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Sentimental Holiday Dishes


HS Mom in NC
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Anyone else have that holiday dish loaded with sentiment? Happy Thanksgiving 2021, boardies!

This is my FB post today. 

Jell-O Salad and Sentiment
 
My maternal grandmother helped raise me and my brother, Travis, in the 1970s when Mom was single. She was Grandmother to us, but it didn’t imply what most people assume-she was sweet, affectionate, not at all cold and formal. Every year for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter she made a 1950s dish, known officially as Party Salad, but given the moniker “Green Stuff” by all of us who love it…and her. It was your typical Jell-O and marshmallow-based dish from the era.
 
Grandmother cut the recipe out of a ladies’ magazine back in the day and scotch taped it to a recipe card, tucking it away in a recipe box for decades because she memorized the recipe long ago. She always mentioned, with her characteristic warmth, that as a toddler, I scrawled on the recipe card with a pilfered pen making it more special to her. No one cherishes toddler doodles like a grandmother.
Over the years the family grew, and all the new additions loved Green Stuff and her as much as we did. She didn’t care if the grandkids came to her through births or marriage, newly born or as tweens, we were hers and she loved us all the same. Each holiday came and menus were planned. One year she told us she was thinking about bringing something else, worried we were tired of Green Stuff. Our shocked faces and panicked protestations reassured her we were not.
 
Then came The Great Schism. Grandmother handed the role of Maker of the Green Stuff to the next generation. My mother was so bold as to place cherries and sliced almonds on to top to make it look more festive for Christmas. Lines were drawn. Sides were taken. The debate rages on. It’s not unusual to have both versions at a holiday meal to appease both the conservatives sticking with tradition and the progressives comfortable with change.
 
When Mom moved Grandad and Grandmother into her house for the final chapter of their lives due to his leukemia and her dementia, it was time to clear out their house. Since Mom’s hands were full caring for them, Trav and I did it. We were told to take whatever we wanted. I wanted the nativity set. Trav wanted the original Green Stuff recipe card. So, for more than an hour we flipped through hundreds of recipes in her recipe boxes looking for the precious, sacred, Green Stuff recipe card.
 
And there it was. The card I had heard about but never seen was right there. The paper had yellowed, and the tape had browned, but the toddler doodles she loved so much were as dark and clear as ever. He framed it and mounted it on his wall where it still hangs today.
 
A decade later I moved across the country. One day I received an unexpected package. Trav had the recipe card imaged, enlarged, and printed on a beautiful sea glass colored plaque. It’s all there, plain as day: the recipe itself with the discoloration where the tape had been, somehow transferred onto the glass along with the toddler doodles she loved. I mounted it on my dining room wall. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving 2021. It’s my turn to make the Green Stuff and remember my grandmother.
Edited by HS Mom in NC
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Wonderful story!

As soon as I saw the title of your post, I thought of our Pink Salad. I believe the recipe was given to my grandmother by her neighbor Bev in Florida. It's been a beloved holiday essential all my life. Raspberry or strawberry Jello, mayo, cream cheese, crushed pineapple, Cool Whip. Pure happiness. 🙂 

 

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Our family is a Pink Salad family (Oh no, a new schism Pink Salad families vs Green Stuff families!), but I know exactly what you are talking about. Especially the cherished recipe cards. 

And HS Mom in NC, you are a wonderful writer, just wonderful. That story should be published.

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My grandma's stuffing. It is made with 2 sticks of butter and 9 eggs...you can calculate the artery clogging goodness yourself, lol! I've started modifying the recipe from time to time. I am using sourdough bread this year. Other years, I have added sausage (it is a meatless stuffing originaly)

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I just pulled the strawberries and cream cheese out to make our family's version of pink stuff.  The original recipe was lime jello/pineapple based but I never like lime and as teenager when I took over duties of making the dish, I played around with different combinations of jello/fruit.  Not it's usually strawberry jello with either frozen peaches or frozen strawberries.  

