over brisket from the holidays? Don't let it go to waste -- turn it into a taco! Click here for the full recipe.
This pasta may only have a few ingredients, but it has lots of flavor. Click here for the full recipe.
Jessica serves these to football-watching guests on Sunday as a healthy, low-sodium tailgate treat. Click here for the full recipe.