Strawberry Cooler

We’ve all had watermelon.  Does any food that’s artificially watermelon-flavored taste anything like watermelons?  No.  Watermelon Bubblicious doesn’t taste like a watermelon.  It tastes like watermelon gum.  When you’re offered a piece of watermelon gum, you know the flavor you’re going to get.   But we accept it as “watermelon” and carry on.  I’m fascinated by this.

It floated to the forefront of my mind this week as I made a Strawberry Cooler.  Strawberry Kool-Aid mixed with some frozen strawberries with a few mint leaves thrown in for good measure.  Unlike the Mint Fruity Surprise, the mint is used here mostly for garnish.  No steeping in boiling water.  Cold all the way.  But that’s fine because who doesn’t love a good garnish?

When you have Strawberry Kool-Aid and an actual strawberry in your mouth at the same time, you really ponder how we have come to accept all these artificial flavors.  It’s quite the accomplishment, food manufacturers.  I begrudgingly tip my hat to you.  Makes me wonder how else I am being reprogrammed.

Overall, a Strawberry Cooler is pretty good.  It’s worlds colliding!  Artificial and Natural teaming up to fight together!  How could it not be good?

Also, this could easily be moved from the Some Like It Cold to the Halloween Party section of the book.  There’s something very mad scientist or maybe vampiric about ragged strawberry carcasses floating about it such an intensely red liquid.  Muahahaha!


Mint Fruity Surprise

Here we go!  History is made today, culinary adventurers!  The first recipe from Kool-Aid Comes of Age for the Cooking with Kool-Aid Project.  I figured I’d start with something easy.  To be fair, they’re all pretty easy.  This is not Modern Cuisine by any stretch.  But still!

This recipe for Mint Fruity Surprise (the recipe names could really use some work) is one of the five recipes from the Some Like It Cold section of the book.

Essentially this is mint-infused Kool-Aid, but the term “infused” didn’t exist in the 70s as it was invented four years ago by hipster chefs the world over.  One cup of the water normally reserved for straight-off-the-package Kool-Aid is used to steep mint leaves, and then everything is mixed together.  I opted for the strawberry preparation because this is the first post and strawberry is a classic.

I didn’t think this was going to be any good.  This was the first time I’ve used mint leaves for anything, and I was a little intimidated by their intensity.  But it tastes pretty good, I must say.  The strawberry is the most noticeable, obviously, but the underlying mint is subtle and a nice complement.  (My mint leaves seemed small, so there may be room to ratchet up the mint’s strength) The balance works, and the drink is pretty crisp and refreshing when served ice cold.

And look at it!  It’s beautiful!  That’s some sexy Kool-Aid all up in your face.

I think that might prove to be a fairly common occurrence.  I’m fascinated by anything that’s artificial and candy-colored.

One recipe down and sixty-two to go.  We’re off to a good start!

Inside the World’s Only Official Kool-Aid Cookbook

Kool-Aid Comes of Age was released in 1976 by General Foods.  Sadly, there is no author credited.

I’d like to think that the book was a collaboration that involved General Foods’ most adventurous maniacs sequestered in a kitchen lab with candy-colored stacks of dirty pots and pans everywhere and giant corkboards tacked thick with pencil-scribbled Kool-Aid-based food ideas.  Ideas that were pared down only after months of Twelve Angry Men-like deliberation until the exhausted cooks emerged squinty-eyed into the sun clenching handfuls of tattered loose leaf paper containing the now legendary 63 recipes.

Those recipes within are divided into six sections:

Beverages is divided into three sections.

Some Like It Hot has five recipes for warm drinks like Hot Cider Punch.

Some Like It Cold has seven recipes for cold drinks such as a Lemon-Lime Lovely.

Some Like a Lot has eight recipes for large quantity punches such as Regal Raspberry Punch.

Stir-in and Pour-ons offers five fairly simple recipes in which Kool-Aid is mixed with a few ingredients for sauces and spreads like Whipped Lemon Butter.

