Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Hearts for Halloween


  • Heart-shaped gelatin mold
  • Large pot or kettle for boiling water
  • Medium bowl
  • Large bowl
  • Whisk
  • Plastic bag, such as one from he grocery store in the produce isle. This will hold the blood.
  • Measuring cup


  • 4 cups water
  • 4 (3 ounce) boxes strawberry or cherry gelatin dessert mix
  • 4 (1 tablespoon) envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 1 (12 ounce) can unsweetened evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup grenadine
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 fluid ounce red food coloring
  • 3 drops blue food coloring

The Heart Mix

Boil the water. Put the packaged flavored gelatin dessert and unflavored gelatin in a bowl and pour the boiling water over it, whisking constantly. Cool to room temperature (NOTE: this is very important or the next step may present problems).

Stir in the condensed milk. Watch how the mixture is already is acquiring the color of freshly skinned flesh.

Coat the inside of the mold with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Set the heart mold in a bowl. This is to steady it as you pour and for when the gelatin sets.

Pour the mixture into the mold. Cover just the bottom of the mold (this will be the top when you serve it) with a half inch thick layer of gelatin mixture. Refrigerate until it gels firmly.

The Blood Bladder

Meanwhile, prepare the bladder of blood. Stir together the corn syrup, grenadine, and food colorings

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).

Complete the Heart

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.

Trim any excess gelatin to make it more heart shaped.

Extra Touches

You will need purple, red, blue and black Food colorings

Now we apply some food coloring with a brush to make it look more realistic.

Of course, we’re only making look “realistic” in a comic-book sense. The colors won’t really be much like a real heart fresh from a ribcage would look – but it will look like what most people expect a heat to look like.

Use purple for the ridged areas shown. Try to paint darker near the bottoms and sides, and lighten up on the tops. You can paint a little red on the top part as a highlight. Just don’t overdo it and you should be fine.

Finally, color in the holes we made in the arteries with black

Now go over each vein with red. Just a little should do it. Color some parts of the heart’s surface with a bit of red too to bring out color.

Serving Ideas

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.

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT SAFETY: Be careful not to serve pieces of the food-storage bag to your friends. They could choke to death. We want to help you become a more exciting host, not a criminally negligent klutz.

Jackknife Bridge

Everett Spencer Island

Spencer Island is located near Everett, Washington. The trail is primarily used for nature trips and is accessible year-round. We also included Langus Park paved trail (3 miles) in our hike, which is along the Snohomish River and Union Slough. The trail head proper starts at the old Jackknife Bridge. The bridge spanned nearby Ebey Slough from 1914 to 1980. In 1993 it was moved here to Union Slough, providing pedestrian access to Spencer Island. It is one of the last remaining bascule bridges (counterweight drawbridges) in the country. We took the levee trail to the south through the alder trees, then back north along the Steamboat Slough side. The best time to go is spring, when water fowl and other birds are nesting. We saw herons, tree swallows, various duck and geese species and a bald eagle. They had just cleaned the south trail and laid down bark, so it was a nice comfy walk.

point defiance in march '11 045

Point Defiance Park Trails

Point Defiance Park Trails is a 3.6 mile loop trail located near Tacoma, Washington that offers the chance to see wildlife and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round.

A nice walk along Owens Beach, then back up on the main trail to view the Narrows Bridge. Saw sea lions poke their heads above water, scared a baby Douglas squirrel, heard cannon fire and bagpipes in celebration of Queen Victoria’s Birthday. Finally enjoyed a fine picnic, with the background sounds of howling zoo wolves responding to a fire truck siren. Although it was a crowded trail, it was an easy fun hike.

Compound Butters

Compound Butters

In modern French cuisine, prior to 1950, compound butters had a much greater purpose then they do today. If you’ll visit this French Cooking Terms page you’ll see several French recipes that instruct you to finish their preparation with this or that kind of butter.

Compound butters are prepared by adding any number of flavorings to the whole butter by either chopping in the items or using a food processor. The following recipe is only an example and today’s cooks use compound butter for dessert as well as entrees. Spices, herbs and protein can be added to compound butters and they are especially useful when using herbs that otherwise would turn black after being cut and exposed to air.

The kinds of compound butters you can make are without limits. Use berries for French Toast or pancakes. Wasabi for broiled meats and sea foods, cranberries for turkey and the list goes on and on. Adding hard chilled butter to finish a sauce is called monter or monte au beurre which gives the sauce an added flavor and sheen, and when you’ve incorporated some additional flavoring agent into the compound it just increases the gustatory profile. So you could add truffles, lobster, shrimp, saffron, herbs or caviar to just name a few.

