Jell-o Unscripted: the good, the really bad and the genius

jello fruit

When you’re as versatile a food construction agent as Jell-o and you’ve been around as long as Jell-o, you will have a rich and varied historical archive of potential recipe uses. Some of those uses are classic for all the right reasons. Some are not. In honor of all the Jell-o worthy spring events, we’re creating a highly subjective collection of the many faces of Jell-o: the good, the awful horrible bad and the genius.

The Good Jell-o

cake
Strawberry poke cake, photo from Betty Crocker.

Poke Cake. Those of us who prefer eating simple with fresh ingredients cringe a little at a recipe that includes cake mix, Jell-o and Cool Whip. But it’s so tasty…and so easy. Extra points given to Team Betty Crocker for spearing their strawberry with a plastic cocktail saber.

strawberry pretzel salad
Jell-o strawberry pretzel/salad. Photo from Kraft.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad and/or Dessert. There are so many recipes for this unlikely combo out there that it’s almost needs it’s own website. This version is from the Jell-o mother planet. Feel free to try others. 

jello and fruit
Fruit suspended in Jell-o from at 1969 Good Housekeeping recipe book.

Jell-o with fruit. One of the reasons Jell-o remains such a favorite is that it is to the cook like paint is to the artist. You can mix it, you can mold it, you can texture it, you can add stuff to it and it will, as a rule behave in a predictable manner. Use refrigeration creatively to create layers, use glasses to make pretty parfaits (don’t pour hot jello into your pretty glassware, let it cool a bit), whip air into partially cooled Jell-o to get a cool bubbled texture…if you can dream it, you can probably do it. But there are some things that will make your vision fall apart, like adding the wrong fruit or adding too much liquid, so check out the link above for basic directions.

The Horrifyingly Bad Jell-o

jello ad
Jell-o with salad bits. From Huffington Post. With regrets.

My personal Jell-o horror was the salad my mom made with celery Jell-o (yes, it was a thing) filled with shredded carrots and celery. Three wrongs do not make a right, especially when what you think should be served is cherry Jell-o with big cherries floating in it. When celery Jell-o was confined to the dumpster of grocery history, she substituted lemon. That was even worse.

Although celery was the only flavor from the Jell-o house of horrors to cross our threshold, it was not the only savory flavor and here are the ads to prove it. 

It would be easy to go on and on here, because when Jell-o goes bad, it goes seriously bad. But Buzzfeed already put in the sweat, so easier just to read their post on Horrifying Retro Gelatin. Yes, some of their are not Jell-o based, some are plain gelatin, not branded packaged flavored gelatin. But I think it is entirely fair to paint Jell-o with a gelatin brush.

The Genius Jell-o

hello jello
Hello, Jell-o, the genius showcase of the Jello Mold Mistress.

If you feel like you want to dial up your Jell-0 artistry, spend some time with the Jello Mold Mistress of Brooklyn. We haven’t mentioned Jell-0 shots, but if you were looking for recipes for those and other incredible treats, you would find them in her book, Hello, Jell-o or on her blog.

And then there’s the world of 3D gelatin art. You know those beautiful glass paperweights with glass flowers suspended in a ball of glass…picture that. Then picture it made with gelatin and completely edible.

There are lots of sites that offer both instruction and supplies for this incredible food art. To get started, check out Gelatin Art Market and Art de Gelatin

 

gelatin cake
3D gelatin art wedding cake from Art de Gelatin.

♦   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦

So go forward and congeal some spectacular desserts, salads or whatever strikes your fancy. If there is one mantra you should remember for Jell-o crafting, it’s this: Just because you can suspend it in Jell-o, it doesn’t mean you should.

What is your best Jell-o recipe? Or your most regrettable one? Share in the comments below!

Jell-O: the perfect Easter treat

jello cubes

Jell-O is the inspiration for the perfect Easter dessert or salad. Bright colors, light taste, easy to make and the perfect base on which to build a thousand creative taste sensations.

Did you know it’s been around since the late 1800’s? Jello was originally created by a husband and wife team who made and sold medicinal syrups. They didn’t do well marketing their new product and soon sold both the name and patented formula to a gentleman who knew just how to market this new invention. It was later bought by General Foods which became Kraft Foods and well, we all know what happened from there.  

