Gee whiz, a simple parfait

Jul. 15, 2014 @ 07:36 PM

I’ve done it a total of three times.

The first time was like being flung out of a giant slingshot.  The next two were more gentle and gradual.  The final time it lasted six hours.

Many people do it alone, but being a novice I always did it with another person.

I’m talking about soaring in a sailplane (Why?  What were you thinking?)

A sailplane is a plane with no engine.  A lot of people know them as gliders, but some enthusiasts take umbrage with this nomenclature. They don’t want to be confused with those hang-glider hippies.

My first flight was at Torrey Pines, near San Diego.  They hooked the plane up to a big winch, and shot us out from a cliff to soar over the Pacific Ocean. 

The other times were at Lake Elsinore, a town about 75 miles north of San Diego.  In some years the lake was full, and became a draw for celebrities like Clark Gable, Bela Lugosi and Amy Semple MacPherson.  In other years, the lake was a dry bed, and in the late 1970s became a field that drew many sailplane pilots.  Finally in 1980, the state decided to do some engineering and maintain the water in the lake.  It’s now a bedroom community for both San Diego and Los Angeles.

My uncle was an avid sailplane pilot, and we occasionally went along with him to Lake Elsinore.  On a corner in the (then) sleepy little town was a café.  Many of the pilots ate there, so we visited a few times.

Uncle Dave was crazy about a dessert they offered.  Created by a long-ago Chinese cook, the regulars called it “Chinese Whizbang.” It was orange jello and vanilla pudding.  When he described it, I was unimpressed.

Then I finally tried it.

Somehow, it worked.  It was cool and creamy, sweet and light.  I’m not a lover of orange jello, and I felt it needed another texture, and maybe a little salt to break up the sweetness.  So, I tinkered with it, and came up with my own version.  And even though I’ve put my stamp on it, it’s still so simple that it would be a terrific recipe to make with a child.

Debbie’s Whizbang Parfait

Make a 3 ounce box of strawberry jello, and allow to set completely. Make a 5 ounce box of vanilla cook-n-serve pudding.  Cool in fridge.  When both are cold, get four parfait glasses or Mason jars.  Alternate layers of pudding and jello into glasses, starting with pudding.  Between each layer, drop a teaspoon or so of salted peanuts.  Top with a dollop of whipped cream, and a sprinkling of chopped salted peanuts.  Refrigerate until service. 

My mom’s something of a whizbang herself.  She makes a yummy comfort-foody dessert using pudding too.  Since I was a child, we’ve looked forward to digging in when this was in the fridge.  But of course, I’ve fiddled with this one, as well.

Chocolate Wafer Dessert

1 box Nabisco Famous chocolate wafers (usually found near the ice cream cones)

1-5 oz. & 1-3 oz. box chocolate cook-n-serve pudding

1-8 oz. tub Cool Whip, thawed

2-8 oz. blocks cream cheese, softened

Line bottom and sides of 9x13 inch pan with chocolate wafers.  Make pudding according to packet directions.  While it’s still hot, pour over wafers.  Place into fridge, and allow to cool completely.

When the pudding is cool and stiff, put the Cool Whip and cream cheese into a large bowl, and beat until smooth.  Spread over chilled pudding layer.  Finely crush 8 chocolate wafers, and sprinkle crumbs on top.  Refrigerate until chilled and set.

Makes 12 servings.

If you’d like, you can make both the puddings and the jello from scratch.  It isn’t hard, and there are plenty of recipes for each on the interweb.  You don’t have to use the cook-n-serve puddings either.  I just happen to like it more than the instant stuff.

Just imagine sitting on your darkened porch one evening, watching the fireflies, and enjoying one of these cool and creamy desserts.  You’ll feel so much like Andy and Opie, you’ll be looking for Barney to show up and join you.

Thanks for your time.