I would have revolted against nuts on my salad too.

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Gosh, I love jello salad/fluff/ambrosia — all kinds! In my childhood, they most remind me of church potluck meals (revival and homecoming). 

As far as holiday meal memories, lemon meringue and chocolate meringue pies take me back to my grandma’s house. I hated meringue (still do), and I always raked it off…much to the censure of the older relatives. But I do love the fillings!

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While there are several sentimental holiday dishes that I love, I have never been able to replicate them to the deliciousness that the loved one made them.    Now I just do my own thing.  Hopefully my kids will one day look back on what I make with the same wonderful nostalgia.

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Did anybody else tear up? 😭 Such a sweet story!

Sadly, I can no longer eat a lot of the sentimental foods - the one that reminds me MOST of my paternal grandparents and dad is simply boiled wheat with honey, but the cabbage rolls that as far as we know were made only by my grandma (dad's mom) then by my own mom (they were my Dad's fave) make an appearance every Christmas - even when we are not making a big meal! None of my grandma's sisters or daughters ever learned how to make these kind of cabbage rolls. Grandma, Mom, Sister-in-law, and myself are it.

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At our Family Thanksgiving, the sentimental dish was Grammie's Peanut Butter Fudge.  It was so, so good.  Not as soft as most peanut butter fudges that I've tried, but not hard either.  It's the best fudge in the world.  And if y'all disagree it's only because you've never tasted it. :)

I have the recipe, but I've never tried it.  Part of me is afraid to try for fear that it won't turn out right.  And, there's a good chance that it won't turn out right because 1) I'm not a fabulous cook and 2) Grammie has been known to alter recipes that she hands down so that no one's will be as good as hers. 😕

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You all are making me wish I had been more supportive of my mom wanting to make green jello with fruit. We haven’t had it in 30-40 years but she said she misses it. Do they still make colored marshmallows? I don’t think my kids will eat it, but I will help my mom assemble it.

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1 hour ago, Acorn said:

You all are making me wish I had been more supportive of my mom wanting to make green jello with fruit. We haven’t had it in 30-40 years but she said she misses it. Do they still make colored marshmallows? I don’t think my kids will eat it, but I will help my mom assemble it.

Yes, colored marshmallows are still available.

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3 hours ago, Acorn said:

You all are making me wish I had been more supportive of my mom wanting to make green jello with fruit. We haven’t had it in 30-40 years but she said she misses it. Do they still make colored marshmallows? I don’t think my kids will eat it, but I will help my mom assemble it.

Our "green stuff" was pistachio pudding mixed with cool whip and fruit cocktail. I also now feel guilty I wasn't supportive of my mom making it.

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Sweet potatoes, two ways. There is always a decision about which kind to make, each Thanksgiving.

DH and I both lost our mothers over this last year. Last year, Mom died in early November, and I thought of her on Thanksgiving, as I made her mashed sweet potato recipe, which has pineapples in it and marshmallows on top. This year, I made MIL's recipe, which is creamy and has a crispy Corn Flake topping. FIL will be at our house tomorrow, and it's our first holiday season without MIL. I'm making the sweet potatoes as a tribute to her.

Edited by Storygirl
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4 hours ago, freesia said:

I’m thinking my family is the only one who never had jello salad for Thanksgiving 😂 

Jello-free holidays here. dh's extended family not only makes jello salad, they have a horrifying habit of simply calling it salad, and asking poor, unsuspecting southerners if they'd like some salad 😄

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Notfor Thanksgiving, but Christmas. 

Everyone on my mom’s side of the family makes “Bulla, a Swedish coffee bread” every year. No one’s is ever the same. There has always been debate about who does it best.

Over the years, several people of Scandinavian heritage have been like, “Bulla? With a B???” And I’ve always been like, “Yeah. Bulla, with a B.” For over 40 years. My mom and aunts are in their 60s. Bulla with a B. My grandmother said it every year. Bulla with a B. She was taught to make it from her Swedish mother.

