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January 2007



By Rochelle delaCruz


Whatever happened to Jello? I remember when I was growing up in Hilo, no holiday table was without it. Sometimes it was a simple, classy, red shimmering circle with the puka in the middle, a centerpiece amid the Chinese noodles and macaroni salad. Or maybe it was in a more solemn presentation as a green block with grated carrots and crushed pineapple, the perfect accompaniment to vinha dahlos, a Portuguese marinated pork and potato dish. Or perhaps it appeared as a bowl of quivering, neon orange gel with slices of mandarins floating at the top, more spectacular and tantalizing than the other salads. Where have such visual and culinary delights gone? These days, I rarely see this fun and funny food dressing the table and especially during the holidays, I miss it.

It was always the color of Jello that thrilled us as kids and made the adults suspicious that perhaps it wasn’t real food – the red, the green - too red, too green! But who looks at Jello as a source of nourishment anyway? Jello is for play. My own children grew up with a steady supply of Nana’s cut-up, no-melt Jello in the refrigerator. They’d open the fridge, take out a colorful cube or two and, when they thought no one was looking, bounce it on the counter before popping it in da mout.

There was a time when the Jello people got creative and branched out in their flavors - blueberry, kiwi - or mixed them up - banana-strawberry, lemon-lime - but those never really caught on. I think it had something to do with the color because nothing was nor still is as eye-catching as the bright red, the green, the orange and the yellow. It’s about basics.

So for the New Year, I decided to haul out my old recipes for Jello and share them with you. Never mind the fancy frou-frou stuff. Time to get back to basics, don’t you think?


Aunty Hattie’s Neopolitan Dessert

A three-layered delight which requires time to make, beginning with Layer #1 – lime:

1 small box lime Jello
1 c. hot water.
1/3 c. pineapple juice
1 can drained crushed pineapple

Dissolve Jello in 1c. hot water then add pineapple juice. When Jello is slightly thickened, fold in pineapple. Chill in a deep loaf pan until firm.

Layer #2 – lemon:

1 sm. box lemon Jello
1 ½ c. hot water
1 pkg. Dream Whip
1 c. sugar

Prepare Jello and chill until syrupy. Prepare Dream Whip (or use Cool Whip or some other “whip”) and fold into Jello. Spread evenly onto chilled #1 layer of lime.

Layer #3 – strawberry:

1 sm. box strawberry
Jello 1 ½ c. hot water

Prepare Jello and chill until syrupy. Pour over chilled layer #2 and refrigerate at least another 4 hours. Then unmold the entire thing onto a platter for a pretty presentation.  


Aunty Ruby’s Mandarin Orange Jello

 3 small packages orange Jello
2 envelopes Knox gelatin
1 ¾ c. boiling water
¼ c. cold water
1 pint orange sherbet
2– 11 oz cans mandarin oranges

Dissolve 2 packages gelatin in cold water. Dissolve 3 boxes of orange Jello in hot water. Mix the two together well. Stir in sherbet while mixture is hot. Add in oranges, syrup and all and pour into a mold. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.


Nana’s No-Melt Jello

2 envelopes Knox gelatin
1 small box Jello
½ c. (or less) sugar
2 ½ c. boiling water

Mix together gelatin, Jello and sugar. Add water and stir until all are dissolved. Pour into an 8 x 8 pan and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Cut into cubes.


Yogurt-Jello Salad (for the health nuts)

1 6-oz pkg lime Jello
1 c. boiling water
1 ¼ c. cold water
2 c. vanilla or lemon yogurt

Dissolve Jello in hot water. Measure out 2/3 cup and set aside. Then add cold water to first mixture and chill in an 8” pan. Add 2 cups yogurt to the 2/3 cups set aside and chill in another 8” pan. When firm, cut both in to cubes and put in a bowl.

And from the Lokahi `Ohana Hawai`i Cookbook:

Haupia Coconut Jello

3 c. water
6 pkgs Knox gelatin
2 c. sugar
2 c. Mendonca coconut milk

Boil 2 cups water and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Add 1 cup water and all gelatin. Strain coconut milk, then add to mixture. Remove from heat. Mix well. Pour in 9x9-inch pan and let stand for 1½ to 2 hours. Coconut will separate.

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