Final Project!

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We began our process by brainstorming and research as well as collaboration with other classmates for inspiration. Our first attempt at brainstorming was a shared google doc and individual research. We came up with quite a few ideas and many pictures for inspiration:

Gumball machine dinner $75 Lakeville
(note, NO KEYS are available for this machine.Figure it out or you will have to see a locksmith) $40
or we can find small ones. These might be heavy but would be SO AWESOME
Some of those look pretty cool!! What if we got two smaller ones or just had one small one and continually refilled it? Do you think that would be too much work?
I was also looking at some containers we could use if we went this route.
-mini edible nature scenes? or we could make the whole table a giant city of food! and then everyone could come eat it haha
-we could get mini trees and they could walk by and pick prepared food off of the tree
-I just thought these were cool pictures! - super cool but looks super hard haha
-we could do a blindfolded tasting?
-we could make savory 'ice cream cones' and put a scoop of mashed potatoes on top and gravy and then have a few jars of toppings like bacon bits, cheese and chives - love this idea! i wonder if we could bake bread into the shape of ice cream cones
- also I think salad would be a pretty easy thing to do! dressings can be many different colors and lots of different options for toppings!
-unique cake pop type things that aren't cake but something savory?

After going over this list of ideas we decided to go in the direction of an edible landscape that also doubled as a board game. I started a very thorough process of researching the different ways this could be achieved:



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Mini Corn Bread Muffins
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup honey
Special equipment: paper muffin cups and a 12-cup muffin tin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Into a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the whole milk, eggs, butter, and honey. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.
Bake for 7 minutes, until golden.

Candied Beets
4 baby beets, preferably Chioggia
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Slice beets very thinly into rounds, preferably on a mandoline. Bring water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Add beets. Reduce heat, and simmer until slightly translucent, about 30 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer beets in a single layer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with a nonstick baking mat. Bake until dry and slightly firm, about 1 hour.

Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Pour the oil into a 9x13 inch baking dish, and place in the oven until hot, about 5 minutes.
Cut sweet potatoes with a mandolin
Soak in water, drain and dry
Add potatoes to the oiled dish, and bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, turning after 10 minutes. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.
After the 20 minutes is up, remove the potatoes from the oven, and sprinkle with the brown sugar mixture. Stir to coat.
Return to the oven, and roast for another 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and golden brown.
Stir potatoes as necessary to allow them to brown evenly.
Remove potatoes to paper towels to drain.

Buttered Corn
2 bags of frozen corn
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 pint freshly ground pepper

Place corn on the stove with butter on medium heat. When the butter is melted, add salt and ground pepper. Mix and remove the potatoes to paper towels to drain.
Place corn in a dish and place in oven at 375 degrees until golden brown. Stir as necessary to allow them to cook evenly.

Product & Space

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For this project I decided to do brainstorming in a few different rounds so I could narrow down the scope of what I was trying to create. First thing was to come up with a list of problems I had encountered at the various Thanksgivings I have attended. From there I found myself coming up with a list of vessels and utensils that already existed that could be improved. I sketched the modifications and did a progression throughout each idea by identifying the downfalls of each sketch and then making a new one with modifications. After drawing a final sketch for each idea I evaluated them for feasibility based on time, economic, and skill limits.

BRAINSTORM ROUND 1: problems/inefficiencies during prep/serving Thanksgiving dinner

1. Ruining the table cloth by spilling
-most common thing to spill = gravy!!
-worst stains = cranberries
2. Entirely too many dishes at the table
3. Serving dishes are too heavy to pass around or allow an individual to hold the bowl and get food on their plate
4. Cutting the turkey without getting juice everywhere.. you need that for gravy!
5. Not being able to control gravy flow on your plate. Nobody wants a soggy roll

BRAINSTORM ROUND 2: potential utensils/vessels that fix aforementioned problems

1. plate with an uneven surface so gravy flows naturally to a different point than the rest of the food
3. Plate with various levels to keep food separated by consistency
4. compartments that separate liquid/ runny foods from the rest
5. Cutting platform for turkey that can rest on a bowl/pan and has holes to allow juices to go into the pan
6. Trap door to release gravy onto plate at desired time
7. Turkey flipper, for all of your turkey flipping needs.
8. Tongs/giant skewers for turkey handling when moving it out of the oven
9. Gravy vessel that has a handle on top and sliding door on the bottom so gravy can be passed around easily
10. Gravy compartment on plate with removable block to release gravy down a small ramp at desired time