My favorite is the classic Garlic Herb Butter


  • Mixer, for best consistency
  • Plastic wrap


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt


Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the butter and salt and beat for a couple of minutes, or until fluffy. Add the garlic and parsley, stir to combine well. Transfer the the garlic herb butter onto a sheet of plastic wrap, roll up to form a cylinder shape. Twist both ends tight and keep it in the refrigerator. They are ready to use when the butter becomes cold and solid.

Compound Butters


Seattle Chinese Garden

The Seattle Chinese Garden when finished will be one of the largest Chinese gardens outside of China. The site features a panoramic view of downtown Seattle, Washington, Elliott Bay and the Cascade Mountains, including Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier. The five-acre ridge-top garden will showcase numerous pavilions intermingled with lotus ponds, a rushing stream, and groves of pine, maple, and bamboo.

As of this year one court, one pavilion, a dedication wall and a carp statue are completed. It takes about ten minutes to tour the whole place.

Mt Rainier

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Trail

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Trail is a 4 mile out and back trail located near Olympia, Washington that offers the chance to see wildlife and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips & walking and is accessible year-round. This is an easy and lovely hike to take in the early spring. During low tide when birds are feeding, I saw bald eagles, herons, various breeds of geese and duck, cormorants, song birds and humming birds. It was also cold, rainy and windy day so I suggest treading carefully on the wet and slippery boardwalk.


The Season of Garlic!

In our area, garlic can be set out in the garden either in the fall or in the spring. Get spring-planted garlic in the ground good and early or you will get disappointing results. If you plant in the spring, you will normally harvest during autumn. Traditionally, late October and early November are the best times to plant. Fall-planted garlic is ready for harvest by about July. Although it’s not absolutely necessary, a light organic mulch applied after the garlic shoots have come up may help keep most of the frost out of the ground through the winter, or at least prevent frost heaving. Garlic is completely winter hardy. The foliage may be burned back by very low temperatures, but it bounces right back in spring. In the event that fall is dry, it will be necessary to irrigate. Hoeing to reduce weed growth is also highly recommended.

Don’t grow the stuff you can buy at the grocery store! Those come from California and won’t grow well in our Maritime weather. Rocamboles are the most common of the hardnecks and the most reliable in unsettled weather. “Rocambole” is sometimes used as a catchall term for hardneck. Porcelain garlics have the fewest, largest cloves per bulb. Purple stripe varieties are quite variable in flavor and are often considered the best for baking.

Valley of the Dolls

Normally I find dolls kind of creepy, but raggedy cloth dolls I find cute and adorable. I think it’s because I had raggedy Ann and Andy dolls as a little girl.

In a small deserted village nestled deep in the valleys of Shikoku Island, Japan, resides Nagoro: The Valley of the Dolls. Once a bustling center with a big dam hydro-power company and hundreds of inhabitants, this now empty village is home to hundreds of raggedy dolls. Sadly the residents moved to bigger cities over the years searching for better jobs, leaving the village now abandoned permanently. Today, Nagoro has only 37 living inhabitants, and of course, many times more dolls. Artist Ayano Tsukimi is the creator of some 350+ life-size dolls who populate the empty village, each one representing a former villager.


trombidium_grandissimum maxresdefault handphoto

Giant Red Velvet Mites

Thanks to The Oatmeal, I learned that Giant Red Velvet Mites (Trombidium Grandissimum) are real. They are called Bhir-buti in Hindi, which translates to “Rain’s Insect”. They live in soil and semi-desert areas of Northern India and spend most of their time hiding until the rain softens the soil for them to come out. T. grandissimum is one the largest known mites and can reach a size of around half an inch or so. The Giant Red Velvet Mite is exposed to hundreds of bacteria, worms, bugs and fungi on a daily basis and secretes anti-fungal oil. The mites circulatory fluid, hemolymph (a kind of bug blood) is also anti-fungal. Its poisonous nature would explain why its deep bright red; to ward off any predators. Its fuzzy body would also make it distasteful to any creature that dare make the mite its prey.

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Botanical Glass

Four months is a long time to go without blogging, but I decided to say something about art.  I rarely talk about art mostly because art hardly moves me.  I do however admire technique and skill.  Jason Gamrath is a master glassblower based in Seattle who has that skill. With glass he creates enormous detailed orchids and carnivorous flowers to help people appreciate the minute details of the plant kingdom.