Old Favorites from Childhood and The Best Table in Town

Excerpted from the Eugene Register, May 5, 1981:
When nostalgia stirs the taste buds with childhood scenes and smells, nothing beats the compliment, “Like my mother used to make.” Mother’s cooking is food for both body and soul, arousing memories with the simple flavors of apple pies, potatoes and gravy and creamy, back porch ice cream.
But what happens when the child becomes a great cook, even goes into the profession of cooking for hire, writing cookbooks, appearing on television and collecting fancy fees for teaching? So muses Dan Sellard as he writes a column for the Eugene Register in 1981. Included was the following:

Craig Claiborne, New York Times food editor, may have come by his love of food genetically. His mother, he has boasted in the past, was the best cook in the state of Mississippi.

Claiborne’s enthusiasm for his mother’s fine cooking brought her national exposure for some favorite recipes long before her son’s food reputation eclipsed her own standing with food lovers.

“I was mired in Chicago in public relations in 1948,” he says. “One of the programs I handled for the American Broadcasting Company was “Beulah Karney,” a food show on radio. Beulah also was food editor of Liberty Magazine and one day, knowing I was from the South, she asked me if I knew any good cooks in that region.

“Yes, my mother,” I told her. “She’s the finest in Mississippi.

“Beulah traveled there and wrote about some of the foods she enjoyed in my mother’s kitchen, and one of them happened to be one of my childhood favorites, a layered jellied affair made with one layer of green lime Jell-O, a second layer of cream cheese and a third layer of tomato aspic.

“My taste has gone a long way since then and I am too insecure to ever print that recipe, but some day I want to try it for fun and remembrance sake. In any event, when I was 13, I thought that was the ultimate in sophistication.”

This startling salad was included in the spread for Liberty Magazine in May 1948 which includes other favorites from Mrs. Clairborne such as Southern Fried Chicken Pie and Pearl’s Sweet Potato Biscuits. Beulah’s daughter Ann used to serve the Southern Fried Chicken Pie when she needed to impress society ladies of Lodi CA. And it worked, she was even written up in the Lodi News Sentinel!
Three Layer Party Salad
Party salad
Kathleen Claiborne

First and second layers
1 package lime gelatin
2 packages cream cheese
1 cup cream, whipped
1 teaspoon grated onion
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Dash of salt
1 tablespoon plain gelatin
4 tablespoons cold water

For the first layer, make up lime gelatin, following directions on the package. Pour into wet mold (an 8 x 8-inch pan cake pan can be used). Chill. Let set thoroughly before adding second layer.

To make the second layer, soften cream cheese with a little milk. Whip until fluffy. Blend mixture into whipped cream mixed with onion, lemon juice and salt.

Dissolve plain gelatin in cold water. Dissolve over hot water until liquid. Then blend with cheese-cream mixture and pour over set lime mixture. Chill. When second layer is set, make a tomato aspic for third layer.

Third layer
1 tablespoon plain gelatin
¼ cup cold tomato juice
1 ¾ cups additional tomato juice
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
Dash of red pepper
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Soak gelatin in cold tomato juice. Meanwhile, boil together the additional tomato juice and seasonings. Grate stalk of celery over tomato juice and gelatin mixture. Pour boiling tomato juice over dissolved gelatin. Stir and allow to become well chilled but not congealed.

Pour this last layer over cheese layer and allow to set. Unmold by dipping mold for a moment in hot water. Shake loose from sides. Place serving platter on top. Flip over. Garnish with greens and pass mayonnaise. Makes 8 large servings.

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