Tag Archives: salad

German Warm Potato Salad (Warm)

I make cold “picnic” potato salad often. My family loves it. (So do I). But I have never made as much potato salad as I did last week.  A forgotten bag of potatoes in my pantry was starting to sprout. I should know better than to buy potatoes by the bag.

potatoesSo, following my trend of thinking of my waste-not-want-not ancestors in aprons, I got to work making potato salad.  All those potatoes in one big cold potato salad would get very boring, though, so I made the German warm  potato salad that I do not make quite as frequently.  I usually turn to my favorite old Joy of Cooking Cookbook, but decided to look for something a little different.

I dug out a thoroughly dilapidated spiral-bound cookbook from my mother’s Home Ec teaching days. Harriette Anderson Kaser taught many subjects, but when I was in high school she was teaching home economics and all my friends took her class. I didn’t. Instead, ironically, I went home and started dinner.

Home Ec teachers got lots of product books, like the Joys of Jell-o book I’ve used here before. Their national organization also pulled together cookbooks featuring favorite recipes of the teachers across the nation.  My copy of Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers: Salads has been used so much that the cover and the first few pages are missing, as well as the last pages of the index and the back cover.

This image is from Amazon, and says it was published in 1964. I thought it was a bit older, but this must be the same book. Click on the image if you would like to purchase your own.

There are some really strange recipes in here, along with an endless variety of old favorites like bean salad or carrot salad or chicken salad. It is a source of endless experimentation for the curious cook.

I was looking for an authentic Pennsylvania Dutch warm potato salad recipe that my German Ancestors might make.  The one I found, did come from Pennsylvania and seemed authentic except that it included olives, which did not strike me as a food that German immigrants would have at hand.  I substituted dill pickle, which they could have on their canning shelves.  Warning–if you don’t like vinegar–like my friend Kerry Dexter, who commented on the Sauerbraten recipe–you’re not going to like this sweet and sour, warm potato salad. But, hey! It has BACON.

Note: I did not include a picture, because next to cooked oatmeal, this is about the least photogenic food I can think of.

German Recipe: Pennsylvania Dutch Warm Potato Salad

Serves 12
Allergy Egg
Meal type Salad, Side Dish
Misc Pre-preparable, Serve Cold, Serve Hot
Region German
From book Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers: Salads


  • 10 medium potatoes (cooked in jackets)
  • 2 small onions (diced)
  • 3 stalks celery (diced)
  • 4 medium slices bacon
  • 2 heaped tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 8 hard-cooked eggs (sliced)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 dill pickle (diced)


1. Dice potatoes (peel if you want, or leave skin on).
2. Combine diced potatoes with onions and celery and set aside.
3. Fry bacon until crisp. Drain and crumble into the potato mixture.
4. Stir flour into bacon grease and mix to make a paste. (Adding more if necessary).
5. Combine eggs, sugar, dry mustard, salt and pepper with water and vinegar. Stir into bacon-flour paste.
6. Cook sauce over low heat until thick. Pour over potato mixture and mix lightly. Stir in dill pickles and gently add hard-cooked eggs.
7. Sprinkle with paprika or parsley. Serve while warm, or refrigerate to marinate for several hours, then either reheat or serve chilled.


The recipe in the book called for carrots and I skipped those. I also do not eat onions, so left out the onions, with no loss. I substituted dill pickle for olives.

I also used less sugar than called for (1 cup) because I felt that left it too sugary.

The recipe was contributed by home economics teacher Mrs. Sandra Mock, Pequea Valley High School, Kinzers, Pennsylvania

Reminder: You can find an index of some of my favorite cookbooks–vintage and not–on their own special page: Food Books that Stir Family Memories.

Comfort Food Gone Wild: J-E-L-L-O, Jell-O® Gelatin

How can we talk about vintage cooking without Jell-O®? We can’t.

Moving from church suppers to bars and clubs,  Jell-O shows up in some unlikely places. And unlikely ingredients show up in Jell-O. Take the avocado for instance.

One summer when I was in high school, my family vacationed on a quiet lake in Vermont with a distinguished gentleman that my father worked with and his very artsy wife.  Mother was helping  the hostess get lunch, and the hostess asked if we liked avocados.  I looked at the green alligator-skinned fruit and  said, “I never had one.”

My mother was horrified. “Of COURSE you have had avocados,” she said. Laughing nervously, she turned to the hostess–“We have them all the time,” she added.

Hmmmm? All the time? I saw right away that I had made a social faux pas.  Mother was ever sensitive to social differences and eager to prove that she was as cultured and educated as anyone else, and here was her awkward, gangly teen daughter screwing up her facade.

