Science Fiction Party Food – Part 2 · 27 June 2007
This is the second installment of my entry for Stephanie’s Sci-Fi Blog Party. After snacking on the Oozing Flying Saucers and Tentacle Creatures made in the first installment, you’ll need something nice and refreshing to wash them down (or something nice and mind numbing to help you forget that you just ate something with “tentacle” in the title).
I took the alien concepts I outlined in my first post and incorporated them into a mocktail and a cocktail. After my experiences in making both, I’m going to add “surprising” to my list of definitive characteristics of alien food.
I decided that I wanted tapioca pearls for one of my cocktail drinks. I thought they would add a nice squishy and slimy texture to the mocktail. Now, I’ve never made tapioca pudding, much less attempted to boil the sort of gummy pearly gobs you’d find in “bubble tea,” so I looked around for some recommendations on how to prepare the pearls.
It seemed pretty straightforward. Combine tapioca and water, boil, let sit, drain. What the good people over at Bubble Tea Supply forgot to mention is that you need to stir the tapioca constantly, and boil on the gentlest of settings.
I was never more surprised than when my previously well behaved tapioca changed from a polite boil to a roiling volcanic explosion of clumpy pearls in less than 10 seconds. Even more outstanding was that the boiling didn’t stop when I turned off the burner, nor when I removed the pan from the burner entirely and and put it in the sink. It wasn’t until I watched it spit and hiss at me for about 20 seconds, and finally doused it with cold water, did the tapioca finally calm down.
Alien food indeed! It seemed to violate the very laws of food thermodynamics.
My second surprise in experimental food was with (yet another bowl of) Jell-O®. Did you know that Jell-O® will form a beautiful crystalline crust when frozen? Me neither. I attempted to save this beauty and float it on top of the Swamp Monster Cocktail, but it ended up cracking during my attempt. I did discover that frozen Jell-O® floats, but it looked so ugly, all mashed and mangled from my unwieldy cutting, that I ended up just using the normal refrigerated Jell-O® as sort of a marshy bottom for the cocktail.
The alien results are pictured above. The Earthly goods are pictured below.
The aliens must not have taken my good natured tribute to their possibly culinary activities in stride. After years of virus free operation, I picked up a particularly hard to remove bug on my computer. I believe it may have been planted in the tapioca and spread to my computer via shrapnel from the earlier volcanic explosion in my kitchen.
Also, after a run of supremely enjoyable books, I started one that may not pass the 50 page test. Again, I blame aliens, somehow they infiltrated the random used book store that I visited in Hillcrest and convinced me that out of all the possible gems on the shelves, I needed this one. (Yes, I’ve already ordered my tinfoil-lined lead helmet to prevent future such instructions being transmitted directly to my brain).
Honeyed Words returns to more “serious” endeavors with the next installment. In the meantime, those pining for a bit of the normal routine can check out my latest posted review on, A Clash of Kings.
Alien Egg Mocktail
- 1/4 cup small tapioca pearls
- Chilled cranberry lemonade
Bring tapioca pearls and 2 cups water to a gentle boil, stirring constantly.
Boil approximately 10 minutes, being careful to keep stirring so that tapioca does not clump or burn.
The tapioca pearls should absorb the water and the end product should be a gelatinous mass with small tapioca pebbles encased in the mass.
Once cool, spoon a quarter cup into the bottom of glasses.
Pour ½ oz Grenadine gently down the sides of each, attempting to penetrate the gelatin in artful veiny ways.
Carefully fill with cranberry lemonade.
Swamp Monster Cocktail
- 2 oz rum
- ½ oz blue curacao
- 1 ½ oz chilled cranberry lemonade
- Jell-O® as garnish
Add rum, curacao, and lemonade, and ice to a martini shaker.
Pour into chilled glass.
Top with Jell-O®. Watch Jell-O® sink to the bottom, resembling the mucky stuff found on the bottom of marshes on water logged worlds.
Odds, Ends, and Guanabana Juice · 29 March 2007
The next post will return to the regularly scheduled program, with a book review followed by a few posts about foodventures inspired by the book.
Until then, enjoy the tale of me wrapping up some loose ends as I spent most of this week on site design.
It was sometime during fourth grade when I realized I had certain tendencies that didn’t make me popular with the “in crowd.” I was attending a new school, and making friends was a rough process. I was far too interested in class material, I liked answering questions when called upon by the teacher, and I had the insufferable habit of trying to prove myself right. Looking back on my nine-year-old self from the perspective of an adult, it’s no wonder that the other kids harassed me; I was a brat.
My fourth grade self didn’t understand the concept of team building or finding common ground with my classmates. Life was black and white; either you were with me or you weren’t. Fortunately I’ve grown out of that incredibly polarized view and learned to accept people on their own merits. Even so, there are certain things that are guaranteed to provoke certain reactions with me, albeit better hidden beneath a veneer of socialization..
