Sunday, November 29, 2009


This is the cranberry gelatin salad (recipe below) that I made for Thanksgiving dinner. It's my grandmother's recipe and was always part of her Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

I almost didn't make it -- though it doesn't actually include Jell-O, there's still something a little odd about calling it a salad -- it seems so dated.

But I did make it -- and then forgot to bring it out till dessert time. (Freudian slip? Maybe.)

The thing is, where this "salad" comes into its own is at supper Thanksgiving night -- when you're really still full of rich food but you feel like a little something or other. And this combination of cool cranberry and pineapple, suspended in gelatin and crunchy with chopped celery and pecans, really hits the spot. Almost like health food after the dissipation of the big meal.

My grandmother served it with homemade mayonnaise -- possibly this is a Southern thing. I know my daughter-in-law from New York state was kind of appalled the first time she saw this. And I mostly omit it these days. But it's really tasty -- as long as the mayo is good and lemony.

I grew up eating a number of weird combinations that were called salads -- shredded carrots and raisins with mayo, canned pineapple with cottage cheese ... and mayo, Jell-O squares with canned fruit cocktail hidden in their depths... and mayo, a frozen square composed of fruit cocktail, whipped cream and mayo. All of these things included a leaf of iceberg lettuce as a base -- which I guess justified their being called salad.

Those were the days for wild invention -- the notorious Candlestick Salad was touted as fun for kids to make -- the banana as candle with a cherry or strawberry as flame and whipped cream standing in for melted wax. It was also suggested as a nice item for ladies' luncheons. But best not to serve it to gentlemen, one cookbook warned, as the fellas might make indelicate comments.

I wonder why?

Ba's Cranberry Holiday Salad

2 Tbs. plain gelatin
1/2 c. cold water
1 c. boiling water
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 c. crushed canned pineapple, drained
1 1/2 c. whole berry cranberry sauce
1c. finely chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped pecans

Soak gelatin in cold water 10 minutes to soften. Pour in boiling water to dissolve. Add sugar, salt, lemon juice, and pineapple. Allow to cool but not congeal. Stir in cranberry sauce, celery, and pecans. Pour into mold thatt has been rinsed with cold water and not dried. Chill till firm. Serves 8.
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Martin H. said...


Your grandmother's recipe sounds delicious. Something different for us to try this Christmas perhaps?

Could you tell me what the c. represents as a measurement please? I know I'm going to feel foolish for asking, but I could only think of cup. Oh, failed miserably!

For fear of falling into the trap of making an indelicate observation, I'll simply say that the banana candles look very appetising.

Miss_Yves said...

No comment for the second photo !

Vicki Lane said...

No indelicate observations here!

Martin, but you're right! The C is for cup -- which is 8 ounces.

Our standard measurements are teaspoons (tsp.), tablespoons (Tb.) and cups.

One could probably ask Mr. Google for a good way of converting American measurement to UK usage.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a memory provoking post. My mother made a cranberry salad very similar but it used jello. I don't remember her putting mayo on it but she always made homemade mayonnaise. In fact I thought everyone's mother made homemade mayonnaise until I went to school.

My grandmother always had Ambrosia on her table - a combination of oranges, grapefruit & fresh coconut, but I'm sure I'm leaving something out. My mother made the frozen fruit salad you speak of and we had it all during the year - she loved it. The banana salad is hilarious - it would have caused some comments among the men I'm sure.

Glad you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We're hitting the gym tomorrow.

Vicki Lane said...

Morning, Sam! My grandmother always served ambrosia at Christmas. So do we, but at breakfast with sausages and rolls. Ba's ambrosia was fresh coconut, pineapple, and oranges. (I cheat and use preflaked coconut.)

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

Good morning Vicki! I'm trying to play catch up!I do believe you did find the right grave. Hopefully Nancy can find someone to back that up. The Yellow Rose is gorgeous! I have one that was supposed to be one color but bloomed another also. Your Cranberry Salad really does sound good! I added mandarine oranges to my cranberry sauce this year and it was a hit! I had several bowls on the table and Melanie ate the entire bowl that was in front of her!:)

Anonymous said...

Vicki - Sounds very similar to the one I make, but it's strawberry Jello, sliced strawberries, crushed pineapple, and chopped nuts, with a layer of sour cream in the middle. I love it, but rarely allow myself to make it because it's so calorie laden. It's really holiday or party food.

Pat in Tampa

Vicki Lane said...

Hi, Carol -- the mandarin orange addition sounds tempting!

Pat -- and that sounds good too! My late mother-in-law's recipe for port wine Bing cherry salad is another calorie laden holiday treat -- black raspberry jello, canned Bing cherries, marinated in port, almond slivers and cram cheese chunks. Oh my!

Pepper Cory said...

Yes, I too am a child of the '50s and grew up eating gelatin in every conceivable form. Ambrosia was a big deal with my Mom--I remember being handed a hammer and clobbering the coconut on the sidewalk until we'd bashed it enough to grate the pieces--oh, the injured fingers! Loved the banana salad. My demented addition: two small apricot halves...

Vicki Lane said...

Oh, Pepper! You Bad girl! (Or maybe a pair of figs . . .)

Victoria said...

Vicki, your post brought back so many childhood memories. I still eat carrot 'salad' although I don't make my own mayo.

Laughing at that banana salad!

Vicki Lane said...

Simpler, more innocent times . . .

Kaye Barley said...

HA!!!! oh this banana made me laugh out loud.

I'm playing "catch up" with all my favorite blogs this morning, and it's posts like yours, Vicki, that remind me why they're my favorites.

You know, after all the heavy food I've eaten over the past few days . . . "Let's have just one more piece of that pie, honey - why yes, a scoop of ice cream on top would be just the thing . . . " I am ready for a fresh green salad. With walnuts and some fresh sliced strawberries on top. And a nice light vinaigrette. I'm feeling round as a blimp today. big sigh.

Vicki Lane said...

Yep, a green salad sounds just right!

Vagabonde said...

I’ll try your salad for Christmas at my daughter’s. I had never had a jellied type salad in France but when I came over to this country and visited my boy friend in Montana his mother made a green jellied salad that was delicious and since then I always made one at Thanksgiving. Mine is with minced cucumber, onion and pecans. I made it last year at my daughter but while we were not looking her dog ate it all up!

Vicki Lane said...

Ooh! the cucumber, onion, and pecan salad sounds good. Would you share your recipe?

And the cranberry gelatin salad really is terrific. As we finished up the last of it with lunch, my husband asked if it might not be possible to make this salad more than once or twice a year.