Friday Food and Drink Post: For The Gift I Have Received, I Am Truly Thankful

 

File:World War I veteran Joseph Ambrose, 86, at the dedication day parade for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982.jpgThis Monday, May 27, is the nation’s officially designated Memorial Day. My mother-in-law never called it anything but Decoration Day, and never celebrated it on any day other than May 30 in any given year.

The day has an interesting history, and yet its essence today is simple and can be distilled as follows: Let us remember, in all the ways we can, those members of the United States Armed Forces who’ve given their all, so that we may live in peace and freedom. One of the ways we do that, in context and with love and appreciation in our hearts, is to enjoy the day with our family and friends. We may attend community and church events. Often, we picnic and have fun. Sometimes we mourn a personal and private loss. But always, we remember and are thankful.

I was first introduced to “Memorial Day” in the mid-1960s. We had moved from the UK and were living in a Pittsburgh suburb, where Memorial Day was commemorated each year with a huge block party. I don’t know if they’re such a big deal anymore, but at the time they were very popular get-togethers, and it seemed as though every neighbor and resident, and almost all male family members (and a few women, too), had been actively engaged in the war effort (Vietnam, Korea, WWII, and even a few WWI veterans), most of them in combat. And everyone had relatives and friends who’d died in battle. The party itself was always a pleasant event and cheerful event, a day of fellowship and tradition, the start of summer, the day the community swimming pools opened, but it was also a time of somber reflection and remembrance, of flags displayed and of prayer, and of appreciation for those who had paid a price, sometimes with their bodies, sometimes with their souls, so that we and our families could enjoy the day peacefully and freely. The annual Memorial Day picnics were one of the events that bound us together as friends and neighbors, and as part of a common culture and community.

I remember being fascinated by the Memorial Day picnic food. Who on earth ever thought of serving potatoes and eggs cold as a sort of salad? Or something called “macaroni salad?” Cole slaw? Good grief. Hot dogs. Hamburgers. Chicken wings (what did they do with the rest of the bird, I used to wonder)? I’d never eaten any of it before. Kool-Aid for the kids to drink (cheap and cheerful). Ugh. Iron City beer for the men. Pop for the ladies. Coffee later on. And the desserts! I’d never seen so many. Cakes and cookies galore.

I have to confess to a sweet tooth and a soft spot for desserts, so although I can’t remember the first time I came across it, I’ll give special mention here to one of my favorites–that pretzel, strawberry, Cool Whip concoction. I know that, in theory at least, it’s rather revolting. But I love it so.

And I’m going to make it, first thing tomorrow morning.

Please share what you’ll be doing this Memorial Day and any special food traditions in your family.

My stepdaughter and granddaughter will be visiting. Among other things, we’ll be having a modest feast–hot dogs, hamburgers, several sorts of salads, fruit, various sorts of chips and dip, ice-cream and cake, (that pretzel, strawberry, Cool Whip thingy I mentioned above) and some healthy and not-so-healthy beverages (no Kool-Aid on the menu, though).

You?

A blessed Memorial Day weekend to you and yours. I remember. And I am truly thankful for those who’ve gone before and those who serve today.

.

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There are 24 comments.

  1. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    We saw the movie, “The Cold Blue” last night. Very impressive. I have flown in a B 17 but not at high altitude.

     

    In addition to film footage in color that Willie Wyler shot when making “The Memphis Belle,” There were interviews with surviving vets of the 8th Air Force. Very well done, and timely. 28,000 men died in the 8th Air Force, There are some pretty good arguments that fighter escort was delayed by Air Corps generals but there is no doubting the courage of the men (19 to 20 ages) who risked a 70% loss rate and still flew. I knew some of them when I was a boy,

    My son, Joe, as his 40th birthday present.

    • #1
    • May 24, 2019, at 12:23 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  2. Percival Thatcher

    She: I have to confess to a sweet tooth and a soft spot for desserts, so although I can’t remember the first time I came across it, I’ll give special mention here to one of my favorites–that pretzel, strawberry, Cool Whip concoction. I know that, in theory at least, it’s rather revolting. But I love it so.

    Graham crackers, not pretzels! Pretzels sounds like someone went into the cupboard and found the graham crackers were gone.

    • #2
    • May 24, 2019, at 12:34 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  3. JustmeinAZ Member

    So how about giving us the recipe for that pretzel, strawberry, Cool Whip thingy?

    • #3
    • May 24, 2019, at 12:56 PM PDT
    • Like
  4. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Percival (View Comment):

    She: I have to confess to a sweet tooth and a soft spot for desserts, so although I can’t remember the first time I came across it, I’ll give special mention here to one of my favorites–that pretzel, strawberry, Cool Whip concoction. I know that, in theory at least, it’s rather revolting. But I love it so.

