Here’s Obama’s most recent attempt to prove his proletarian bona fides:
I was raised in a setting with grandparents who grew up in small towns in Kansas, and the dinner table would have been very familiar to anyone here in small town Indiana — a lot of pot roast and potatoes and jello molds…
Ah, brave new America of the 70s, where pot roast and potatoes were the daily fare of the common man. One of my favorite dinners growing up, by the way.
But it’s the jello mold I want to talk about today. It used to be a ubiquitous entry at buffets and bazaars and the like, and I must say I always hated it.
And then there’s jello itself. You call that a dessert? Congealed Cool-Aid? Yes, when I was a tiny tot, I was taken in by the bright red color and the shaky charm of the gleaming stuff. But pretty soon I discovered that almost any other dessert tasted better.
The molds had a tendency to contain surprises that made a bad thing even worse. Sometimes vegetables were actually slipped under the surface, including the dread grated carrots with their interfering crunch. Yes, one did best to stay away from the jello mold, even the ones that held only the favored cling peaches as their secret prize.
But the most heinous offender of all was the tomato aspic mold. Those of you under the age of forty may not have ever seen one of these suckers, so I hereby offer this to advance your knowledge of culinary history, and to help you to appreciate the trials your elders may have endured:
And here’s the recipe in all its glory:
Container: Gelatin mold
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Serving Size: cup
- 2 cups tomato juice, cold and divided
- 2 1/2 cups tomato juice, heated until hot
- 3 tablespoons unflavored gelatin (3 envelopes)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/4 teaspoon onion salt
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- grated carrots
# Place 1-1/2 cups of cold tomato juice in large mixing bowl and disperse the gelatin over the juice.
# Allow juice and gelatin mixture to stand for 5 minutes so the gelatin softens.
# Add 2-1/2 cups of tomato juice to saucepan. Heat until hot and remove from heat. Add 1-1/2 cups of tomato/gelatin mixture. Continue heating on medium heat setting and stir mixture until the gelatin dissolves into the juice, approximatly 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
# Pour in the remaining 1 cup of cold juice.
# Add lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and onion salt to juice mixture, blending all ingredients together well.
# Peel carrots and grate into small pieces.
# Refrigerate until slightly thickened. Add carrots and stir into aspic mixture to evenly distribute the pieces. Then pour contents into salad mold.
# If individual servings are to be prepared, pour juice mixture into 10 small molds holding 1/2 cup each. If one large mold holding 10 servings is to be prepared, pour tomato mixture into a mold that will hold 4 cups of liquid.
# Refrigerate until mixture fully gels and is then ready for serving.
# Note: To add a spicy flavor to the aspic, before chilling add a few drops of hot sauce if desired.
No wonder Obama is a thin guy. If he was raised on too many of those, it would be enough to put anyone off his feed.
I can only hope for his sake that his jello mold experience was something like my later exposure to the genre, which almost (almost, but not quite) served to make me a convert. This was my mother-in-law’s version of the jello mold, which featured the usual jello plus canned fruit, but added her own not-so-secret ingredient: an especially prodigious amount of sour cream.
Now it’s a funny thing, because I don’t like sour cream either. But in a synergistic magic in which the whole was a million times greater than the sum of its parts, her jello mold was addictive, high-caloric ambrosia.
[NOTE: Lest you think I'm finished with the subject of jello molds, I have a second installment planned, one that will go into the somewhat surprising history of the dish. Suffice to say that Obama may have cited them for their status as proletarian icons, but I'm sure he's unaware of their background. It turns out that jello molds were originally a mark of elitist strivings.]