One of my most memorable Thanksgiving memories is the moment when my grandmother, Mama Ialeene, would let me dig into her red, fruit filled jello salad. It was one of those jiggly, molded ones with the fruit suspended inside of it- chunks of pineapple and little sliced cherries. I’m sure your grandmother probably made something similar. I don’t have Mama’s original recipe- but I do have one of her cookbooks. It’s a lovely old book, published in 1945; called The Household Searchlight Recipe Book. My grandmother wrote her new married name on the inside front cover (how cute is that!). I think it might have been a wedding gift or maybe a shower gift. I found it when we were cleaning out her house after her death. I kept it, mostly because of her name in it. I felt drawn to it- she was a new bride and giddy to start cooking for her new husband- thinking about it now makes my heart smile!
Well, wouldn’t you know- The Household Searchlight Recipe Book has an ENTIRE chapter devoted to jello- or gelatin- which is the proper term. Gelatin desserts were very popular in the mid 20th century. Jello is actually a brand name for a gelatin dessert invented in the early 20th century. It’s pre-flavored and colored gelatin. Basically, you just need to add water to powdered Jello, chill in the fridge and viola- you have a jiggly, yummy dessert popular with every. kid. ever. (except my adorable husband!). Check out the Jello company’s website about the history of their brand. “There’s always room for Jell-O” are you singing it? I am!
You can make non Jello gelatin, by using plain, non-colored or flavored gelatin. This is what The Household Searchlight Recipe Book has you do. The recipe is super easy. What I like most about it is that it’s all natural- no chemicals, dyes, or artificial flavors! I chose to make Orange Gelatin- because it’s a simple beginner recipe and my blog is called The Orange Tree!
Here’s what you need with directions to make it:
I chose to use my grandmother’s crystal champagne goblets instead of a mold. Her crystal is by Fostoria and the pattern is Chintz. It’s been discontinued, 1973 was the last year it was made. The crystal is incredibly delicate! My heart gets all fluttery when I handle it! It has these lovely flowers and vines etched in the glass and the stems are ornate and cut beautifully. I did a little digging on Fostoria Crystal. Sadly, it’s no longer in business, closing it’s doors in the mid- 1980’s. It was founded in the late 1800’s in Fostoria, Ohio; but shortly thereafter moved to West Virginia. My grandmother was a native West Virginian and spent the early years of her marriage there. Perhaps she even visited the factory to purchase her crystal- who knows?!?
Here’s the finished product:
I topped each glass with a little bit of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Yum!! The orange in the gelatin and the brown from the cinnamon look great with rest of the tablescape, making a lovely centerpiece for dessert.
For Christmas I’m going to give the Apple Cider Gelatin recipe a try! I might just add some apple pieces- apparently they float well in gelatin! You can also up your gelatin game by making Sponges (adding eggs), Whips (whipping before the gelatin sets all the way), and Bavarians (adding cream or milk). I’ll be trying some of those recipes too! Another gelatin plus- it’s gluten free!! So if you’re gluten free (like me) you might find yourself getting really into Jello!! 🙂