My mother was a unique woman.
She was a terrific lady, but, when it came to cooking, there were times when we grinned and prayed lightning wouldn't strike us for lying about how good dinner was!
God love her, but even the dog would whimper at the thought of table scraps sometimes!
I can say this because she was the first person to admit her limitations when it came to cooking. It wasn't like she didn't try her best, but it seemed there would always be a gremlin in the kitchen that would exchange the sugar with the salt or turn the over up an extra 100 degrees.
My mother, grandmother, aunts and the other women of our family, some of the best cooks I've known in my life, would get together and laugh about cooking disasters and share recipes over a glass of tea on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
At age 19, I felt so privileged the first time I was invited to join them.
Although her cooking talents were limited, this group of women always wanted my mother's recipe for Ambrosia. Since it was one of the few things the gremlin never tampered with, she wouldn't share it with anyone.
I think it made her feel good that everyone tried to figure out how to make it by sampling it into extinction at all the family gatherings.
My sister and I were sworn to secrecy at a young age about what we did to help her make it. It was our job to open cans of fruits and drain them before they were put in the salad.
Our family has shrunk to only our father, my sister and myself. Of course we have children and in-laws, but that little inner sanctum of great cooks is gone and we miss them greatly.
No need for secrets any longer, just memories of the sweet delight known as the nectar of the Gods.
To make this recipe, empty and drain (reserving the juice) in a colander a jar of maraschino cherries, one large can crushed pineapple, two cans mandarin oranges and one can tropical fruit cocktail.
Put the fruit, one cup shredded coconut, one cup of shredded provolone (or you can substitute your favorite) cheese and two cups of miniature marshmallows in a cold mixing bowl. Sprinkle a dash each of cinnamon, salt and freshly crushed black pepper corns over fruit, mix well and set aside.
To make the sauce, add a 16-ounce container of sour cream, a half of a package of softened cream cheese, one cup whipping cream, one teaspoon of real vanilla and a dash (or more to your taste) of rum syrup flavoring in a bowl. Whip and season to taste with a little of the combined juice. (Mom kept the rest of the fruit juice in a freezer until it was needed for use in cocktails and/or cakes.)
Fold the sauce into the fruit, cover and then store in a refrigerator for at least 12 hours.
My mom would give the salad a quick stir just before placing it on the table so that you could see all the colors and fruit inside. ?