Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Snacking State-by-State: Utah II - There's always room for S-A-L-A-D

By most estimates, Utah is Jell-O country.  More Jell-O is eaten in the Beehive State than in any other state in the country.  Utah even went so far as to make Bill Cosby an honorary Utahn [Lindeman 2010].  They love Jell-O.

Official Name: State of Utah
State Nickname: The Beehive State
Admission to the US: January 4, 1896 (#45)
Capital: Salt Lake City (largest)
Other Important Cities: Provo (3rd largest), Orem (5th largest), Ogden (7th largest)
Region: West, Southwest; Mountain (US Census)
RAFT NationsPinyon Nut
Bordered by: Idaho (north), Wyoming (northeast), Colorado (east), New Mexico (southeast), Arizona (south), Nevada (west)
Official State Foods and Edible Things: Beehive (emblem - for the honey inside it). Bonneville cutthroat trout (fish), cherry (fruit), Dutch oven (cooking pot), Indian rice grass (grass), Rocky Mountain elk (animal), Spanish sweet onion (vegetable), sugar beet (historic vegetable)
Some Famous and Typical Foods: pioneer and Western foods, and Mormon cuisine (stereotyped as bland and hearty, though a new generation of Mormons and Utahns are redefining it): funeral potatoes, fry sauce; Jell-O, especially green Jell-O salad

Food writer Scarlett Lindeman [2010] told The Atlantic Magazine that when her family moved to Utah when she was a teenager, she had no idea that Utah just can't get enough of that jiggly stuff.
When my family relocated to Utah from New Brunswick, New Jersey, in the summer of 1998, we were unaware of the local gelatin affinity. Shiny yellow and blue Jell-O salads sat in our fridge vibrating their friendly "welcome to the neighborhood." We discovered the strange, almost otherworldly suspensions of savory items—shredded carrots, peas, and cubed ham—in gifts of Jell-O molds. And I, just shy of my thirteenth birthday, entered a new semester of junior high and a new culinary terrain. [Lindeman 2010]
This is what Americans in the mid-20th century cheekishly referred to as "salad".  I still have no idea how this even qualifies as salad.

Just as there are many recipes for funeral potatoes (showcased in the previous Utah post), there are certainly hundreds of Jell-O recipes.  But apparently there is one traditional famous green Jell-O dessert recipe, involving cream, pineapple and lemon juice.  What I am assuming is the "traditional", "famous" recipe comes to us from The Essential Mormon Cookbook by Julie Badger Jensen [2004], which is posted on the Raindrops on Roses blog [Tiffany 2010].  I halved the recipe, since Jell-O is not nearly as popular in my home as it is in Utah.

The Recipe: The Official Green Jell-O Recipe

For the official green Jell-O recipe you need:

* lime Jell-O (this stuff is getting more expensive than I thought, with one box at $1.50.  Maybe I should have gone generic?)
* water (right from the tap)
* sugar (had it)
* crushed pineapple with juice (yes, I accidentally bought chunked instead.  I made do)
* lemon juice (had it)
* heavy whipping cream (a pint goes for about $2.50 at Harris Teeter)

First, boil the water.  Wow, this is hard.

Mix the lime Jell-O and the sugar.

Add the hot water to the bowl and stir.

Stir in lemon juice.

And then add the pineapple, with juice.  Put in the refrigerator until it gets a little syrupy.

Meanwhile, beat the whipping cream.  Remember: it will beat fastest when the cream and the bowl are both cold.  Whip until stiff peaks form.

Fold the whipped cream into the Jell-O.

Refrigerate until solid, at least a few hours.

Cut and serve!

This is perhaps the sweetest Jell-O dessert I have eaten in ages.  It is tasty, I will give it that, but eat a few squares of this and your teeth will really be in pain.  No, the pineapple does not make it "healthy".  In all, tasty but very sweet.


Badger Jensen, Julie.  The Essential Mormon Cookbook: Green Jell-O, Funeral Potatoes, and Other Secret Combinations.  Deseret Book Company: Salt Lake City, UT, 2004.

GloZell.  "I am Honorary Mormon in Utah ... Green Jello and Funeral Potato".  Video posted November 4, 2011.

Lindeman, Scarlett.  "Jell-O Love: A Guide to Mormon Cuisine".  The Atlantic Monthly, published March 24, 2010.

Malouf, Mary Brown.  "In Defense: Utah Food".  Salt Lake Magazine, posted June 18, 2012.

Malouf, Mary Brown.  "In Defense: Funeral Potatoes".  Salt Lake Magazine, posted June 18, 2012.

Moskin, Julia.  "Not Just for Sundays After Church: A New Generation Redefines Mormon Cuisine".  The New York Times, published January 24, 2012.

Peek, Alison.  "Utah comfort snack food: Onion rings and fry, posted February 5, 2012.

Tiffany (blogger).  "Utah's Famous Green Jello Recipe".  Raindrops on Roses, posted March 13, 2010.

Some information also obtained from Wikipedia's "Utah" page and other pages, and the Food Timeline State Foods link to "Utah".