Jell-O is still a popular treat today and can be used in lots of fun desserts and salads. No matter what the season, it’s the perfect food. Cool and soothing, it goes down easily and doesn’t feel heavy. Kids love it for the bright colors and vibrant flavors.

If you so happen to be stuck in a hospital for any length of time, you will be sure to see some turn up with a meal or two. It’s served in school cafeterias and restaurants alike and still brings a smile to most everyone’s face. As a low cost and easy to make dessert Jell-O can’t be beat.

Try this simple vintage 1950s Jell-o recipe below to bring some jewel toned tastiness to your Easter table. 

jello-circ-02-01-1956-041-M5
This fabulous Jell-O ad is from a 1956 Family Circle magazine

Pi Day 2017: make mine Margarita

pi shrine

pi day chartIf you made a Venn diagram of people who love math best and people who love pie best, today would be the day those two loves overlap. Happy π Day!

Credit for the creation of Pi Day rests with Larry Shaw, a physicist at the incredible San Francisco Exploratorium. In 1988, he organized a parade of sorts followed by pie. It caught on, as cool things often do. Today the Exploratorium celebrates the 30th Pi Day with free admission, a procession to the Pi Shrine and pie.

You can’t use Pi Day as an excuse to take the day off from work even though it is officially recognized by the US House of Representatives. But you can use it as a reason to eat pie, as if a reason to eat pie was needed. To assist with that, we’re digging into the Vintage Unscripted recipe inspiration file…and coming out with two tasty lime pastries from That Lively Lime Twist, a 1983 recipe leaflet from Borden. The Margarita Pie with a pretzel crust is definitely unscripted. Although the recipe calls for tequila and triple sec, it would probably be fine without the first and with a bit of orange extract subbed in as the second. As for the Key Lime Pie recipe, there are hundreds of them out there, but this one is fast and simple.

lime pie recipes

 

A Thanksgiving Favorite Almost Lost To History

Old Sturbridge Village

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I spent many years as an educator at Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum in Massachusetts. It shows New England life in a rural town in the 1830’s and is open year round. At that time, Thanksgiving Day was set  by the Governor of each state. It was not declared a National Holiday until Abraham Lincoln’s presidency in the dark days of the Civil War. 

Imagine the baking and preparations that were made to get ready for this most important day! Old and young alike had thoughts about the marvelous and rich Marlborough Pie that was only made a few times of year. The recipe is very old and came over from England and like most, was subject to changes as each baker thought HER recipe was the best. It is very sad to have had it go out of favor and for reasons unknown. I would call this a lemon apple custard and it is so rich that a very small slice will do very nicely.

Google search “Marlborough Pudding” to get recipes and more history. I loved sippitysup’s blog about it and thank him for the use of his image.

 The following recipe was the one we used in the kitchens at Old Sturbridge Village. It is given to you with their hearty wishes for a Good Thanksgiving and the hopes that you will come to visit a this New England historical treasure.

Marlborough Pudding

One of our most requested recipes is this one for Marlborough Pudding, which is reproduced here for your own enjoyment and taken from Amelia Simmons’ “American Cookery” (1796).

Original Recipe

Take 12 spoons of stewed apples, 12 of wine, 12 of sugar, 12 of melted butter, and 12 of beaten eggs, a little cream, spice to your taste; lay in paste No. 3, in a deep dish; bake one hour and a quarter.

Modern Adaptation

6 tablespoons butter
Juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup stewed, pureed apples
3/4 cup sherry
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup white sugar
4 eggs
1/2 recipe for pie crust
2 teaspoon grated nutmeg (or to taste)

1. Melt butter and set aside to cool.
2. Squeeze lemon and remove seeds.
3. Add lemon to stewed apples, sherry, cream, and sugar and mix well.
4. Add melted butter to mixture, blending well.
5. Beat eggs and add to mixture.
6. Prepare pastry and line deep, 8-inch pie plate.
7. Season with grated nutmeg and spoon mixture into prepared pie plate.
8. Bake 15 minutes at 400°F. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake 45 minutes more or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool before serving.

Hearth Method

1. Using a redware bowl over hot coals, melt the butter and set aside to cool.
2. Follow Steps 2-7 in the Modern Method recipe.
3. Bake 1 hour in hot bake-oven, or preheated Dutch oven, with coals on lid and below.