A couple years ago, my mom found my grandmother’s handwritten recipe, which we didn’t know existed. She had it printed on dish towels for me and my sisters.  It is titled “Pulla”. And is technically Finnish.

The Finnish isn’t earth shattering. My great-grandmother was a Swedish Finn. But we will never know why or how it became Bulla with a B. And that is what it will continue to be to all of Svea’s descendants. 

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No jello here either.  But, my marriage may be on the rocks.  We've been together for 30+ years and this year I've forgotten the sauerkraut that is essential to DH's sentimental Thanksgiving.  Like, totally forgot.  Will-have-to-drive-to-the-only-store-open-and-buy-some forgot.  

 

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Great thread! 

My mom passed away 9 years ago. She was kooky and goofy and not at all sweet. She thought I was a terrible cook (I’m not!). Every year I make a dill casserole bread on Thanksgiving that is from my childhood. It is the only time my siblings have it. The recipe is in my mom’s handwriting. It is written in the most basic way (like you are explaining to a five year old). Every Thanksgiving I make that bread and laugh and laugh as I read the recipe. It’s funny because her kooky personality really comes through in how she wrote that recipe out for me. 

Hand down those recipes, folks. Not to be a downer on a sweet thread but my mom became suddenly ill at 64 and we lost her before some recipes had been handed down and they are just lost. Partly because she thought none of us were capable cooks (my sister and I both are and my brother does ok 🙂). 

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1 hour ago, teachermom2834 said:

 

Hand down those recipes, folks. Not to be a downer on a sweet thread but my mom became suddenly ill at 64 and we lost her before some recipes had been handed down and they are just lost. Partly because she thought none of us were capable cooks (my sister and I both are and my brother does ok 🙂). 

This is my project this year. 🙂  I'm putting together 3 copies of a holiday meal book: 1 to give to dh this year, 2 to keep in reserve for future adults.  It'll have every recipe we use (right down to roasting vegetables), along with a page that shows the menu for each meal: Thanksgiving dinner, New Year's meatball extravaganza, Easter, and 4th of July, plus notable birthday dishes.  Next up will be a set of books for our every day meals.

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6 minutes ago, HomeAgain said:

This is my project this year. 🙂  I'm putting together 3 copies of a holiday meal book: 1 to give to dh this year, 2 to keep in reserve for future adults.  It'll have every recipe we use (right down to roasting vegetables), along with a page that shows the menu for each meal: Thanksgiving dinner, New Year's meatball extravaganza, Easter, and 4th of July, plus notable birthday dishes.  Next up will be a set of books for our every day meals.

Love this!

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8 minutes ago, HomeAgain said:

This is my project this year. 🙂  I'm putting together 3 copies of a holiday meal book: 1 to give to dh this year, 2 to keep in reserve for future adults.  It'll have every recipe we use (right down to roasting vegetables), along with a page that shows the menu for each meal: Thanksgiving dinner, New Year's meatball extravaganza, Easter, and 4th of July, plus notable birthday dishes.  Next up will be a set of books for our every day meals.

That's amazing-I may borrow this idea!!

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8 hours ago, fraidycat said:

Do you have a recipe?

 1lb cranberries, finely chopped

1/2 cup maple syrup or sugar I use syrup)

1 lb miniature marshmallows 

Another 1/2 cup maple syrup or sugar 

1 c crushed pineapple

1 c chopped walnuts

1 cup whipping cream.

 

Night  before:

Mix chopped cranberries with 1/2 c sugar and marshmallows. Let soak overnight.

The next day 

Mix 1/2 cup syrup or sugar, pineapple, and nuts into cranberries. Whip the cream and mix all together. 

I usually throw it in the freezer for a while and then defrost the day I need it. I always make a double batch and we eat it at Christmas, too. I also might freeze some in individual servings and eat it whenever.😆

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, katilac said:

Jello-free holidays here. dh's extended family not only makes jello salad, they have a horrifying habit of simply calling it salad, and asking poor, unsuspecting southerners if they'd like some salad 😄

LOL!  Jello-free here too.  My MIL always made "sunshine salad" with orange jello/pineapple/carrots (I think).  The kids always loved it.  

