Jell-O Salad with Cranberries, Pecans, and Celery
This morning I was thinking a lot about my mom and how she embraced the holidays. A few weeks before hand, the recipes and cookbooks would cover the table and counter as she jotted down ingredients and made her plan of attack. I’m now in THAT role, myself. Funny, we never suspect that we actually will be… until we are.
My mom made a particular Cranberry Salad each Thanksgiving. After I lost her (far, far too soon), I tried to recapture her Jell-O salad each year, but none of them were like the one she made.
Then one summer, I was going through an old hutch and found an old cookbook of my mom’s I hadn’t seen since she moved on to Heaven. I had forgotten that I even had the cookbook! I opened the book and written on the opening page, in her handwriting were the words, “Cranberry Salad” Pg 15.
The first words to come to my mind were: Thanks, mom.
I turned to the page she told me to turn to and, sure enough, the recipe was exactly the one I was looking for. I couldn’t make up my mind if I wanted to cry or smile, so I sort of ended up doing both. I did kind of chuckle though because right beside the recipe was one of her nutty backward check marks. She was left handed, so I guess that explains it, but the woman’s check marks were as backward as backward can be. I remember teasing her about it and she’d laugh and say that her check marks were “beautiful” and that everyone else’s were backward.
I don’t know. Maybe she was right.
Here’s my mom’s favorite recipe for Cranberry Salad. The recipe calls for Cherry Jell-o but I recall she always favored Strawberry, so I went with Strawberry too.
Daughter see, daughter do.
2 (3 oz) pkgs strawberry-flavored gelatin
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup crushed pineapple
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Prepare the jell-o as directed on package. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix and chill.
Don’t let the celery throw you – it’s excellent in this salad and you’ll love the crunch.
A word about adjustments for personal tastes: While you need to stay pretty much within reason when working with Jell-O recipes (so they’ll properly set), you can experiment with the amounts of celery and pecans. I typically crust the pecans, but in this particular Jell-O salad, I left them pretty much as they were right out of the bag. I just wanted more texture. I also (in this particular one) added a little more celery for crunch. While I kind of liked the pecans being larger, like this, I didn’t care for the increased celery.
Too much of a good thing can sometimes be a bad thing.
If you haven’t already, it’s a great idea to write down (and safely protect) favorite family recipes. If a parent, aunt, grandparent, or uncle makes alterations to a recipe, be sure to write down their exchanges or alterations. Better yet, let them write it down in their own handwriting. It’s pretty special to have handwritten notes and notations from loved ones.
Sometimes they even come with backward check marks. 🙂