Sunday, January 31, 2016


Last week, at a gathering at our house, my friend Vivian and I were reminiscing about how great our school lunches were--I know that kids today find that unbelievable--but we did have good lunches.  Staples such as beef stew on biscuit, creamed dried beef (yes, that's SOS--shit on the shingle, folks), and pineapple upside down cake were delicious and I still make those dishes. Fridays were meatless because of the Catholic kids, but the tomato soup and peanut butter sandwiches were great; the peanut butter had honey in it.  To this day I still serve cottage cheese with peaches just the way it was presented in those little dessert dishes.  Vivian recalled having sandwiches which were just lettuce and butter about an inch thick slathered on the bread.

Mrs. Elliott (Jackie Elliott's mom) and Mrs. Houseman did the cooking every day during my 12 years at Bloomingburg School. The only thing they did not cook well was navy beans--we called them "bullets"--because they were hard.  Mother said that they didn't have time to cook them until they were "done";  I always took my lunch on "Bullet Day"!

I can recall sitting in study hall and the potato washing machine made a a rumbling noise. I am now amazed that those two women were able to cook all that food in the time allotted to them.

As a grown-up I called Nina Elliott to ask her how they fixed the pineapple slices with the lime Jell-O;   here's the secret: remove all the juice from a can of pineapple; pour lime Jell-O into the can and refrigerate until set. Push the pineapple and Jell-O from the can and slice;  add a dollop of mayonnaise on top.   I asked, in disbelief, "So you did that with all the cans of pineapple; enough to serve the whole school?" She merely laughed and said that it was an easy dessert to prepare.

One day I asked Les, "Remember Perfection Salad? We had it all the time at school." He said he did not remember it. A survey of the other brothers resulted in one saying "Yuck!" and the other having no recollection.  I said, "I think I'll make it." I went online to get the recipe and I made it. It is absolutely disgusting.  See the picture and the recipe.

Perhaps my memory of school lunches is fallible.

Perfection Salad


1 cup boiling water
1 (3 ounce) package lemon Jell-O gelatin
2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold water
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely shredded cabbage
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
2 tablespoons chopped pimiento

Pour boiling water over jello in bowl.
Stir until jello is dissolved.
Stir in vinegar, veggies, salt, and cold water.
Pour into mold, chill until firm.
Serve un-molded on chilled plate, topped with a generous dollop of mayonnaise (family tradition of the last 30 years or so demands that you use Best Foods mayo brand;  never Miracle Whip).
If preferred, use 1/2 cup celery and 1 cup grated carrot.
You can use sugar-free jello for a diabetic/low carb version of Perfection Salad. Sometimes lemon jello is difficult to find - we've sometimes used lime instead.

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