Cullen-ary Arts, An Edible Book
My apologies for being absent the last couple of days, but after the stress of Isabella’s nori eye, I needed to take a bottle of chill pills and start the mental preparation for my entry in UH’s First Annual Edible Book Contest. When I first heard about the contest, I started wracking my brain thinking about what book I should do. Titles such as Hunger Games, The Lorax, Harry Potter, and Twilight came to mind immediately. In the end though, I picked Twilight, since I’d been meaning to do some Twilight bentos anyway with the release of the Eclipse trailer.
This bad boy took me a whopping six plus hours to put together, so as you can imagine, I’m wiped out today and slept like a rock last night. It was shown on the 6 o’clock news on KHON last night and I made a brief 2 second appearance cutting it up! I ended up winning the “Most Book Like” category, which netted me a $20 gift certificate at Executive Chef! Woohoo!
Keep reading to see how I made it and how I tried to make it appealing to the Cullens.
I had originally planned to do four small musubis, one for each Twilight Saga cover, but when I printed the covers out in the size I was going to do, I realized that cutting out the titles would be impossible. I ended up choosing Twilight’s cover because I think it’s by far the most recognizable.
I told myself to start early on Wednesday night, but due to complete laziness, I didn’t start until 11. I think I was just too scared to do the eggs.
I wanted to make egg omelet to give the book a hardcover look, but since I’d decided to do a book about 7″x10″, I had no frying pan that could do the job. I ended up deciding to bake the eggs instead and used one of my baking pans to do the job. I cracked about 8 eggs and strained them, then realized that I was in no way going to have enough eggs.
Mr. Pikko volunteered to go out and buy some. I asked him to buy me a small, round, red apple too. He gave me a “…” look because he’s a complete noob at food picking and I’m never happy with what he brings back. However, he ended up bringing back a fabulous apple.
Big shocker, it actually came out good the first time. The egg has to be strained so that you get all the lumpy stuff and the non-beaten eggs out. Then I added a cornstarch and water mixture to make sure it stayed together. It can be hard to judge how much to add here as you don’t want rubbery eggs. Luckily, I was able to get it just right. I baked it at 350 degrees until the top looked done, which was 10 minutes.
I used my tamagoyaki pan spatula to scrape it out of the pan. The top layer of egg was very pliable and the bottom was soft and spongy. The cornstarch did its job and it stayed together.
Next, I had to cook the spam. I cut it the other way (tall way) to have bigger pieces. This is two cans of spam here and can you guess what I cooked the spam in to make it appealing to the Cullens? Duh, it’s blood! Specifically, mountain lion blood because I’m on Team Edward. At least until I do a Breaking Dawn thing, then I’m going to have to be on Team Emo.
Anyway, obviously I’m just kidding. Since most of the covers have a red and white theme, I wanted the spam to be red. I put in about half a tablespoon. You can find my spam musubi recipe here, just ignore the LOST stuff.
Next, I had to start cutting the Twilight title.
This was by far the worst part of the whole ordeal. I cut out the letters from my printout and began doing it as usual, toothpick style. The letters were so tiny that I thought there had to be another way. I ended up going and finding a pin and that totally did the job. At least this way, my pin wasn’t getting dull from moisture like the toothpick was.
Here are the finished letters. Looks great huh? Wait til you hear what happened to these letters. I put them carefully away, put away my spam, picked out all my alphabet pasta letters for the author info, then went to bed. It was 3:00 am.
I woke up at 5:30 am to start assembly. I’d bought a jelly roll pan at Williams-Sonoma after eating a delicious pumpkin cream cheese roll, but then never made anything. Yesterday, I was joking with my co-workers about how the first usage of my jelly roll pan was to make a giant spam musubi.
After putting on some saran wrap, I laid it out in the approximate size of the book, then used my double spam musubi maker press piece to get the edges nice and flat on the sides. I added furikake.
Next, there’s the spam and more furikake.
Here’s a view of the side of the layers all done. Now, can you guess the “Oh… CRAP!” factor here?
Yeah, I forgot something…
The stupid thing is, I had these out right next to the pan. I’d cut them into book size and then for some reason my brain farted and I forgot to do the bottom book cover before starting the rice. Sigh…
The sheets were bigger than my nori sheets, so I had to use water to join a bunch of sheets together while folding the flaps inside to cover the whole book cover.
I lifted the layers out with the saran wrap and then… disaster.
The whole thing crashed onto my cutting board and the top rice layer and spam slid off the bottom. I was pretty mad. I’d have eaten a cupcake, only I had none. I got the bottom book cover down, then slowly transferred the rice and spam over in pieces. One last piece of nori went on to act as the spine, then I wrapped the whole thing tightly up in saran wrap to get it in a good shape.
Here it is all wrapped up and ready for decoration! It was 6:45 and everyone was waking up. I only had 45 minutes left and still hadn’t cut out the hands.
That turned out to be easy. I cut out my printout, then patched together a bunch of white cheese slices and quickly cut out the basic outline. I then cut out the thumbs and pointers, mashing down the edges to make them look like smooth transitions out of the hands. I added it to the book and for some reason, my book had shrunk!! I had to cut off about an inch of arms at the top.
I added the Twilight letters. Take a good look, cause they didn’t make it into town looking like this.
Here’s a better look at the hands. What I did was slice the apple off to just the right size, then put it on top of the cheese. I lifted up the fingers to drape them on top to make it seem like the hands were actually holding it. I boiled the letters for Stephenie Meyer’s name so that they would be bigger than the bestseller text. My ‘H’ ran away from home after Buddy went sifting through them toddler style.
After this point, I had to wait for the replacement ‘H’ to boil, then I wrapped everything up in saran wrap. I didn’t want to do the rest of the alphabet letters until I got to UH because I figured they’d just fall off anyway. I brought my bag of pasta just in case I lost any. I carried this freaking HEAVY thing on my lap all the way in to work, then dozed off, and when I woke up, the letters had started to melt in the sun. I should have asked Mr. Pikko to aim the A/C at me.
Here’s a side view of the completed book. Biggest spam musubi I’ve ever made! LOL!
Here’s a close-up of the lettering. To make the #, I put two ‘F’ letters upside down back to back and then added two broken off pieces of some other letter.
Here are the books side by side. The competition was a lot of fun to attend. There was a photographer from the Star Bulletin there, so I’ll have to check to see if they printed anything for today’s paper. The rules stated that the books had to be eaten at the end, so you could get a plate as long as you donated a can of food to the Hawaii Food Bank. When I removed the apple, people tripped out. They thought a whole apple was buried in the book.
Six hours was a lot of work for such a small contest. There were about 18 entries, but this is because this was the first one. In the midst of my morning assembly stress, Mr. Pikko asked me why I was entering. I snarled through my teeth that it was for charity and I had no idea if there were prizes.
It’s apparently a national contest and this is just the first year UH did one. Despite how much work it was, I really enjoyed supporting a University of Hawaii/Hawaii Food Bank event. I’m sure next year will be a much bigger competition!
I was going to blog about my birthday and why it’s been the best week of my life, but that will have to wait until tomorrow, as this blog post has taken so much of my time and I have a meeting to get my butt to. Details later, it’s bento related!