    Graham crackers, not pretzels! Pretzels sounds like someone went into the cupboard and found the graham crackers were gone.

    I love graham crackers! Not sure about this, though. I like the saltiness of the pretzels. But I might give it a try (next year). Thanks for the tip.

    • #4
    • May 24, 2019, at 2:16 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  5. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Percival (View Comment):

    She: I have to confess to a sweet tooth and a soft spot for desserts, so although I can’t remember the first time I came across it, I’ll give special mention here to one of my favorites–that pretzel, strawberry, Cool Whip concoction. I know that, in theory at least, it’s rather revolting. But I love it so.

    Graham crackers, not pretzels! Pretzels sounds like someone went into the cupboard and found the graham crackers were gone.

    There’s a link to a similar recipe to what I make, above (sometimes it’s hard to see the links in the posts–clearer in the comments, I think. The one I use is as follows (it’s bigger–more for me!–and fits a 9×13 pan:

    Preheat oven to 350.

    Top Layer

    2-3oz packages of strawberry Jello (not the sugarless kind) (UPDATE: Apologies, it’s 4-serving, not 4 ounces. The weight is actually 3 ounces).
    2 cups boiling water
    2 boxes/bags frozen strawberries, 16 oz each. (I expect you could use fresh, but IMHO the frozen are better texture-wise in this dish. There aren’t many cases where I can say that.)

    Dissolve the gelatin completely in the boiling water. Stir in the strawberries (I slice them if they’re not already sliced). Refrigerate about 1 1/2 hours, till partially set.

    While it sets, Work on the following:

    Bottom Layer

    2 cups crushed pretzels (measure after crushing). Can use food processor, but you don’t want crumbs.
    5 tablespoons sugar
    3/4 cup melted butter

    Mix the above, press into ungreased 9×13 pan, bake 10 minutes and cool completely on a rack)

    Middle Layer

    8 oz package cream cheese, softened
    8 oz container Cool Whip thawed in fridge
    1 cup sugar

    Beat the above ingredients until smooth (I start with the cream cheese and get that good and soft and beaten, then add the sugar, ditto, then the Cool Whip on a slower speed).

    To Assemble

    Spread the cream cheese/Cool Whip mixture over the cooled pretzel base
    Refrigerate until your jello strawberry mixture (still in the bowl, don’t get ahead of yourself) is partially set
    Then gently spoon the strawberry Jello mixture over the cream cheese/Cool Whip layer.
    Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

    As you can see, the only trick is the 90 minute or so window to partially set the Jello. Make the rest of it work within that window, and you’ll be good!

    • #5
    • May 24, 2019, at 2:35 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. Shauna Hunt Member

    I live in the middle of Jell-O country! The concoction is a favorite here. Utah is all things Jell-O. Although, I have never been subjected to eating the notorious green Jell-O and shredded carrots. Yuck! :\

    • #6
    • May 24, 2019, at 3:03 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Shauna Hunt (View Comment):

    Although, I have never been subjected to eating the notorious green Jell-O and shredded carrots. Yuck! :\

    Yeah, that one is gross. 

    • #7
    • May 24, 2019, at 3:10 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Jello. Molds.

     

    • #8
    • May 24, 2019, at 4:15 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  9. John H. Member

    He who drinks Iron City loves…something. His country, I hope. 

    • #9
    • May 24, 2019, at 4:17 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    I intend to join with two local veterans organizations and a patriotic-minded youth group in decorating the graves of veterans in our local cemetery. It is done every year, but this will be my first time participating. They will then conduct a short ceremony. Mid-day will be beer, burgers and brats, or hotdogs and soda if you prefer. That’s the plan.

    • #10
    • May 24, 2019, at 4:25 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    John H. (View Comment):

    He who drinks Iron City loves…something. His country, I hope.

    • #11
    • May 24, 2019, at 4:25 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  12. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Jello. Molds.

    Speaking of which:

    When I was a kid, we used to buy Rowntrees Jelly, in a box similar in size and shape to that containing Jello powder, and for the same purpose. But it looked like this:

    and was a very stiff, concentrated Jello-like product. The idea was that you pulled the cubes apart, or cut them with scissors, put them in a bowl, poured boiling water over, and then stirred like mad to dissolve. Then it would set, and “wallah,” as they say in these parts, something very like Jello.

    Problem was that kids loved the stiff little cubey things, and would eat them before they got mixed in with the boiling water. Eat enough, and your jelly wouldn’t set.

