While browsing through Powell’s last night, I came across a few shelves of books in the cooking section that were roped off with orange paper chains. “Last chance! Clearance books!” the tag on each shelf read, “$5 and under!” A rainbow-colored book spine, showing nothing but it’s spiral binding caught my eye. I took it down, and found that it was a vintage cookbook all about Jell-O.
I never realized there was more you could do with Jell-O than just mixing in some chopped fruit. Joys of Jell-O Gelatin opened my eyes to the amazing lost art of cooking with gelatin.
The book starts off innocently and tasty enough, with a nice, hefty array of desserts. Here is where they sucked me in, with tasty concoctions such as The Crown Jewel and my hands-down absolute favorite recipe in the book, the Art Deco Jewel (which is topped with frosted grapes):
There are recipes for cakes, pies, various bars and squares, parfaits… and even a type of sherbet they call a Fruit-Flavored Freeze:
Ok, so now I was hooked. Just as my stomach started to rumble, the book took a left turn, and hit me with a section called Family Side Salads, which is filled with both incredible and frightening things. As I browsed through this chapter, my imagination instantly conjured up images of women standing in yellow, pink, or turquoise kitchens, wearing aprons, and making sides for family picnics and church potlucks. In my head I saw them whipping up a batch of Molded Potato Salad, or the more dry-heave inducing Molded Chef’s Salad:
I saw these imaginary women referencing the Family Salad Selector, and deciding that yeah, the French Bean Basket sounds good with pork chops, and the BBQ Cottage Cheese Salad will be perfect with meatloaf:
Then my mind started to wonder—did anyone ever really make the Gazpacho Salad, or the Shimmering Shrimp Mold?
Right as I was about to toss my cookies from the section on side dishes, the book reeled me back in with more sugary treats like sundaes, floats, cupcakes, pastel marshmallows, and these amazing-looking marzipan candies:
There was no way I could leave Powell’s last night without taking the Joys of Jell-O Gelatin with me. Even if I never end up making any fancy-schmancy gelatin desserts, the photos of the dishes in this book are priceless, awe-inspiring gems—yes,
even especially the photos that make my stomach turn. So I was ecstatic to turn the book over and find the $2 price tag, and even happier to bring home the Joys of Jell-O to have in my collection.