Yield: one 8-inch deep dish pie

 

 

Quick and Easy Happy Halloween Treats

Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen,
Voices whisper in the trees,
‘Tonight is Halloween!’  ~ Dexter Kozen

Halloween is the night for tricks and treats! Take a break from all the candy, and create these fun and tasty treats for your family!

Quick and Easy Pumpkin Ice Cream

pumpkinicecreamWhat You Will Need:

  • 1/2 gallon Vanilla Ice Cream, softened
  • 1 can 100% Canned Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon Orange Juice
  • 1 Large Bowl
  • 1 Medium Bowl
  • Mixer (vintage, of course!)
  • Vintage Glass Refrigerator Dish (optional, but delightful)

What You Do:

  1. Place ice cream in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix canned pumpkin, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange juice with a mixer on low speed.
  3. Blend pumpkin mixture into ice cream, stirring well (it’s okay to lick the spoon when you are done – LOL)
  4. Cover mixture and freeze for several hours until firm. TIP: Place your prepared mixture into a vintage glass refrigerator dish – it makes the ice cream look even better when it’s ready to be served.
  5. When you are ready to serve, let the ice cream soften slightly before scooping and serving. Enjoy!

Variations:

  • Serve your ice cream in a pumpkin glass! Click this link for a quick and simple way to convert a vintage glass into a pumpkin!
  • Serve your sweet pumpkin ice cream with a slice of pumpkin bread.
  • If desired, sprinkle a small amount of nutmeg, pumpkin seeds, or colorful Halloween sprinkles over the ice cream before serving.
  • TIP: If you use pumpkin pie filling (which usually already has spices added), make sure to adjust the spices in this recipe to taste.

Candy Corn Trifles

candycornWhat You Will Need:

  • Angel Food Cake (store-bought or homemade)
  • Prepared Vanilla Pudding (plus milk needed to prepare)
  • Orange Food Coloring (mix red and yellow food coloring if needed)
  • Prepared Lemon Jell-O
  • Clear Vintage Trifle Bowl

What You Do:

  1. Crumble the angel food cake into the bottom of a clear glass serving bowl. This forms the white layer found on a piece of candy corn.
  2. Layer prepared vanilla pudding, tinted orange with food coloring, on top of the cake layer. This forms the orange portion of a piece of candy corn.
  3. Top the orange pudding layer with a layer of prepared lemon gelatin. This forms the yellow layer of the candy corn.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Variations:

  • There are many ways you can easily vary this cute and delicious recipe. For example, use a yellow cake recipe to form the cake layer – this will be the yellow layer of candy corn. Top the cake layer with orange-tinted vanilla pudding – the orange layer. Then top the treat off with a layer of whipped cream – the white layer. Embellish with a piece of real candy corn!

Summertime Mini Tropical Trifle Treat

It seems our gluten challenged friends are usually left out of the fun recipe category so I took matters into my own hands and did a little creative, well – creating!

Let’s go into the kitchen and see what we came up with. I am giving you the ingredients and directions as I first made them. I will then follow up with notes and adjustments if needed.

Tropical Trifle ingredients:

Chopped pecans

Ripe banana – mashed with 1 drop lemon juice

Heavy whipping cream with powdered sugar and vanilla added (1 cup cream + 1 TBS sugar +½ tsp vanilla).

Coconut

Other fresh fruit if desired

Tropical trifle directions:

Before you get anything out – put the bowl you will use to whip the cream in the fridge to get cold.

mashed bananas
nana nana bo bana

Chop pecans and set aside. I ground some in a mini grinder for the bottom “crust” and to sprinkle on top and chopped the remainder for the layer inside.

Mash banana in a bowl with the addition of 1 drop of lemon juice. Be sure to mash well so your cream will be smooth. Set aside.

Measure out about a 1/2 cup of the coconut into a bowl and set aside for assembly.

Beat (with a hand mixer) cream, powdered sugar and vanilla. Whip to a stiff peak.

whipped cream
Whip it good

Gently fold the mashed banana into the whipped cream and set aside.