    I loved them, and was quite capable of eating the lot before they hit the bowl. Not sure I’ve loved anything as much since. So I was very pleased to discover Jello Egg Jigglers a few years ago. Basically, you make Jello, but in a much more concentrated form than normal, with less water, pour the mixture into the molds, and “Hey, Presto!” (sort of like “wallah!” but not so regionally specific) you’ve pretty much reverse-engineered Rowntrees Jelly cubes.

    They’re great! (The linked site says the molds are no longer made. I have several. One or two of them might be available. For a small fee. You probably don’t need the molds though. Just put in a small square pan, and cut into cubes. That would probably work.)

    • #12
    • May 24, 2019, at 4:41 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    She (View Comment):

    Shauna Hunt (View Comment):

    Although, I have never been subjected to eating the notorious green Jell-O and shredded carrots. Yuck! :\

    Yeah, that one is gross.

    Orange Jell-O with shredded celery.

    • #13
    • May 24, 2019, at 5:08 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Shauna Hunt (View Comment):

    Although, I have never been subjected to eating the notorious green Jell-O and shredded carrots. Yuck! :\

    Yeah, that one is gross.

    Orange Jell-O with shredded celery.

    What is it about Jello that brings this sort of thing on?

    • #14
    • May 24, 2019, at 5:11 PM PDT
    • Like
  15. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    She (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Shauna Hunt (View Comment):

    Although, I have never been subjected to eating the notorious green Jell-O and shredded carrots. Yuck! :\

    Yeah, that one is gross.

    Orange Jell-O with shredded celery.

    What is it about Jello that brings this sort of thing on?

    Kids like Jell-O.

    Kids hate veggies.

    Moms want kids to eat vegetables.

    Therefore: moms shredded veggies into Jell-O molds.

    • #15
    • May 24, 2019, at 5:19 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Shauna Hunt (View Comment):

    Although, I have never been subjected to eating the notorious green Jell-O and shredded carrots. Yuck! :\

    Yeah, that one is gross.

    Orange Jell-O with shredded celery.

    What is it about Jello that brings this sort of thing on?

    Kids like Jell-O.

    Kids hate veggies.

    Moms want kids to eat vegetables.

    Therefore: moms shredded veggies into Jell-O molds.

    I can’t help thinking that even Mom couldn’t make this work with kale . . . 

    • #16
    • May 24, 2019, at 5:27 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  17. Steve C. Member

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    We saw the movie, “The Cold Blue” last night. Very impressive. I have flown in a B 17 but not at high altitude.

     

    In addition to film footage in color that Willie Wyler shot when making “The Memphis Belle,” There were interviews with surviving vets of the 8th Air Force. Very well done, and timely. 28,000 men died in the 8th Air Force, There are some pretty good arguments that fighter escort was delayed by Air Corps generals but there is no doubting the courage of the men (19 to 20 ages) who risked a 70% loss rate and still flew. I knew some of them when I was a boy,

    My son, Joe, as his 40th birthday present.

    The quality of the film was stunning. Very well put together and adding the fliers was brilliant. Anyone with an interest in the air war over Europe should see this film.

    • #17
    • May 24, 2019, at 6:50 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  18. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Percival (View Comment):Graham crackers, not pretzels! Pretzels sounds like someone went into the cupboard and found the graham crackers were gone.

    This has made me think about other graham cracker/pretzel choices. For example, I love both chocolate covered graham crackers, and chocolate covered pretzels. (The finest chocolate covered pretzels I’ve ever eaten are made locally by Sarris Candies in Canonsburg, just down the road. It’s the hometown of Perry Como. Bobby Vinton, and Marty Schottenheimer, among other luminaries, and is the headquarters for All-Clad cookware. I don’t know why their chocolate covered pretzels are so good, if it’s the proportion of chocolate, the thickness of the pretzel, the correct amount of salt, don’t know. But both the milk chocolate, and the dark chocolate, varieties are delicious. There are other places I’d go if I just want straight chocolates, but IMHO Sarris pretzels are nonpareil.)

    Chocolate covered graham crackers are also good. Closest thing you can get in the UK is something called Hobnobs, which are chocolate-covered “digestive biscuits.” They’re good too. (Digestive biscuits are what Brits usually substitute for graham crackers in cooking when they can’t get the real thing. They’re similar, but a bit grainier and oatier.) 

    Then, there are ‘smores. Don’t think it’s quite the right time of year for them yet, so I’ll just ponder their loveliness in the meantime.

    • #18
    • May 24, 2019, at 6:56 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    We saw the movie, “The Cold Blue” last night. Very impressive. I have flown in a B 17 but not at high altitude.

