Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Movie Clip Wednesdays: Bad Guys

Go visit Boxer to see who else is participating.

I'd sure hate to find myself turning into one of those five-miles-up-hill-in-the-snow kinds of people, but when it comes to movies, I'm afraid I just might. Movies really were better way back when. Specifically, in the 1970s, when Hollywood seemed less concerned with big bucks and big deals and more with pushing the envelop of what was considered art in film.

To me, Badlands is one of the definitive films of the 1970s. Loosely based on the Charles Starkweather/Caril Ann Fugate killing spree (the pair murdered eleven people in Nebraska and Wyoming over a two month period in 1958), the movie not only marked the directorial debut of Terence Malick, it also established him as one of America's most poetic young filmmakers.

With Badlands Malick created a movie that is compact without being rushed, spare without being mute, and chilling without being exploitative. Its subject – the celebration of the criminal as celebrity – was ahead of its time, as was its treatment of evil as a commonality of everyday life. Add to all that superlative acting, Tak Fukimoto's stunning cinematography, and a score that mixes classics like Carl Orff's "Musica Poetica" with contemporary pop songs, and you've got what is perhaps one of the best movies ever made.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Movie Clip Wednesdays: Musicals

Baille Walsh has admitted that he probably never would have gotten his first movie, Flashbacks of a Fool, made had it not been for the fact that his good buddy, Daniel Craig, agreed to star. The director also managed to rope in American rapper Eve and English actress Claire Forlani, although he practically tossed her away in a too-brief cameo, except for the very last moments of the heart shattering ending.

When it premiered, Flashbacks of a Fool was roundly panned by critics for being overwrought and preachy, but I didn't find it half bad, mostly due to the performances of the two lead teenage actors, Harry Eden and Felicity Jones.

Not a musical per se, the movie does feature a fabulous soundtrack and one especially memorable scene in which the two lead teenage characters dance and lip synch their way through the achingly lovely final verse of Roxy Music's metamorphic "If There is Something," Jones as resplendently assured in the first flush of teenage love as Eden is painfully awkward.

Brilliant song. Brilliant scene. Best thing about the movie.

Flashbacks of a Fool - If There Is Something - Amazing videos are here

Oh, and how eagerly am I awaiting the release of this?

Totally cool!

To see what other folks are posting for Boxer's Movie Clip Wednesdays, head over to her place to check 'em out!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dim Sum Sunday: Soup

Although we're about a month away from springtime on the calendar, if you're still looking at at least 12" of snow on the ground like I am, then springtime feels about as out of reach as the moon. Which means, soup still reigns at my dinner table. To me, there's nothing quite like a big ol' steaming spoonful rushing down the esophagus (gullet?) to warm the heart and the bones. Well, maybe brandy or scotch, but I'm pretty much on the wagon these days, so soup with spirits will just have to do.

Here's what I made last night. It's a simple tortellini and tomato soup, with a consistency that's more like a broth than a bisque. In other words, no creme, which means if you're guarding your waistline, this soup will do much less damage.

Hop on over to Shamu's to see what everyone else is ladling up for Dim Sum Sunday.


2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup Marsala wine or cooking sherry
2 14-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon chopped basil
1 teaspoon chopped oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
48 ounces chicken broth
2 cups frozen or fresh tortellini
Grated Parmesan cheese


Heat oil in a 5-quart pot and saute garlic until fragrant, but not browned. Add sherry and reduce for a few minutes until alcohol burns off. Add chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, and herbs and bring to a boil. With a hand held chopper or in a blender, puree mixture until smooth.

This product ROCKS.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover, bring to a boil, and add tortellini to broth. Cook until the pasta is just heated through and tender to the tooth. Ladle into individual bowls and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Surrender Dorothy

While I'm totally thrilled that the Saints beat the Colts this past Sunday, I thought the commercials were pretty lame. This was the one exception:

Funny. No?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Where's the Beef? Culinary Throw Down Wiener

I can’t believe we’re already one month and some pocket change into the New Year. 2010. Good Lord, what’s next . . . 2055? 3032? I’m just not ready for the way time is beginning to fly in my life. In fact, I’d like some of it back, please, maybe a big ol’ honkin’ chunk of my summer break childhood when I can remember the days stretching out before me, a shimmering highway of possibility in which time actually seemed to stand still enough that I could touch it.

