Gelatin desserts, in many forms and flavors, are practically a tenet of my chosen faith. Go to a church potluck, women’s luncheon, family reunion, or funeral supper, and you can expect to see a multitude (and possibly even a plethora) of gelatin molds, fluffs, whips, layers, and slices. We serve it in cups, in parfait glasses, even on a leaf of green lettuce (’cause that makes it “salad”, you know.) We’ll mix different flavors to get balanced “food groups.” We’ll combine Jello with dried, fresh, or canned fruits, walnuts, pecan, pistachios, or ground hazelnuts, celery, carrot shavings, jicama bits, water chestnuts, whipped cream, sour cream, cottage cheese, mayonnaise, shredded coconut, grated chocolate… usually not all at the same time, but Tragic Mistakes have been known to happen.
However, I am married to a Tall, Dark, and Slightly Neanderthal Fellow who was not raised in a Jello-believing church. He does not understand the bliss of jewel-toned wobbly stuff. He did not experience the joy of sucking it through his teeth, back and forth, to make a fruity, liquid, burst of happy at lunchtime. He didn’t go to church suppers until I dragged him, and he still doesn’t really get the cheerful horror of the whole thing.
So, being a mixed-faith household (Jello versus non-Jello), I compromise by not making Jello much. It’s easier to abstain than to work up a good-humored smile when he gently mocks me and my food traditions.
Now and then, though… now and then, I need some fruity goodness. I’ll even make do with the simplest form of dressed gelatin: “parfait,” in which cubes of sturdy gelatin are mixed with whipped topping.
However, as most everyone knows, gelatin is not an instant gratification food. It takes time. And patience. And I’m not particularly good at the P-word, particularly when my taste buds are really, really, really set for a bit of childhood bliss.
I could do an ultimate cheat, and just buy a container of Production Parfait, but it doesn’t work so well, as it’s made with chemical whipped topping substitute that leaves your mouth coated with a plasticky, rubbery film that lingers for hours, and tends to give me headaches. Production Parfait is the food equivalent of questionable morals, or wearing a mini-skirt and halter top to Sunday services. And I’m just not that girl. So, Production Parfait is out.
But, I still wanted parfait today, and I wanted it as immediately as possible.
So, I cheated a little bit. It’s the food equivalent of “forgetting” to wear pantyhose in July, or skipping church if you have a really prominent zit or stayed up too late the night before watching mid-19th century British costume dramas.
Not that I would do that.
But I did buy a pint of heavy whipping cream, and cheerfully supervised my Eldest in whipping it with a tiny bit of confectioner’s sugar and a dash of real vanilla… and then we gently folded that heavenly, creamy fluff into the chopped-up contents of twelve pre-made Jello gelatin cups, bought in four-packs for a dollar each at the nearest grocery store. I figured the numbers made it a little more sanctified (twelve gelatin cups, three bucks), maybe. Okay, so it’s a reach.
But, five minutes to bliss, my friends. Bliss with Real Whipped Cream. And since I’m the Mom, I get first dibs on the beaters.
So, I proudly proclaim very small rebellion in matters of faith-food:
I cheat at Jello.