Friday, April 30, 2010

Don't Forget the Jell-o

A friend and I are doing a little blog post swap today...she would like to remain anonymous.
When I was married, my mother hired a friend to cater a small luncheon for family and friends who had traveled for the wedding. I can’t remember a thing about it, except that it was delicious and there was a delightful lemon sponge cake for dessert with a raspberry coulis.

Evidently there had been a Jell-o salad.

A few months into my marriage, my sister-in-law called to request my Jell-o recipe.

“Jell-o recipe?” I asked.

“Sure. That delicious recipe you served at your wedding luncheon.”

“Um, that was catered. I didn’t make the Jell-o,” I said, wracking my brain to remember eating Jell-o at my wedding luncheon. Or in the last 7 years.

“Oh, it was delicious,” she said. “I’d love to get the recipe from you.”

“Well, it was a caterer,” I repeated. “I don’t really have the recipe.”

“Whenever is fine.” She said. “I want to make it for Christmas dinner.”

I called my mom:

“Mom, was there Jell-o at the wedding luncheon?”

“Oh yes. Wasn’t it delicious?”

“I don’t remember eating Jell-o, but Bjorn’s sister wants the recipe.” I said.

“Oh, well, you just throw together the frozen raspberries and the sour cream and, you know, it’s very easy. You need to let one layer set before adding the sour cream of course. Don’t forget to tell her that.” Mom said.

“I think I’m going to need to write this down.” I said.

Long story short, I got my new sister-in-law the recipe and I got myself a reputation.

“Could you bring one of your Jell-o salads?” My new in-laws would ask whenever we got together for a shared meal.

“One of my Jell-o salads?” I complained to Bjorn. “It was the caterer’s Jell-o salad! Why do they think I have a cache of Jell-o salad recipes.”

I gave up trying to convince Bjorn’s family that I knew nothing about Jell-o and started searching for recipes. In those days, many of my requests were by mail, to old college roommates and resulted in little recipe cards being sent back to me weeks later.

So I brought Jell-o salads to the family gatherings.

Eventually, my food assignment morphed into green salads. No one else replaced me as Jell-o maker and I suspected the assignment had been superfluous--a test maybe--to see if I could be trusted with more important dishes. Green salad must be the next rung in the family gathering food assignment ladder.

I began with basic green salads: Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, celery. Maybe a radish if I was feeling adventurous. But after three years of nothing but green salad assignments, I began to feel under-appreciated.

“I can do so much more!” I said to Bjorn. “What about desserts? You like my desserts. I should do dessert.”

However, my subtle hints to the sisters-in-law that I would be happy to bring anything else to family gatherings went unheeded.

I had no choice but to sabotage myself and get fired from green salads.

Bjorn’s dad is a strictly meat and potatoes guy. He feels no need to try anything new, or that might contain a seasoning other than salt and/or pepper. I figured I could make a salad so strange he wouldn’t eat it. And if dad wasn’t happy, changes would have to be made.

My new salads now featured mesculin, blue veined cheeses, pomegranate seeds, candied nuts. I scoured the internet for strange green salad recipes that would shock the family into giving me a different food assignment.

My plan backfired. “Oh, your green salads are the best! We could never make anything like this.” They all said.

“It’s cutting up things and throwing them in a bowl,” I told Bjorn later, at home. “Any kid old enough to use a knife could do the same thing!”

Now the assignment always came as, “Please bring one of your green salads.”

At least this time I did have a stack of recipes I could claim.

Then, one day the call came. It was Bjorn’s dad’s birthday. Could I bring his favorite: a pumpkin pie?

The clouds parted and I think I heard angels singing: I was being promoted to dessert.

I labored over that pumpkin pie like I was birthing my own kid. The crust was perfectly fluted and I made the filling with the freshest canned pumpkin I could find. I covered the crust towards the end of baking so the edges wouldn’t burn. I let it cool and carefully transfered it to the fridge.

It wasn’t until much, much later that I realized my epic mistake: I’d added a whole can of evaporated milk, instead of one cup.

“That doesn’t look quite right” I said to my sister-in-law when she stuck a candle in the middle of the pie and it almost fell over.

“Something’s wrong.” I said as she carried it over to the table.

“I don’t think it set up correctly.” I said, my heart going a million miles a minute.

Abort! Abort! I thought. Please don’t let this fluke pie be the thing that represents my baking skills!

Did I mention that Bjorn’s family is polite? So polite in fact, that they cut that pie like it was the most natural thing to have pumpkin filling the consistency of pudding. So polite that each person commented on how tasty it was. Even my niece who doesn’t like pumpkin pie ate some and gushed about its tastiness.

Meanwhile, I wanted to rip the pie out of everyone’s hands and throw it down the garbage disposal in disgust. But there was no other dessert. Nothing else to serve. Just my disastrous pumpkin mistake.

I wasn’t too surprised when the next family food assignment I received was for a green salad.

And you know what?

I was OK with that.


Keira said...

I have that raspberry, sour cream, banana recipe. We call it Yummy Jello and I serve it every Christmas--no exceptions.

jafreakinessa said...

lol many times with this one! i demand more blog swaps!!! or at least a new sister that blogs more often

Anna said...

Warning: this comment is not related to Jell-O but the comment author IS related to the post author...

I started out reading a facebook comment which took me to Latter-day Homeschooling... "Samurai Mom" sounded familiar and now I'm reading Anonymous' post? Hey, that Anonymous is my cousin! Tell her hello for me.

ps. I set out paper napkins all the time but 2 out of 3 of us don't even use them and they end up in the trash anyway.