Tag Archives: family recipe

Holiday Recipe: Agnes Badertscher’s Cranberry Jell-o Salad

Cranberry jell-o salad

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.

Kay says:

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.

Cranberry salad Food Chopper

Grandma Kohler’s Food Chopper

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.]

Vintage food grinder

Vintage food grinder




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)


Cranberry jello salad topping

Mixing the topping

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.




Agnes Badertscher’s Cranberry Jell-o Salad

Serves 16
Allergy Egg, Milk, Tree Nuts
Meal type Dessert, Salad
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
Occasion Christmas, Thanksgiving


  • 2 packets Jell-0 (two 6-oz boxes)
  • 2 cups water (boiling)
  • 1 cup water (cold)
  • 20oz pineapple chunks
  • 1 celery stalk (chopped fine)
  • 12oz cranberries (raw, frozen and ground fine)
  • 1/2 cup pecans (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 egg (slightly beaten)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup whipped topping


1. Scatter Jell-o in 9 x 13 pan and pour in 2 cups boiling water. Stir until thoroughly dissolved
2. Add one cup cold water and stir. Put in refrigerator and chill until thickened
3. Grind frozen cranberries and add to thickened Jell-o. Drain pineapple, saving juice. Add pineapple, chopped celery and nuts to jello and stir.
4. Cranberry Jell-o Salad
Replace Jell-o dish in refrigerator to set.
5. Combine sugar, flour, pineapple juice and egg in saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring until thickened.
6. Add pat of butter, and stir in.
7. Cool topping mixture in refrigerator until completely cool. Fold in whipped topping.
8. Spread topping on Jell-o. If desired decorate with halves of nuts. Cut in squares and serve on lettuce leaves or plain.

Kay Badertscher BassAll photos courtesy of Kay Badertscher Bass

Thanksgiving Recipe: Paul Kaser’s Scalloped Corn

Paul Kaser Carving Turkey, Thanksgiving 1957

Paul Kaser Carving Turkey, Thanksgiving 1957

Our father’s favorite dish at Thanksgiving–besides the turkey– was this scalloped corn.  For years, he took the responsibility of making the scalloped corn.

Brent Badertscher

Brent Badertscher’s Birthday, 2003

When Dad died, my son Brent took up the challenge, and it has become traditional for Brent to come over to my house early enough to whip up the family recipe for scalloped corn and put it in the oven.


Of course, at the original Thanksgiving, the Indians along the seacoast shared their corn with the Pilgrims–not to mention the stored corn that the starving Pilgrims found and “liberated” during their first very hungry year in North America. And as I have written before, the Indians taught the early settlers many ways to use the unfamiliar grain, corn. So corn definitely belongs on our Thanksgiving menu.  At our house, it shows up in two forms.  Besides the scalloped corn, we must have my Killer Cornbread and I shared that recipe last year.

By the way, if you’re wondering what the term “scalloped” means in regard to corn, it is the same as “scalloped potatoes.” I explained the term ‘s (possible) origin here. (And by the way, the dish shown in the picture of the scalloped potatoes is the one we usually use for the scalloped corn.)

Although the family recipe for scalloped corn I inherited from my mother called for baking it in a shallow glass dish, we tend to use a round Pyrex dish to take up less space in the oven.  While I insist on using fancy dishes for most of the food on our Thanksgiving table, this one goes directly from oven to table in the baking dish.

It is essential that it be made after everything else (as the turkey comes out of the oven and is cooling is a good time), since it puffs up prettily when it bakes, but sinks down rather quickly.

Paul Kaser’s Scalloped Corn

Serves 6-8
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Allergy Egg, Milk
Meal type Side Dish
Misc Serve Hot
A traditional family recipe at our house has roots going back to the Pilgrims--Scalloped corn.


  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup soda crackers (finely crushed)
  • 1 can Evaporated Milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper (to taste)


1. Beat eggs, stir in all other ingredients except butter.
2. Grease a 8 x 12 rectangular or 1- quart round glass baking dish. Dot butter on top of corn. Bake at 375 degrees, 1/2 to one hour (depending on size of dish), until solid in middle, and just beginning to brown on the edges.