 

Oh, here it is  https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/grandmas_sunshine_salad/

Edited by Kassia
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So many of the recipes sentimental to me aren't really favorites with my kids. We tried prime rib and Yorkshire pudding one year--everyone looked forward to it on Christmas in my family growing up to the point where we were tripling the Yorkie recipe. It's just ok with my kids, and too much meat leftover that no one wants to eat, so we don't waste the time and money anymore.

One heritage recipe that I'll make this year I think (I don't very often) is cardamom cake. My mom told stories of magical Christmases with her Norwegian grandmother, and cardamom cake was part of that (as were flaming candles on the Christmas tree). Mom didn't have her grandmother's recipe, but she found one she thought was close enough and that's the only one I've every had. It's a Bundt cake with sour cream and cardamom. It's just a large commitment for our small family to eat a whole Bundt cake (it freezes well).

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Team green jello.  Alas, DH and DS don’t like it. Nor do they like the cranberry orange relish that was always on our holiday tables growing up. 

No one warned me that liking green jello should have been on my list of qualities to look for in a husband! 

We made our own tradition instead; I make oyster bacon stuffing every year.

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@HS Mom in NC I read your jello story to the assembled family and they LOVED it. So much reminiscing together. Ours came first from Auntie Annie, and then dh’s sweet mom made it for years. I made the annual Green Jello last night—ours includes mashed pears, green jello, cream cheese, sugar, and whipped cream. My son refuses to eat it—he cannot stand jello of any sort because of the texture (not a solid, not a liquid, oy). But everyone else looooooves it. 

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I lost my maternal grandmother this summer and my paternal grandmother 9 years ago. In their honor this year we are having my maternal grandmother's pumpkin bread, and my paternal grandmother's pumpkin pie. It feels very meaningful to me. Wishing all of you a meaningful holiday!

 

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I can no longer eat a sentimental dish we are having tomorrow for our family gathering, but dd is going to try her hand at making it this year. It's a broccoli casserole that my maternal grandmother used to make. She always made it just right and everyone looked forward to it. I don't know where she got the recipe, but I think my sister has it from her. I'll have to ask if it's handwritten or from a magazine. My sister emailed it to me a few years ago. We're also making green beans like she always made them. 

We lost my maternal grandmother in 2010 and then my mother in 2014. My mother was an only child, so we three girls were the only grandkids. We spent so much time in her home and most holidays there. She was really more like a second mom. There are several recipes I use from them year round, and I  love to cook things that make me feel close to them both. 

We were able to move this summer to the town my grandparents lived in. They are buried less than a mile from my new home. My mother is buried just a few miles beyond that. I was even able to get my grandparents' post office box number. It was used by my great-grandparents and has been in our family for over 75 years. They still had the key that my grandmother had used, so every time I go open it, I feel like she's there with me, glad that I'm home. 

I know when we gather tomorrow for our first holiday meal in my new home in the town we all love it will feel right to be here. 

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On 11/24/2021 at 2:05 PM, Kalmia said:

Our family is a Pink Salad family (Oh no, a new schism Pink Salad families vs Green Stuff families!), but I know exactly what you are talking about. Especially the cherished recipe cards. 

And HS Mom in NC, you are a wonderful writer, just wonderful. That story should be published.

We grew up with no "salad" but DH grew up with some version of pink - but he has no real recollection of WHAT it was, and every time I tried making it it wasn't right, so I gave up and switched to Cranberry Fluff (which is pink, but no jello). (he knows it was red jello, and had chunks of cream cheese, maybe...and that's it, lol)

On 11/24/2021 at 3:10 PM, LifeLovePassion said:

My grandma's stuffing. It is made with 2 sticks of butter and 9 eggs...you can calculate the artery clogging goodness yourself, lol! I've started modifying the recipe from time to time. I am using sourdough bread this year. Other years, I have added sausage (it is a meatless stuffing originaly)

Oh yes, I make my dad's stuffing. If doing a full serving of it I also use 2 sticks of butter, but no eggs. And NEVER sausage, but we do use the giblets in it. 

