Once again, my sister-in-law Kay Badertscher Bass contributes a family recipe from her mother, Agnes Bair Badertscher’s recipe box. Although in their house it was a traditional Thanksgiving dish, because of its cheerful red color and “snow-covered” top, I’m suggesting Cranberry Jell-o Salad for Christmas, too. If it sounds too sweet for a salad, it makes a lovely light dessert. Thanks for the contribution, Kay.
One of the favorite (and still requested each year) recipes for Thanksgiving and the holidays is the Jell-o salad Mom used to make. The Jell-o flavor would change year-to-year, but the majority of the time Mom would chose strawberry. She would use two boxes of Jell-o and pour the hot liquid into a deep dish 13 x 9 pan. The key, she said, was to use only half of the cold water the box of Jell-o recommends adding after the Jell-o has dissolved.
Mom would freeze a bag of fresh cranberries. It was my job to get the hand cranked nut chopper (an antique from Grandma [Ida] Badertscher) to chop those icy marbles into fine bits.
[Note: What a difference between this and the food chopper that my mother used for her cranberry relish.]
She [Agnes Badertscher] would also chop fresh celery (which my husband nixes), add a 20 ounce can of pineapple chunks (drained) and chopped pecans to taste. Stir all of these ingredients into the liquid jello and refrigerate several hours. (side note: some years we also added a fresh orange – chopped just like the cranberries)
However, it was the topping over the jello that made the dish! After the jello solidifies, spread this topping generously. It is even good enough to eat as a sort of custard for dessert, provided you have any left over.
All photos courtesy of Kay Badertscher Bass