For some reason, WordPress won’t let me use strikethrough formatting in the title, so let me just note that, for the purposes of the Project, the official title of this recipe is Quick
Orange Fruit Salad.
This one is definitely an Orange Boycott, given that the base Jell-O is orange, and the “salad” part is mostly orange sections. This meant that I had to get kind of creative with the substitutions.
I thought that it could be fun to go with one of the more interesting Jell-O flavors – in my stash I have boxes of flavors like mango and “Melon Fusion”, but I decided that after the narrow passage of Trumpcare in the U.S. House of Representatives this week, I wanted to get as far from orange as possible. That meant Berry Blue. Blue is, of course, the complementary (or opposite) color to orange on the color wheel you learned in elementary school.
I had to put more thought into what I was going to use in place of the orange sections, and I settled on a bit of an assortment, like a standard, non-gelatinous fruit salad. At the range of restaurants we tend to frequent, fruit salad is almost always bits of cantaloupe, honeydew, strawberries, grapes, and maybe banana slices and/or blueberries, so I thought I’d try for something like that. Ruling out cantaloupe on account of the color, and bananas on account of their maddening tendency to clump together, I finally settled on honeydew and a strawberry and blueberry mix from the prepared-fruit section at the supermarket.
The recipe also calls for halved green grapes, and that was the key point where I did follow instructions. This part was kind of annoying, cutting the grapes in half. It reminded me of making Frosted Fresh Grapes, and I decided that, really, any preparation of grapes beyond washing them and pulling them off of the stems is a waste of time.
The preparation of Quick
Orange Fruit Salad was mostly straightforward. The recipe includes the addition of a dash of salt and two teaspoons of lemon juice to the gelatin, and I went ahead and did that. This is supposed to be quick-thickened by the addition of ice in place of the cold water, but I guess the temperature in the kitchen wasn’t quite cool enough yesterday because, once again, this technique didn’t quite work, and I ended up thickening it over an ice-water bath. Once that was done, I added the fruit, put it in a pretty serving bowl, and was struck, as I put it into the fridge to chill, by the aquamarine color of the Berry Blue Jell-O and how it made me think of a fish bowl. I started wishing that I’d cut the honeydew slices into little fish shapes, and…. Nah. Life’s too short.
For me, this turned out to be a perfectly nice dessert. I didn’t measure out the fruit and probably added more than the recipe called for, but this just meant that it seemed more healthful. The grape halves sank to the bottom, but that wasn’t a big deal once I’d dished out a portion. The Berry Blue flavor was better than I remembered, but maybe the addition of the salt and lemon juice had something to do with that. It reminded me of Smarties (the American kind, not the British kind) or Sweet Tarts. I found that I really liked the color, too. It reminded me of summer, which is taking its own sweet time coming around this year. Also, it kind of matched my hair’s current “accent” color, as my trainer pointed out when I was telling him about this earlier today, which is why I included a somewhat rare photo of myself tasting the Jell-O. However, to my colorblind spouse, Berry Blue Jell-O is a weird sort of blue-gray. “It doesn’t look like food!” he protested. I’ll be eating the lion’s share of this one.
The apron I’m wearing in that photo was sent up to me this past week by R–, a former student/researcher in our lab who’s now working on his Ph.D. at Yale. The shiny red cerebrum reminded him of my brain-shaped Jell-O mold, and he couldn’t resist the kind gesture, for which I’m grateful.
It’s been kind of a gloomy week, between the weather and the GOP trying to kill and/or subjugate us 99%ers, so small kindnesses have meant a lot. A Facebook friend whom I’ve never met in person was good enough to share positive feedback after viewing the video of my Rock Camp band’s performance (luckily we were first in the lineup; I kind of feel like I owe a beer or other beverage of choice to anyone who makes it all the way through the song), and, most importantly, he took my interest in pursuing music seriously.
The interesting thing about my Facebook friend is that he’s politically conservative, and we’re both trying not to cut people off because of political differences. I know some people who are doing that, and I understand that they have their reasons, but (rather uncharacteristically, to be honest) I’m trying not to be so quick to give up on some large portion of humanity. It’s nice that some people are affirming my (admittedly shaky) faith in people.
