Archive for the ‘weird jello’ Category

Jello As Performance Art

Holiday season is bearing down on us and the creative cook is making plans to showcase her most sensational offerings. As the extended family gathers for a traditional but festive holiday meals, this is the perfect opportunity to really make a splash.

Somewhere, I read about Jello Lights. I can’t find the source anymore, but the main idea was that you would make colored Jello in a mold, unmold it onto a clear glass plate and set it over a light. The rays would shine up thru the gelatin as if it were stained glass.

Now this is something I could really get into. The only thing that has kept me from it so far is that I couldn’t figure out how I would later hide the hole that would have to be sawn into Grandma’s walnut buffet to accomodate the light. But an email conversation with an alert reader has provided the way. Sherri of For Myself and Stangers has come up with the perfect method:

Dear Soup Lady,
Put away the power saw. You may have to look around at a local dollar store, Wal-Mart, or Wal-Greens — or whatever store in your area tends to carry trendy, hip, appealing-to-teens items (Spencers?) but you can get very small, very bright, LED lights that run off tiny batteries and flash in COLORS. They run quite cheaply — certainly less expensive than a dining room table. Here’s a link to one of the many varieties: (search on Belly Button Light)

Oh, Sherri – belly button lights!?! The Soup Lady bows in admiration and respect. What exquisite genius.

belly button light.gif

– Use a light colored geltain like yellow or orange, unless you are going for something atmospheric and gothic. In that case, go for the black cherry or grape. Or both mixed together.

– Do not add fruits, vegetables or anything else to the Jello. Well, maybe one tasteful walnut or an single orange segment positoned off-center and floating in mid-Jello for an accent.

– The Soup Lady is a big believer in decorating food with non-edible items. Imagine one of those 3″ tall Barbie toys from a McDonald’s Happy Meal encased in a Jello mold, looking back – expressionless and mute – at those who are moving along the buffet line. Maybe that one where she’s dressed as a McDonald’s counter girl? A subtle protest against the way society expects women to be ideal beauties and to feed everybody at the same time. Perhaps that is the wrong imagery for a family gathering? And maybe an imprisoned Barbie is not so subtle after all. In any case, for a project like this, it is best to avoid non-edibles because the little ones will be drawn to the Jello and may try to take a nibble of whatever is in there. On the other hand, they would be talking about their good Old Aunt Sue for many years to come, recalling fondly the Year of Barbie in Jello. But don’t do it, for safety’s sake.

– Unmold onto a plain clear plate. Plastic, now that I think about it, might be even better than glass since it may not transmit the heat from the lights as fast as glass.

– To elevate the clear plate, use a wire cooling rack or a metal trivet.

glass cake plate.jpg – Place a small string of white mini-lights – still in the plastic holder they came in – under the rack. These are fairly cool in terms of heat thrown off – we do not want our Jello to ungel before it’s time. Or use some of those belly-button lights, perhaps scotch-taped to the bottom of a clear pedestal cake server. The crowd will be amazed. The mini-lights wrapped around the pedestal would work, too.

– For presentation to a crowd that is adult and/or has enough sense to avoid eating flashing lights, you can sink a few activated belly-button lights directy into the jello near the edges of the mold. Make a small incision with a sharp knife into the set Jello and insert the flashing light. Greater interest could be generated if the lights were inserted into the top, pointing downwards and disguised with a dollop of whipped cream so that the light source is not visible. This of course, increases the likelyhood that a light will be eaten, which the Soup Lady does not recommend.

***Once again, do not do this near children, drunks or funny guys who are likely to act up and put a belly buton light into their mouths.*** To err on the safe side, I would have to recommend placing the lights outside of the food to be consumed.

The Soup Lady is thinking that putting these little lights under or in back of a glass punch bowl would be festive as well, but be careful that the punch is non-alcoholic to reduce the chance that drunks will swallow your performance art.


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Broken Glass Cake

It’s not too early to start planning for Thanksgiving. The Soup Lady believes that anticipation heightens the pleasure of the experience so I will now share with you my plans for a guaranteed traffic stopper at anybody’s family gathering: Broken Glass Cake.

brokenglasscake.jpg Yes, it’s Jello. Why is this fascinating food the object of such derision? The Soup Lady does not brook any sort of nonsense when it comes to gelatin deserts so don’t even start. Look at it. Who could resist this this? They all come around to admire it like moths to a flame. And, as you know by now, the visual spectacle is worth almost as much as the taste of it, especially in mob scenes such as Thanskgiving. Who among us would not relish the idea of being the agent behind an edible spectacle? It’s what the youngsters used to call a rush, and it’s a feeling not soon forgotten, my friends.

This one is Straight out of that indipsensable tome, the Joys of Jell-O Recipe Book, by General Foods Corp:

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1 package (3 oz.) each Jell-O Orange, Cherry, and Lime Gelatins
4 cups boiling water
1½ cups cold water
1 package (3 oz.) Jell-O Lemon Gelatin
¼ cup sugar
½ cup pineapple juice
1½ cups graham cracker crumbs*
1/3 cup melted butter or margarine*
2 envelopes Dream Whip Whipped Topping Mix or 2 cups whipping cream
*Or use 16 to 18 ladyfingers, split, to line pan instead of crumb-butter mixture.

Prepare the three flavors of gelatin separately, using 1 cup boiling water and ½ cup cold water for each. Pour each flavour into an 8-inch square pan. Chill until firm, or overnight.

