Posts Tagged ‘Morgan Freeman’

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Nickel and Dimed to Death

July 24, 2009

It was a lucky April shower
It was a most convenient door
I found a million dollar baby in a five and ten cent store


The night before we watched 2004’s best picture, Million Dollar Baby, I fell asleep thinking about how wonderful an actor Morgan Freeman is. I thought he was robbed of a Best Actor award back in 1989 for Driving Miss Daisy.  He should have easily picked up that supporting one for Shawshank Redemption.  Thank heavens he finally prevailed for playing  Clint Eastwood’s one-eyed friend and employee, ex-boxer Eddie “Scrap-Iron” Dupris.  Man, I wish I had a cool nickname like “scrap-iron.”   Mr. Freeman really is a treasure and he is certainly one of the reasons Million Dollar Baby is so good. Good, but a bit depressing.  It’s funny that this movie is considered a “boxing” picture.  While there are a lot of boxing scenes and boxers and the training of boxers, this movie is no RockyThank God.  In the end, in my opionion, it’s about who your family is and who you make your family: who is your Mo Cuishle. I remember just completely sobbing when I first saw this in the theaters and I promised myself on this second viewing that I wouldn’t be such a baby.  I hate breaking my own promises.

2004 was a pretty strong year for movies:  The Aviator (my favorite that year; a movie about old Hollywood? I’m in! And are they ever gonna throw one Martin Scorsese’s way? Sheesh), Ray (Jim’s favorite), Finding Neverland (Johnny Depp, sigh), and Sideways (a good movie, but I felt drunk after watching it) were the other nominees that year. Other terrific movies not nominated that year:  Kinsey and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind . Hard choices.

Remember Woolworth’s lunch counter? For dinner I went with the five and dime theme and found an old menu online from Woolworth’s.  I made choice number one:  The Roast Beef Dinner.

Z-WoolworthsCLOSEup

Roast Beef is soo easy to make:

preheat oven to 500 degrees–with a sharp knife cut slits on the top of the roast.  Insert garlic slivers in the slits. Place the meat on a rack in a roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes remove from the oven, lower the oven temp to 375 and sprinkle with salt and pepper and thyme.  Return to the oven and roast until the meat comes to your desired temperature (130 is rare).  Let roast sit for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

For the gravy I just add a little chef’s juice, er, wine to the pan drippings and reduce.

Mashed potatoes–peel potatoes cook em in boiling water for 20-25 minutes until tender–mash em with some warmed milk and butter. Em is a very important word when you’re making mashed potatoes.

For the green vegetable I made a recipe from the big red Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook–Billionaires Broccoli

Slice the florets of the broccoli off the tips (or just buy tips, the cookbook is a bit dated) heat about 2 T olive oil in a 2 quart microwave safe casserole for two minutes.  Stir in 4 cloves of garlic, slivered, and cook until golden, 3 minutes. Stir in broccoli and 1/2 cup chopped scallions (the green part, throw the white part into a glass of water and put in on your windowsill–the green parts grow back) and some chicken broth (about a cup) cover and nuke for about 5 minutes. Season with salt & pepper and sprinkle with some parmesean cheese before serving.

For dessert I made malteds:

  • 4 scoops chocolate ice cream
  • 1 cup(s) milk
  • 3 tablespoon(s) chocolate syrup
  • 3 tablespoon(s) malted milk powder

Put everything in a blender and then pour into tall glasses. Serve. Watch the movie and then kick yourself for not making lemon meringue pie.

I had completely forgotten how important the lemon pie was in this movie.  Once I remembered,  there was just no living with myself.  My brain and my mouth just stopped talking to each other.  The next day I made lemon meringue pudding and all was forgiven.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Corn starch
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 cups water
4 egg yolks lightly beaten
1/2 cup lemon juice (or extract)
1 Tbspn grated Lemon peel (1 lemon)
2 Tbspn butter or margarine
4 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
2 tspn Corn Starch
Method:
Mix 1/2 cup corn starch, 1-1/2 cups sugar, water, and egg yolks in a saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantky(else it forms lumps), bring mixture to a boil (8 to 10 minutes), reduce heat and continuosly stirring for one minuteuntil very thick. Remove from heat, and add lemon juice, lemon zest and butter, stir well untill smooth. Pour this while hot into a well greased baking pan. Beat egg whites in mixer at high speed until soft peaks form , gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cornstarch, beating until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight), about 3 minutes. Top the lemon mixture in the baking pan by spooning meringue over it, making sure to spread it on the entire surface, use the back of a spoon tp swirl meringue and draw up into peaks. Place oven rack in bottom third of preheated 375 deg F oven. Bake 10 minutes, until peaks are lightly browned. Cool at room teperature for 30 minutes. Chill for minimum of 3 hours before serving. Serve with whipped cream as topping.

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He’s the Rootinest Tootinest Cowboy in the Wild, Wild West

December 28, 2008

unforgivenI’m mad at Clint Eastwood. I’ve gone on record as being non-western loving. Never saw one I really liked. Certainly not 1931’s snore-fest Cimarron or 1990’s new-agey fakery that is Dances With Wolves. And when it comes to answering movie trivia questions, be it the cool game Scene It or the quiz show Jeopardy! I always cross my fingers and hope that it won’t be a question about westerns, because I don’t like them, so I don’t know much about them. And I know everything about movies (so people who play these games with me think). Well, along comes 1992’s Unforgiven. And, take a deep breath, I liked it. A lot. Clint Eastwood spins a damn good yarn. I think it helped that the women in the story weren’t so school marmy. These prostitutes were the straw that stirred this drink. And the acting was great, too. Morgan Freeman is wonderful, as always. And nobody plays a better more evil, more fun villain than Gene Hackman –see Bonnie and Clyde or, especially, his Lex Luther in the 1970’s era Superman. He won a best supporting actor Oscar for Unforgiven bravo, Gene!. So now there’s a western that I like. Thanks, Clint.

