Gelatin is Utah’s State Food. As much as that sounds odd, it is a great state food for Utah. Families in Utah are usually larger, on average, than most other states. So desserts need to be quick, easy to make, and feed a lot of people. But, let’s face it, just straight gelatin can get a little boring. So, people have taken to making gelatin with a lot of different mix-ins. I’ve seen some dessert creations made with shredded carrots, marshmallows, cinnamon candies, pretzels, nuts, fruit cocktail, pineapple, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, mayonnaise – just about anything and everything. Gelatin –A Choose-Your-Own Adventure Dessert.
So, because we are touring the world by food, I thought it would be fun to let my children create their own personalized gelatin – much like a personalized pizza, but a dessert!
To begin with, start by gathering the mix-ins people are going to choose from for their tasty creations. We used: marshmallows, pretzel sticks, peanuts, mandarin oranges, crushed cinnamon candies, shredded carrots, crushed shortbread cookies.
Place all the mix-ins into small containers. We used muffin cups.
Next, mix up the gelatin according to the package directions. For our seven servings we used one regular sized package.
Now invite everyone to make their own gelatin. We used a muffin or cupcake baking tin to separate the creations. Each person had his or her own cup. Then, we took turns choosing which mix-ins we wanted to add into the gelatin. We placed our mix-ins into the cup.
Finally, we used a ¼-cup measure to pour the liquid onto the mix-ins in the muffin tin. After filling all the cups, we placed the pan in the fridge to set. It will take a while for the gelatins to set.
I had a couple of children place some of every type of mix-in into their cups. My toddler liked adding things to the empty cups – and she made Daddy’s cup, which only had shredded carrots in it.
Although gelatin is a dessert, it can also be a good learning tool. We used gelatin as a way to talk about earthquakes and plate tectonics in a very successful learning activity.
This activity requires a two-layer gelatin. Set the first gelatin as directed, pour into a 9 x 13 pan, and allow it to cool for at least two hours. (The more time the first gelatin has to set, the better the layers turn out.) Next, mix another gelatin and pour it on top of the first gelatin. Let both solidify completely.
I made up the gelatin the morning before we were going to do this activity, that way it was very solid – which is important. When it’s time for the activity, cut large squares of gelatin and place them on plates – one for each person participating.
First, make sure that everyone has washed their hands thoroughly before beginning.
Begin by having everyone examine their gelatin. Explain that the top layer represents the Earth’s crust. Talk about how the Earth’s crust is floating on the mantle – which is mostly liquid rock called magma and is represented by the lower layer.
Have everyone jiggle the gelatin. Talk about how earthquakes send waves of energy through the mantle and the crust. The jiggles simulate these waves moving through the earth. Jiggling the gelatin shows how the waves affect the ground, buildings, etc.
Now, have everyone grab both sides of their gelatin and pull in opposite directions, one hand toward the body and one hand away from the body. This simulates when two plates push past each other, as in a strike-slip fault. The San Andreas Fault in California is an example of a strike-slip fault.
Next, have everyone push one piece of gelatin over the top of the other piece. This represents a subduction fault. This type of fault forms many of the world’s volcanoes. The Hawaiian formed because of the subduction fault along the bottom of the Pacific Ocean beneath them.
Finally, have everyone push both pieces of gelatin together. This creates a thrust fault. First, do it slowly so that a mountain of gelatin forms when the two plates meet. Mount Everest is an example of a thrust fault.
After all this pushing, pulling, and shearing, there are going to be in a lot of tiny pieces. Have spoons ready and either let the children eat the mashed up gelatin, or give everyone a new piece to eat.
These two great activities are possible because of that wiggly, giggly, cold, and slippery stuff we call gelatin – the state food of Utah.
This post is part of a Tour the World by Food Blog Hop. We all wrote posts about our state/country food, so you can get to know all of the wonderful places where live. Stop by and read all of the wonderful posts!