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Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Gift of Salads (from the South) Y'all.

What other retro foods are music to the ears and candy to the eye of anyone with an interest in the nostalgic than the salads? Of course there are the molds and aspics, the sandwich loaves, the pasta salads with olives and mayonnaise, things mixed together that shouldn't be mixed together in nature. You can't NOT look at them. They pique the curiosity way too much.

My new favorite cookbook/coloring book series offers a Salads book. I raise my hand in gratitude at all the Southern homemakers who made these salads with or without success. Why? Because my mother never had to even think about making these foods. She wasn't a Southern belle. She was just my mother. And though she has been gone from this world for 24 years, if I could say one thing to her, it would be my gratitude for not making us eat a deviled egg aspic.

The Salads Cookbook, Southern Living, 1972. Oh boy! There's no title on the cover. They are actually on the spine but I'm not going to scan a spine. It's not like I am trying to sell these books....yet.
Title page. Look at that amazing mold! It's tall, full of olives, carrots, and potatoes, mixed with California dressing. Will this be an interesting book or is that the only good picture?
Called the Alfresco Olive Salad. I will say that I have dozens of salad books and I have never seen this. Score one for me! The Southern homemaker has surprised me. Well played.
Time to pick this apart as only I know how, y'all. I've lived in Maryland. Spent two years stationed there. Not once did I consider it the South. Sure, the Mason-Dixon line crosses Maryland. I considered it on the east coast. I live in Texas and I will admit that I am in the south. No argument there.
The first sentence makes me chuckle a bit. I can imagine a new Southern homemaker who is going to a store the first time. Poor dainty little thing. Does anybody really go into the produce section of their store and check on the stock boys work ethic? I don't paw through vegetables so that's moot. And this is obviously pre NAFTA. We get lots of inferior stock with few vitamins and minerals intact because it is usually not ripe when picked. Luckily there are things called Farmer's Markets. I live in the land of HEB. There are NO locally owned grocery stores anymore. If it's not HEB, it's Wal Mart.
Yes, let me think of how well my family and guests will enjoy sitting down to Glory Salad with an UNUSUAL Honey Dressing. I bet it earns me a reputation alright. I bet it's not an envial reputation of magnificent entree salad. All I need to do is follow the recipes and that reputation is MINE dammit. MINE, MINE, MINE!
Can we remap what is considered the south? I'm still having a hard time imagining  Bethesda, MD or Gaithersburg, MD as the South. Wait, I need to figure out how to save my meat dollar. My family wouldn't touch this shit. I know them too well.
I'm going to have to enjoy being in the dark. I'm also going to enjoy the overzealous shilling for these foods and that of the Southern Homemaker.
There are times when a picture is not necessary. Helpful, but imagine a turned gelatin mold, lemon gelatin mixed with beef consomme and chilled until thickened. Then the canned corned beef, mayonnaise, celery, onion, pimentio, hard boiled eggs folded into the chilled mixture and chilled again. Then sliced.  Mr. Ed Grubbs must be proud of what the Mrs. can do with a little corned beef and lemon gelatin.
Nor does this one need a description or a title. It speaks for itself. And it needs to just be quiet.
A cake that's not a cake. This is a Seven Layer Chicken Salad Sandwich. Seven Layers! Frosted with a sour cream and cream cheese mixture and in Southern Homemaker style, decorated with gherkins. If you are at one of these and this too good to be true "cake" is staring at you, look the other way. It's not a cake!
The Salad. Not a salad, or type of salad. The Salad. I would have overlooked The Salad if I had not noticed it was named The Salad. Well, you know what needs to be done. I have to shade it up a bit to see why it is The Salad and not A Salad.

Yuck. Okay. Damn, I did a good job on those olives and carrots if I do say so myself.
Vegetable Salad Ring. Unflavored gelatin, cream of chicken soup, lemon juice, mayonnaise, green pepper, stuffed olives. I got this.
Just a hunch. Just an idea of what it might look like in color. I still wouldn't touch it if it came crawling to me begging me to eat it.
Molded Cheddar Cheese Salad with Vegetables. Sometimes these deserve a little color in their life. What Molded Cheddar Cheese Salad wants to go through its sad existence without the world seeing its true color?
Oh come on! It's not like I'm trying to color an entire black and white movie! I think it looks like an apt description. It's not like any of us are going to try to make this! I even used the Macaroni and Cheese colored Crayon.
Creamy Golden Waldorf. Lemon Gelatin, meh; lemon juice, I can see it because it keeps the apples from browning, heavy cream, ok; celery and walnuts, potential texture; Mayonnaise--aww darn it, had to go and ruin it.
Autumn's Gold Salad. The dog days are summer and it's time to focus on Harvest (don't ask). A tall mold with gelatin, sour cream, mustard, onion, shredded cheddar cheese, apples, green pepper, and whipping cream ought to make us all forget the summer. In fact, a few bits of this and we all will forget a lot of things, like how good food can taste.
Molded Egg Salad. Just a little gross, right?
Macaroni and Beef Bonus Salad. I won't eat this. It now looks like some sort of animal food was chunked and put on top of this.
Three Tiered Dessert Salad. I will say in all of the research I have done with retro food, I have never seen a molded three tier dessert salad. I learn something new every day.
I'm ending this on a not so scary note. Apple Lime molds. Sounds different, senza (I lived in Italy for 3 years and this is one of the words I remember) mayonnaise or sour cream.. Doesnt mean I want to eat it. I want to touch it though. I want to squeeze these molds. I want to know if they are like a marshmallow, like gelatin, or will just melt in my hand.
 I think I need to go to bed. 


  1. How utterly amazing. It seems you have found the Holy Grail of Jello Salads!

  2. I made the corned beef salad a few years ago-- I remember it being tasty-- but just a way to use up a can of corned beef-- I stick to the corned beef hash as I prefer hot food.

  3. I have also made the seven layer chicken salad sandwich-- bit mine did not look cake like-- It was a big-big hit and was often requested. I think it became too expensive to make.