pfffttt... "normal people".......
Some fun facts about Coke Salad, as far as our family** goes:
- It's at almost all holidays, and if it's not there, you're going to find some disappointed people (my husband).
- Each branch of the family probably knows who makes it best (an un-named source has said that Tina makes the best Coke Salad).
- There is disagreement over whether or not it should be girl Coke Salad or boy Coke Salad. At my house, we don't add nuts, so it's girl Coke Salad. I hear that Loretta puts finely chopped walnuts in her Coke Salad (slowly shaking head in disgrace).
- There's also the subtle nuances of which Jell-o to use (cherry vs black cherry) and which cola to use (Coke vs Pepsi vs Dr. Pepper; regular vs diet; regular vs cherry), and of course, pineapple tidbits vs crushed pineapple (Tina says tidbits, so that's what I use).
- Many of us have attempted to spread the Coke Salad phenomenon to our in-laws with varying degrees of success. Tina's nephew is a Coke Salad junkie, but when I brought it to an event for Jeff's family, no one even commented on it. I was dumbfounded...
- And, as I've recently found out, it's not at all photogenic.
So, what is Coke Salad? Here's the recipe for this Jell-o salad from Heaven:
Coke Salad1 large box of cherry Jell-o
1 can dark cherries; retain juice
1 can pineapple tidbits (or crushed, or I guess even chunks, but I used tidbits); retain juice
1 block cream cheese
2 cups cold cola of your choice - if you're traditional, use Coke
- Open your cans of fruit and pour the juices out - you'll need 2 cups total. If you're using crushed pineapple, I find it's helpful to set a colander on the 8-cup Pyrex measuring cup/bowl, pour in the pineapple, and smoosh it down with a potato masher, to get all the juice out. If you end up with less than 2 cups, just add enough water to get up to 2 cups.
- Boil the juices. But be careful with that because I've boiled the juices over in the microwave more times than I care to admit. Don't ask...
- Add the boiling juice to the Jell-o powder, stirring to dissolve. The box says 2 minutes.
- Put it in the fridge for a while to let it get a little thicker. Like 20 minutes or so (I can't actually find my written down recipe; can you tell?).
- While the Jell-o is chillin' in the fridge, cut the cherries in half. You can go ahead and cube up the cream cheese too. Cutting the cream cheese is my least favorite part of this process because it's all sticky and gets soft and argh!
- When the Jell-o has thickened a little (not set!), add the cola, fruit, and cheese.
- Refrigerate until set.
- Enjoy immensely.
Now, there is a fundamental flaw to Coke Salad. That flaw is that the cream cheese rises to the top, so if you're like, 5th or 6th in line to get Coke Salad, and the people in front of you were greedy, or thoughtless, or, well, me, you'll be left with cream cheese-less Coke Salad, and that is not ideal. Here's what I do to avoid that:
- While the Jell-o is chilling, in your serving dish, layer half of your fruit, then half of the cream cheese, the rest of the fruit, and the rest of the cream cheese. What's nice is that the weight of the layers will hold half of the cream cheese towards the bottom! And then don't stir it, It's worked well in the few times I've done that.
So, what do you think? Sound good? If you try it, let me know how it turns out!
Coke Salad, taking over the world one family at a time...
*True story: If you ask the members of my family, most of us will admit that we're really not "normal." We have our own brand of craziness (i.e. humor) that really intensifies the more of us that gather. In fact, there have been times when we were in public, and I think if I'd asked others around us, they would have thought we were drunk (never). And there was at least once that I honestly thought we were going to get thrown out of a restaurant for being rowdy***.
**And for the purpose of this blog post, "our family" refers to my Mom's side of the family tree.
***It was when Loretta & Andy & the kids were traveling to West Virginia. Lunch at a place right by the Oglesby off-ramp. It was them, me, Sharon, Susana, Marcos, & Marcos Alan. And we were seated at a big table in the middle of the dining room. All the other diners kept looking at us, and the manager was basically circling our table. I was having as much fun hanging out with them as I was watching everyone else. Funniest thing ever.