Friday, December 28, 2012

What is the Green Thing?

During the holiday this question came up when I put a photo on Facebook to signal to family members that the green thing was being made and would soon be available.

I must give you some background before I can tell you what the green thing is. Early on in my marriage we had holiday gatherings at my sister-in-law’s house. She is the ultimate earth mother figure in the family. She does it all. She always cooks everything so if we bring something, it needs to be something she wouldn't have already prepared.

It was not intentional that I would end up bringing the green thing, it just worked out that a Jello mold was what I chose since no one else ever brought one. Initially, I wanted to make a mold that would go with dinner, not necessarily be a dessert (but everyone decides when they want to eat it-with or after dinner). So I remembered a green mold that someone had made at a church event years earlier that I loved. I didn’t have a recipe but figured I would try to work out the ingredients and see what I could come up with.

“What is it called?” someone asked when I first showed up with it.

“I don’t have a name for it. It’s just a green Jello thing.”

So was born The Green Thing.

Since I never had a standard, written recipe to follow, it’s never exactly the same. The ingredients have varied through the years—sometimes better than at other times.

One year I was sure would be the last time I'd make it was when I was rushed and made it late. I planned to unmold it just before dinner at my sister-in-laws. It didn’t gel and I announced that it was ruined, but no one was deterred. They took a little cupful and ate it with a soup spoon. I thought they were being polite.

As a result, I didn’t make it the next year and was chastised soundly. We laughed about it being good whether or not it gelled and I’d better keep making it. It turned out to be one of the more memorable years and the subject of much joking and laughter ever since—especially when someone new asks, “What’s the Green Thing?”

One year I grew bored making the same jello dish and so brought a red “thing” for 4th of July, with fresh, in-season strawberries—great fit for the holiday, right? And I think I tried mandarin oranges for an orange thing another time. But always the question, “Where’s the green thing?” came up. After a while it was no longer simply looked for and asked about, it was demanded, ‘You will bring the green thing. If you bring anything else that’s okay, but you must bring the green thing.’ It has been loved, criticized, eaten and drunk, but always demanded.

So was born a tradition, The Green Thing (only a general recipe follows-so if you try it you will have to experiment to find the taste and texture that suits you and yours):

The Green Thing

2 - 6oz. lime Jello pkgs (the large ones). (you can use one box if you have a small gathering)

Follow the recipe for a mold, which includes a less water so it will unmold well (especially since there is juice in the pineapple). If you would rather not do a mold, you can let it gel in a serving bowl so everyone can scoop out a portion size they want (probably a good idea the first time in case it doesn't gel).

You have to let the gelatin thicken a little before adding the other ingredients or the ingredients will all float to the top during the gelling process.

To the slightly gelled mixture,
1 large can of Dole crushed pineapple (I use the one with pineapple in its own juice)
Chopped cucumber (I like pickling cukes and you can use 1 or 2)
Chopped celery (1 or 2 stalks)
1 pkg cream cheese (I use the whipped cream cheese because it breaks down easier)

{You can add sour cream and/or cottage cheese in addition if you like more tartness or less sweetness (vary the amounts to your taste)}

Pecans, chopped (amount to suit you—you can use walnuts but some people are allergic to walnuts.)

Be sure to make the Jello as indicated on the box for a mold (less water). When it has thickened, but not yet set, add the cream cheese (beat it to smooth or keep a little chunky to your preference). Then add the rest of the ingredients to taste and pour it into mold or a serving bowl to jell in frig.

I used a Christmas tree mold this year and so added in just enough prepared gelatin (without anything else added yet) to the bottom of the mold so it would hold the added maraschino cherries (the balls on the tree) to set in the frig while I mixed the rest of the ingredients. By then the Jello and cherries were firm enough so I could pour in the rest of the ingredients without them bleeding through.

Mystery solved. So now you know and can make the Green Thing if you dare, just in time for New Year’s. If you do, let me know how it goes.


Do you have a family tradition that has grown through the years? Was it planned or did it grow organically?


