The Regrettable Food Project, Experiment #1:
Things are Gelled That Man Was Not Meant to Gel
Today was my Dad's 72nd birthday and in his honor I made that Sea Dream Salad that I promised you I would make as part of my gang initiation. (You can go here to get the Sea Dream Salad recipe and see the photo we like to call "20 Million Miles to Jell-O": August 26 .)
And here is a photo of the dish from page 50 of the book that explained sexuality to the average American in 1963, The Joy of Jell-O.
Disturbing, isn't it?
Being lazy, I modernized the recipe -- instead of grating the onion and the cucumber and then mixing them with the hot, dissolved Jell-O and sieving the whole mess, I just chopped the veggies and then frappeed them in the blender with 1/4 cup of the water, the vinegar, and the cayenne pepper. I added this sludge to the sugar free Lime Jell-O I had nuked in the microwave with 1 cup of water, then poured the now cloudy green liquid into the copper gelatin mold I bought at the thrift store for just this purpose (how quickly the old ways pass -- the young clerk had to ask me what it was I was buying), and let it chill over night.
And being lazy and cheap, instead of buying a pound of shrimp and then cooking and cleaning it, I just bought one of those cans of cocktail shrimp they sell by the tuna fish. And instead of buying salad greens, I figured I just use more cucumbers, since the garden is bursting with them (and their various squash cousins) right now.
Today I loosened my masterpiece by dipping the mold in hot water while I went to let the cats outside. This turned out to be too long, because when I unmolded it onto my glass cake stand, it was a melted puddle of Blob juice instead of the firm, round, perky green breast of Jell-O it was supposed to be. I thought about putting it back in the mold and chilling it again, but by this time I didn't care, so I just dumped the can of shrimp in the center and arranged some cucumber slices around the edges.
This is what it looked like:
Yes, definitely something to serve when your husband's boss comes over for dinner, or when you're hosting the bridge club. Even so, I couldn't see bringing it to my Dad's rather depressing birthday party.
However, I did use it to scare the cats. Despite the fact that it was covered in seafood, the cats wanted no part of it. I guess they could sense its hostility to Earth life forms. And it was good for the cats to be reminded that they may not be the dominent species on the planet forever.
But how did it taste, you ask? Well, um, okay, actually. I've been a little queasy ever since I heard the news about Bill O'Reilly being JLo, so I wasn't sure I dared sample the disgusting-looking goop, but I did it, just for you, and discovered it was was pretty good (or maybe that's just the delirium talking). I put some mayonnaise on the cucumbers, and the combination of tangy/sweet Jell-O, crunchy cukes, creamy mayonnaise, and mildly salty alleged shrimp was surprisingly satisfying. I recommend you try a Jello recipe featuring meat, vegetables, and vinegar today!
Oh, and for those of you playing along at home, you can vote for the next dish prepared for The Regrettable Food Project! Will it be "Stuffed Frankfurkers" from 1949's 500 Tasty Snacks (or 500 Tasty Snakes, as I typed the first time)? Or will it be "Beef Pie Alamode," from 1958's Good Housekeeping's Casserole Book (as pictured on page 64 of the Lileks' classic we are basing this whole project on, The Gallery of Regrettable Food)? Your votes will determine this (unless the Supreme Court just decides the matter), so indicate, via comment or email, what you want to see next. And if you want some Sea Dream Salad, there's still plenty left in the fridge.
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