Salad Brain Exercise–Cranberry Orange Gelee

by Min Merrell

Salad Brain is a creativity platform.

These exercises use the platter, rather than the typical deep salad bowl, as the canvas for creation and a means to illustrate the universal process of creative thinking and design. No matter the field, the steps of creativity are the same. Here we’re using salads because we all have some experience with salad, a low-stakes, easy medium for practicing everyday creativity. Plus, your installation will feed you beautifully and well, and shouldn’t we all be eating more salads anyway?


For an introduction to getting in touch with your salad brain, read Welcome to Salad Brain Creativity.


Fresh Cranberry Gelee

Fresh Orange Juice Gelee (see recipe below)

Granny Smith Apple




Broaden your thinking about jello. Here we’ve got two kinds of fresh gelee made with fresh fruits and fruit juice.  No Jello boxes, although I have nothing against them.  The idea here is simply to reconsider the usual cranberry gelatin salad many of us serve for Thanksgiving.  It’s got to perform the usual tasks–provide color, crunch and tang to the traditional brown mushy meal.  I’m also thinking about shape and texture.  Jello is usually served in a mold or cubes or some other definitive shape, or gelled in individual molds or serving dishes.  Here it’s just blobbed on to the platter freeform. The structure comes from the fruit garnishes. This makes it easy to make and easy to serve.


What if we eliminated one of the gelees and used the real fruit of the other flavor for the garnish.  I’ve done that here .

The cranberry gelatin is almost like the dressing on the oranges.  Or, let’s do the opposite.  Make the orange gelee and garnish it with your usual cranberry relish.  Add plenty of nuts.  Add seasonings even cardamom.  Lots of crisp celery appeals to me.  How would Susan Stamberg’s famous cranberry relish with sour cream and horseradish be as a gelee?  If you have a think for shapes then try individual molds or cut the gelatin into cubes.

Beyond celery and nuts, how about some other savory ingredients that pair well will cranberry and oranges? Cilantro, onion, jalapenos, beets,

How about other fruits? Grapes, dried figs, pears, persimmon.

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