Say hello to ABNormal, the brain Eye-gor picks up in Young Frankenstein
 after he scares himself into breaking the smart one.

Yes, sure it looks awful, but it's a cranberry/cool whip/pineapple/marshmallow fluff that's anything but scary. (I used a Wal-Mart mold, but for next year, I'm getting this one. So much more detail1

The Husband has this thing about Young Frankenstein. He howls with laughter when we watch it (which is often), and an inordinate number of family inside jokes center around stupid stuff like the monster's "Mmmmmmmmmm." Twice now we've shown it outdoors for friends at our chili cook-off. The first year was simple--chili, cornbread, chips. I don't even remember if there was dessert. (But there was a grownup's camp-out sleepover with a full country breakfast after. That I do remember!)

This year, with my Pinterest addiction full-blown, there were so many things to try that we had far more to eat than we should have.  I got to have fun with some crafty things, too:

I scattered glow-stick eyes in the crooks of crepe myrtles (wrapped in card stock tubes instead of toilet paper rolls), but these monster-eyes are my favorites. They're 3-inch floating pool orbs bought for a birthday party in the summer, with black circles taped on, stuck into my aloe plant and succulent collection. (The button on the bottom changes the color of the lights.) Makes me giggle!

Now I've started a  a "cook-off box" with notes and cauldrons and brain molds and everything else for next year so I won't have to try and remember everything come cool weather 2013.  But I sure had a wonderful week, making and baking and papier mache-ing, and the 20 or so friends who joined us seemed to really enjoy the results. Since I went with an autumnal theme, many of the recipes and ideas I'll be posting this week could be tweaked for the rest of the holidays.

I made two other attempts that tasted delicious (think cherry pie filling, cool whip, sweetened condensed milk) but which were SO gross looking that my normally adventurous teens couldn't choke it down. So, okay, maybe making it purple-y grey and then adding hardly stirred-in blue food coloring as veins wasn't such a great idea. Realistic, but inedible. (I often don't know when to quit, sorry.)

Time for the tried-and-true, then. Nonie is C's late mom, and she was a great cook before age kept her out of the kitchen. This salad made an appearance at every family gathering as a fluff, not a brain. She taught me to make it over the phone so I could take on the duty when even this easy dish became too difficult for her. It's fast and delicious, and held in the mold beautifully with the addition of a little unflavored gelatin. Bonus:  if you want to lighten the calorie count a little, use sugar-free gelatin and low-sugar whipped topping.

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