Holidays are a time steeped in tradition and a time when families gather together and enjoy favorite foods. For some families the traditional food may be turkey with special stuffing, ham with a secret glaze, or pumpkin pie. Our family too has a special food that we enjoy only at holidays. It’s called “green stuff.”
Yes, you heard me right. I said “green stuff.” It surely must have had a finer name at some point in time, but it has been so long ago that the name has been lost to posterity and only the ingredients remain. Even the recipe has grown a bit vague, at least as far as exact amounts.
I can tell you what green stuff is made from, but only a taste can really do it justice. Mix a bag of melted marshmallows, two packages of cream cheese, two packages of dry green jello, a can of crushed pineapple, and a pint of whipped cream. Presuming you didn’t blow up the microwave melting the marshmallows, you have made green stuff!
Even though the name faded into oblivion, the green stuff continues to be served at Thanksgiving and Christmas year after year. There are other similar recipes, but this one is especially rich and sweet. Our family cannot be fooled by imitations. We eat a small amount of it along with the meal, just like cranberry sauce.
The tradition started with my mother-in-law who always used to make the dish on holidays. Of course, my husband wanted “green stuff” when we began to prepare our own holiday meals. And so the recipe was passed along with verbal instructions on how to prepare it so that it comes out light and fluffy — not that anyone could make it like she did.
At one time we made both “green stuff” and “pink stuff.” The pink stuff was exactly like green stuff except it was made with strawberry jello and nuts were added. Eventually, though, the green became such a favorite and the pink was so neglected that we dropped it completely so we didn’t have to feel guilty for not eating it.
We have begun to think that perhaps “green stuff ” is actually the correct name. People seem to instinctively call it that. Whenever I prepare the dish for guests or for a potluck dinner, someone will invariable ask, “What’s the green stuff?” Imagine their surprise when I reply, “That’s it. It’s called ‘green stuff’.”
For our family a holiday isn’t a holiday without it. Whenever my son calls to wrangle a dinner invitation for the holidays, he always asks, “Are you making the green stuff?” Naturally, I am. We can change almost any other part of the meal, but we have to have the green stuff.
The tradition has passed on to the next generation. My daughters always say no one can make it as good as I can. Of course, that is just a ploy because it is a pain to make. It seems impossible to prepare without making a sticky mess and dirtying up half the bowls in the kitchen.
This year when we planned the holiday menu, green stuff was not mentioned. I
thought maybe everyone was tired of it and we would just skip it this year. Then I received a panic call at work from my daughter. “We forgot about the green stuff! What do I need to buy to make it?” And so it continues.
While I was up to my elbows wrestling melted marshmallow and whipping cream
in my kitchen the other day, my grandson walked into the kitchen. He looked at what I was doing and asked, “Hey, grandma, what’s the green stuff?”