Marshmallows are fun. They're cheerful. They're squishy. What's not to like? Well, of course, they are scorned by health-conscious folks for their scant nutritional value. And even as snacks go, if you're going to wreck your diet, you might as well do it with something better, like chocolate-chip cookies.
The only real excuse for marshmallows, other than camping trips, is Thanksgiving. I'm not sure why this is -- maybe the Pilgrims brought marshmallows over as survival rations or trade goods or something.
But last year's Famous Ambrosia Salad was such a success, I asked my mother-in-law to help me select another marshmallow-based side dish for this year's Thanksgiving feast.
The recipe she chose was a green Jell-O salad containing pineapple, pecans and canned milk along with those happy jet-puffed cylinders of corn syrup, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, dextrose and delight.
Except, instead of green Jell-O, she chose the red kind; and, instead of pineapple, she decided to put in strawberries; and the thought of nuts in Jell-O made me feel sad, so she kindly agreed to leave out the pecans.
It's so ... pink!
Oh, I had big plans -- I was going to help out, videotaping the preparations so I could make a humorous little cooking-show segment out of it. But then, wouldn't you know, Mom got up early Wednesday morning and made it, along with a whole boatload of other day-before-Thanksgiving treats, before I even managed to down a cup of coffee. Honestly, I don't know how she does it.
Here's the recipe for those who would like to replicate these results in their own homes:
Mom's Strawberry Salad Supreme
1 package strawberry-flavor Jell-O
1 pint strawberries, halved*
1/2 cup pecans, chopped**
1 can evaporated milk, chilled
1 cup miniature marshmallows, bouncy
In a large bowl, dissolve Jell-O in boiling water and add cold water according to package instructions. Stir in marshmallows and strawberries. Incarcerate pecans in a small, dark place as far away from the salad as possible. Whip canned milk until stiff and frothy (the milk, that is, not you -- silly!). Fold into gelatin mixture. Cover and chill. Serves its purpose.
* thawed frozen berries may be substituted
** very optional
 It has always been my conviction that pineapple is the Forbidden Fruit when it comes to Jell-O -- its acidity, or maybe some mysterious organic compound in the juice, breaks down proteins and prevents the gelatin from setting properly. But, according to Mom, that rule applies only to fresh pineapple -- canned pineapple is A-OK! So I learned a valuable lesson.
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