vitamin A jello salad

vitamin A jello salad
Molly McIntire was always my least favorite American Girl. I found her escapades trite, her personality off-putting, and her glasses absolutely disgusting. This was probably because at the time – the early 90s – large bug-eyed glasses were in style and man were they ever ugly [and now they’re trendy again… good thing none of my loggers have the fashion sense of hip city-dwellers, or else I might have to punch their lenses in].

I much preferred Felicity, because she had gorgeous red hair and liked horses, or Samantha, because she had that one bitchin’ sailor outfit. Like the unfortunate Kirsten doll maligned by ugly grayish hair, the Molly doll was consumed by her dumb face-hogging glasses.

I clearly never looked too hard into the Molly situation, because after spending a recent weekend afternoon staring dreamily at her illustrated face, I have to admit that I was quite wrong. She’s pretty darn cute, and those glasses are adorable. Plus, she grew up in the ’40s.

Daydreaming what life would be like could I travel in time takes up roughly 20% of my brain’s creative space. Last Saturday, for instance, those dreams took me back to the mid-1800s, to life on the Oregon Trail. If only I could see the plains as they were and the first nation tribes before they were boxed off into reservations, could experience a truly difficult life, could caulk the wagon and float. As enticing as death by cholera sounds, however, my illness-prone self would do better in a more modern era with miracle drugs as an option. And the 1940s is the decade that I would most like to visit.

Attractive fitted dresses. Men with pleated pants and hats intended for use outside of baseball games. Cocktail hour featuring cocktails, rather than Bud Light. Quality kitchenware made anywhere but China. Floral wallpaper and checkerboard floor tiles. Food rationing leading to inventive cakes made with mayonnaise. Spam. Unmatched patriotism and community spirit.

molly's cookbook vitamin A jello salad
I found this jello salad  – which looks like an over-sized hamburger, don’t you think? – in my copy of Molly’s Cook Book, part of the American Girls Pastimes series, released in 1994. The recipe repulsed me, as I’m sure it does you, but it was ridiculous enough that I thought it would make a lovely splash here on the internet. Plus, it taught me that cottage cheese isn’t actually half bad. Which was a surprise.

Vitamin A Jello Salad {recipe from Molly’s Cook Book}

++Ingredients:++

3-oz package of lemon gelatin
1 c. boiling hot water
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon or 1/2 a lemon
1 c. “apricot nectar” (I used Ceres apricot juice)
1 c. cottage cheese
1 large carrot
15-oz can of apricots
Lettuce leaves, for decoration

++Directions:++

In a medium mixing bowl, combine gelatin and hot water, and stir until dissolved. Add lemon juice and apricot juice and mix well.

Rinse a gelatin mold or aluminum bowl in cold water. Pour 1 cup of the gelatin mixture into the mold. Either let set 20-30 minutes in the fridge first, or spoon cottage cheese in directly. Pour another 1/2 c. of the gelatin into the mold. Place in the fridge to set while preparing the rest of the salad.

Grate the carrot – it should measure ~ 1 cup. Drain the can of apricots, the cut apricots into small cubes. Add carrots and apricots to remaining gelatin, and stir well. Let the gelatin mold cooling in the fridge continue to set until it is stiff enough to withstand the weight of the remaining ingredients. When ready, spoon the carrot-apricot-gelatin mixture on top. Cover the mold with plastic wrap and let set at least four hours or overnight.

Cover the serving platter with decorative lettuce leaves (I used lettuce and cabbage). Take the gelatin mold out of the fridge, and let sink in warm water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. When it appears to have loosened up, turn it over onto the serving plate to unmold it.

vitamin A jello salad

In other news, my boyfriend shared this article with me last night. And the photo below is the most perfect man / cat combination that I’ve ever seen. So beautiful. I adore the Amazon description for Alexandra Crockett’s book, which goes a little something like “Metal isn’t all dark and disturbing, violent and misanthropic. Metal Cats is proof that while the music may be brutal, the people in the scene are softies for their pets just like you and me.”

