It’s kind of ironic that I’ve named this category of recipes “Memory Lane”, because often I have no memory of them at all. Scanning through my editorial calendar, it looks like I’ve front-loaded the blog with the more memorable items (whether this was intentional or not, I’ll leave the reader to guess), so from here on in you can count on Memory Lane to be cracked and increasingly overgrown by weeds.
It’s clear from the photo why I have no memory of Layered Parfait Mold. I’m pretty sure I’ve made a number of them like this, a jelly layer atop a bavarian layer. Back when I was rating the recipes, I gave this one two “nasties”, because it wasn’t as nice as I expected, and because I was dissatisfied with the Trader Joe’s frozen fruit medley that I used for the jelly layer. Frozen fruit is great in a gelatin dish insofar as it helps to cool the gelatin so that it thickens faster, but it’s difficult to find frozen fruit that has both flavor and a non-weird texture.
Reviewing the recipe, I see that I could have made this more interesting. Apparently I just went with strawberry for both layers, but the recipe calls for “any flavor” Jell-O. I can see now I should have mixed it up a bit. At least then the photo would have been more interesting, and I could have had a bavarian layer than wasn’t creepy pink. Naturally, that was the tastier layer. That was the part Bryan liked, probably because it had ice cream in it, and ice cream makes everything better.
In the last unmemorable Memory Lane piece, Quick Creme de Menthe Frappé, I announced that I would try to have all of the recipes completed and posted by my fiftieth birthday in January 2017. I don’t see that happening at this point. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the course of this Project, it’s the need to pace myself, and the main thing is to actually finish. As far as I’ve been able to discover, nobody else has been able to cook their way through this book, so that, when it happens, will be an accomplishment.
I’ll be honest with you – a major ongoing challenge has been maintaining enthusiasm for Jell-O. Other people who’ve done Jell-O blogs have claimed to love (or be obsessed with) Jell-O. They also tend to be housewives and/or Mormons. I’m way outside of both of those demographics, and while I clearly have Jell-O memories going way back, it’s not like it’s ever been my favorite thing.
It turns out that the key is having enthusiasm for the Project itself. It hit me a few weeks ago when Bryan and I were making one of our semi-regular visits to the Cambridge Antique Market, where we find a lot of our vintage cookbooks, jelly molds, and kitchenware. We ran across a shoebox full of old recipe booklets, many of them church- or school-produced things outside my area of interest, but one of them happened to be an early 1960s vintage copy of Joys of Jell-O, with just the sort of weird color food photography I adore. There was no price tag on it, so I checked with the woman who was overseeing the booths on the floor, and she told me that the shoebox was for sale as a lot, $25 for all of them. In that case, I told her, I would have to mull it over. I explained a little about the Project and why I was particularly keen to have the Jell-O book. I thanked her, and wandered off to look at other booths.
A few minutes later, I heard her call out, “Is the Jell-O Lady still here?” She had phoned the vendor and gotten him to agree to sell me the Jell-O book separately. I was touched by her thoughtfulness, and weirdly thrilled to be publicly called out as “the Jell-O Lady”.
Can I be “the Jell-O Lady” for another couple of years? Yeah. I think I can.