Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Taste of Home for the Holidays

I’ll never forget the first time I heard my husband talk about his beloved holiday Green Jello Dish.

He and his sister used to make two batches, he’d said – one to share for the family holiday celebration on Thanksgiving or Christmas, and one they could secretly hoard away to gobble up just the two of them. I’ve never seen him talk about food more passionately than when he talks about that Green Jello Dish.   

I’ll be honest – to me the ingredients in this concoction sounded barf-tastic. Lime Jello…cream cheese…those sickly-sweet jarred cherries…really? Of all the pumpkin pie, frosted cookie, chocolate cheesecake options in the holiday sugar-fest cornucopia, this dessert is his number one pick?

This perplexed me, until all his reminiscing brought me to a realization. Food is about more than just your taste buds:  it has the ability to conjure up memories and emotions, transporting you back to a time and place. For my husband, this is the dish that says home and family and mischief with my sister in just one bite. It’s a simple and ubiquitous recipe that can be found on the lid of a Cool Whip container, but for him, it’s special.

I have to say I feel the same way about my Mom’s green bean casserole. Same deal – it’s a commonplace recipe found on the back of packaged fried onions, but when I smell that cooking in the Crockpot I am suddenly nine years old dancing around the Christmas tree in the living room belting out “The Twelve Days of Christmas” along with the record player, proud of myself for memorizing all the words.

And by the way: after trying the Green Jello, I am now a fan. But it will never beat out homemade cookies as my favorite!

What holiday dish says home to you?

If you’re curious, here is the infamous Green Jello recipe:

2-3oz packages of Lime Jello
2-8oz containers of Cool Whip
2-8oz boxes of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1-20oz can crushed pineapple
1 small jar maraschino cherries

Make Jello per directions. Once Jello is done, drain can of pineapple. Drain and chop up the cherries. Set cream cheese out to soften. Once cream cheese is soft, chop into small squares. Add Jello, Cool Whip, cream cheese into large mixing bowl. Using mixer, whip them all together into a nice creamy consistency. Add pineapple and cherries. Continue to mix until no noticeable chunks of cream cheese remain. Put into jello mold or serving bowl and let set for a few hours or over night in the refrigerator.


Megan Brooks is a Sr. Public Relations Specialist for Texas Health Resources, Mom to a toddler, Stepmom to a teenager, and wife to a Green Jello enthusiast.

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