If you tell me I’m wrong, and I know I’m right, I’ll likely not stop until I’ve proved it. Such is the case with the “mythical” guanabana juice. Purely in jest, my boyfriend kept reminding me that I couldn’t find it because “It doesn’t exist!” Now, I know that he wasn't serious. Secretly (though not so secretly anymore) I think he just likes poking at me until he gets a reaction beyond that of my calm exterior. (It’s possible that I may have overdone the self correction thing when I consciously made an effort not to be so abrasive). Even so, when he said that guanabana juice didn’t exist, I took it upon myself to prove otherwise.
Without this poking, I probably would have checked a few grocery stores and, failing to find the guanabana juice, left it there in pursuit of other projects. With the addition of the challenge, I didn’t let it go. What was originally conceived as an entry to a February book review has stretched out until the end of March.
Finally, after scouring the juice aisles of every grocery store placed in my path, I tracked down the mythical guanabana juice (at least 20% of it per can).
Was it worth it? I’ll say yes. I visited markets that I never would have frequented without this quest and spied a few interesting new products. I was made more aware of the cultural divide in Southern California when I visited the Hispanic markets and the clerks spoke Spanish to everyone, until I stepped up to the register. I wanted to shout, "¡Yo hablo español!" (At least enough to make it though a checkout line) but I found I wasn’t brave enough to do so.
I also found a promising new blog read, Caron at San Diego Foodstuff tipped me off to the market where I eventually found success.
And what was the guanabana juice like? It was a nectary concoction, similar to Kern’s in consistency. The flavor was light but very sugary (especially to someone who only drinks soda about twice a year). It reminded me of guava juice and had a pleasant aftertaste. Served chilled, I imagine it would be a wonderful thirst quencher in the hot summer months, even with all the sugar, and I have no troubles imagining the Mirabel sisters gulping it down in response to their mother’s urging.
As a health side note, it is reported that there is a link between guanabana consumption and an atypical form of Parkinson’s disease, so I think I’ll be sticking to easier to find and less concerning juices.
While I originally envisioned the smoothie mostly as a food feature relating to The Onion Girl, it turned out that these juice blends were able to fill an empty slot in my daily food consumption, namely breakfast.
We all have our eating challenges. Mine mostly revolve around an unhealthy love of bread products, lack of time, and an almost chronic aversion to waking up early in the morning (as you might imagine pulling myself out of bed on time this morning, the first day of daylight savings time, was a chore). Breakfast has often fallen short of clearing all of these dietary hurdles. Most often, if I eat breakfast at all, I grab a muffin and run. But each day last week, I had a pitcher full of fruity goodness, just waiting to be poured into a glass that I could rush out the door with.
I noticed a positive difference in the level of my morning perkiness (historically about a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10) after drinking the smoothies. Anything that can add productivity to my weekly routine is an unexpected bonus and deserves my serious consideration. So, I embarked on an "extensive" analysis of the breakfast benefits:
- Tasty? Check.
- Easy? Check.
- Healthy? Check.
- Will I actually eat it in the morning? Check.
After drawing the obvious conclusion and factoring in today’s huge thirst brought about by the unseasonable warm local weather, it seemed inevitable that a follow up smoothie was in order.
I think Jilly (from the Onion Girl) will forgive me for delaying the next article that focuses on food in her world. After all, one of her defining traits was her unfailing devotion to others. If she were here, I think she’d heartily congratulate me for living a bit healthier, even the expense of her own publicity.
This blue juice blend is based loosely on the Naked Juice® Blue Machine.
Blue Juice Blend Smoothie:
- 32 oz bottle of mixed berry 100% juice blend (I used the L&A Mixed Berry at $1.99, which contains apple, boysenberry, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, and grape juice)
- 10 oz bag frozen wild blueberries ($3.49, organic)
- 10 oz bag frozen blackberries ($2.99, organic)
- 1 banana ($0.20, approximately)
- 6 oz red grapes ($0.40, approximately)
Add ingredients to a blender or food processor in small batches, being careful not to overfill. Blend each batch thoroughly until all the fruit has been liquefied and the texture is uniform. Transfer blended mixture to a 64 oz pitcher in batches.
Repeat until all ingredients have been processed, then stir final mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula until it obtains a smooth and even consistency.
Shake or stir prior to serving. Ingredients will settle. Keep refrigerated.
The cost analysis is substantially similar to the one I did for the red juice smoothie. Total costs were approximately $0.65 higher than the red juice blend, increasing the per ounce price slightly.
The tastes of my blend and the Naked Juice® Blue Machine were similar. Again, mine was a bit more tart, which I ascribe to a higher blackberry to blueberry ratio, but I think my version would have benefited from more blueberries. While certainly tasty, my blue blend lacked the zing of my red blend and it also lacked the dominating flavor personality of the Naked Juice® Blue Machine. It came across tasting more like a generic mixed berry drink than anything else. Next time I’ll be looking for a 16 oz or larger bag of blueberries.
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