Anyway. Know what time it is today? Time to declare the winner of another splendid Culinary Throw Down, this one hosted by Karl, who chose the theme beef and/or beans. And boy, did y’all step up to the stove (Buzz, Allison, and K9, we missed you!). In fact, I’m just itching with curiosity about the spaces in which we all craft our entries. Next Throw Down we should all post a photo of our kitchens as well.

But for now, let’s see how things shook out, shall we?

Aunty hit the ball right out of the park with her rib eye steaks with coffee and black pepper rub. But not just any steak. Grass fed steak. Aunty is nothing if not a steely eyed warrior (albeit in kitten heels) against food terror of all kinds, and if you visit her Web site with any regularity, you’ll see just why the words "corn fed beef" should have us all shaking in our space boots. This entry shot an arrow straight through my heart. With all due respect to my beloved vegetamarian friends, I just can’t quit beef. It’s in my blood and it's part of my heritage. And yes, Aunty, New Mexico is blessed with numerous boutique ranches that raised happily wandering herds gorging themselves on dozens of varieties of grasses. I’ve always wanted to try a coffee rub, but what I most want to know is: if I make this, will I be up all night?

Did y’all feel that? That slight grumbling of the ground beneath you? That sudden stillness of the wind, followed by a waft of ozone in the air? That’s what happened earlier this week when Boxer put down her video camera, picked up her oven mitts, and actually cooked. The universe. It stood still. But I’ve seen her kitchen. Her oven doesn’t work. So I don’t know who she had to charm to make her quite tasty-looking dinner (soy meatless meatloaf, vegetable compote, potato medallions), but you can for damn sure bet a bottle of vodka was involved.

Once upon a time, I dragged my behind over to Cake’s blog and said: “See this? This is the ass we are going for here. So I don’t want to hear another word from you about skipping out on our daily work out in favor of surfing the sofa with an entire bag of Mother’s Circus Animal Cookies, a jar of Marshmallow Fluff, and an entire bottle of Chardonnay.” Now I know why Cake’s ass looks like that. Ruf cooks her splendidly prepared vegetamarian goodies like these refried beans that are not only yummy, but totall free of animal fats of all kinds. Which in my universe? Do not Pass Go, do not Collect $200, but get applied directly to hips, ass, and thighs.

A couple posts back, Fishy wrote an entry about her attempts to find a new car that had the kind of “fizz” that she requires in a vehicle. I suspect that for a gal who makes her living creating beautiful and functional interiors, fizz is an important ingredient in just about everything she does. Including cooking. For this challenge, she made a lemon mint London broil salad with lightly steamed green beans, and my mouth just puckers with pleasure when I think of it. It’s simple, it’s colorful, it’s well balanced, and it just begs to be eaten outside on a sunny day on a veranda overlooking the Mediterranean while wearing white linen and big sunglasses. Which is what Fishy does best: prod us all to achieve as much fizz as possible from life.

I swear; I gained five pounds just LOOKING at Florida Cracker’s entry for this challenge. Steak with mushrooms, green beans, and salad? Gulp. So simple, yet so, so mouthwatering, I nearly braved the gazillion feet of snow that fell on Wednesday to head to the store to buy a steak and make this right then and there. Between her and Aunty, I dreamt steak that night. And did y’all see that mud pie? Seriously. Go back and look at it. And then go tell your arteries they can kiss your grits, life’s too short not to go ahead and once, just this once, indulge in a thing of beauty like that.

Thanks to Karl, somewhere in India, a computer technician is sitting down to a nice dinner of poppadom, tandoor chicken, and lassi. Late Tuesday, our intrepid host for this Throw Down encountered the Blue Screen of Death and didn’t know if he’d be able to post. Undaunted, he slid in under the wire with a beef and bean medley that sparked within me a sudden epiphany about global warming: What if the cause isn’t in fact fossil fuels, but beans? As for the dish itself, well there’s only one thing I can say about something that features strips of beef, beans, cheese, black olives, avocado, and salsa, and that’s: Ole!

This year in Oklahoma, the wind wasn’t the only thing that came sweeping down the plains. So did snow and ice in such quantities, the weather began to beg the question: what region does Oklahoma really belong in? The West or the Midwest? I sure hope the answer is the West, because if ever there were a true blue urban cowgirl, it’s our gal Kym. She hunts, she fishes, she knows her sports, and she can deftly navigate an ice-sheeted I-40 without putting herself or anyone else in danger. She can also cook like nobody’s business. This time? Baked beans and braised short ribs, the kind of dish that I bet tickled the olfactory senses of everyone in her neighborhood.