Then combine the lemon gelatin, sugar, and remaining 1 cup boiling water; stir until gelatin and sugar are dissolved. Stir in pineapple juice. Chill until slightly thickened. Meanwhile, mix the crumbs and melted buter; press into bottom of 9-inch spring-form pan.

Cut the firm gelatins into ½-inch cubes. Then prepare whipped topping mix as directed on package or whip the cream; blend with lemon gelatin. Fold in gelatin cubes. Pour into pan. Chill at least 5 hours, or overnight. Run knife or spatula between sides of dessert and pan, and remove sides of pan before servig.

Makes 16 servings.

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Now you know that the Soup Lady prefers the version made with the lady fingers, don’t you? I think you could have made easy money betting on that one. Although this year, I am greatly tempted to mold the whole thing and surround it by grapes on a footed hammered aluminum server. Now tell me you wouldn’t stop to gaze upon that.

That’s what I thought.

Crown Jewel Mold: Prepare Crown Jewel Dessert, omitting crumb mixture and pouring mixture into a 3-quart mold or 9-inch spring-form pan.

Crown Jewel Pie: Prepare Crown Jewel Dessert, pouring mixture into 2 ladyfinger- or crumb-lined 9-inch pie pans. (To line pie pans with ladyfingers, use about 18 ladyfingers, split. Line the bottoms of the pans; then cut remaining ladyfingers in half crosswise and line the sides of the pans.)

Crown Jewel Cheese Dessert: Prepare Crown Jewel Dessert, substituting 2 packages (3 oz. each) cream cheese, beaten with ¼ cup milk until fluffy, for the whipped topping.

Note: Other Jell-O Gelatin fruit flavours may be used instead of those suggested in recipe, forming any combination of colors desired. For instance, make all the cubes of Jell-O Black Raspberry or Lime Gelatin and substitute Jell-O Strawberry Gelatin for the Lemon gelatin.
from The Joys Of Jell-O Recipe Book

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Beans In A Cloud

The Soup Lady is a big fan of tracking down references to things mentioned in old movies. Today’s preoccupation comes from the old classic “The Desk Set” starring Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracey. At one point, an impromptu dinner at home winds up with a dessert called Floating Island. This must have been a short-lived craze for I can recall no dinner party, or even conversation, in real life that makes mention of this dessert. Now that I know what it is, I wonder how old Katherine had this on hand in her kitchen when she had been planning all along to go away on a holiday trip with the cad/boyfriend Mike.

the stuff that Katherine fed to Spencer didn't have this chocolate stuff on it.
And what is it? A floating island is a custard “lake” with poached meringues (the “islands”) atop it.Now is that something that one has hanging around the kitchen to wait until one returns from an out of town trip?The recipe is tucked away in the “read the rest” section if anyone is actually interested in it although I cannot fathom why anyone would be.

OK, now we're talking here. Although I do worry that these little shapes could be child-chokers if one got into the windpipe. Better off to make this modern crowd pleaser: Beans In A Cloud

1-1/4 cups boiling water or juice (Do not add cold water)
2 pkg. (4-serving size each) JELL-O Brand Gelatin, any flavor
2 cups thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping
LIGHTLY SPRAYinside of bean mold with no stick cooking spray. (Or, dip paper towel in vegetable oil and lightly wipe inside of bean mold.) Place mold, fill-side up, on tray.
STIR boiling water into gelatin in bowl at least 3 minutes until completely dissolved. Pour into liquid measuring cup. Slowly pour gelatin into mold, filling each bean completely.
REFRIGERATE 30 minutes or until firm. Tilt mold on slight angle over plate. Using moist fingertips, gently scoop beans out of mold.
SPOON about 1/3 cup of the whipped topping into each of 4 dessert dishes. Using back of spoon, make depression in center; spread whipped topping up sides of dishes. Spoon JELL-O BEANS evenly into whipped topping-lined dishes. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Store leftover dessert in refrigerator. Makes 4 servings.

Now this is something that conceiveably been whipped up while Spencer was pouring the hot coffee into a saucer to cool before sipping (a custom which seems to have been lost with the ages). Of course, you will need the Kraft JELL-O Bean Mold, but it is a mere $3.50 – money well spent for the impact it will make.

bean mold.jpg
The Soup Lady does love the Jell-O. Now if anyone can tell me what kind of perfume Audrey Hepburn kept in her mailbox in “Breakfast At Tiffany’s”, I would be most grateful.

Tips from the Kraft Kitchen:
To Make Different Color BEANS:
Prepare half the recipe using 1 package (4-serving size) JELL-O Brand Gelatin and 2/3 cup boiling water; proceed as directed above filling half of the mold (41 BEANS). Repeat procedure using a different color JELL-O Brand Gelatin; fill remaining half of mold. Refrigerate as directed.
Family Fun: Use JELL-O BEANS to decorate your favorite cake or ice cream sundae. Or create a quick parfait by layering BEANS with thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping.


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Coffee Jello

Now don’t get excited, dears. The Soup Lady knows that she promised only soup recipes, but this place does seem to be turning into the Home of Weird Jello Recipes. Here is an intriguing little number that was discovered in the New American Cookbook and I only ask that you think about it for a moment.

The Recipe

Soak 2 tablespoons of gelatin in 2/3 cup cold water for 5 minutes. Add one cup of boiling water and stir until gelatin is dissolved. Add 1 1/2 cups of strong coffee and 1/3 cup of sugar. Pour into individual molds and chill. Serve with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and a sprinkling of cinnamon or nutmeg.

Now, for coffee lovers, this might be a good way to end a meal. I haven’t actually made it yet. What do you think?

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