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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourth of July: A BBQ and Festive Jello

There are some people suffering under the delusion that I am a good cook. Just because one likes to cook doesn't mean they are fabulous at it. Posts like these help shed some light on how helpless I am. I mean seriously, who messes up jello? Especially with a recipe that the cook has been working with for over a decade. It's skill, baby, pure skill.

Right above us, lit up by neighbors
Putting aside my ineptitude, Happy Independence Day! Every Fourth of July, we go over to my maternal grandparent's house for a barbeque and family. When I was a little kid, the fireworks were the most important part. Since they live in Buena Park, it is legal to light the "safe and sane" kind, and when I was a little kid nothing was more fun than throwing poppers at each other, getting burned waving sparklers around, and watching Grandpa rig up fantastic displays of light and sound.

Nowadays, I like it more for the family time. While most kids my age are throwing boozy blowouts or going to Havasu with their friends, I look forward to going over to my grandparents for a quiet outdoor sit-down. Which means I am probably growing old at an alarming rate, but I love it nonetheless.

Isn't Mr. Mochi so cute?! I am a bit biased

My mother, who I will never really get along with, has plenty of faults I love pointing out almost as often as my own. Especially as a teenager, I used to bemoan the excess she went to for every holiday. Even my dad would grumble that perhaps we didn't need 3 turkeys and a ham, as well as 4 different types of stuffing for Thanksgiving. After all, we only usually have around 10 people eating. (You do the math... that's roughly a third of a whole ham or giant turkey per person)

Until I experienced Thanksgiving Armageddon. One time my mom didn't host Thanksgiving at her house and we went to a relative's house. Due to traffic, my boyfriend and I arrived literally only 10-15 minutes late for when we were supposed to arrive.

No stuffing. No ham. No corn. No red meat. No gravy. All gone.

Literally there was maybe half a turkey breast left and a heaping tablespoon of mashed potato, which I promptly spooned up and ate before Mr. Mochi could call dibs.  The kicker: my mom, dad, and brother hadn't even arrived yet. There just wasn't enough food. 

I am in love
This was sweet justice for my mother. So one thing I will never be able to criticize is her Fourth of July spread. Smoked salmon in a brown sugar shoyu glaze, ribs falling off the bone, roasted chicken, and savory smoked sausage links are the usual meats, joined on the table three bean salad, potato salad, and broccoli salad. Not only is there an amazing variety, but enough quantity we could have had double the amount of people and still had leftovers. My dad brings home churned vanilla ice cream, which is his specialty and has the unfortunate side effect of causing you to shun store-bought vanilla for the rest of your life. The ice cream went with my brownies and 8 different choices of toppings, as well as a lemon chiffon pie brought by a family friend. My mother's other friend brought an awesome bacon cornbread that I will have to share with you once I track down the recipe. Seriously, I hijacked all the leftovers, that's how good this cornbread is.

My grandpa, who has Parkinson's, can no longer shoot off the fireworks, but it is just as well because Mr. Mochi loves it with a fiery passion. Never having the opportunity to do so as a kid, he is giddy as he prances around lighting them up.

Pyros at work: Mr. Mochi and my brother
We don't get as many fireworks anymore, as the neighbors across the street usually bring the flagrantly illegal giant fireworks and we might as well sit and watch them try and light a firework with a beer in one hand. As well as keep a wary eye for shells shooting towards us (nearly took out an Aunt one year, no joke).

It was a pretty fun Fourth, despite my awesomely bad looking jello. To boot, I have enough leftovers to be set on lunches for a week.

Fourth of July Layered Jello

1 3 ounce box of both red and blue jello
2 pouches of Knox unflavored gelatin
1 can of condensed milk

Colored layer:  Mix the blue jello box with 1/2 cup boiling water to dissolve. Add in 1/2 cup cold water. In another bowl, prepare the red jello the same way.

Milk Layer: In a separate bowl, mix the condensed milk with two packets of knox unflavored gelatin and 3 cups boiling water.

To assemble: Make all the layer mixtures at the same time, so they can cool to room temperature so you don't melt the different layers. Divide the milk layer into three portions. Pour the the first portion into a 9x13" baking dish and refrigerate, making sure the pan is level, for about 20-30 minutes until firm. Pour the blue layer carefully over the milk layer, then return to the fridge for another 20-30 minutes. Repeat with the milk, red, and final milk layer. Refrigerate overnight before slicing.

What Miss Mochi did wrong:
>.< I am so bad
First, I poured the blue layer so violently over the first milk layer that the blue ripped through the delicate setting jello. Second, I rushed this, and tried to pour the third layer on top of the blue before the blue was fully set, after a mere 10 minutes of chilling. Third, I tried to remove the jello from the pan after only 10 minutes of chilling the final layer, and it did not like to cut without getting mushy looking. None of this affected the taste, just the look. Morale of the story: be patient with layered jello.

Note: My mother snapped the photos of the boys, as well as the firework.


  1. Great blog! Captured the event perfectly

  2. Love your blog, have copied down a LOT of your recipes. But am sad to find you never entered the bacon-cornbread dish :( I suppose I can figure one out though, thank you for all the sinfully yum dish ideas

    1. I didn't make the bacon-cornbread dish unfortunately, a friend did. Now that my oven is working properly, I can attempt it.