First, there was my grandmother’s green goddess salad. Which was not, I suppose, technically a salad: there were no leaves involved. She’d mix lemon and lime Jell-os, fold in sour cream, cottage cheese, and canned pineapple. (Grandma liked hers with nuts, but in deference to us kids, she’d often leave them out.) She’d bring it to every holiday meal, and if we were lucky, make it for Sunday dinners at her house, or even make a pan for a sick grandchild. What was more soothing than a backscratch from my grandmother or the cool feel of green goddess sliding down a fevered throat?
Then, there was the raspberry angel ring—the special dessert my mom made to serve members of my parents’ Mormon doctrine study group when they convened once a month on Sunday nights. She’d thaw a little square can of frozen raspberries (remember those?), mix it into warm liquid raspberry Jell-o, fold in whipped cream, and pour the mixture over pieces of a store-bought angel food cake she layered into a bundt cake pan (that was the “ring”) and a 9×13 pyrex. While the grown-ups finished talking about fine points of theology in the living room, we kids would hover in the kitchen, hoping there was an extra piece left in the pyrex for us. I remember the cool of the jello, the tang of the berries, the sweet of the cream, and the fluff of the cake.
Green goddess. Raspberry angel ring. Is it any wonder that something about that Jell-o and cream combination makes me feel inspired? The Book of Mormon Girl celebrates the delicious goodness of the worlds we grow up in, and the lasting importance of our childhood hopes and beliefs even as life gets more complicated. Because life does get more complicated and even mixed-up—pineapple and sour cream, anyone?–but the good stuff still inspires us and carries us through.
What food says comfort and childhood to you? What are the dishes that you most associate with family, friends, and special occasions?
Help celebrate the August 7 release of the new and expanded edition of The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith (Free Press) and win your own signed copy by sharing your childhood comfort food memories. Post your favorite Childhood Comfort Food recipe on your own blog, or Facebook, with a picture, a short (under 300 words) description of your experience with it, and a link back to this contest announcement at askmormongirl.com. Send me your link, and I’ll post all submissions, add your blog to my blog roll, and “pin” your post on my Pinterest board.
The grand prize winner will receive a handmade “Never Underestimate a Mormon Girl” sampler by the talented and cheeky Utah crafter “The Cotton Floozy” (please visit her Zazzle.com shop!) and a signed copy of The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith. Five runners-up will also win signed copies of The Book of Mormon Girl. Contest ends August 27.