On 11/24/2021 at 9:19 PM, freesia said:

I’m thinking my family is the only one who never had jello salad for Thanksgiving 😂 

We didn't either. But I'm not opposed. 

On 11/24/2021 at 11:49 PM, AbcdeDooDah said:

Ours is cranberry crap. Not sure how we started calling it that. Just made a double batch today. Marshmallows, cranberries, pineapple, walnuts, and whipped cream. So good.

Cranberry Fluff, lol. I can totally see calling it cranberry crap - although that's lest festive 🙂

We have it now every year because I stumbled on it looking for my husband's family's recipe for some kind of sweet salad and I love it, lol. But we use pecans and cool whip. 

On 11/25/2021 at 1:54 AM, fraidycat said:

Do you have a recipe?

This is the recipe we use. https://realhousemoms.com/cranberry-fluff/ Everyone loved it - it's a nice "light" and fresh tasting thing in a meal of heavy stuff. 

Edited by ktgrok
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On 11/25/2021 at 7:31 AM, HomeAgain said:

This is my project this year. 🙂  I'm putting together 3 copies of a holiday meal book: 1 to give to dh this year, 2 to keep in reserve for future adults.  It'll have every recipe we use (right down to roasting vegetables), along with a page that shows the menu for each meal: Thanksgiving dinner, New Year's meatball extravaganza, Easter, and 4th of July, plus notable birthday dishes.  Next up will be a set of books for our every day meals.

My MIL is working on a family cookbook for this year. 
 

In our family it was orange stuff. Called orange said but of course nothing salad about it. Cool whip, cottage cheese, orange jello, crushed pineapples, mandarin oranges. No one ever admitted to liking it, but it was always gone. I think maybe I’ll make it for Christmas. 

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My late sister always brought the fluffy thing: Cherry Whip! (Pie filling, sweetened condensed milk, crushed pineapple drained, cool whip...no jello)

Are the jello desserts being mentioned here jello molds with stuff inside or just flavored with the jello?  I can't picture them!

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16 hours ago, mom31257 said:

I can no longer eat a sentimental dish we are having tomorrow for our family gathering, but dd is going to try her hand at making it this year. It's a broccoli casserole that my maternal grandmother used to make. She always made it just right and everyone looked forward to it. I don't know where she got the recipe, but I think my sister has it from her. I'll have to ask if it's handwritten or from a magazine. My sister emailed it to me a few years ago. We're also making green beans like she always made them. 

We lost my maternal grandmother in 2010 and then my mother in 2014. My mother was an only child, so we three girls were the only grandkids. We spent so much time in her home and most holidays there. She was really more like a second mom. There are several recipes I use from them year round, and I  love to cook things that make me feel close to them both. 

We were able to move this summer to the town my grandparents lived in. They are buried less than a mile from my new home. My mother is buried just a few miles beyond that. I was even able to get my grandparents' post office box number. It was used by my great-grandparents and has been in our family for over 75 years. They still had the key that my grandmother had used, so every time I go open it, I feel like she's there with me, glad that I'm home. 

I know when we gather tomorrow for our first holiday meal in my new home in the town we all love it will feel right to be here. 

That's an amazing story!!

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My grandmother was a pie genius year-round but Thanksgiving isn’t complete without her pumpkin pie. “Her” pie recipe is just the original Libby’s recipe from the 50s, but since it’s spicier than most modern versions, all other pumpkin pies taste bland to me. Most of my family feels this way. 🤣

Mamaw also made a pumpkin nut roll for holiday meals. I thought everyone had this during winter holidays, but it could be regional or just us. It’s more involved to make, but still not too hard. 

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