Penultimate is one of my favorite words. A lot of people think it means even more than ultimate. I cannot tell you how much I hate that. Penultimate means next to last. And next to last is, unbelievably, where we’re at. Well, for now.
No Country For Old Men, 2007’s best picture is a product of this country’s best filmmakers: The Coen brothers. Joel and Ethan Coen can make movies that make you laugh, cry, wince, and pretty much everything else. They are brilliant writers, just brilliant and even better directors; there’s never a false note in their movies: Actors must love them to pieces and the Coens were long overdue for a best picture Oscar. Fargo, have you seen Fargo? Best movie ever. Well, okay maybe best movie of the last 15 years.
No Country for Old Men is a tough movie: violent, terse, tense. Scary. Bleak. There is no one here you really like. I remember when we saw this movie at the show (Chicago vernacular, sorry) and I just cringed when Javier Bardem’s character (Anton) would come on screen, because I knew he was up to something bad and that violence would ensue. And I hate violence. But No Country is a good story, well told with great actors. Javier Bardem deserved his supporting Oscar just for the frightening hairstyle. But Jim and I both agree, even though I think it’s still a little early to really make this judgement, that There Will Be Blood would have been a better pick for 2007. And we could’ve had milkshakes. And, but, plus that little plucky movie Juno would have been fun, too.
Perhaps this skit from SNL will help you decide. Bill Hader’s Daniel Day Lewis is spot on.
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For dinner we went with a tex/mex theme. And for this recipe the cola we used was Mexican Coca-Cola. No stinkin’ high fructose corn syrup for these gringos, no sirree. They use the real thing. Chigurh, I mean sugar.
Jim made a lovely skirt steak taco courtesy of Rachael Ray.
- 1/2 cup cola
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Juice of 2 limes, plus lime wedges for serving
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 pound skirt steak, cut into 4 portions
- 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
- 2 jalapeño chiles, finely chopped
- 8 crisp taco shells
- 2 cups shredded slaw mix (from a 1-pound bag)
- 1 avocado, cut into 8 lengthwise slices
- In a resealable plastic bag, combine the cola, olive oil, 2 tablespoons lime juice, the chili powder and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Add the steak and let marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
- In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapeños and remaining lime juice; season with salt.
- Preheat a grill or grill pan to high. Grill the steak, turning once, about 15 minutes for medium-rare; let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak against the grain and toss with the tomato salsa. Fill each taco shell with some slaw mix, an avocado slice and steak with salsa. Serve with the lime wedges.
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup canola or other vegetable oil
- 1 cup water
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease and flour a 13x9x2-inch baking pan.Sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda and cinnamon, and set aside.
Stir together the remaining ingredients.
Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, stirring until you have a smooth, rather thin batter.
Pour into your prepared pan, and bake at 400°F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting.
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk (whole, 2% or skim – doesn’t matter)
- 1/4 cup cocoa
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 pound confectioners sugar, sifted (about 4 cups)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped pecans
Mix the milk and cocoa in a heavy saucepan (stir, stir, stir). Add the butter and, over medium heat, stir until the butter melts. Remove from heat and gradually stir in the sugar and vanilla until smooth. Add the pecans.When the cake is just out of the oven, spread the frosting evenly on the hot cake.
Being a chocolate freak, I use just a half-teaspoon of cinnamon in this cake. I want the cinnamon flavor to come through, but I don’t want it to overpower the chocolate.
If buttermilk is not a staple item at your house, this is a good recipe in which to use dry buttermilk. For a product review, see Dry Buttermilk.
If you aren’t sure about your oven, you can test it with one of those little dime store oven thermometers. With its comparatively thin batter, Texas Sheet Cake requires every bit of the 400° heat in your oven, if it’s going to get done in 20 to 25 minutes.
One more to go. Crap.