Time to assemble! I used custard cups as containers for the mini trifles. Assemble as follows in layers: nuts, coconut, cream banana mixture, nuts, coconut, cream banana mixture and end with a sprinkle of ground nuts and coconut on top. Cover and freeze or refrigerate for 2 hours prior to serving.

assembling the trifle

What we would change:

I think I would add more banana (maybe another 1/2). I like pronounced flavor!

The cream was plenty sweet for me but if you have a sweet tooth you may want to add an additional 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.

The best part of this recipe? The flavors can be changed soooo easily! This would be wonderful with key lime and coconut but be sure to watch the liquid content with the cream so it doesn’t end up runny.

Since I was thinking Gluten Free I searched the internet for an easy to make Gluten Free cookie and this is what I found: These little (yes, they are very small) cookies should come with a warning – they are that good, irresistibly good! These cookies are shown on the featured photo of this article.

Coconut flour bites

from The Coconut Mama

3 Tbs. coconut flour

2 Tbs. cold butter

1 Tbs. raw honey

Pinch of sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 365 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor or blend with a pastry blender.
  3. The dough will be soft and slightly sticky.
  4. Divide into 8 small balls and flatten slightly on the baking sheet.
  5. Bake until the edges are light golden, about 9 minutes.
  6. These over bake quickly, so keep an eye on them.
  7. Let the cookies cool completely before removing from the baking sheet or they will crumble.
  8. Enjoy!

The above recipe was copied directly from the website link shown above.

 

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Christmas in July: Buddy the Elf’s Soda Fountain Specials

three maple soda fountain treats

Christmas in July wouldn’t be Christmas in July without Buddy the Elf. We were unable to contact Buddy. He may be visiting Papa Elf with Jovie and the kids, and you know how spotty cell service is at the North Pole.

maple syrup in a pitcher
“We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.”

Buddy has spoken clearly on Elf nutrition. Knowing his tenets, we feel comfortable taking the liberty of speaking on Buddy’s behalf and making some twists on classic soda fountain treats that he would endorse. 

Maple Snow Cones

Fast, immediately gratifying and purely refreshing, maple snow cones are a nice break from traditional sticky fake fruit syrup snow cones.

You need:

Ice cubes and a way to crush them

Pure maple syrup

Using a blender, an snow cone maker, a vintage ice crusher or a mallet and a clean plastic bag, crush the ice cubes to the size you want. Pile in a nice shallow sherbet cup and drizzle with lovely, amber brown, thick, sweet maple syrup.

Maple Egg Cream

An egg cream is a New York classic that involves not a single egg. Egg cream lovers take their egg creams mighty serious, so we are risking scorn by straying from the classic chocolate made with Fox’s U-Bet Syrup. The best egg creams are made by eye, but just to make sure we didn’t have too heavy a hand with the syrup, we based our proportions on Ina Garten’s egg cream recipe

You need:

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 cup milk or half and half

icy cold club soda or seltzer

Mix maple syrup and milk or half and half in the bottom of a 16 oz. glass (a nice tall glass with a flared top is best). Stir together well and put in club soda while stirring. 

Maple Ice Cream Soda

This is a soda fountain classic. Similar to an egg cream, but with less dairy in the mix in anticipation of  the ice cream getting deliciously melty as you sip and spoon. Here again, we used Ina Garten’s ice cream soda recipe for measurements. 

You need:

3 tablespoons maple syrup

3 tablespoons heavy cream

frosty chilled club soda or seltzer

vanilla ice cream

Combine maple syrup and heavy cream in a tall ice cream soda glass. Add club soda until glass is 2/3 full. Drop in a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Add more club soda–be careful, the club soda gets really excited about having the ice cream in the glass and can bubble up. Hang a second scoop of ice cream off the side.

Variation suggestion. Substitute maple bacon ice cream. Why not. Seriously. 

If you’ve never crossed paths with an egg cream and would like to read more, Brooklyn Farmancy & Soda Fountain owner Peter Freeman spells out the details in this interview.

Quick and Easy Ice Cream – Just 3 Ingredients

“I scream. You scream. We all scream for Ice Cream!”

Here’s a quick and easy, 3-ingredient ice cream recipe – no ice cream maker needed! Our family favorite, perfect for a Summer day.

