Originally posted December 14, 2009
How many different ways are there to do fruit and Jell-O? A lot, apparently.
Fruit Refresher is actually a refreshing change from Jell-O with Cool Whip and mayonnaise. (I guess it’s kind of like that old saw about how the best thing about beating your head against a wall is it feels so good when you stop.) The recipe calls for fresh berries or fruit, which is good since Jell-O is always better with fresh/real ingredients. Mid-December is not exactly the best time for fresh berries in New England, but I found some decent-looking blackberries at the supermarket. I macerated the berries in sugar, drained them, and used the resulting syrup as part of the cold liquid for the gelatin.
The Jell-O could be any flavor, and since I just needed to dissolve it in boiling water, I decided I’d better start using up my sugar-free Jell-O. I went for black cherry, which was not only sugar-free but also a flavor I hadn’t used before. The preparation was simple – dissolve gelatin in boiling water, add cold liquid, chill until thickened, add the fruit, and chill.
I’m very tired tonight for some reason, so it was nice to have a relatively stress-free Jell-O, no unmolding, it just got spooned into our funky MoMA ice cream bowls. The book suggests serving this with cream, and that would have been good, but it was fine served plain. It’s hard to go wrong with fresh fruit, though I’m not sure about the artificial cherry flavor of the Jell-O. It reminded me by turns of cough drops and of wearing Bonne Bell lip gloss when I was in my early teens. Either way, this made for a bunch of ambiguous Proustian moments.
Gelatin and Fruit is barely a recipe. I wonder if I was setting myself up for a bit of unnecessary angst by treating it as a separate thing. It’s perhaps the second simplest recipe in the book, with Cubed Gelatin in first place, and yet it’s the sixth item to appear. I ask you.
Still, this is helpful in the effort to pace myself, especially since there’s another nasty one coming up. For the Jell-O, I chose peach because I have a lot of it for some reason, and because I like the color. For fruit, I chose blueberries and banana, mainly on impulse. Going to the supermarket at this time of year is a little frustrating, because things are starting to come into season locally, and yet supermarkets are still selling produce from California and Florida. Bananas, I reasoned, are never in season in New England, so I couldn’t feel too bad about buying them. The blueberries were from Washington state, and, I don’t know, that seemed legit enough. Also, I thought Jell-O and banana alone would seem bland.
I’m pretty pleased with the result, appearance-wise. It turned out to be a sort of retro color scheme, a bit reminiscent of a 1960s dream kitchen. It was easy enough to eat, though Bryan grumbled about it being served in a tall glass. He’s peeved because he made a batch of chocolate-mint-chip ice cream, and thanks to the Project that’s been relegated to Second Dessert tonight.
To be honest, a low-stress Jell-O was just the thing this weekend (so props to me for planning so well!) I spent an inordinate amount of time working on the Juggling for Office Drones video, by turns moderately pleased and dismally disappointed with it. I know that my videos are like the macaroni-art-on-the-refrigerator of YouTube, and I accept that I would have to spend a lot more time and money on them (time and money that I don’t really have) to make them a lot better, but I feel like they should be a bit better for the effort I’m putting in.
Of course, the work is interesting, and it keeps me busy and thinking about things other than current events. This week has been particularly heavy, what with the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, the assassination of British MP Jo Cox, and the never-ending U.S. presidential campaign, on top of the usual lower-level stresses.
So, I’m finding myself having to make a more conscious effort to keep my head above water. Along with looking at vintage recipes on social media, I’m spending more time listening to my “Galaxy News Radio” station on Pandora, which (when it’s not taking weird detours into Wendy Carlos territory) plays big bands and singing groups from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. I’ve liked jazz for a long time, but I’m finding this music particularly soothing these days. Some might say that this is because the early-mid twentieth century was “a simpler time”. Sure it was. It was a time when men were men (who only liked women), women were women (who only liked men), and minorities had their own drinking fountains and lunch counters. It was a time when the world was at war, or between wars. That’s probably why the music from that era is so soothing.
Contrary to my rather snarky remark at the end of Orange Parfait, the 1970s weren’t a simpler time either. There was Watergate, the aftermath of the Viet Nam war (which I got to experience fairly closely because most of my uncles were in the service, and some went to Viet Nam), and the movement of “drug culture” toward the mainstream. The Cold War was still going on; duck-and-cover had gone out of civil defense style, but our town still tested the air raid sirens every Friday at noon. There were the gas crises, the post-Nixon political mess, and, at the end of the decade, the Iranian hostage crisis.
Well, the people of mid-century America had their comforts, and we had things (music, comedy, junk food) to mitigate the stresses of the 1970s, and I’m finding things in the here-and-now to enjoy. In particular, I’ve been hooked on a new album, Monolith of Phobos by the Claypool Lennon Delerium. I have a mad musical crush on Les Claypool’s bass, which he’s taken out of the rhythm section and placed squarely front and center. It’s so exhilarating to find a great new album; it feels like being a kid and having a long, hot summer of freedom ahead of you….