Saturday, August 3, 2013

Weekend Cooking- The Astronauts Wives Club by Lily Koppel


This post is part of Beth Fish Reads' Weekend Cooking.  If you have anything related to food, cookbook reviews, novel or non-fiction book reviews, recipes, movie reviews, etc., head over to Beth Fish Reads and add your post. Or, if you want to read food related posts, head over to read what some interesting people have to say about food.

I just finished Lily Koppel's fascinating book about the wives of the original astronauts, The Astronauts Wives Club, and really enjoyed it. I was just born when John Glenn made his historic flight orbiting the earth and my mom wrote about that in my baby book, in the section "Things in the News".


I remember as a child watching Walter Cronkite on TV reporting on all of the flights, and vividly recall all of us sitting around the TV watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon. It was so exciting and hard to put it in perspective as a seven-year-old, but I knew that all of the adults around me were mesmerized.

Koppel's book puts you right in the living rooms of the wives of these brave men, and the women's bravery was no less important. They waited and watched with America, hoping and praying that their husbands came home safely, all this while reporters were camped out on their lawns and a Life magazine reporter was embedded in their homes. As Koppel succinctly states, they were the first TV reality stars, way before the Osbournes and Kardashians, only they were actually doing something valuable for society.

The wives got together at the homes of the astronauts in space to support the families, and of course they brought food.
The Astrowives learned that they needed to comfort each other during the agonizing minutes, hours, and days they had to be home for their husbands' safe return to Earth. They brought potluck spreads- Jell-O molds, casseroles, frosted cupcakes stuck with little American flags, lasagna, deviled eggs, pigs in blankets, strawberry angel cake, marshmallow brownies, and homemade "Moon Cake", a coconut cream pie topped with meringue swirled to look like the lunar surface."
Reading that brought me back to the family gatherings, usually at my Great Aunt Jean and Great Uncle Bob's big house, where we all celebrated graduations, had bridal and baby showers or just a family picnic. Everybody brought something, and we had tossed salad, potato and macaroni salad, corn on the cob, burgers and hot dogs and of course, Jell-O salad.

This recipe is one that in my family we call "Nancy and Cindy's Orange Jello Stuff", which is something you will see at every bridal and baby shower, and named after the creators my Mom, Nancy,  and Aunt Cindy.

Nancy's and Cindy's Orange Jello Stuff
Ingredients:
3 oz. package of Jello Vanilla Cook and Serve pudding (NOT instant)
3 oz. package Orange Jello
3 oz. package tapioca pudding (NOT instant)
3 cups boiling water
8 oz. Cool Whip

Directions: Put vanilla pudding, orange Jello and tapioca pudding in a large bowl. Add boiling water and stir until completely dissolved ( about two minutes). Cool completely in refrigerator, about a hour but don't let it set. Fold in Cool Whip, stirring gently. Refrigerate until salad is set, about two more hours.

I'm sure if you found your old copy of The Betty Crocker Cookbook, you know the one I mean, the one with the red cover, you would find this and dozens of other similar Jello recipes. Do you have a favorite Jello salad recipe from your childhood? Let me know in comments.

The Astronauts Wives Club  website is here.



16 comments:

  1. I have that book waiting for me. I am eager to read it. NASA was a big part of my life. The space center was just down the road and many of my friends' parents worked in the space program. I first taught fifth grade at a school right in the heart of NASA country. Thanks for sharing this quote and this book and this recipe.

    Here's my Weekend Cooking post.

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    1. With your close connection to NASA, you will love this book. I can't wait to hear your thoughts.

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  2. The book sounds great -- and your dish sounds like a jello creamcicle!

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  3. I can only imagine what it would've been like for those women. The Jello brings back memories for me. Grew up eating a concoction with orange Jello, Mandarin orange and walnuts.

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  4. I remember the Jell-O craze -- and I'm also old enough to remember the first man in space; I was in elementary school. My family often put things in their molds: fruit, nuts, sometimes carrots and cabbage. The two-layered ones were always a hit. Perhaps a creamy pink layer on the bottom with grape Jell-O with grapes in it on top. Oh the memories. And I have a copy of that Betty Crocker book.

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    1. I remember staring at all the Jello salads trying to figure out what exactly was in them. And I loved my Betty Crocker book!

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  5. My grandmother used to make a molded 'green thing' for holiday gatherings... never looked very appetizing to me, lol! Hope to read or listen to this book. I really liked Koppel's earlier book The Red Leather Diary.

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    1. I saw Koppel speaking last week, and I was shocked at how young she is, at least she looks very young. I would like to read The Red Leather Diaries, it sounds so intriguing.

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  6. Think I'll add this to my list. I sounds very interesting!
    Here's My Weekend Cooking

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  7. I remember my mother's having a Tupperware Jello mold and making something pale green in it. Personally, I would only eat red or orange Jello with fruit cocktail in it. Plain Jello was too plain and squishy.

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  8. Jelly - there's a blast from the past - I have to make some real soon! Cheers

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  9. That list of dishes reminded me of childhood gatherings as well. My mother used to make jello dishes with bits of fruit in them. My favorite was orange jello with mandarin orange slices.

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  10. Oh wow, I remember that too. Teachers would bring televisions into the classroom for big events. Jello was a staple in our house - great choice of a recipe.

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