Despite its chilly temperature, the holiday season is all about warmth: fingers wrapped around a toasty mug of hot chocolate, the crackling of a newly-lit fireplace, and most importantly, the presence of loved ones. Perhaps the most effective catalyst for good times and new bonds is a hearty plate of home-cooked food. In this edition, Verde explores the culinary traditions of Palo Altan families, whether they be multigenerational families or recently moved-in. The result is dishes, both classic and unconventional, that share one common ingredient — love. v


Tomato Aspic Salad

8½  inch ring pan

6 oz lemon jello

2 cups tomato juice

1¼  cups hot water

⅛ cup Worchestire sauce

⅛ cup wine vinegar

⅛ cup apple cider vinegar

⅛ cup tarragon vinegar

½ cup chopped celery

¼ cup mayonnaise

⅛ cup chili sauce

4 large romaine lettuce leaves

Recipe by: Tinney Family

A bed of fresh Romaine lettuce, creamy, speckled sauce and a bright red, glistening gelatinous ring– the Tinney family opens the holidays with their signature appetizer, a tomato aspic salad.

Patrick Tinney, Gunn High School Class of ’77, is responsible for bringing this dish to family gatherings every year. The Tinney family has lived in Palo Alto for four generations, and owned the Tinney and Sons Mortuary from 1951 to 2013. Currently, two members of the Tinney family are serving on the board of the Palo Alto Historical Association.

Tinney inherited the salad recipe from his grandmother, who began making the dish  after her husband passed away from ALS, a neurodegenerative disease. The salad, like many of the rather eccentric dishes of the late 40s, emphasized the brands of the ingredients used: Libby’s tomato juice, Best Foods mayonnaise, and Jell-O. Although the Libbey’s brand cannot be found on the shelves of supermarkets today, Best Foods mayonnaise and Jell-O can be found at chain stores such as Safeway.

However strange the dish may seem now, the tomato aspic holds a place in the hearts of Tinney and his father.

“There was a point where I was a little bit estranged from my family for a few years,” Tinney says. “I think it was me bringing the aspic to Thanksgiving that literally brought tears to my dad’s eyes.”

However, the salad’s strange ingredients mean that it remains largely untouched by the majority of the Tinney family, save for Tinney’s father, who even brings the leftovers home. “It’s kind of become almost like a running joke in the family,” Tinney says. “No one really likes it except for my dad.”

Although Tinney cannot guarantee his daughter Amanda Tinney, who attended Sacred Heart Preparatory and is a freshman at the University of Oregon, will continue the tradition of bringing the tomato aspic salad every Thanksgiving, for now, it’s here to stay — Jell-O and all.


Cranberry Chicken

4 pounds chicken or turkey

1 cup soy sauce

½ cup plum sauce

½ cup cranberry sauce

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup honey

1 cup ketchup

¼ cup sesame oil

salt and white pepper

sesame seeds

Recipe by: Food Network

Here’s your Friday night takeout transformed into fine-dining: Dusted with a generous sprinkling of sesame and bathed in a rich mahogany-colored sauce, the Pan family’s cranberry chicken is a fresh twist on an iconic Chinese-American dish. 

Palo Alto High School senior Hannah Pan’s uncle Jerry Pan  brings their cranberry chicken every Thanksgiving and Christmas. Jerry Pan, who moved to the U.S. as a child in the 1980s, cooked up this recipe after seeing a need for an entree to share with family that encapsulated both the American and Chinese parts of their identities. What resulted was a fusion of flavors— tart, juicy, and mouth-watering.  

“It can be dangerous to combine two different cultural aspects in one dish,” Pan says. However, with the tartness of cranberries reminiscent of the acidity of traditional orange chicken, the dish isn’t too unfamiliar. 

Pan dubs the dish a “fresh concept,” unlike the typical fusion dishes found in restaurants. 

Cranberry chicken has been a staple for four to five years now, replacing even the Turkey during Thanksgiving. However, when reflecting upon the future of her family’s custom, Pan admits she can’t guarantee she or her cousin will continue to make the chicken. 

“We [my generation] don’t focus that much on continuing family traditions, ” Pan says. “But, I think I would like to.” 


Pumpkin Bread

2 greased loaf or cake pans

1 cup oil

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup dark brown sugar

½ cup light brown sugar

2 whole eggs

½ cup half-and-half cream

2 tablespoons cinnamon

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons salt

¾ cup pumpkin pureé

3 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking soda

Recipe by: Jenna Kaplan

At 14 years-old, avid baker Jenna Kaplan introduced to the world her own recipe of a classic holiday treat: pumpkin bread.

Kaplan, a junior at Gunn High School, reserves this recipe for the the fall and winter seasons, and it has become a hit among her friends and family. It makes an appearance at family gatherings every year during Hanukkah, birthdays and other special events.

According to Kaplan, her version is more comparable to a cake than a traditional bread, and features more spices than conventional recipes. Slathered with cream cheese frosting dusted in cinnamon, her recipe is sure to satisfy even the most demanding of sweet tooths.

“Whenever you smell pumpkin bread in the house it means that something good is about to happen, or has happened, or is happening,” Kaplan says.

Fittingly, her family, particularly her grandmother, made the now-essential dish possible. Kaplan credits her grandmother with helping her perfect the recipe by advising her on what spices to include.

“I was first testing various things, seeing what worked, seeing what tasted the best,” Kaplan says. “She was always the person who would taste them and tell me what I should fix.”

Although her pumpkin bread is far from a multi-generational dish, Kaplan has plans for the future. “I want to make pumpkin bread a tradition in my family,” Kaplan says. “We’ll always have something sweet to look forward to.”