Stuff like this is definitely enough to make me glad that I live when I do. You wouldn’t be seeing any of these Metal Cats on the shelves in 1940s-era war-torn households.

metal cats

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mulled wine gelatin

I can’t think of a single thing that I don’t love about the holidays. I love eating cookies. I love staring in awe at my tastefully-decorated balsam fir tree. I love jumping around frenetically to Hanson and New Kids on the Block Christmas music, dancing myself silly until I hit a poorly-placed moose antler with my ankle, and sink into the carpet in pain. And I love repeating the whole ordeal day after day after day.

And on this day (roughly Day 20 of my holiday celebrations), after yet another senseless and disgusting gun-based tragedy, I also can’t think of a single thing I’m not thankful for at this time of year. I’m thankful our friends in Newtown are safe. I’m thankful to be in good health and good cheer. I’m thankful for the suspense of funny-shaped gifts under the tree. And, I’ll be honest, I’m so very thankful for the deliciousness that is mulled wine.

Last year, I wrote up a series of Christmas cookie recipes, with each being given a new or fanciful twist. This year…. well, this year, I just want to drink mulled wine. But I’m not much of a lush by trade, so I’ve been forced to get crafty. Oh, darn.

mulled wine gelatin

And so, crafty one that I am, I’ve created a few recipes that I hope you’ll love, with mulled wine as the star of each one. Up first – beautifully deep-colored mulled wine in wiggly, jiggly solid form, or Mulled Wine Gelatin.

For all of my mulled wine craftiness coming to you now and in the near future, I used a ginormous 1.5L bottle of the cheapest red wine I could find. I usually grab a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, but whatever you like best will work. The drier the wine, the more sugar you may wish to add, especially if the end product is going to be gelatin. Keep in mind that liquid sweeteners can be used in place of granulated or brown sugar, and I find that it works well to add honey if in need of an extra sweet touch.

This is an easily eaten jello, and while it is alcoholic in nature, I doubt you’d feel inclined to eat enough of it to do much damage. That said, it’s tasty, unexpected, fun to eat, and filled with Christmas cheer. Cheers!

mulled wine gelatin

Mulled Wine Gelatin

This will fill one medium-large gelatin mold, or three smaller molds. I used three cups of a 6-cup mini bundt pan for this recipe.

++Ingredients++

1/2 c. mulled wine, cold (recipe to follow)
2 packets powdered gelatin (2 scant tbsp)
1 1/2 c. mulled wine, heated to a near-boil
1 tbsp honey

++Directions++

Place the cold 1/2 c. of mulled wine in a medium bowl. Pour the two packets of gelatin over the wine, and let sit for a minute or two. Pour in the hot wine, and stir well. Add in the tbsp of honey, and mix to combine. Pour into molds, and chill in the fridge for at least four hours before serving.

Eat responsibly.

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Mulled Wine

For one regular-sized bottle of wine

++Ingredients++

1/2 c. granulated sugar (or 1/2 c. other sweetener, such as honey or agave)
1 bottle red wine
1/2 unpeeled orange or 1 tangerine, cut into sections
1 cinnamon stick
1 heaping tbsp mulling spices (allspice, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and mace)
1 tbsp brown sugar

++Directions++

In a large pot, combine sugar with a few splashes of wine. Add orange slices. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook for five minutes. Using a spoon or spatula, flatten the orange slices, exuding the juice and releasing the zest.

Add the rest of the wine, the cinnamon stick, and the mulling spices. Reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not allow the mixture to boil or simmer, as this will reduce the alcohol content. Near the end of cooking, add brown sugar to round out the flavors.

Serve immediately, when hot, or use in recipes such as Mulled Wine Gelatin, above.

mulled wine gelatin

Stay tuned for more recipes featuring the perennially delicious mulled wine. Meanwhile, give your friends and family great big hugs, and let them know how much you appreciate them. Life is so very sweet.