In the 70s we made everything with gelatin – fruit molds, salmon mousse, carrot “salads,” aspic. The lady I babysat for had me mix up Jello® and give it to her kids to drink in a glass, just like they were drinking Kool-Aid. Everyone said it had protein, and my mom told me it would make my nails grow. Did I know it was made of ground up cow hooves? All I cared about was that it had very few calories and could be fashioned into low-calorie desserts. My favorite was made with coffee.
I first began drinking coffee at 14 because it was a calorie-free beverage. When I started smoking at 15, I discovered that coffee went extremely well with cigarettes. In 1971, my mom taught me how to make “Coffee Carvel” which consisted of various artificial powders whipped up with gelatin and ice cubes. If the stars were correctly aligned, the result would be a fluffy, smooth coffee pudding. More often than not, it would be coffee gelatin, topped with desert sand. But in either case, it was the equivalent of “a skim milk” on the diet we were on. It fed a lot of our addictions – coffee, artificial sweetener, dessert, getting a calorie-bargain (two quarts-worth of the stuff is about the same calories as small piece of chocolate). All we had to do was sprinkle it with nicotine and we could have survived on the stuff for life. “Coffee Carvel” had me flatulating through my entire sophomore year in high school, but I didn’t mind. I managed to lose 43 pounds that year.
I ate it so much that I know the recipe by heart. Here it is:
1 packet non-flavored gelatin
½ cup hot water
1 teaspoon coffee powder
5 teaspoons skim milk powder
1 packet of artificial sweetener
6 ice cubes
Dissolve the gelatin completely in the hot water
Mix in coffee powder, skim milk powder, and artificial sweetener
In a blender, one by one, blend in ice cubes
Pour into 4 pudding cups and chill until set.