Click on image for larger view.
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After sketching I choose which designs to continue on with based on the feasibility and practicality ratings I had given each one. There were only two that seemed both practical and feasible: the porous turkey cutting platform and the compartmentalized plates. Before moving on to practice wood I drew final sketches for each ones with measurements based on research. The measurements for the compartments in the plate were based on both the drill press diameters available in the wood shop and the average diameter of shot glasses (the only small glass wear I could find that would fit).
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After my final sketches I went to Siwek Lumber & Millwork to find wood that was affordable and had a visually pleasing figuring of the grain. I was able to find a lot of interesting pieces that included cedar, ash, pine and maple. The one problem that I was running into was finding a piece of wood that was wide enough to accommodate the 12 inches I had allotted for the turkey cutting board. In the end I took what I could get and went to the wood shop.
Once in the wood shop I started on the cutting board. I drew out a handle for the cutting board onto wax paper and then traced it onto the wood. I made sure the shape was rectangular for easier cutting. I brought it to the bandsaw and cut out both sides and then moved to the belt sander to round out the edges and the spindle sander to get the inner corners. I got this far and then realized that although it was the widest wood I could find it wasn't close to being enough for a turkey (pictured below) and I moved on to my next final idea.
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The first thing I did with the plate was cut it in half and then cut two pieces down to 10.5 inches in length with the chop saw (one for practice and one for the final). The next step was to bring it to the drill press to get the compartments cut out. After setting the depth to 1/4 inch I made two holes using two different bits with varying diameters.

After I created the compartments on both pieces of wood I traced out the shape of the large compartment on the plate and then headed over to the router to clear out 1/2" from the piece of wood within that space. And then the first problem occurred. 1/2" is a bit too much to clear out at once which I realized after I had already started. I had to back it up to 1/4" and then try to go back through at 1/2" but then the surface was uneven and the router could no longer stay leveled. The damage was done but I tried my best to make it into a design feature: an outline that showed you where to place your spoon. The picture below shows the attempt to fix it but I was not happy with the quality and decided to begin on the second piece.

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I approached the final attempt at the plate differently in that I chose to use a rounded bit on the router to get curvy corners in the plate and I also started with a 1/4" depth using the router and then used a Dremel with a sanding but to take it to the depth that I wanted. While routing, the wood started to tear out at certain places and although I tried to sand it out by hand and with the tool it wasn't possible to get it completely smooth again. Next I took it to the belt sander and rounded the four corners of the plate. Then I hand sanded the remaining edges and the edges of the round compartments.
When another piece of the wood tore out at the outside perimeter of the plate I decided to shape it and turn it into a rest for silverware.

The point of my final design is to keep the gravy separate from the rest of the food offered at Thanksgiving dinners in order to avoid soggy rolls and stuffing. The other purpose is provided by the glass compartment inserts which eliminate the traditional gravy bowl. This minimizes the number of things being passed around the table and having to sit on the table during the meal. It can be pre-portioned by the host. It will also minimize the drippings on a nice table cloth because the gravy only travels over one's one plate. And finally, the opening in the plate wall to rest the fork so that it is not placed on the table cloth.

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Plate as a canvas

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Project 2: amuse bouche

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Dish Innovation Challenge

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After much googling, I realized that making the orzo sweet was the way I wanted to go with my dish. It seemed to be the least common way to serve/prepare it. While researching down that path I noticed a lot of already existing recipes for orzo pudding, usually mixed with fruit. This narrowed down my ideation list further and I decided to steer as far away from that as possible.
I did consider doing an additional salty dish in the event that my sweet orzo concoction turned out to be foul. After considering that idea for a time I decided against it because most of the remaining ideas that were salty dealt with meat. With my schedule I wouldn't be able to practice proper food safety with meat on the day of the crit.

This left me with two ideas:
1. tri-color orzo mac and cheese presented as candy corn
2. smorezo

Attempt 1 for candy corn orzo was a failure.

Problem 1: couldn't find yellow cheese to get the 3rd candy corn color and I did not want to use food coloring.
Problem 2: Everyone that I proposed the idea to thought it sounded repulsive. They couldn't get over the fact that I was using candy corn and mac and cheese in the same sentence.
So I ruled out that idea on the basis that the idea was too different and wouldn't be received well.

Next came testing for smorezo! I thought a lot about what layers I could work the orzo into and how.
-somehow make orzo taste like any given layer and keep it's original texture OR make orzo taste like AND feel like the layer would normally in a s'more.

I did research on homemade marshmallows and based on the amount of time the recipe takes [about 4 hours] I was able to rule out tampering with that layer.
The next layer I thought about was the graham cracker. After testing [pictures below] I realized that making orzo taste but not feel like graham crackers was kind of disgusting. I toasted it, boiled it in evaporated milk, drained it, mixed it with sugar, chopped it and molded it. It ended up reacting with the sugar and getting soft and mushy when I had tried to keep it al dente. I then tried to bake it and it got chewy and definitely not a desirable thing to eat.

Because of this failure, I was able to realize that I could make a chocolate layer out of the orzo boiled in evaporated milk rather than the graham layer. So I started over but this time, after draining, I mixed it with Nutella and it was pretty tasty. I called it good on the choco layer and moved on to the graham cracker.

I really liked the taste of the toasted, uncooked orzo so I decided to make it into a graham cracker crust.


The picture sequence to the

right shows the first testing I

did after brainstorming. I knew

that I wanted to create a sweet

dish and the best way to prep

orzo for sweetness was by

toasting it and changing the

flavor profile to achieve a more

nutty & caramelized taste.



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