Frozen Valentine Rounds – A Retro Recipe Test

Posted on Feb 15 2012 - 6:56am by RetroRuth

I have to admit, Tom and I started out this week’s Mid-Century Menu test very disappointed. You see, this special Valentine’s dinner was supposed to really be heart-y. And by that, I mean it was literally supposed to have a beef heart in it.

Sadly, our local butcher shop, after having come through like champs for us when we needed cow tongue and salt pork, failed us this week. When Tom went in to get a two-pound beef heart, (no more organ meat on the floor of MY car, I can tell you that right now) he actually stumped our butchers. Oh, they can order it for us, they said, but it would take a week or two to get here. But by then the wonderful horribleness of being able to have a Valentine’s Recipe with an actual, blood-pumping heart in it would be long done and gone, so we decided to pass on ordering our two-pound love muscle and just make something comforting for this week’s Valentine’s Menu.

And by “comforting” I of course mean Jell-O with canned fruit cocktail in it.

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Ah. See? Now I feel all better.

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I have to admit the first time I saw the cover of this cookbook, my heart started beating faster. (See, I knew we could work in a heart somehow!) My palms got a little sweaty and I got butterflies in my stomach. From the oversized, “A Christmas Story” style fruit basket in the corner to the little, winking pimento eyes of those bacon-wrapped olives, everything about this cover told me that I was in for a heck of a mid-century holiday visual feast.

And it truly did not disappoint.

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This is a frozen Jell-O salad with mayo and canned fruit cocktail in it.

It’s not a real heart, but it’ll do, Pig. It’ll do. 

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But I did make two small changes to this week’s recipe, which I don’t normally do.

The first is that I didn’t have enough fruit cocktail, so I put in extra cherries.

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It’s actually kind of a funny story. Not like the whole “butcher shop doesn’t have a heart” story above, which is just sad. No, this one is funnier because it involves Tom and me not communicating clearly.

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So, when the plans to obtain bovine heart went awry, I had to come up with a new Valentine’s Mid-Century Menu plan, fast. I emailed Tom a list of supplies to pick up on his way home from work, including a notation to bring back “3 cups of fruit cocktail”.

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When he got home he unpacked the new groceries and plopped into my hand a package of individually packaged, single serving fruit cocktail cups.

“Wait,” I said.

“What?” He set a roll of paper towels on the countertop.

“What is this?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t ask me. You said you wanted three cups of fruit cocktail.”

Ba-dum-bum-ching.

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The other small change is, since I was now the proud owner of fruit cocktail “cups”, I didn’t have a big can to mold my salad in. So I went crazy and jammed it into a Jell-O mold I’ve been meaning to use for a while.

Isn’t it glorious?

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I even got to stuff the center with miniature marshmallows.

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I know, there are a lot of shots of this thing. But in my defense, I am actually really proud of it.

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But you can’t just be proud of something because it’s pretty. You have to be proud of what’s on the inside, too.

Which is more marshmallows.

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He is suspiciously sniffing it.

“Why does this smell like orange juice?”

I honestly had no answer for that one.

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“Tastes like salad bar goo.”

I put down the camera and looked at him. “What?”

“It tastes like that pink, gooey gelatin salad that was always in the all-you-can-eat salad bars when I was a kid. You know, the salad you would take so that you didn’t have to take lettuce.”

“Where did you eat as a kid?’

“Dunno. Ponderosa?”

The Verdict: Despite the glorious looks of this thing, it is totally a salad and not a dessert. Non-descript rounds were probably the way to go with this thing. It tasted thick and rich, like lemon and whipped cream and mayonnaise, if that makes any sense. Not bad, but not overly sweet. Would be a great, edible showstopper salad for a mid-century dinner party.

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit in...to the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (www.midcenturymenu.com), No Pattern Required (www.nopatternrequired.com), and I Ate The 80's (www.iatethe80s.com).

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28 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. ae February 15, 2012 at 8:43 am - Reply

    You have explained these ideas to your butcher, right? Looks just too gross!

    • RetroRuth February 15, 2012 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Eh, sometimes. Most of the time they don’t even ask what we are up to. They probably don’t want to know. 🙂

  2. Yinzerella February 15, 2012 at 9:12 am - Reply

    I know EXACTLY what Ponderosa salad bar goo Tom is talking about. I think that the pink salad looks amazing. But of course I have a weird affinity for gelatin-based dishes.

    • RetroRuth February 15, 2012 at 10:07 am - Reply

      Thanks, Yinzerella. Oh, I know all about you and gelatin. 😉

  3. Natalie February 15, 2012 at 9:30 am - Reply

    Hahaha. Ponderosa. That reminds me of visiting my husband’s grandma in rural Indiana. She looooooved that place. It’s just not good….but I guess there could be worse things….like cow heart. =)

    • RetroRuth February 15, 2012 at 10:08 am - Reply

      You are right about that!

  4. Eartha Kitsch February 15, 2012 at 10:47 am - Reply

    It’s so pretty! And I know exactly what Tom is talking about. It’s still on all salad bars here in the South. Right there with the salads as if it’s salad. And wow, hon…you were really going to make a recipe with beef heart in it??

