A jolly, jelly word
I've spent hours trying to come up with something for the Eating Your Words Challenge (co-hosted by yours truly) that didn't involve pancake batter or toast, although I was stuck on a breakfast theme. I thought it was terribly clever when I composed Mr. Noodle's breakfast of bacon and eggs into a visual pun but the end result managed to be both greasy and cheesy, neither of which was the desired outcome.
"Eggs Over Easy" [ba-dum-chhh!]
Thankfully, inspiration struck before I resorted in desperation to sculpting a giant block of butter. Just when I thought my brain would turn to jelly, it came to me: jelly! As a child, I loved the happy Jell-O jingle that invited us to "watch it wiggle, see it jiggle" and I was enthralled by pictures of that wobbly, incandescent mass crowned with a giant blob of whipped cream topping.
(Photo by Carol Browne)
But most of all, I remember Stained Glass Jell-O (a.k.a. Broken Glass Jell-O), by which colorful, transparent cubes of varying flavors were 'embedded' in a background of plain gelatin made opaque by the substitution of cream or milk for water. And suddenly, I had my idea: I'd make a jolly, jelly message!
The most difficult part, I knew, would be forming the gelatinous letters. I considered buying alphabet cookie cutters or molds but was constrained by budget ($15 for miniature tin letters?!) so I decided to cut them out by hand. Unfortunately, the very properties that give Jell-O its wiggly-jiggliness also make it quite delicate to handle. Thank goodness for seaweed!
Most American-brand jelly mixes are made with gelatin, a protein-based thickening agent derived from animal connective tissues. In Asia, the preferred thickening agent is agar-agar (also known as kanten or Japanese gelatin), a dried seaweed that is sold in strips or as a powder in most Asian groceries. Unlike gelatin, which must be chilled to set, agar-agar's efficacy is such that it quickly sets at room temperature, resulting in a much firmer jelly (source: The New Food Lover's Companion - pp. 5, 290). It was the perfect medium to form my letters.
In the interest of convenience, I opted for a mango-flavored pudding mix containing agar-agar and for the transparent background, I chose the classic lime Jell-O (the gelatin's slow setting ensured that the mold didn't form before I could arrange my message). Despite the much sturdier texture of the mango jelly, it was still a bit tricky to cut out letters so my grand plan of a complete sentence was dumbed down to a single word that could be formed with straight lines: YUMMY.
So there you have it: my entry to the Eating Your Words Challenge.
I invite you to join me and Savor the Thyme in letting your food do the talking. The challenge ends at midnight, March 6th so there's still plenty of time to play with veggies, fruits, noodles or whatever edible can be rendered legible!
1. 'Write or spell' using food or drink and create a blog post about it until midnight on Friday, March 6th. Any previous blog posts you already have where you've created a 'written'-inspired dish or drink will be accepted.
2. Blog about your creation, including photos, and add a link back to Savor the Thyme (http://savorthethyme.blogspot.com) and Tangled Noodle (http://tanglednoodle.blogspot.com).
3. Send an e-mail titled 'Eating Your Words' to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
- Your name
- The name of your blog
- The name of your dish or drink
- Your food blog name and the link to your entry, including pictures, by midnight March 6, 2009
4. Please keep it clean! Appropriate humor is always welcome.