Yes, it has been an awfully long time since I last posted. I won’t try to excuse this, but merely by way of explanation let me just say that life has been happening. Shortly after the Pi Day post, I had to pack up my home office and move everything downstairs (along with almost everything else on the second floor of Freak Mountain) to make way for the removal of the wall-to-wall carpeting that we’d hated since the first time we saw the house, and its replacement with much nicer (and more environmentally friendly) bamboo flooring. We were in exile at a nearby Fairfield Inn for the better part of a week, which turned out to be more stressful than one might expect. After that, I painted my office, which had been an insipid peach-pink and dotted here and there with what I’m guessing were baby-food stains, and replaced almost all the old random furniture. Henceforth, I have spent a great deal of time reading in my new IKEA club chair.
Of course, by now everyone knows about our legendary Winter 2015 Snowpocalypse, and that also took its toll. And then when springtime finally arrived, our friend V. finally succumbed to her advanced cancer at the Memorial Day weekend. So I’ve been feeling a little beat down is what I’m trying to say here.
Since it was at V.’s July 4th party last year that I allowed myself to be talked into rebooting this blog, I decided that the holiday would be as good a time as any to pick up the thread I dropped last March. Patriotic Mold was on the schedule for this weekend, and it seemed like a nice, relatively simple one with which to start again – a basic layered Jell-O, with strawberry gelatin and frozen strawberries (I used Welch’s – not recommended), lemon Jell-O diluted to almost-white paleness with vanilla ice cream, and Berry Blue Jell-O with frozen blueberries. One good thing about doing this in 2015, as opposed to 1974, is that we have the Berry Blue flavor/color now. Since it didn’t exist back in the day, the recipe says to use lemon Jell-O and mashed blueberries to achieve the blue layer, though it seems to me what what you’d end up with would be a weird dark green. The book also suggests trying the black cherry or Concord grape flavors for the blue layer, but I think that would make it too dark. As it was, with the Berry Blue, my blue layer was a deep indigo, like the darkest possible wash of blue jeans.
The recipe calls for Patriotic Mold to be a single large ring mold. Been there, done that, had my heart broken when the layers slid apart in transit. Instead, I used a three-cup mold and four 1.25-cup molds, since my rainbow mold last year seemed to work out so much better in smaller molds. My plan was to bring the larger mold to a party in the afternoon, leaving us with just a few smaller molds to consume on our own. As it turned out, even the three-cup mold was no match for our winter-ravaged roadways. Bryan and I ate some of it at home, and it wasn’t bad, although the frozen strawberries were pale and flavorless, and I was a little put off by the texture of the blueberries. (Bryan thought they were fine.)
The sad state of my larger mold sadly reflected my feeling about the holiday. Although I love my country, I’ve never been what you would call a flag-waving patriot, and the recent race-motivated murders in South Carolina have left me feeling less sanguine about unity in these United States. I was sickened and saddened by the killing, and troubled by the subsequent rehashing of our old fight over the Confederate battle flag, what it stands for and whether it’s appropriate to continue displaying it.
As a Yankee born and bred, I confess I don’t understand why some southerners stubbornly hang on to that flag, insisting that “southern heritage” has nothing to do with slavery or racism. At the recommendation of someone I know who was raised in South Carolina, I read Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz. In it, Horwitz relates his experiences with Civil War re-enactors, and his visits to historic sites around the south and the people that he meets there. I was hoping that the book would shed a little light on the southern mindset; going on this journey with Horwitz, I wound up having a better understanding of how southerners arrive at a particular mindset, but I still don’t get why. Neither did Horwitz. What’s particularly worrying is the fact that the events described in the book took place twenty years ago, but they sound like they could have happened two weeks ago. I worry about what will happen if we can’t find a way beyond this impasse.
P.S. On the positive side, I was greatly cheered by the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage. Since it was legalized here in 2004, Massachusetts has utterly failed to go to hell in a hand basket. I expect that will be true of the rest of the country, at least as far as marriage goes.