Donna Fielder: Gelatin not glue that binds family

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You know how it is sometimes, when you’re doing something and part of yourself is doing it and the other part of yourself is levitating about a foot over your head watching what you’re doing and saying, “Oh, this is going to be bad.”

Has that ever happened to you?

It happened to me recently, and the floating part of me was absolutely dead on, and I can’t understand why the other part of me didn’t listen. If I had just listened to me, I would still own the antique crystal rose bowl, and my right bottom cabinet door would not be firmly stuck shut with Jello.

I hadn’t made black cherry cola gelatin salad in a really long time, but it sounded festive, and the family was coming for lunch. So I rounded up the ingredients the day before our extended family get-together at my house.

My daughter made “p-uuuuu”-ing sounds over the phone when I described what I was making.

What does someone who thinks cooking entails dipping Twink­ies into chocolate sauce know about making gelatin salad? I reasoned, as I lined up the black cherries, the pineapple, the can of Coke and the dark purple powder that would become a culinary delight after chilling overnight in the fridge.

I was surprised when I read that I had to boil it. But the recipe demanded that I drain the juices off the fruit, bring them to a boil and add the powder. Simple. I read the next step. “Chill until thickened,” it said.

Now what would you have done? Honestly?

OK. You would not have poured the boiling purple potion directly into the antique glass bowl. And the levitating part of me wouldn’t have done it either. But stupid was in charge.

The levitating part of me shook her head and moaned. “Oh you’re going to be sooooooo sorry ...” as the bowl slowly filled with the bubbling liquid. Halfway up, I heard a “crack!” and in excruciating slow motion, the bowl turned into several thick shards of antique glass and the sticky purple goo pooled underneath it and ran down the cabinet, finally forming a big purple blob on my ceramic tile floor.

I ran for paper towels. They soaked up the mess and then stuck to the floor and each other. I grieved over the bowl as I collected the pieces, and I used most of a bottle of Goo Gone ridding my kitchen of black cherry sticky stains.

My daughter called in the middle of it all. “Don’t you think God is trying to tell you something about the black cherry cola Jello?” she asked.

I ignored her and soldiered on, gathering more ingredients and starting over with a plastic bowl.

This time I cooled the bubbling juice before I poured it. I added cola and folded in the fruit and popped it into the fridge, where it congealed as directed.

The next morning, about the time the family arrived, along with my son’s best friend and his parents and a goofy looking guy I never really learned the identity of and hoped he wasn’t someone my daughter was considering marrying, I discovered the cabinet door was firmly glued shut with the sticky purple boiled gelatin stuff that had run into the opening.

It’s hard to nonchalantly pound a cabinet door open with a hammer with 15 snickering relatives looking on. So I just worked around that cabinet, pretending I didn’t really need the plates that were in there and had planned to serve lunch in soup bowls all along.

The gelatin salad was delicious. All of it except two helpings — mine and the guy whose name I never learned but whom I maybe wouldn’t mind having for a son-in-law after all since he has an appreciation for fine dining — still lurks inside the fridge in the plastic bowl. No one else would eat it.

Too dangerous to actually consume something that would glue a door closed, they explained. Yes, Christi, the little snitch, told everybody.

But it’s good. Really. And if anyone out there wants a recipe for a festive salad that will double as Super Glue in a pinch, let me know. I can help.

DONNA FIELDER can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is

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