It’s super bowl week in Miami (Geaux, Saints!), so La Diva Cucina has been working her hiney off, but she still had time to post another of her monumentally mouth watering dishes: Stir-fried beef and crunchy noodle cake with triple happiness beans. Happiness being the operative word here. Because as I was reading through this dish, baby, it was cold outside, yet joy was warming its way through my bones like the sunshine that I haven’t seen since Jesus last walked the earth. Can it be said too many times that food is love? I think not. And La Diva, you spread it where ever you go. Mmmmmmmm-wah.

There’s a song by the B-52s called “Give Me Back My Man” that always reminds me of Troll whenever he comes a courtin’ Moi round about Throw Down time: “I’ll give you fish/I’ll give you candy/I’ll give you everything I have in my hand.” Which, unfortunately, didn't include a pair of Louboutins, size 8.5, candy apple red patent leather. With peep toe. Seriously, though, Troll doesn’t need to bribe me; he comes by his ego honestly. Man can cook. Each Throw Down, he doesn’t make just one dish, but an entire meal, thoughtfully planned out and complete with cocktail. This time it was a t-bone steak salad, followed by red beans and rice, baked onion rings (!!), three kinds of chocolate puddings, and vodka infused with my favorite running fuel – Sports Beans. Goodness. All of which means, I nearly gave the award to Troll, Louboutins or no.


Instead, I had to go with my gut and my gut said: comfort food. Which to me was epitomized in Kymie's dish. What better way to cap off a snowy, sleety, icey, gale force windy day than with a hearty pot of smoky/sweet baked beans and wine-soaked, fall-off-the-bone short ribs, everything tinged with the tongue pleasing taste of bacon? So, congrats, missy! Come pluck yourself a copy of the Big Beefy Dude and display it proudly. AND, you get to choose next Throw Down date, theme, and perhaps judge.

Now, everybody, get in line; I’ve just rented us all a bus to Oklahoma.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Culinary THROW DOWN: Beef 'n' Beans

Señor Karl is the host of this month's Culinary Throw Down, and his choice of theme is beef 'n' beans. Head on over to his site to see who's participating, then visit the individual bloggers to check out their recipes.

I have once again been honored with the task of judging this Throw Down, the winner of which will receive the fabulous Luchador de la Cocina badge shown above, created exclusively for this culinary meme by the equally fabulous K9.

Moi, I did soup. Again. So shoot me. It's winter and I've been trying for months to perfect a simple navy bean soup with enough heartiness to serve as a full meal for lunch or for dinner. That's because S.B. came home in December from a two-week job in Wherethefuckarewe North Dakota raving about a navy bean soup he was served each night at his hotel. And I'm not about to be outdone by someone who makes a living fattening up the local denizens for the winter. Well. Without tooting my horn too loudly, I think I achieved a pretty yummy soup, the secret to which, of course, is a good quantity of flavorful MEAT.

I used a recipe I found in From a Louisiana Kitchen and tweaked it a bit. Here you go:

Makes 10-12 servings

1 pound (2 cups) dried navy beans
12 cups water
2 smoked pork chops, cut one inch thick (if your butcher doesn't offer smoked pork chops, use a very large, meaty ham bone or hock)
1 cup celery, chopped medium fine
1 cup carrots, chopped medium fine
1 large onion, chopped medium fine
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon thyme
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Meat from chops or ham bone, cut into small 1/4 inch pieces
4 beef hot links, cut into rounds and then quartered

Rinse beans well under warm running water and pick out any shrunken beans or other debris. Put in six quart pot, cover with 8 cups of water, and let soak in the refrigerator overnight or up to 24 hours.

Add chops or ham bone/hock, an additional 4 cups of water, and bring to a roiling boil over high heat. Turn heat down to low, and cover, simmering for two hours or until beans are just tender. Lift lid on occasion to stir and make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot. Once beans are tender, add chopped celery, carrots, onions, bay leaves, and thyme. Cover and cook an hour longer, until beans are very tender. Remove bay leaf and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove chops and or ham bone, trim of all meat, and chop into 1/4 inch pieces. Return meat to pot and add chopped beef hot links. Serve.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Because Today, The Sun Shines

I don't think this song can be sent out into the universe too many times.

What song makes you giddy with happiness every time you hear it?