Today I wanted to share one of my favorite childhood dishes with you all. It's really not all that healthy, and it's definitely not organic. My mom calls it Mendi's pink fluff. And I was able to whip it up rather quickly on the bus because it's just three basic ingredients: Cottage Cheese, Cool Whip, and Flavored Gelatin.
Another one of the reasons I wanted to share this recipe with you all, is the fact that earlier this year my grandmother passed away. She would have been 84 years old this September. Part of our summer trip this year was to attend her memorial service. One of the things our family and friends did after her service to celebrate her life, was to gather at the only local bar in town, and spend our time together telling our favorite stories while enjoying some food and a few drinks. Many people brought the usual funeral items such as fruit trays, ham and cheese pinwheels, cookies or chips and dip. I however, decided that wanted to bring something much more personal to share with everyone.
Part 1 : What the hell is it?
No one in our family has never really known what it was called, it's just sort of always been around because we seemed to have it every year for holidays or family events. Most of the time my grandmother made it lime flavored, which my mother didn't like. Personally I never like it lime flavored either. Lime is just yucky, especially as an artificial flavor. Needles to say, as the years passed, grandma would sometimes make it in orange or strawberry flavors. Once I was able to convince her to make it raspberry flavored and I was totally hooked for life. Everyone usually ate it right up with rarely any left over. It's a nostalgic sweet treat attached to many great family memories and that I hold dear to my heart. Grandma apparently never showed anyone how to make it either, or at least no one remembers anyway. So because I loved it so much, and would pile half of my plate with it, I made a point to learn how to make it for myself.
So what exactly is it? After a little bit of searching, I have found a few recipes that closely match it. First I started with the website allrecipes.com. They have a search that you can use to search just by ingredients. So that's what I did. I typed in all of my ingredients into their search fields, hit enter and was matched with two results. Really, just two? Well, at least I finally had something that could give me some insight as to what we have been eating for all of these years. I was however surprised that out of thousands and thousands of recipes available on this site, I was rewarded with just two result for my search. The first one was called Thanksgiving Jello Salad and the second one was called Thanksgiving Orange Salad. I was at least getting somewhere though.
Next I searched Thanksgiving Jello Salad in Google. Several more results turned up. All of the recipes were close to what I have been making, but they were all different in some form or another. Let's take a look at the ingredients and variations with my grandmothers' and of five of the similar recipes I was able to find online.
Let's start with the ingredients in the recipe I learned from my grandmother. As I stated in the beginning of this article, my recipe contains just three simple ingredients:
- cottage cheese
- cool whip
- flavored jello gelatin
Go ahead an pick your favorite flavor. Mix them all together and then chill.
Now let's check out the others...
Thanksgiving Jello Salad
This one has to be the closest to my recipe of them all. Again, it is made with Lime jello. Not my favorite flavor. It also has the cottages cheese and cool whip. The only difference is that this one has crushed pineapple mixed in.
Thanksgiving Orange Salad
This one gets a little more fancy when it comes to the ingredients. First off, it uses Orange flavored gelatin instead of lime. So that's already off to a better flavor start in my opinion. While it does include the cottage cheese, cool whip and crushed pineapples, it then adds mandarin oranges and mini marshmallows to the mix.
Raspberry Vanilla Jello Salad
This one goes off into another realm of ingredients. The only common ingredient is the cool whip. It veers off with the inclusion of vanilla jello instant pudding, vanilla yogurt, and then some frozen raspberries.
Mom's Green Jello Salad
Back to the beginning with Lime gelatin, cottage cheese and cool whip. This one however has a different spin on it where the gelatin is prepared with pineapple juice and then put in the refrigerator to set. Once it is set, it's then mixed into the rest of the ingredients. The other ingredients are crushed pineapples, walnuts, and maraschino cherries.
Sea Foam Salad
Last but not least we have the sea foam salad. As you can probably guess, the name sea foam comes from the color from the green of the lime flavored gelatin. And we are still continuing with cool whip and crushed pineapples in this recipe. However, this recipes substitutes cream cheese in place of cottage cheese.
So there we have a it. Several variations of Thanksgiving Jello Salad. I think that perhaps my version is really just the base to the salad and depending on personal tastes it could really be anything. From added fruits, nuts or marshmallows to different flavors of gelatin. You just make it how you want it.
This started because I wanted to share a recipe, but as I did more searching, I began to have more questions regarding the history of it. So, in part two of this article I want to explore the history of these recipes, such as why so many of the recipes use lime flavored gelatin, where did this recipe originate and why is it called a salad? Stay tuned!