    • RetroRuth February 15, 2012 at 11:14 am - Reply

      Glad you think it is pretty!! 🙂 Yep, we were going to try to make something with beef heart. I guess we will have to save it for another time…maybe Sweetest Day…

  5. Sara In AZ February 15, 2012 at 11:00 am - Reply

    Beef heart?!? Really? Now I will forever be wondering about what that recipe could have been! 🙂

    I have to say the gelatin does look super pretty in all of it’s glorious pinkness, bummer that it tasted like salad bar goo!

    • RetroRuth February 15, 2012 at 11:19 am - Reply

      I will just have to keep you in suspense! 🙂

  6. Paula February 15, 2012 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    First of all, thank you for my first laugh out loud moment of the day. I am not sure what is funnier, your husband’s comments or the pictures of him eating. Both are just priceless.

    My mom is the queen of the mid century salad; jello, cottage cheese. All complete with lettuce leaf and paprika garnish. She has a recipe for something called California Salad that she is ever so proud of (tomato soup, lemon jello, mayo, green olives and shrimp) that causes my husband to run screaming from the house. Its an acquired taste, something that takes about 40 years to develop.

    • RetroRuth February 15, 2012 at 2:44 pm - Reply

      Glad you thought it was funny, Paula!

      I have actually met some people in real life, not even people who read this blog, who like lime jell-O with cottage cheese in it. I’m serious.

      That California Salad sounds…interesting. I’ve had salads with those same ingredients that taste horrible, and some that actually taste okay. Jell-O is a strange, strange thing.

  7. RetroMimi February 15, 2012 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    Aww man! I am totally bummed about the lack of beef heart. Hope the butcher is well-stocked with livers, though. Bwah-ha-ha-ha!!!! Happy Belated Valentine’s Day my friend. xoxo

    • RetroRuth February 15, 2012 at 2:45 pm - Reply

      Mimi! I’ll show you liver! I…oh wait. I guess you DID show me liver. That’s going to be a horrible one, isn’t it?? Yeck. XOXO

  8. Barb in AZ February 15, 2012 at 12:55 pm - Reply

    Looks pretty good Ruth…are you going to do a green one for St. Patrick’s Day? I might make this and tell my husband, as I always do, just eat it..it’s good! 🙂

    • RetroRuth February 15, 2012 at 2:46 pm - Reply

      Well…I don’t want to spoil too much, but I DID manage to snag a clover shaped gelatin mold recently at Salvation Army… 🙂

      • Barb in AZ February 15, 2012 at 2:49 pm - Reply

        Good for you! You should get a bunny one for Easter too..

        • RetroRuth February 15, 2012 at 2:51 pm - Reply

          Oh no! The lambie cake is totally always the star at Easter, so I have that one covered! 🙂

  9. nickarmadillo February 15, 2012 at 11:05 pm - Reply

    My grandma used to make something pretty similar. Her secret: a layer of jello and crushed pretzels on the bottom. The combination of salty and sweet made for some good eatin’.

    Also, I now feel sorta embarrassed for chuckling when I read the phrase “two-pound love muscle”. Such a juvenile mind …

    • RetroRuth February 20, 2012 at 10:11 am - Reply

      That sounds WAY better, nickarmadillo!

      I mean the crushed pretzels…not the juvenile chuckling… 🙂

  10. Jen February 20, 2012 at 7:57 am - Reply

    A new thing to live for! These looks on Tom’s face. More hysterical laughter!

    The pink gelatin thing was sorta pretty though.

    • RetroRuth February 20, 2012 at 10:09 am - Reply

      Hooray, Jen! Glad we gave you something new to look forward too.

      Yeah, the pink gelatin did end up rather pretty, didn’t it?? 🙂

  11. Tasha February 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    I’m not quite sure how I missed this blog for so long, definitely adding to my reader right away! I have that cookbook too, though have yet to make anything out of it. Perhaps I’ll start out with a different recipe, methinks. 😉

    • RetroRuth February 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm - Reply

      Welcome, Tasha! Glad you like the blog!

      Yeah, this wasn’t the greatest one. But there are plenty of great recipes in that book that I am just dying to try!

  12. Cindy January 23, 2013 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    Just found your blog – love it! This post makes me sad I gave away my old jello mold!

  13. Seth July 18, 2013 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    I became mildly mildly obsessed with frozen salads after I read “Fashionable Foods” by Lovegren. I The idea became a big hit in the 1920s when electric refrigerators (and freezers) became available in the home. I’ve found all sorts of crazy variations in old cookbooks, from sweet to savory (frozen chicken is aspic, like your chicken ice cream, frozen tomato cups for cottage cheese, creamy salad dressing frozen in ice cube trays for a lettuce salad, and a frozen seafood salad!?!) I even found a recipe in my mother’s recipe box, although I don’t remember her every making it. That recipe and a lot of the older ones can be a mix of sweet and savory, canned fruit salad mixed with unsweetened whipped cream and mayo or cream cheese. More modern (60s and later) recipes call for Jello and/or added sugar. Anyhoo, it’s good to reset ones palate every now and then.

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