By Kyra Effren, TSB Food Writer
So this is the story of Mellified Man.
It appears that in the 15-16th centuries an elderly man in China or Arabia would, towards the end of his life, have the opportunity to donate his body for the good of his fellow man. (No women were apparently awarded this “honor.”) The man would eat nothing but honey and even bathed in it. By the time he died (about a month later), he excreted nothing but honey.
He was then incarcerated in a stone coffin filled with honey and allowed to “marinate” for about 100 years, after which his remains become like candy, or Mellified.
Mellified Man was used as a curative and health product – jars of it being sold for a huge amount of money at the local (farmers?) market!
Even the great Alexander the Great was embalmed in honey in order to transport his remains back to Macedonia.
It is well known that honey has great preservation properties. Whatever is preserved in honey lasts for hundreds of years, which makes it the ideal medium for Mummy Candy.
Honey was also thought to have medicinal and antibiotic properties. A spoonful of honey did not make the medicine go down, it was the medicine and would, it was claimed, cure whatever ailed you. Honey still retains its reputation for healing – including burns – and wounds.
In the interest of not destroying your appetite completely, here are some recipes for Halloween – none of which contains honey!
Spider Web Soup
Butternut or pumpkin soup [bought or homemade] Black Bean Sauce [adapted from Dean Fearing’s Southwest Cuisine]
1 can black beans – drained and rinsed
½ onion peeled and finely diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
½ cup chicken stock [bought or homemade]
Place all the sauce ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes.
Cool, then blend until smooth. If your blender is not superefficient, press the sauce through a strainer to ensure it is completely smooth.
Pour the sauce into a plastic squirt bottle.
Ladle the soup into individual soup plates and create a ‘web’ by piping circles around the soup and then drawing a knife from center to outside.
4 white potatoes [gold or russet] 3 tablespoons olive oil
Prick the potatoes and microwave for about five minutes.
Cut each on half lengthwise.
Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the potatoes on the cut side until they are soft and slightly browned.
Allow to cool then, using Black Bean sauce, ‘paint ‘ the wording of your choice on the gravestones. [See recipe above.]
1 package Jell-O flavor of your choice
1 cup reconstituted apple, grape or cranberry juice [depending on the flavor of Jell-O you have chosen]Cool whip or whipped cream*
Gummy bugs – red food coloring gel
Place the Jell-O crystals in a bowl and add 1 cup boiling water.
Stir well to dissolve the crystals them stir in 1 cup juice.
Spoon into individual serving dishes.
Allow to partially set .
Stick the bugs into the Jell-O.
When the Jell-O is completely set, top with cool whip or whipped cream and drizzle with the red food gel.
* You may also use equal parts of Greek yogurt and cool whip or whipped cream as a topping.
It has a richer flavor and adds a little more nutrition.
Chocolate Cake Balls
4 cups cookie or cake crumbs
¼ cup soft cream cheese
4 oz melted [dark] chocolate
1 package black candy melts [available at JoAnn or Michaels]
Gummy worms or decoration of your choice
Cake or craft sticks [also available at craft stores] Decorating foam block – used in flower arrangements
Combine the crumbs, cream cheese and melted chocolate in a processor and process on and off until you have a soft ‘paste’ that will hold its shape. (If the mixture is not soft enough stir in 1-2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt. If too soft add more crumbs.)
Form the dough into balls – about the size of a golf ball – set on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and allow to set overnight.
The next day melt the candy melts according to package instructions. Remove the cake balls from the refrigerator (they dip better if cold).
Spear each ball with a stick and dip into the chocolate allowing the excess to drip off.
Stick the cake ball upright into the foam block.
Immediately place the gummy worm on top – as the chocolate sets very quickly.
Note: there are small plastic bags also available at the craft store with which you can wrap the cake ball.
1 pkg. puff pastry (there are usually two pastry sheets in the box)
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Allow the puff pastry sheets to soften then incorporate the grated cheese by placing half the cheese on each pastry sheet and folding the dough over and over.
Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator to stiffen.
Using one piece at a time, roll out the dough to ¼” thickness and cut out ‘hands’. (The children LOVE to use THEIR hands as templates!)
Set the hands on a cookie sheet – refrigerate for one hour.
Pre heat oven to 375°.
Bake hands until puffed and golden about 10-15 minutes.
About the Author
McKinney resident Kyra Effren is a contributing writer for TownSquareBuzz.com’s “Food” section. She is a retired food stylist and contributing writer for the “Food” section of Dallas Morning News. In 1975, Effren opened Cours de Cuisine Cooking School in Dallas and in 1978, she was awarded The Commanderie des Cordon Bleu in France for her contributions to French cooking. She has edited multiple cookbooks and served as recipe tester for a number of cookbooks including both of the Mansion on Turtle Creek cookbooks by Dean Fearing and baking books by Nick Malgieri.
Kyra welcomes any and all reader comments and suggestions. What would you like to have for dinner?