IceCreamDixiesQuick and Easy Ice Cream 

What You Will Need:

  • 2 cups Heavy Cream
  • 1 can (14-oz.) Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • Cherries or other fruit or flavorings (optional)

What You Do:

  • Using an electric hand mixer on high speed, beat the heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl until thick stiff peaks form (around 3-5 minutes).
  • Transfer the mixture to a loaf pan or freezer-safe container.
  • Cover and freeze until firm (at least 8 hours).
  • Will last in the freezer for up to 2 weeks (but trust me, it won’t last that long).
  • Scoop and serve! Top with cherries or your favorite fruit, or other favorite toppings.

While you’re making your ice cream, play this hit song from 1927 – “I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream”. Here with the very popular American band Waring’s Pennsylvanians.

Fun for serving ice cream…

 


 


 


No Bake Cookies: A taste from your childhood

No Bake Cookies
Delicious, chocolatey and easy-to-make no bake cookies.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 stick butter
  2. 2 cups sugar
  3. 1/2 cup milk
  4. 4 tbsp cocoa
  5. 1/2 cup peanut butter
  6. 3 to 3 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  7. 2 tbsp vanilla
Instructions
  1. In a medium sized saucepan, mix together the first five ingredients and bring to a low boil.
  2. Let boil for 1 full minute, remove from heat.
  3. Add in remaining ingredients (adding oats last) and mix well.
  4. Drop by tablespoon full onto cookie sheets lined with waxed paper.
  5. Chill until set. Keep in refrigerator.
Notes
  1. TIP – pre cool cookie sheets in refrigerator for faster setting.
Vintage Unscripted https://vintageunscripted.com/

Strawberry Season’s Eatings

strawberries on a plate

We appreciate some things more because they are transient. Rainbows, James Bond movie marathons, fitting into your skinny jeans and, most relevant in mid June, strawberry season. It comes, but like so many good things, it can’t stay. There are two weeks or so when the local New England strawberries are certifiable bliss, with a week of medium bliss before and after. And then they’re gone.

This year, strawberries have an extra dose of magic since the full Strawberry Moon coincided with the Summer Solstice last Monday evening, June 20. According to Space.com (which has some gorgeous photos of the event), this harmonic convergence has not happened since 1948. If ever there were a year to put on your sunscreen and picking clothes, this is it.

My best strawberry recipe is super simple. It calls for three ingredients and has a prep time of approximately 30 seconds to two minutes depending on how thorough and patient you are.

Best Summer Strawberry Recipe

1 quart fresh picked strawberries

water as needed

milk glass plate (regular plates or a paper towel can be substituted, but milk glass definitely improves taste)

Pour strawberries into your hands or a colander. Use water to rinse at least long enough to get any farm soil off them. Put strawberries on milk glass plate. Admire for 3-10 seconds. Eat.

Strawberry Shortcake

My second best strawberry recipe is slightly more time consuming, but is definitely worth the effort. Everyone has their own preferred method of strawberry prep. We wash them, hull them, slice three quarters of them, crush the last quarter, add a small amount of sugar, stir that into the sliced strawberries and allow a few minutes for the sugar to draw out the juice. This adulteration might horrify purists, but what can I say, we like juice.

In our circle, there is only one appropriate thing to put under the strawberries and that is a freshly baked King Arthur Baking Powder Biscuit, split in half so the soft insides can soak up the juice. So little effort, so much delicious.

Freezing Strawberries

You can’t prolong picking season, but you can bring back the memory all year long without much effort. Eating frozen strawberries isn’t the same as eating still-warm-from-the-sun strawberries, but they are definitely better tasting in the cold of winter than the anemic off-season strawberries you might find at the market.

To freeze whole berries, wash them, hull them, set them on a towel or paper towel to dry. When they’re dry, spread them on a baking sheet and freeze until, well, until they’re frozen. At that point, you can pop them in a freezer bag and they won’t freeze into a giant lump.

We are proponents of the ‘sicle method of preservation. At the end of the summer, our freezer is full of small serving freezer bags of tomato saucesicles, pestosicles and strawberrysicles. For this, we wash, dry, hull and slice the strawberries. And yes, we stir in a small amount of sugar because you gotta have the juice.

 

strawberry brooch
Vintage rhinestone strawberry brooch from Vintage Renude $23.95. Click for details.

There is one other way to enjoy strawberries year round. Find yourself an awesome rhinestone strawberry brooch. That will give you a breath of June on any winter day.

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