     

    In addition to film footage in color that Willie Wyler shot when making “The Memphis Belle,” There were interviews with surviving vets of the 8th Air Force. Very well done, and timely. 28,000 men died in the 8th Air Force, There are some pretty good arguments that fighter escort was delayed by Air Corps generals but there is no doubting the courage of the men (19 to 20 ages) who risked a 70% loss rate and still flew. I knew some of them when I was a boy,

    My son, Joe, as his 40th birthday present.

    The quality of the film was stunning. Very well put together and adding the fliers was brilliant. Anyone with an interest in the air war over Europe should see this film.

    Thanks for the recommendations. I’ll look into this. In the meantime, I see that They Shall Not Grow Old is available to stream, and on Blu Ray and DVD. British Army, WW1, but utterly, utterly compelling. There were several posts on Ricochet about it when it first came out, listed here via the search engine. (The one about toys, which doesn’t seem relevant, is an excellent post which mentions the movie; that’s why it’s on the list).

    • #19
    • May 24, 2019, at 7:03 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    We saw “They Shall Not Grow Old” twice. I hope “The Cold Blue” is shown again but I see no plans to show it again, so far. My favorite cousin, the only son of my mother’s sister, flew 50 missions as a bombardier in a B 17 in WWII. He was in North Africa and they had a lower loss rate so it was 50 missions instead of 25, then 35. I would love to have had the chance to fly with him in the restored B 17 of the Collings Foundation. Sadly, he was one of that generation that smoked heavily and died as a result.

    • #20
    • May 25, 2019, at 9:46 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  21. Barfly Member

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    We saw the movie, “The Cold Blue” last night. Very impressive. I have flown in a B 17 but not at high altitude.

     

    In addition to film footage in color that Willie Wyler shot when making “The Memphis Belle,” There were interviews with surviving vets of the 8th Air Force. Very well done, and timely. 28,000 men died in the 8th Air Force, There are some pretty good arguments that fighter escort was delayed by Air Corps generals but there is no doubting the courage of the men (19 to 20 ages) who risked a 70% loss rate and still flew. I knew some of them when I was a boy,

    My son, Joe, as his 40th birthday present.

    I got to see that Thursday night, heard about it just in time. I took my nephew.

    Regarding the smores and associated comments: y’all shut up, it’s Memorial Day, not Estrogen Day. Ricochet is turning into a quilting circle.

    • #21
    • May 25, 2019, at 11:03 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  22. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Barfly (View Comment):

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    We saw the movie, “The Cold Blue” last night. Very impressive. I have flown in a B 17 but not at high altitude.

     

    In addition to film footage in color that Willie Wyler shot when making “The Memphis Belle,” There were interviews with surviving vets of the 8th Air Force. Very well done, and timely. 28,000 men died in the 8th Air Force, There are some pretty good arguments that fighter escort was delayed by Air Corps generals but there is no doubting the courage of the men (19 to 20 ages) who risked a 70% loss rate and still flew. I knew some of them when I was a boy,

    My son, Joe, as his 40th birthday present.

    I got to see that Thursday night, heard about it just in time. I took my nephew.

    Regarding the smores and associated comments: y’all shut up, it’s Memorial Day, not Estrogen Day. Ricochet is turning into a quilting circle.

    Excuse me? Conversations are driven by the people who participate in them. Please join in. You’re welcome to weigh in and tell us what you’ll be doing, helping with or eating and drinking, if you’d like. Just don’t expect any help with the washing up.

    • #22
    • May 25, 2019, at 11:08 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  23. She Thatcher
    She Post author

    Heard a report this morning that the Rolling Thunder motorcyclists will be doing their last ride in DC this Memorial Day.

    I found myself driving (in my car) along with a contingent of them who must have been on their way home last year. It was a fearsome/impressive sight.

    I am sure they’ll be missed. But as Doc Stewart says in the linked-to article, they can probably do a lot to help a lot of veterans with the $200K the organization won’t be spending annually on the ride. I hope so, anyway.

    • #23
    • May 25, 2019, at 12:57 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  24. Steve C. Member

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    We saw “They Shall Not Grow Old” twice. I hope “The Cold Blue” is shown again but I see no plans to show it again, so far. My favorite cousin, the only son of my mother’s sister, flew 50 missions as a bombardier in a B 17 in WWII. He was in North Africa and they had a lower loss rate so it was 50 missions instead of 25, then 35. I would love to have had the chance to fly with him in the restored B 17 of the Collings Foundation. Sadly, he was one of that generation that smoked heavily and died as a result.

    It’s going to be featured on HBO. 

    • #24
    • May 25, 2019, at 5:58 PM PDT
    • 1 like