An easy way to crumble the crackers, is to put them in a zip top plastic bag, fasten securely, and then pound gently with wooden mallet or knife handle.

For a southwestern touch, add a can of mild green chiles.

If you are making a family dinner, it is highly recommended that you double this recipe. We invariably run out.

Extend baking time if using a larger, deeper dish.

The dish will puff up while baking, and fall a bit as it cools.

Aunt Pauline’s Date Pudding

Today’s family recipe comes from my Aunt Pauline–Ethel Pauline McDowell Anderson (1911-1989) via her daughter, my cousin Joann Anderson Yoder.

The McDowells are a close and numerous clan who still have gigantic family reunions every year in Glenmont, Ohio.  At some point they published a cookbook, and Joann mined the cookbook to give me two of her mother’s recipes, one of which I’m attempting today. And attempting is the key word.

Jo Ann Anderson Yoder

Jo Ann Anderson Yoder in 2006. In a time-bending trick, you see her here older than her mother was in the picture below.

I have often thought about the tough life that Aunt Pauline had, but she struck me as being all about perseverance.  I remember visiting the family on their farm, and being treated to a big meal.

Pauline McDowell Anderson

Pauline Anderson with her grand daughter Michelle in 1961 on a family outing to an Ohio lake.

Pauline had a reputation for being a good cook, and with my five cousins to feed, I’m sure she did a lot of cooking. I don’t recall eating her date pudding in those days, or know when she started making it. I don’t know for sure when dates became widely available in stores in the United States, but I have a theory.

The California date industry got going in the 1920s, but I think the craze for dates (and Palm Trees and many other exotic things) got going in the late 40s and early 50s–the post war boom.  People were traveling and discovering new things, feeling expansive with the end of the war. Although I don’t find date recipes in the 1920’s cookbooks I have, they do appear in the 1950’s.

This recipe for date pudding looks so simple.  When I followed it exactly I got a mess.  The cake rose quickly, spilled over the edges of the pan, and then sunk in the middle when I took it form the oven, almost burned on the top and still gooey in the middle.

Date Pudding

Date Pudding Fail: Top side of disaster

Then I turned it out of the pan, and got this kind of bowl-shaped thing.

Date Pudding: Turned out of pan--what a cavity

Date Pudding: Turned out of pan–what a cavity

(By the way, it tastes great–just looks awful).

But I channeled Aunt Pauline’s perseverance and tried again. I looked for recipes that were similar to see what might be slightly off.

  • Generally  salt is used with baking soda, so in my 2nd try, I added 1/4 tsp salt.
  •  Interestingly, the date cake recipe in the  Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook  is nearly identical. Like other recipes I found, it has more flour than Pauline’s recipe. But note, It is called a cake. I decided to increase the flour and used 1 3/4 cup  instead of one cup.
  •  I had used Crisco on the grounds that was likely what Aunt Pauline cooked with, but second time around I switched to butter.
  • Finally, since my oven gets temperamental, and it might not have been hot enough, I turned the heat up a bit.

This time I got a perfectly photogenic cake–but that’s the catch.

Good date nut cake

Good date nut cake

It is definitely a date CAKE, not a date PUDDING. Not a bit gooey.

In order to apply good scientific method, there should really only be one change in each attempt.  Perseverance I might have, but not patience.  If I get up the energy to try it a third time (and can find some taste testers) what do you think I need to do to replicate Aunt Pauline’s date pudding?

Jo Ann, when you read this–will you please leave a comment down below and tell me what you think I’m doing wrong? What consistency was Pauline’s date pudding–quite moist, I assume? (Larry or Herb, feel free to chime in about your memories of your mom’s date pudding.) Anybody else have suggestions?

Aunt Pauline’s Date Pudding Recipe


  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cup dates, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped nuts


1. Mix dates in hot water. Set aside.
2. Cream together sugar and shortening. Beat in eggs.
3. Mix flour and baking soda and stir into creamed mixture, alternating with drained dates.
4. Add vanilla and nuts.
5. Pour into 8- or 9-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
6. Cut in squares and serve with whipped cream.


JoAnn says, "In recent years I've had this served a different way. They break the baked
cake into pieces and layer it with the whipped cream, topped with a
Carmel sauce. Either way it's delicious."