I have mixed feelings about Jello. I try not to over think it. My historic cookbooks have lots of molded salad, some sweet and some savory. The earliest ones are aspics, which are gelled soups that often emphasize their animal origins. I grew up on J-E-L-L-O. It's another one of those comfort foods. I always want it when I'm sick. I look forward to this salad at every family gathering. We all have our specialties for family pot lucks and this is Grandma Betty's. Recently, she's tutored my mom as she learns how to take the reins on this traditional dessert.
There's a question for you. Is it dessert? Is it salad? My friend Paula told me that in her childhood home, green Jello was salad and any other color was considered dessert. At our family pot lucks, this one is served as a salad. I made one alteration to Grandma Betty's recipe - I used whipped cream instead of Cool Whip. I don't fuss about Cool Whip when I'm a guest. It tastes good to me. It just doesn't seem like food to me. Neither does Jello, for that matter. But here I am, recording a recipe for my descendants, and I will have the foundation to monkey around with this and make it with other fruits and juices. I have a box of unflavored gelatin and dreams of wiggly, crystalline desserts.
Grandma Betty's Orange Jello
1 6 oz. box orange flavor Jello
2 cups boiling water
1 cup pineapple juice (drained from crushed pineapple)
1/2 cup cold water
1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple in juice, drained, reserve juice
2 15 oz. cans mandarin oranges in light syrup, drained
1 small container of Cool Whip, thawed
(or equivalent of sweetened whipped cream - 1 pint heavy cream, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 1/4 cup powdered sugar)
Dissolve Jello in boiling water. Stir to dissolve completely. Add the pineapple juice and cold water. (Alternatively, put 1 cup of pineapple juice into a 2 cup measure and add ice cubes until liquid reaches the 1 1/2 cup line.) Place the Jello into the refrigerator to chill. (If using whipped cream, prepare it while the Jello is chilling.)
When Jello has reached "blob stage" (Grandma's term) fold in all ingredients. Place into a two quart serving dish and chill until firm.