You are here

Gustatory Guilty Pleasures, Childish and Otherwise

Kat S. H. reminisces...
My favorite snack as a kid was Swiss Miss hot cocoa mixed with just enough water to form a thick paste, eaten with a spoon. I was a latch-key child, which is the only reason I ever got away with that. Or with the little cups of peanut butter and chocolate chips I'd prepare for myself and my sister. Both of those made us a bit ill, but we loved them to death. I was quite capable of preparing decent food, even using the stove, but that would have taken away from after school cartoon time. Also, I loved red jello with canned cocktail fruit in it.

Robin Welch adds...
We used to eat peanut butter and pickle sandwiches.

My dad used to love peanut butter and pickle relish sandwiches. And my grandmother loved cream cheese and green-olive sandwiches.
I loved cream cheese and mayonnaise sandwiches, though I don't think I've had one since I was 14 or so.
My mother used to make us peanut butter and marshmallow creme sandwiches occasionally. We LOVED them.
I liked anything to do with sweetened condensed milk (and still do, though I don't have it more than about once a year). I liked to mix a big dollop of sweetened condensed milk with a bit of powdered cocoa. Peanut butter was good mixed with powdered sugar. A good friend of mine liked her watermelon with a sprinkle of salt. No salt for me, thanks (actually I tried hers and it was OK, but I preferred it without).

Rosemary Davis:
Peanut butter, dill pickle and pasteurized processed cheese slices, the individually wrapped ones (oh, the decadence).

John Gosden:
Peanut butter and M*M*T*

Adam Quinan:
Hear him, hear him!
With a slice or two of cucumber to moisten the palate.

Susan Wenger:
Allow me to recommend, simply:
Dole (canned) pineapple rings, drained
Put each ring on a separate plate.
fill in the hole with peanut butter.
Children and adults love it.

Susan Collicot:
Oh, that reminds me of bunny pears.
1 half canned pear, on plate, flat side down.
Splorpt of whipped cream at bottom end of pear half, as bunny tail. (SOME people used cottage cheese, we did not like those people)
Almond slices stuck into smaller end, upright, as bunny ears.
Licorice whip pieces stuck in smaller end for whiskers.
Almond slice stuck pointing out of small end for buck teeth and the piece de resistance, Red Hots for eyes - because the pear juice would leach the red coloring out of the red hots and it would drip down the face of the bunny, giving quite a macabre spin on the whole thing.
Ah, bunny pears.

Colleen Hope:
My Mom does the best canned pears. Canned anything, actually, but I swear a small dish of pears revived my whiny 8-year-old self many a time, whether it was the flu, strep throat, or an upcoming exam at school.
I returned last week from a road trip up to the parental abode, where we harvested and canned many things (100 lbs of tomatoes and 20lbs of hot peppers, for example!). I was repaid with jars full of goodies, and yes! there were pears in the mix.

A recipe my mother makes and I made the other night for a party is apparently a midwestern thing. I've only had it once or twice outside my own family, but those times were in the midwest. It's a dip/cracker spread. You put a block of cream cheese on a dish and pour some sort of sweet/spicy jam or sauce on top. My mother always uses cranberry sauce (with whole or crushed cranberries, not the jelly kind). I've also had it with stotty jelly.

Debbie DeVioleta:
Not sweet, but cream cheese rolled in lemon pepper is pretty tasty as a cracker topper.

Gerry Strey (currently consuming a bagel with lox, cream cheese, tomato, red onion and capers):
Cherry jam and a robust brick cheese.

Marijane Osborne:
Our Russian neighbor used to make us "matchstick jello" when either of us children was ill: just red jello with "matchsticks" cut from apples in it. We loved it. And I still love the memory of Mrs. Abel coming over with her jello, such a good soul.
I remember the mother of a friend making a lime jello with some sort of mixture of
cream cheese and onions and maybe cucumbers -- ring a bell? It was fresh-tasting and nice, and very green.

Alice Gomez:
One of my all-time favorite foods is that yummy lime Jello concoction with the tiny marshmallows, cottage cheese, a can of crushed pineapple and pecans.

