In which I get advice from a coworker.
Isn’t there something so nice about the word “Fluff”? It’s soft and comforting and towels out of the dryer. When someone tells you that a “fluff” is on the menu, you know what to expect. Something soft, puffy, creamy, and cloyingly sweet, perhaps with marshmallows and definitely with whipped cream or Cool Whip. At nearly any deli counter in America, you can pick up a plastic tub filled with pistachio pineapple fluff. (Sometimes the salads are called “Ambrosia” instead of “fluff”, but we all know what they mean.)I found this recipe when I was looking for recipes to bring to our friends’ house for Thanksgiving dinner. I scoured 11 different recipes looking for the perfect dish to bring along with my Cherry Meringue, Pumpkin, and Apple pies. I asked a number of coworkers for their favorite thing to eat at Thanksgiving and one of them mentioned “Cranberry Fluff”. I had never heard of it. When I called my grandma to ask about it, she fondly remembered it as one of her favorites. How could I not make it after that? As an aside, that was such a good conversation with my grandma. I love talking to her about her food memories and bonding with her that way. We chatted for a decent amount of time about the blog. I hope she knows that she’s really the inspiration for it.
I had a few minor modifications. My apple was sweeter than I was expecting it to be. The grocery store didn’t have green grapes that day, so I used red ones. I didn’t read through all the instructions and didn’t let the cranberries, marshmallows, and sugar sit overnight. I let them sit on the counter for a couple of hours instead. The purpose of this is really just to soften everything and ensure that there are no big chunks of marshmallow.
So the verdict…holy buckets. This was easily the best fluff salad that I’ve had. It’s not as sweet and mushy as a lot of fluff salads. The fruit and nuts add texture. One of the kids thought the “pink fluff” was better than the “green fluff”. It was good enough that I didn’t mind eating the leftovers (which were gone before I had to go back to work.) It made a nice change from super tart cranberries. It was sort of like a Waldorf salad, but not mayonnaise-y. All in all, this dish is a keeper. Get yourself some Wisconsin cranberries and make this one. I think it’s a better dish than the Cooked Cranberry Salad. (And in case you didn’t read about it before, the teacup is Wedgwood that I found at the thrift shop for less than $1. I love the color, I love the pattern, it coordinates with my dining room and the rest of my blue and white dishes.)
In which I make a gelatin salad.
I am not a Jell-O girl. I don’t care for it and have probably eaten more of it while making recipes for this blog than I have my entire life. I’ve certainly made more of it. And there are so many recipes left to go. I am debating investing some serious money in ring molds and individual molds at the thrift shops nearby. You know, all of $10 maybe.
When I was a young girl, I read a book by Lois Lenski called Berries in the Scoop. I was intrigued by the notion of cranberry bogs and how cranberries were harvested. In the story a little girl loses her grandmother’s pin in the cranberry bogs and ***Spoiler alert*** after she falls on the ice and injures herself while ice skating on the bogs she finds it and they all live happily ever after. Or maybe they do. I mean, once you injure your ankle it never goes back to exactly how it used to be.
Anyway, everyone eats cranberries during the holidays and I am no exception. We are a real cranberry family and don’t eat the canned stuff. My sister loves cranberries when they are fresh and raw and mixed with orange and just enough sugar to take a little of the tart out. I prefer mine slightly sweeter and a little more cooked. Occasionally when it’s not the holidays I’ll have a glass of cranberry juice with or without vodka, but I ignore cranberries in their hydrated form for most of the year. I think most of us do. Dried cranberries are a different story all together. This might change that.
First of all, this recipe calls for unflavored gelatin. This means no artificial colors or flavors if you care about that stuff. It means that the only flavors you are going to get out of it are the ones that you put into it. Because it was July when I made this recipe I wasn’t going to get fresh cranberries, but I had some left in the freezer that someone brought me back from one of the Cranberry Festivals and that I was going to take to my sister’s for Thanksgiving and forgot. I think I had also offered them to my mom, but forgot to put them in her cooler also. I guess maybe I was fated to use them for this recipe.
This recipe is beautiful. There is something about that deep red color. John says this recipe reminds him of really good fruit cocktail. It’s somehow light and refreshing despite having that tartness of cranberries. The pineapple adds sweetness, the nuts add crunch and depth. The grapes just lighten everything up. Serve this up with some whipped cream. Or be like Caroline and dip your pork chops in it. It’s a good side for roasted meats.