Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Congealed Holiday Fun!

When I found a random baggie with three Women's Circle Home Cooking magazines from the '70s at a thrift shop, I said "Oh, yeah!" maybe a little louder than I intended. At least, the person browsing the shelves of yellowing romance novels gave me a look suggesting she thought I was getting a little too hot and bothered about reading material that didn't have Fabio on the cover, but whatever.

The nipples on this cover just  happen to be maraschino cherries... on a very mismatched chest... made out of some kind of a melting greenish pillowy dessert and a pile of fruit salad gloppily barfed into a lettuce-lined serving dish. 

Without rippling pecs or hair blown by a capricious breeze, this is an honest cover-- more honest than contemporary cooking magazines' spreads of perfectly-styled farro bowls topped with sustainable seafood and wilted beet greens. This is food you'd see sitting on the dessert table at Grandma's.

That quietly melting pistachio-looking dessert is actually not made of pistachio pudding, but that other standby when you need a green dessert:

It's lime gelatin with cream cheese and whipped evaporated milk, layered with chocolate-peppermint pudding. 

I see minty desserts made with lime Jell-O often enough to know they must have been a thing, but I can never quite wrap my head around it. I love the tang of limes-- enough that I was always the weirdo with the green slushie when all the cool kids ordered red flavors-- and I love weird pepperminty things enough to stir a drop of peppermint flavoring into my oatmeal on occasion-- but limermint? Pepperlime? They seem like they're clearly not meant to be a hot couple. Maybe people are suggestible enough that they don't notice the lime and think it's just mint? That's my theory, but I'm not going to try it out. 

I also love that this has no name other than "Our Cover Dessert." And you better love the black and white drawings of people obliviously knocking presents out of each other's arms and of kids admiring really out-of-scale catcher's mitts and bicycles just as much as I do, or you are wasting your time here. 

What else might be featured on the Christmas buffet, besides limermint confections? There are plenty of other other gelatin-based possibilities.

Any good holiday party needs red and white ring salads to offset the green dessert. The white mold promises to be a delight, consisting of unflavored gelatin and sieved cottage cheese. (At least there's not much of an incentive to overeat this part of dinner-- and not much in the way of consequences if you do anyway.)

The red part gets a little more imaginative, providing a choice between savory and sweet options:

There's a tomato juice, onion, and celery mold if you want to get your veggies. (It wouldn't take much work to make this a Bloody Mary mold if that's your thing! That could help make Christmas easier to deal with....)

There's also a red-hot and applesauce mold if you're really into the mid-century hobby of pretending that dessert counts as a salad. 

If you need a cheap gift to stick under the Christmas tree, this magazine has you covered:

Buy up all the rotting bananas on clearance at the grocery store and make pints and pints of banana jam! Now that I see this, I'm kind of surprised no one in my family ever tried it.

Finally, if the rich foods of the season take their toll, you can go home to a lean veggie dinner:

It's lean, right? It starts with a pound of fresh broccoli, a carrot, an onion, a zucchini, and some mushrooms... I'm sure the cup-and-a-half of shredded cheese is just a little addition for flavor and nothing to derail the post-holiday diet. 

I'm also puzzled as to why you'd boil all the vegetables together first if they're going into the oven anyway. Why not just roast them to concentrate the flavor? (And why boil the broccoli for more than double the time of the much harder carrots and onions?)

The holidays are a time of great mysteries....


  1. Why is no one worried in that illustration? There are toys & Christmas wreaths just floating in space! Maybe they all ate too much red & white ring?

    1. Yeah... Maybe somebody slipped some "special" mushrooms into the Bloody Mary ring.

  2. Lime and mint aren't necessarily bad together. Mojitos are good, but that uses fresh lime and mint, unlike that dessert (which sounds pretty icky).

    1. Ah-- that could be. I'm not a big mixed-drink person myself (aside from a good vodka and tonic), so I didn't think of that.