Party Ideas has six recipes for drinks and food such as a Sour Cream Dip designed to be served in a casual party atmosphere.

It also contains a separate Halloween Party section with four additional recipes, including a pretty epic Kool-Aid Man-shaped cake.

Easy and Elegant Desserts has eight recipes, including Cherry Bavarian Pie, to be served at your next, more formal, fancypants party.

Kids’ Creations has seven recipes aimed at making the kids in your life happy.  It is here we will find the classic yet most generic of snacks, the Snow Cone.

Special Surprises, the largest section in the book, includes thirteen recipes that are “new twists for old favorites.”  This is where everyday foods like Sweet ‘n Sour Pork and Glazed Carrots are infused with a “surprise ingredient.”  Spoiler alert!  It’s Kool-Aid.

Kool-Aid Comes of Age also contains a bonus, non-food section at the back called Handicraft Bonanza where you can learn to transform all those Kool-Aid canisters and envelopes into fun crafts like piggy banks, bird houses, and drums.  I’d like to work through this section as well, but the current canisters are shaped a bit differently.  I’ll see what I can do.  I’m pretty resourceful.

Cooking my way through this book isn’t going to be a walk in the park.  I anticipate challenges at every turn.  So many pots and pans and spoons and stirring.  So much water boiling.  Locating all of the ingredients might prove tricky as well.  I’m not exactly sure where one procures these “yams” or this “coconut.”

All in all, Kool-Aid Comes of Age mentions the following flavors of unsweetened Kool-Aid:

  • Black Cherry
  • Cherry
  • Grape
  • Lemonade
  • Lemon-Lime
  • Orange
  • Raspberry
  • Strawberry

The following sugar-sweetened flavors are also included:

  • Cherry
  • Lemonade
  • Orange
  • Raspberry
  • Strawberry
  • Tropical Punch

I’m not sure if they constitute all of the flavors of the 1976 line up, but they must constitute a majority.  (I’m irked at the lack of Kool-Aid documentation on the web.)

The only real issue that might require an eBay solution is the lack of Raspberry in the current flavor line up.  It’s beyond me why Raspberry isn’t around anymore.  It was an original flavor!  And sugar-sweetened Lemonade isn’t that easy to come by either.

But I am going to push through any and all difficulties and earn my place in history.  Because being the first and only person to do something is inspiring and impressive and important.  Always.

About the Cooking With Kool-Aid Project

We are here today because of my love of tomfoolery cookbooks.  Not those fancypants cookbooks like The Joy of Cooking, or Le Guide Culinaire, or American Cookery.

I mean those cookbooks (also booklets, sometimes pamphlets) that America’s finest mega-corporations used to publish throughout the 20th century to peddle their finest wares.  I’m talking about classics like Joys of Jell-O, or 44 Wonderful Ways to Use Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese, or Fresh Ideas from Velveeta.

Within these hallowed tomes are the comfort foods we all grew up on.  Whose Sunday dinner didn’t involve the family gathering in the kitchen and oohing and aahing over Mom’s Ring Around the Tuna, or her Burning Bush, or her Sassy Vegetable Stir-Fry (respectively).

In 1976, General Foods released Kool-Aid Comes of Age.  It was a game-changing cooking booklet that was slim on pages but big on ideas.  Its central thesis was that Kool-Aid needn’t be relegated to the kid’s table anymore.  Kool-Aid could stand on its own as a beverage to be enjoyed by adults or used as a staple in any elegant hostess’s party planning repertoire.   The world would never be the same.

Inspired by The Julie/Julia Project, a blog in which self-proclaimed “government drone” Julie Powell attempted to prepare all 524 recipes from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in 365 days, I will attempt to work my way through all 63 recipes of Kool-Aid Comes of Age in the next 365 days.

I hope it proves to be a life-changing experience (that leads to a book deal, a movie with Meryl Streep, and a new career that is anything but what I do now.)