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Next Big Thing-No Not Santa

Yikes, I have neglected my blog terribly. What with NaNoWriMo, Thanksgiving and my head in my newest novel, three cars needing repairs in as many days, etc., blah, blah, I have been AWOL. 

I have to thank Liv Rancourt who twisted my arm  politely asked me to agree to do this Next Big Thing post, or there would still be head banging going on my desk as I try to squeeze out my newest plot idea. So, I guess there's that to be grateful for.

Here is the deal, I answer ten questions about my latest writing project (Yay! I have a contract and am going to get published!). (Ahem, excuse the jumping up and down.) Now you will get a peek into Dance The Dream Awake, my long awaited novel.

The Next Big Thing is a blog hop that’s been traveling from site to site, and I was tagged by the lovely Liv Rancourt. Be sure to check out her site--it's very clever. 

I answer ten questions about my current WIP, then tag five other bloggers to play the next round (I think I was the last kid in the corner chosen because I couldn't twist five other people's arms find anyone else interested at this busy time of year). But I did find one victim willing participant, Marta Chausee. (give her a big hand)

After you read the interview answers below, then peruse the list Marta's blog at the end of this post and check her site out--give her time to get her answers up, though. You might find a new book you want to check out or inspiration for writing ideas.

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
What is your working title of your book?
            Dance the Dream Awake (cover yet to come)
Where did the idea come from for the book?
            A déjà vu experience I had in Mexico’s Yucatan at one of the Mayan pyramids at Coba.
What genre does your book fall under?
            It’s going into the new Mystic line at Oak Tree Press, which would fall under paranormal It covers a past life and shamanic scenes with curanderas. It has suspense and romance throughout.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
            My protagonist, Tessa, would be a cross between Sandra Bullock (pretty, with a curious spirit) and Angelina Jolie (woman with dark edges that will risk real danger)—or maybe Anne Hathaway, who can fill all those parameters.
            Porfirio, dark, mysterious character. Maybe Jimmy Smitts- dark, romantic, charming or Benicio Del Toro. Johnny Depp with slicked back hair could play him with the charming panache needed.
            Jack, Tessa's neighbor and thorn in her side for the summer, “He had a bold, brusque John Houston manner, softened around the edges by a sort of Robert Redford charm.” Got any suggestions? Gerard Butler maybe. 
            Nick, archaeologist who is key to her unveiling the past. David Boreanaz (Bones) or Brad Pitt. He has to wear a hat like Indiana Jones, I think.
(I've started a board of characters over at Pinterest you could check out if you are a visual person.)
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
            Tessa risks danger in the jungles of the Yucatan to put an end to her nightmares of a Mayan sacrifice in a past life, the revelation of which puts her in mortal danger, once again, but frees her to be able to love again.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
            Oak Tree Press is publishing it.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
            Years. It was my first novel, on which I learned to write during the process of finding and shaping the story.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
            This year I read a novel by MJ Rose, The Book of Lost Fragrances, which followed that theme of past lives influencing the present one. It felt very similar to my novel in atmosphere, danger and intrigue. She touched on several past lives but I focus on a single one.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
            The experience I had at the Coba pyramid was startling. I sensed this other time when people had their hearts cut out of their chests and I felt the scenes viscerally. I knew that there was corruption in the Mayan priesthood similar to what we see today in politics (our current power structure) where many politicians pretend to be out for the interests of the people but in reality manipulate and control through theatrical demonstrations before the public – for their own power and greed.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
            Mayan life around 900 AD, in which my protagonist lost her heart physically, is highlighted by her inability to love now. It is reminiscent of those compulsions that drive some people to do or not do something; they can’t figure out where the compulsion comes from or how to change it. A past life might hold the key.
Go visit Marta Chausee at The Write Stuff: 
(Give her a day to get her answers up.)    

Rules of the Next Big Thing
***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.
                   (Good luck with that, Marta)

Any questions, comments or suggestions? Leave a comment if you like. I would love it.