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The Joys of Gelatin (and Pudding) Desserts

I’ll be honest: I haven’t cooked a meal for my family in quite a while. This is because, after months of searching, I got a part-time job! Then I graduated from college, and then I left my job because I found a full-time one. All of this job action was very exciting because, as is obvious to my fellow college graduates, high school graduates, and a good portion of the country, employment is hard to come by. Part of me knows that this is no excuse for shirking my responsibility. After all, my mom provides home-cooked meals for my family almost every night, despite often conflicting rehearsal, gym, and meeting schedules of a husband and three children. I’m using my adjustment to various jobs and adulthood as an excuse nonetheless; however, I pair it with the promise to try to do better. My future solo-living self deserves it, and so do you, readers! And I know my family enjoys my attempts, if not (entirely) their results, so I’ll make a better effort for them, too.

To ease my way back into cooking, I made pudding.

I’m very fond of pudding and gelatin dessert products. Last summer I discovered the joy of gelatin while I attempted to lose a few pounds: a box of the sugar-free dessert contains very few calories, and the variety of bright flavors was wonderful when I wanted something light but sweet. Gelatin dessert is simple to make, lasts for a while in the refrigerator, and can be used on its own or as a supporting ingredient in a larger recipe. For instance, in a pie.

This week a friend of the family visited us for dinner. A lovely dill chicken dish was prepared and served over noodles, but after all that white food on the table, it was a nice to see two colorful frozen pies set down for dessert, a green key lime pie and a pink raspberry pie. The recipes for these pies are so easy that my younger brother made one with little help from my mom.

Simply mix together in a large bowl:

1 packet of gelatin dessert (any flavor)

2 (6 oz.) containers of yogurt (complementary flavors to the gelatin)

1 (8 oz.) container of whipped topping

Spoon the mixture into a crust. My family usually uses graham cracker crusts, easily purchased at the grocery store. The pie can be frozen or refrigerated, and the recipe sometimes, depending on the amount of yogurt used, yields enough for a little left over filling, which is delicious all by itself. Key lime pie is a family favorite, but feel free to experiment with flavors! One of the great things about pudding and gelatin desserts is their versatility. From cold in a pie to warm in a bowl, they provide a gateway to countless easy-to-maked esserts that satisfy a sweet tooth.

Now that I’ve gushed over gelatin, I’ll return to my pudding, which was, more specifically, Pineapple and Pistachio Pudding. The combination of flavors excited me, as did the simplicity of the recipe; I could pick up the ingredients during my break at work, prepare the dessert after work, and enjoy it when I returned from the gym later in the evening.

The recipe was simple and came together deliciously, with an intriguing green hue. It seems, however, that I cannot even make a pudding dessert without a slight mishap. As I sat on the couch reviewing the ingredients for this article, I verified with my mom that a standard container of whipped topping was 32 oz. No. It is not. A standard container of whipped topping is 8 oz. I removed the pudding, which had only been chilling a short time, from the fridge and added the rest of the whipped topping.

My family generally approved of the result. My dad finished his first dollop quickly and said, “Tastes like seconds.” Seconds were served almost all the way around the table, to everyone except my oldest brother, who was unsure about the flavor. I had refused to tell him what it was beforehand, fearing he would reject it at “pistachio,” so I respected the fact that he gave it a try. My youngest brother was eager to fill his bowl a second time but remarked that the pudding “got boring” after a while.

It’s a dessert that is surprisingly pleasing to eat, considering a combination of flavors that could result in chaos. My mom remarked almost immediately that it tasted like a pudding dish my grandmother used to make called Watergate Salad. After looking up Watergate Salad I can say that the two are pretty much the same, although Watergate Salad appears to substitute marshmallows for the yogurt in the recipe I made.

Speaking of ingredients, it should be noted that bits of actual pistachios might show up in your bowl; my pudding mix included them, so pistachio-haters beware. Those bits lead me to my one issue with the recipe and that is its instructions to mix the ingredients together “until smooth” and then fold in the whipped topping. With ingredients like chunks of pineapple and pieces of pistachio, the dessert will never be smooth.

 

It’s not really pretty either, being of a green coloration with chunks and swirls of whipped topping (certainly the picture on the website is not its greatest advocate). Nevertheless, it is a treat and another great recipe to add to my growing collection of pudding and gelatin desserts.

Melinda Clemmer
Melinda traveled short distances with her family but took her first big trip to Europe, as a student ambassador, when she was 13. The sights, sounds, and smells enchanted her, and soon she traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina for a university Spanish immersion program. Since then she has lived in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, California, and Texas and sees every new challenge as a great future story. When not traveling, Melinda’s craving for good stories and amazing travel is satisfied by reading writers’ contributions as Wanderful’s Managing Editor.

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