About Me

I have been cooking my way through life for over 50 years, beginning with mud pies as a child. I've turned a corner now and feel a Renaissance in my life. Recipes and Random Thoughts is my personal spin in a blog about how to prepare good food and how it prepares you for life. I want to share with you, honest to goodness food punctuated with perspective from the special memories and moments that have marked my journey.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tomato Aspic - And the Angels Wept

It's been a long, two funeral day.  I left my house early this morning to drive almost two hours south of the large metropolitan area I live in to a smaller, less hectic one to attend the funeral of a dear friend's father.  An elderly doctor, husband, father and friend to countless people was remembered for a life well lived.  Then back to the city to the unbearable wretched, wretched grief of parents' loss of a first born son gone inexplicably and too soon in his 20's. I barely recognized their swollen eyes and slacken faces of grief.

 In the midst of an emotional day was a pause following the doctor's service for luncheon in the church Fellowship Hall.  It's already hot and sultry outside and I'd forgotten a bottle of water for the car.  I had that sinking feeling already when my eyes spotted a large punch bowl full of something sort of lavender, with big blobs of ice cream floating on top.  I wasn't sure what it was but it was bound to be wet and cool.  I was about to take a sip when I saw the widow besieged by condoling friends and offered her the cup in my hand before taking a sip.  If I needed it, she needed it worse and I was right.  I made my way back to the punch bowl to sample the mystery.  If ever there was something that could be described as refreshing, this was it.  There where hints of fruit juice, carbonation, and coconut.  The best of it, where the multitude of tiny, tiny slivers of crystalline ice floating throughout, not cubed, cracked nor crushed - shaved. How had they done it?  Little bits of ice that crunch but don't freeze the tooth and send you to the dentist for a crown.  Suddenly, I was taken back to my 6th birthday party with this sort of punch, birthday cake with pink roses and felt I should be wearing a party dress with a stiff petty coat and black patten Mary Janes and my hair would be in pig tails and ribbons.  Tomorrow is my 60th birthday so it was sweet to be swept back to the 6th, if only for a moment.

Miss Minnie, the church's renounded cook had prepared Hot Chicken Salad casserole with crushed potato chips on top at the family's request and assorted salads including tomato aspic and other delicacies.  I hadn't had the casserole since I was in college.  Lord, it was good!  I know those dishes our mother's made that included a can of creamed soup are now frowned upon but what a blast from the past.  Now, as to the tomato aspic, I had never associated it with funerals but, my minister denounced it from the pulpit one Sunday as something his mother prepared and took to the sick and bereaved.  He could not comprehend why anyone would like it much less consume such. It bordering on evil to him.  If you where not already sick or bereaved, tomato aspic would put you in that state.  Following the service, as is customary, he greets his flock as they depart the church door and we make some nice remark about his sermon.  My sole comment was, "Obviously, your mother didn't have my grandmother's famous tomato aspic recipe."  Well, there it was today confirming his pronouncement of tomato aspic as funeral food.  Not as good as my grandmother's but perfectly fine. Nene served it in a ring mold with chicken salad in the middle for bridge luncheons and lady like entertaining.   She used lemon jello in the recipe and I suppose that's what made hers so popular. Oh, how I miss my Nene!

As hard as today has been, Southern Comfort came to the rescue in the form of cool, slushy punch, a classic casserole in every church guild and Junior League cookbook and tomato aspic. 

My children, take note. Put Nene's Tomato Aspic on the menu when I'm gone.

Nene's Tomato Aspic

6oz. Lemon Jello
6oz. unflavored gelatin
9 cups of V-8 juice
3/4 cup sliced olives
1 cup of diced celery
2 tsp grated onion
1/4 cup Worstershire sauce

Spray a 10 cup mold with vegetable spray.  Heat 4 cups V-8 just to boiling point the pour over gelatin mix and stir until dissolved.  Add remaining ingredients he the rest of the V-8 juice. Pour into mold and chill 8 hours or over night.

Spray a 10 c

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