Also nominated in 1992: The Crying Game, A Few Good Men, Howards End (great movie), Scent of a Woman (winner of the Golden Globe for best picture that year. Snerk. Foreign press guys who rule the Golden Globes, you slay me.)

I also should take the time to thank Clint Eastwood for his marvelous Mission Ranch Inn in Carmel, California. We stayed there on our San Francisco trip about 3 summers ago. It’s a great place to take the kids. Old fashioned, rustic and beautiful. Great piano bar, too.

mission-ranch

In honor of our first Clint Eastwood best picture (Million Dollar Baby is coming up) we went with his old genre for dinner. The Spaghetti Western. And for dessert, in honor of the prostitutes, we had lemon and cranberry tarts.

Spaghetti Western

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
  • 3 slices smoky bacon, chopped
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 1 (14-ounce) can, chopped or crushed fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 (8-ounces) can, tomato sauce
  • 8 ounces sharp Cheddar
  • 4 scallions, chopped

Directions

Heat a pot of water to a boil. Add spaghetti and salt the water. Cook to al dente or with a bite to it.

Heat a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil and bacon. Brown and crisp bacon, 5 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon. Drain off a little excess fat if necessary. Leave just enough to coat the bottom of the skillet. Add beef and crumble it as it browns, 3 to 4 minutes. Add onions, garlic and stir into meat. Season the meat with salt and pepper, hot sauce and Worcestershire. Add 1/2 cup beer and deglaze the pan. Cook 5 to 6 minutes more then stir in tomatoes and tomato sauce.

Add hot spaghetti to meat and sauce and combine. Adjust seasonings and serve up pasta in shallow bowls. Grate some cheese over the pasta and sprinkle with scallions. Garnish with crisp bacon

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Baby, You Can Drive My Car……as long as you don’t go over the speed limit!…and, hey! watch out for that pothole!….that’s not the way to the Piggly Wiggly!

November 26, 2008

How would you like to look in your rear view window and see this face glaring at you?

driving-miss-daisy

Scary!

Ok, not really. It’s just that Jessica Tandy’s Daisy Werthen is a formidable old broad. Strong enough to usher an audience through 25 years or so of mid twentieth century American history. 1989’s best Driving Miss Daisy is just wonderful. Ms. Tandy and her chauffeur through all this history witnessing is the equally formidable Morgan Freeman. And I totally goofed in my last post with regards to no one being better than Dustin Hoffman–Morgan Freeman is just as good. Freeman’s a treasure. The thing that I love about this movie is that the plot is all this American history, so there really is no plot, it’s just life, which made it an extremely character rich movie. And what characters. My favorite part of this movie was when Daisy tells Hoke that Idella (Good Times‘ Esther Rolle) was lucky for dying. It was like an old persons’ secret handshake: they know what’s coming and they want it to be easy. I don’t blame them, growing old tends to suck.

Old, but not sucking: Jessica Tandy was the oldest actress to be nominated for an Oscar, and the oldest to win one. She was 80 years old at the time of the filming. She was also the last lead from the original Broadway cast of A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) to win an Academy Award (Karl Malden and Kim Hunter won their awards for the film version of Streetcar, Marlon Brando won his for On the Waterfront and The Godfather). It took her 42 years.

Driving Miss Daisy was nominated for 11 Academy Awards. And apparently this movie directed itself: Bruce Beresford, Daisy’s director was not nominated. Hell, even Dan Aykroyd got a nom for this movie. Oliver Stone got his second best director award for Born on the 4th of July. That talentless hack Beresford has apparently directed 6 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances. Sheesh , Academy Awards, way to mess things up.


For dinner we raided the pantry, borrowed a can of salmon, bought a new one from the Piggly Wiggly to replace it because we decided to go with fresh salmon:

Mustard Encrusted Salmon w/ green lentils (from the indispensable Balthazar coobook)

  • · 4 salmon fillets (about 6 oz each)
  • · 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • · ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • · ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • · 6 teaspoons dry bread crumbs
  • · 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to very hot (500 degrees)

Season the salmon fillets on both sides with salt and pepper. On the rounded side spread the mustard followed by a sprinkling of bread crumbs. Press the crumbs into the mustard. Beat a large ovenproof sauté pan over a high flame. Add the oil. When the oil begins to smoke add the salmon, mustard coated side of the fish down. Sear for 2 minutes, until the bread crumbs and mustard for a crust. Turn over and sear other side for 1 minute. Transfer the pan to the oven and finish cooking for about 3-4 minutes. Easy!

for the lentils

  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 slices of bacon, finely diced
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • ½ medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 cup chicken stock

Rinse the lentils and place them in a medium saucepan. Cover the lentils with 4 cups of water. Bring the water to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a small saucepan over a medium flame. Place the bacon and thyme in the hot pan and cook until some of the fat has rendered from the bacon (about 2 minutes). Next, add the onion, garlic and salt, and cook until the onion is translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the butter, carrot, celery, white pepper and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

Drain the lentils and return them to the saucepan you cooked them in. Add the bacon-vegetable mixture and simmer gently for 7 to 10 minutes, until the lentils are very tender.

and for dessert, we visited Miss Daisy at the home and had some Thanksgiving Pie (pumpkin pie). Timing is everything. Happy Thanksgiving:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 fl. oz.) condensed or evaporated milk
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  • Directions:
    MIX sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

    POUR into pie shell.

    BAKE in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.