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Tastes of the Season

December 10, 2005

The first Christmas after Mr. Karen and I moved into this house, we hosted a family holiday dinner. One thing I knew needed to be on the menu was Grandma Salad. That sounds a little strange, doesn’t it? I guess it’s no different than other famous salads–there’s no Caesar in Caesar salad or Cobb in Cobb salad, and there’s no Grandma in Grandma salad. Rather, it’s named for the woman who introduced it to the family. My first time hosting that side of the family for a big meal, I had to have it, so Mr. Karen got the recipe from his mom.

I really should have done a practice run ahead of time because what I put on the table that day was not quite right. You’d think I’d have realized that stirring Cool Whip into a hot mixture of other ingredients would result in a creamy soup rather than a fluffy topping, but no, I did not. Fortunately, it eventually firmed up some, so I didn’t have serve topless Grandma Salad.

The reference to Cool Whip above has probably given away that this is not a proper salad but rather belongs to the proud middle American tradition of Jell-O cookery. I’ve always thought that this pale yellow two-layer creation is in fact a dessert, regardless of what it’s called or when it’s served. Clue number one: it’s got no vegetables in it. Clue number two: no mayonnaise, either. Clue number three: it’s sweet. The Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top does not magically transform it into salad. Still, I’d much rather have a dessert served in place of salad than that lime Jell-O and grated carrot mold my dad used to make for dessert some Sundays when my brother and I were kids. He claimed we couldn’t taste the carrots. Maybe he couldn’t–perhaps all the cigarette smoking he’d done had deadened his taste buds to the point where he noticed only texture and could convince himself that the carrot shavings were just like coconut. All I know is I never want to see carrots in Jell-O again.


One year ago, I was on Holidailies hiatus.

Two years ago, I fit into my high self-esteem pants. Not anymore.

Three years ago, I was finally back from skiing.

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