Jan Garvin:
My mother's recipe for that green jello, pecan and pineapple salad started out with cream cheese in chunks instead of cottage cheese. Someone talked her into using cottage cheese instead of cream cheese and I never liked it again, but you could tell summer had arrived when she made the first batch. She kept in on hand all summer, and it was autumn when there was none around anymore.
I absolutely hated my Oklahoma grandmother's favorite jello salad—orange jello mixed with grated carrot, sometimes enhanced with chopped (canned) pineapple, but that didn't improve it much. She persisted in making it, and for special occasions you got a little individual plate with a lettuce leaf and a square of icky orange and carrot salad topped with mayonnaise.
The Illinois grandmother made more interesting jello dishes, like the one she made with black cherry jello, a can of black cherries, cool whip, and walnuts. Hers were considered molded deserts, though, not salads, so they got served on little glass plates with pretty paper doilies and the white stuff on top was whipped cream, not mayonnaise.
In both states, the jello dishes were the province of lady's only luncheons and church basement suppers. The men tended to make fun of you if you tried to serve them at family meals.                                                                                                                
We always used lime jello, but I'd try lemon first, or if you really want it to have the gelatin, use unflavored gelatin and a bit of real lemon juice, with some sugar if you want it sweet. I seem to recall that there are acids which will keep gelatins from setting. I remember that raw pineapple is one, but I'm not sure whether lemon is.

David Scheidt:
Pineapple (and papaya, figs, and the fruit named after a bird) contains an enzyme called bromelain (which, if memory serves, is actually several different, but related enzymes). Bromelain is a protease -- an enzyme that dissolves proteins. Gelatin is a protein, which is why it does un- nice things to setting jello. And why it's used as a meat tenderizer, or marinade. It's also used in beer for this reason. Well, not to tenderize beer, as it's already rather soft, being liquid and all, but to keep it from clouding when it's chilled. At about freezing (0C, 32F) temps, the proteins that are left in beer tend to sort of clump and form clouds. Bromelain is used to keep them from doing that.

Kat S.H.:
My absolute favorite is Mother's jello salad made with red or green jello, applesauce, and ginger ale or sprite for the base. The topping is cream cheese, whipped cream, and marshmallows. Ohhohohoho.
I've also been fond of the chiffon jello molds-- you know, the creamy lime green ones with whipped cream and sometimes pears or mandarin oranges in them. I don’t know precisely what the recipes are like, as I only ever got those at potlucks.
And have I mentioned that as a child I could never get enough tater tot hot-dish at potlucks? As an adult... I still can't get enough. As long as the tots are crispy and there's plenty of pepper available.

My after school friend's mother was French, and she made us chocolate toast.
Make "light" toast and butter it. Put some chocolate squares or chips on it. Put it in a slow oven just until the chocolate melts. Spread the chocolate over the toast. Give to kids. And give them a napkin. Can be made with whole wheat bread, but she always used white bread.
My mother made cinnamon toast as a treat. She was American.

Marijane Osborne:
My mother made us cinnamon toast too -- with Postum. Cinnamon toastum with  Postum, she called it. I am devastated that there is no more Postum!

John Marmet:
We were capable of such gastronomic grotesqueness, weren't we? My favorite 8 year old feast was a cold hot dog out of the fridge on Saturday morning before my parents awoke. Sad stuff that. Of course I will still take a spoon to a jar of Skippy (one spoon, one spoon only, no double dipping) ala Joe Black, on occasion.

Marijane Osborne:
Does anyone make or enjoy tomato aspic any more? As a child I loved my mother's tomato aspic with cold tongue. What a treat! I don't think I could even find cow's tongue being sold now.

David Phillips:
My favorite childhood dessert, and still to this very day, is pecan pie. Not chocolate pecan pie, nor bourbon pecan pie, (either of which will do in a pinch) nor (revulsive shudder) raisin pecan pie, but plain southern pecan pie.
I'll often plan a meal at a restaurant with a view toward finishing with a slice of pecan pie. No ice cream garnish needed, either.

"A dish of peas, perfectly fresh, eaten with a silver spoon."                                          

AGB refers to Blue at the Mizzen:                                                                              
"But it was at supper-time that they showed their real, and very considerable talent. Mrs. Broad was away with her cook, cook-maids, tapsters and waiters looking after the ordinary occupations of a fairly busy inn, and Stephen and Reade played backgammon, drinking brown sherry and discussing the pitiful state of their fellow-sailors in a dissolving Navy, when Sarah and Emily came in, wearing long aprons, and laid the table.
A pause. 'Now, gentlemen, if you please,' they cried, placing chairs. Stephen was draped in a remarkably broad napkin: Reade was allowed to look after himself.
The first dish was simply fresh, perfectly fresh green peas, to be eaten with a spoon: then, borne in with some anxiety, a great oval plate sizzling at the edges and containing filleted soles, lobster claws and tails, with here and there a great fat mussel, the whole bathing deep in cream.
Sarah filled the plates; Emily poured the wine, a pale golden hock.
'Oh my dears,' cried Stephen, having gazed, smelt and tasted, 'what a sinful delight! What a glorious dish! My dears, how I do congratulate you both!"
'I ask no better in all my days,' said William Reade. 'No, not even if I hoist the union at the main.’"