Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Just taking a second out of the baking frenzy (truly, frenzy, two loaves in the oven and 3 lbs of apples to peel) to say happy holidays, seasons greetings and much joy to all my blog buddies! Hope you stay warm and surrounded by loved ones.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Someone's in the kitchen

Okay, I'm getting set to be a cookin' fool. Most of the year, I'm the queen of the cold salad or the cocktail shaker. I save my culinary ambitions for the holidays. I'm no Martha Stewart (I'm not even Rachel Ray), but I think it's part of the holidays to contribute to feeding everyone. I've got three dishes to crank out from Eve to Day: guacamole, apple pie and wheat bread.

The guac I have no worries about. I'm from Texas, y'all. I've been making guacamole since I was 8. I could do it in my sleep. And have done it under the influence. It wasn't pretty, but it sure tasted mighty fine. I'm a moderate traditionalist when it comes to guac. I don't hold with the more Anglo additions like mayo or cream cheese. Mine is just avocado, tomato, lime juice, salt and a touch of garlic and onion powder. Occasionally, I'll get a little wild and throw in a touch of jalepeno or bacon (come on, it's me we're talking about here). But the straight up stuff is really my fave.

Then I'm doing the Colonial Times Apple-Cranberry Pie with Cornmeal Crust from Bon Apetit again. It was a big hit at Thanksgiving, and I had a special request. My pie crust skills are pretty shaky. But this one came out pretty well. And it really was a gorgeous pie. It's a bit of a challenge. But it's worth the extra effort. Big bang to buck ratio as far as time and nerve investment. (If you decide to check out the recipe over at Bon Apetit, I followed one of the comments that recommended cutting the sugar in half. It was plenty, and really allowed the apples and cranberries to shine. I also added a health dash of ginger to the filling. I love the way cranberry and ginger play together.)

Now for the biggie - homemade wheat bread. It's usually my Waterloo. Fruit breads, I can do well. But real bread breads get me every time. I've made more than one inedible mess. And this one has yeast. Yeast, people! Scary business. But I'm using Mark Bittman's Fast No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread from the New York Times. I trust Bittman. He's very no-fuss. Damn close to lazy. And I say that with all due respect. And this recipe looks like a lazy baker's dream. Guilty. I'm going to gird my loins and enter the field of battle. If you smell smoke, it could be me.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Keep me searching for a heart of gold

Okay. I’m taking a stand. I will not be seeing Avatar. I waited until the reviews were in to make the final determination. It was entirely possible that my deeply held beliefs that James Cameron is a complete hack who has had one or two lucky breaks in his career, and existed on complete flim-flam ever since was coloring my perceptions of one of the weakest trailers I have ever seen. It could be that this titanic (snort) budget released some hidden artistry in Cameron and lead to a cinematic tour de force. It could happen.

But uniformly the glowing reviews have come down to “sure it’s weak on plot, but look at the amazing visuals up there on the screen.” I’m pretty much a plot girl. I like having to think a little about what’s going on. Maybe if Avatar had been sold as a kid’s movie, I might have been a little more willing to shell out $9. But this is supposedly for adults. Or at least for people who are old enough to understand to follow something more complicated than good guys wear white hats. I’ve got nothing against razzle-dazzle. I loved the new Star Trek. But throw me a bone here. I need the story to be at least half as good as the show.

But I get it. I’m in the minority. Right now is not a golden age of nuance in film, and most people are pretty happy with boom-boom-pow at the movies. ‘s cool. And I don’t think James Cameron’s going to the poor house because I’m keeping my saw buck in my pocket. I’m thinking I’ll go blow it on Crazy Heart or A Single Man. I’ll skip the glitter and pan for gold.

Just 32

So Brittany Murphy died of natural causes. Yup. Anorexia is totally, totally natural. Just the way your heart stopping because you've ingested massive quantitites of drugs is way natural. Or if you take a bullet to the brain - natural. Because they all cause cardiac arrest. A natural process.

Please. That girl had looked like death warmed over with a heavy coat of foundation and eyeliner for years. The same Hollywood ugliness that would allow Michael Jackson to continue to abuse his body for 30 years let her continue to maintain an unhealthy body weight so that she would be more marketable as an actress. This is of course in the opinion of the same people who brought us the effed up aesthetic that thinks botoxed brows and D-cup breasts with 3% body fat is appealing. There can be cosequences. If you maintain a low body weight over a period of years, the body starts to cannibalize itself and eat it's own muscle tissue. And the heart is a muscle. Which can lead to cardiac arrest.

Which, by the way, is totally, totally natural.

Most anorexics don't die from their disease (though it is entirely possible). They just scrape along in miserable silence, suffering from heart problems, digestive problems, dental problems, esophageal cancer, fertility issues, depression and metabolic fatigue. But it seems to be a price that Hollywood is more than willing to pay to have walking stick figures who look thin on camera because the camera adds weight. Here's an idea - fix the damn cameras. If James Cameron can spend gross national product of Ecuador on making blue people look real, why can't somebody come up with a damn lens that doesn't add 10 pounds?

Will this be the wake up call? All anyone remembers is that Marilyn was found in the nude and Elvis died on the toilet. Cue the Brittany Murphy retrospective on TNT.

TIME: Quotes of the Day