Jell-O and avocado may not seem related. However, I remembered that incident when I got out one of the many product-oriented cooking booklets from yesteryear, The Joys of Jell-O. You can always tell when cookbook has been used a lot–stains all over it.

Joys of Jello cookbook

Joys of Jello cookbook, published by General Foods in 1963.

In the back of the book there is an address where you can send fifty cents and 3 box tops to get another copy. (I doubt that offer is still valid!).  This book is now selling on E-bay from $5.00 to $20.00.  Or you can get  The New Joys of Jell-O Brand: Gelatin Dessert Recipe Book (1974) from Amazon.

Because Jell-O was an essential in any cook’s repretoire when I was growing up, and because I once read that northeastern Ohioans ate more Jell-O per capita than any other region of the country, I had to bring you a few Jell-O recipes. By the way, Utah has more recently claimed the Jell-O consuming title, and made the jiggly stuff their official State Snack.

As I paged through The Joys of Jell-O, I noticed a couple of recipes with avocado. While that was not the most common Jell-O dish I remember–that would be fruit cocktail in strawberry Jello for dessert or grated cabbage and carrots in lime Jello for salad– I had some avocados and strawberries on hand–so avocado it would be.

A Little History

Gelled desserts–aspics and meat jellies–had been fashionable since the middle ages, but when the packaged gelatin product appeared, it made those frou-frou creations easy enough for any housewife.  Then along came a fruit-flavored, brightly colored gelatin that eclipsed the old see-through colorless gels.

The history is interesting, since the original inventor wasn’t good at marketing and sold the product to high-school drop out Frank Woodward for $450.  Academic genius he wasn’t, but marketing genius he was, and in 1906 Jell-O (named by the wife of the original creator) took off.  Interestingly, the key to his success was a cookbook of Jell-O dishes, the ancestor of my Joys of Jello. Of course, it helped that electric refrigerators were coming into use to chill the Jell-O.

In 1923 Woodward’s Jell-O company merged with Postum and eventually became General Foods–now merged with Kraft– which produces Jell-O.

In the fifties, I remember some short-lived flavors of a different sort–savory flavors like celery and vegetable and Italian.

Jell-O veg flavor

1964 magazine ad for vegetable flavor Jell-O.Photo by Wandering Magpie, Flickr.

While the jello dishes that are still ubiquitous in middle America at reunions and funerals and church suppers are looked upon as rather plebeian by foodies, in the 21st century,  Jell-O has had a rebirth as a bad boy. The brightly colored, jiggly fun food has broken out of its former staid family dinner surroundings and now shows up in bars as Jell-O shots or in Jell-O wrestling.

Jell-O Wrestling

Jell-O Wrestling. Photo by Bill Morrow, Flickr.

Oh dear, what would all those Church Supper Ladies say?

(If you want to try the Jell-O shots, here’s a bonus recipe just in time for  Hallowe’en– Candy Corn shooter made with Cointreau in orange peel molds.)

It has been decades since I’ve used the fancy Jell-o mold, but I never could bear to throw it away, so I dug it out from under the cake pans, and made Avocado Strawberry Ring.

Avocado Strawberry Jell-o Ring


  • packet Jell-O Lemon or Lemon-Lime Gelatin (3 oz.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cups cold water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 avocado (medium, pared and mashed)
  • 1 pint strawberries (sliced. Save some with stems for garnish.)


1. Dissolve Jell-O Gelatin and salt in boiling water. Add cold water and lemon juice.
2. Chil until slightly thickened. [About one hour and 15 minutes]
3. Stir in mayonnaise and avacado, blending well.[see note]
4. Pour into a 3- or 4- cup ring mold or individual ring molds. Chill until firm. [3-4 hours]
5. Unmold [see note] and fill center with berries.
6. Makes about 2 1/2 cups gelatin, or 5 servings.


1. I beat the slightly firm jello, avocado and mayonnaise with an electric beater so that it would be slightly fluffy and smoother in texture.

2. The Joys of Jell-O book has helpful hints on things like unmolding.  Put the plate you'll use in the freezer briefly. Make sure the gelatin is firm.  Use a knife or your finger to pull the edge of the Jell-O away from the pan.  Moisten the top of the jello and the plate, with a fingertip dipped in water. (That will make it easier to slide, if you need to reposition it on the plate). Run warm water in a large pan or in the sink, just enough to dip the mold to within 1/4 inch of the top.  When you remove the mold from the refrigerator, hold it in the warm water for no more than ten seconds. Jiggle the mold slightly to loosen the edges. Get out the plate, turn it upside down on top of the mold and flip. Worked perfectly for me.