Last night's seder at Lauren's house was, as always, wonderful. Tons of good food, and nearly all family members in attendance (23 this time!). I really do enjoy the seder, even though (or maybe because) we gallop through the Haggadah very quickly and do only the most important and/or fun parts. I especially love going around the table and reading aloud the story of Passover—everyone in my extended family is an excellent reader. Pete joined in for the first time this year! Even though Julie is a great reader, she didn't want to give it a try. Maybe next year.
I wonder who will do the Four Questions at President Obama's seder tonight at the White House? Maybe Malia and Sasha can read the English translation together. At our seder, all the kids sing them in Hebrew together. Julie doesn't really know them yet, but she followed along as best she could.
My matzoh meal rolls were a big hit—for some reason Dad proclaimed them the best he'd ever had, even though it's Mom's recipe that she's been making for years. I also made another one of my mother's recipes, something simple that I'd never made before: Jello mold! It's a staple at all our family gatherings, but she usually makes it, so I never had to. (Oh, and I know it's supposed to be spelled Jell-o, but I don't like the way that looks. It's my blog, after all.)
Believe it or not, I'd never even bought Jello before! I'd always been sort of grossed out at the idea of gelatin; even though Wikipedia asserts that it's not made from animal hooves and horns as I'd thought, it's bad enough that it's made from "pork skins, pork and cattle bones, or split cattle hides." Ewww! I do occasionally buy Trader Joe's gelatin-free gel cups, which come in peach-mango and black cherry, and the kids love them. (For the record, although vegetarians obviously can't eat any gelatin, people who keep kosher can eat Jello brand gelatin, so it must be made from cow parts and not pig parts. As for other brands ... who knows?)
Anyhow, everyone agrees that Jello is yummy, regardless of where it comes from, and this recipe appears on every holiday table in my family:
Cranberry Jello Mold
3 (3-oz.) packages red and/or orange Jello (I used 1 strawberry, 1 raspberry, and 1 orange.)
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple
1 (16-oz.) can cranberry sauce, either jellied or whole berry (I'd never bought this before either, so I bought the whole berry, but it was completely jellied and contained at most 4 whole berries. Go figure.)
Lightly coat a Jello mold or Bundt pan or bowl with nonstick cooking spray.
Dump 2 packages of Jello mix into a heat-safe bowl.
Into a Pyrex measuring cup, drain off as much liquid from the can of crushed pineapples as possible. (I got about ½ cup.) Reserve pineapples. Top off pineapple juice with enough boiling water to make 2 cups total. Add boiling liquid to Jello in bowl and stir to dissolve completely.
Add can-shaped cylinder of cranberry sauce and mash around until almost all broken up. Add crushed pineapples. Pour into greased mold.
Prepare third package of Jello according to package directions (calls for dissolving powder in 1 cup boiling water, then adding 1 cup cold water) and add to mixture in mold. My mother said that her mold can't quite hold all of this third batch of Jello, so she just saves the remainder in a small bowl in the fridge. I used a Bundt pan, so I was able to fit the entire third package, with plenty of room to spare.
Cover and refrigerate until firm. I don't know how long this takes, because I made it the day before, but I would guess a minimum of 4 hours.
To unmold, lower the mold into a few inches of warm water, or wrap a warm, wet towel around the bottom. Meanwhile, use a flexible rubber spatula to loosen the Jello from the sides of the mold. Put a plate over the top, flip the whole thing over, and hope for the best.
We eat this with our meal—not as a dessert—and it provides a cool and refreshing counterpoint to the delicious but heavy main dish of whatever feast we happen to be celebrating.