Feb. 14, 2008
Karen sent me an email Wednesday, said she couldn’t go to lunch Friday; “…do you want to have lunch tomorrow?” Well, of course. Tomorrow, which is today, is Valentine’s Day, so it couldn’t be better. My convoluted mind believed that I might get a card from K, or something like that. Yesterday, I happened to see her coming in to the coffee cart, and a student group was selling cookies, so I bought her a heart-shaped iced cookie and gave it to her, and ran back to my lab. Since she sent the email later, I figured the cookie was OK, and perhaps she liked it? Hah!
I found a recipe for a bloody heart cake that actually drips blood.
Penn & Teller’s Bleeding Heart
4 cups of water, four 3-oz. boxes or two 6-oz boxes of peach (pink; think of lung tissue), or strawberry (redder; think of livers and hearts) gelatin dessert mix, 4 envelopes unflavored gelatin, one 12-ounce can unsweetened evaporated milk, 1/2 cup grenadine syrup, 1 cup light corn syrup, one small bottle (0.3 fl. oz.) red food coloring, 3 drops blue food coloring, one 1-gallon food-storage bag (the plain kind without the zip closure), heart-shaped gelatin mold
Boil the water. Put the packaged gelatin dessert and unflavored gelatin in a bowl and pour the boiling water over it, stirring constantly. Cool to room temperature (very important or the next step may present problems). Stir in the evaporated milk. Note how it already is acquiring the color of freshly skinned flesh. Pour the mixture into the gelatin mold. Cover the bottom of the mold (this will be the top when you serve it) with a layer about half an inch think. Refrigerate until it gels firmly.
Meanwhile, prepare a nice bladder of blood. Stir together the corn syrup, grenadine, and food colorings (we do it right in the measuring cup to save dish washing–every erg saved in preparation is an erg one can use to enjoy the Payoff). For the bladder (the bag that keeps the blood together inside the mass of gelatin) take the gallon-size food-storage bag and turn it inside out. Pour the blood mixture into one corner of the bag and twist it closed so that no air bubble is caught between the sauce and the twist. Tie a knot in the twisted plastic. Adjust the position of the knot so that when the bag lies on the counter, it’s about 1 1/2 to 2 inches high, and tighten the knot. With a pair of scissors, snip off the frilly extra plastic outside the knot.
When the gelatin on the bottom of the mold is stiff and firm, position the bladder of blood in the mold, with the point of the bag just inside the point of the heart. Make sure there is at least 3/4″ of space between all sides of the bag and the walls of the mold (this will ensure that your guests don’t see clues ahead of time). Pour in the remaining gelatin until the mold is as full as you can handle. Don’t worry if you see a little of the blood-bladder grazing the surface of the gelatin, as longs as it doesn’t project too much; the side you are looking at now will be the bottom when you serve it.
Refrigerate until gelled firmly to the texture of fine, lean organ meat. It takes about 4 hours.
To unmold, put about 2 1/2 inches of hot, but not boiling water in your sink. Set your mold in the water so that the water comes just below the edge of the mold for 15 to 20 seconds; the time depends on the thickness of the mold pan. Remove the mold from the water, and run the blade of a knife around the edge of the gelatin. Invert your serving platter, ideally a white pedestal cake plate, on top and hold it firmly in place. Then use both hands to turn over the mold and the plate. Remove the mold; you may need to tap or shake the mold slightly to free the gelatin.
The blood looks prettiest when it flows over white plates, doilies, and table linen, which it may stain permanently–but what the hell, it’s the effect that matters. To serve, use a nice, big Psycho-style chef’s knife and stab the side of the gelatin about one third of the way up from the pointed end of the heart. Twist the knife slightly, and blood will start to ooze out. Bare your teeth like a Marine jabbing with bayonet, and widen the wound. When the blood is coming at a good slip, grab a dessert plate, and cut a slice from one of the lobes of the heart. Flip it onto the plate, and drizzle it with blood by holding it under the edge of the pedestal. Add whipped cream and serve.
So, I took all this information and made my own card, and printed it up to give to Karen today. She looked a little apprehensive to be getting a card from me, but with the picture of the bloody heart and no sweet sentiments in it, it was OK. While we waited for lunch, there were some more cookies by the lunch counter; these had traditional sayings on them, like, “You’re Sweet.” Karen picked that one up to look at it, and screwed her face up – she doesn’t like stuff like that at all! Hates it! In fact, as far as she is concerned, Valentine’s Day is too contrived, and meaningless. I cringed inwardly at that. What will she think of 30 tulips at her house when she gets home? She did bring in her painted candle for me to look at today. That was nice of her. She was happy with it. She added a couple of clay bats with ruby eyes. Showed me a picture of the wreath she’s making with the skeleton hanging from a noose, and a human heart at the bottom. It has eyeballs all around it, spiked on nails. That’s what she likes, which is OK by me – hence the bloody heart picture and recipe. Unfortunately, I think she is sweet, and sexy and I do have feelings for her. I’m glad I didn’t add my name to the card with the flowers now.
I think I’ll send her an e-mail before I go home; tell her it wasn’t me, I didn’t do it; I don’t know anything about it. 😦