Coming Home(r)

January 22, 2007

According to the encyclopedic tome, Inside Oscar The Unofficial History of the Academy Awards, the New York based critic, delightful quiz show panelist (What’s My Line?) and somewhat troubled Dorothy Kilgallen wrote: “William Wyler means more to filmgoers than he knows. He is full of unexpected magic.” Dottie is right: The Best Years of Our Lives is simply one of your better Academy Award winning movies. The returning home and the diffucly adjusting to civilian life of the three soldiers was just an amazing feat of storytelling and subsequent tissue box passing: Homer’s mother as she gasps at her son’s mechanical hands. Al, stifling his children so he can surprise his wife; Milly realizing just who’s at the door. And Fred, not being able to find his war bride for over a day.

It’s got the one-two punch of Myrna Loy (always wonderful) and Theresa Wright (also always wonderful) as the dynamic mother-daughter duo. It really sounded scandalous when Theresa’s character proclaimed she was going to break up that marriage. It’s got the wonderful, natural performance of Harold Russell. The academy gave him two awards for this picture. One was a special award. One was best supporting actor.

things we want to remember:

  • Theresa Wright must have been William Wyler’s lucky penny and vice versa. Their three films together :The Little Foxes, Mrs. Miniver, Best Years.
  • I love Hoagy Carmichael. Stardust was probably the best popular song of the 20th century. Especially the Nat King Cole version. And Skylark. Especially the Bette Midler recording of (although the K.D. Lang version is haunting as well).
  • I don’t know how I feel about Frederic March. He does drunk really well (See A Star is Born) but sober he always seems so hammy(see Inherit the Wind).
  • The big competition for best picture that year: It’s a Wonderful Life.

Because they never really tell you where Boone City truly is, and because there is a city named Boone in Iowa, I just let myself assume that this story takes place in Iowa. There was some website that said it was probably modeled after Cincinnati. But would Cincinnati have a bank called Cornbelt Savings and Trust? I don’t think so. Ohio has stupid bank names. Fifth Third? What the heck is that? (OK to be fair I don’t think Iowa would have all the swingin’ nightclubs they show, but c’st la vie). I also thought it would be fun to do Iowa food because my mom is from Iowa (and I was born there). She was thrilled with the choice of Iowa cuisine. If there is such a thing as Iowa cuisine. Past corn, that is.

The following recipe is from the Iowa Beef Council web page http://www.iabeef.org/Recipes/Default.aspx

Beef Pot Roast Dinner – SlowCooker
1 boneless beef chuck shoulder pot roast or bottom round rump roast
(3 to 3½ pounds)
1 envelope (0.7 ounces) Italian dressing mix
2 large onions, each cut into eight wedges
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1½-inch pieces
½ cup ready-to-serve beef broth
2 zucchini, cut into ¼–inch thick slices
2½ tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
Salt and pepper

1. Press dressing mix evenly onto all surfaces of beef pot roast. Place onions and garlic in 4½ to 5½ -quart slow cooker, top with pot roast. Add bell peppers and broth. Cover and cook on HIGH 5 hours or on LOW 8 hours. Add zucchini. Continue cooking, covered, 30 minutes or until pot roast is fork-tender.

2. Remove pot roast and vegetables. Strain cooking liquid; skim fat. Combine 2 cups cooking liquid and cornstarch mixture in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir 1 minute or until thickened.

3. Carve pot roast into slices; season with salt and pepper, as desired. Serve with vegetables and gravy.

When the earth was still cooling I lived in Iowa City, Ia. In Iowa City there was this wonderful, now defunct, restaurant called The Sheepshead. The Sheepshead was a great little place that had terrific tomato soup, but was mostly well known for their cheesecake. Thanks to the internet I was able to dig up this recipe for barebottom cheesecake:

Barebottom Cheesecake

Source: Sheepshead Restaurant

Preheat Oven to 325

9” Springform pan

Use a graham cracker crust or serve with none. It also works well to butter the springform pan and then lightly spread a layer of graham crackers on it before pouring in the cheesecake batter.

1 ½ lb cream cheese

1 c sugar

2 TBSP flour

6 large eggs, separated

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla

1 c. sour cram

  • In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and flour until light and fluffy – about 5 minutes
  • Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each until mixture is smooth and blended
  • Add lemon juice and vanilla
  • Stir in sour cream
  • Whip egg whites until they form soft peaks. Then, fold into cream cheese mixture
  • Pour mixture into crust or ungreased springform pan.
  • Bake 1 hour, 10 minutes, until the center of the cake is firm. (Keep a pan of water in the oven to help humidify). Cool the cake in the oven for one hour, with the door cracked open. Remove and cool to room temperature.
  • Chill.

We also had corn on the cob. Iowa cuisine, there ya go.


One comment

  1. I had no idea you were from Iowa. My wife and I have some Iowa connections. In fact, that’s where we met though neither of us are from there originally.

    As for the movie, it sounds like another good one. I’ll put it in the queue.

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