"Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit." Elbert Hubbard

Monday, July 19, 2010

Motion Pictures and Memories of my Father

Yeah I know, that's an old term that no one uses anymore. I just love the sound of it. Also the way it's called the cinema in England. It just gives film that special something that the term movies doesn't have in my mind. As noted in my profile, I'm a film snob. Why? Frankly I consider most contemporary stuff to be absolute crap. An insult to the intelligence of the film-going audience.

One of the things I do miss about living in Noo Yawk is the fact that there were alternatives to the latest dreck at the monsterplex. Theaters such as the Film Forum and the Angelika are amongst my favorites. Foreign films, revivals, limited release "arthouse", you name it. Anything but the latest "I saw what you screamed at the final destination last summer IV" garbage.

I can remember seeing William Castle's classics, House on Haunted Hill, 13 Ghosts and The Tingler shown as they were originally screened with the gimmicks Castle added to make it an interactive experience. A rare film geek pleasure it was. I even have a vague memory of my father telling me about seeing House on Haunted Hill and 13 Ghosts when they originally ran in theaters.

My father was a fan of classic horror films and he passed that on to me. Some of my childhood's most treasured memories are of watching the classics on an old black & white television set with him. Creature Features and Chiller Theatre were what I grew up on and I don't believe my mother approved of such material at my tender age. In fact my father used to wait until mom, who worked overnights, left for her commute to Manhattan before waking me up to watch whatever was on that night. Of course dad also allowed me to do other things mom didn't approve of either such as a cup of coffee to start my day before getting on the bus to kindergarden.

We also shared going to see films too and I can remember some of them such as Yellow Submarine (which was way over my head at four years old), The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Valdez Is Coming, Farewell, My Lovely, and The Wind and the Lion. I begged him to take me to see The House That Dripped Blood and spent the entire film hiding my face in the seatback in front of me as I was terrified out of my six year old mind by the vampire in the film. We stayed for the entire film. Not sure if it was because my father was enjoying it or he was too busy laughing at my reaction. I do know it was a long time before I asked him to take me to a film like that again.

Nowadays I'll watch these films, especially the horror classics with a sense of nostalgia and longing. For the experience of sitting there in the darkened theater or our living room with the lights turned off and sharing the enjoyment of it all with my father. One of those things that was just between us. Everytime I watch one, I think of him and how I wish he was still sitting there beside me. Somehow I think he is.

I can't forget mom though. She took me to films on the opposite side of the spectrum such as The Adventures of the Wilderness Family and The Goodbye Girl. Of course there was the time that my sister Linda was home from college and the three of us went to see Blazing Saddles. My mother was mortified if I remember correctly and said something to my sister about such a film for a ten year old (me). But then Linda was the one who unwittingly turned me on to Monty Python's Flying Circus. It was late one night in our living room and we were watching PBS. Even at such a young age I found the show hilarious.

Once I did watch a horror film with my mother. I was up late one summer night, watching television in the dining room when mom came out to see what I was doing. Somehow I convinced her to sit and watch The Comedy of Terrors with me. Mom said that she couldn't believe I got her to watch this "silly" film but laughing and enjoying herself as she said it.

Here for your viewing pleasure, are some films that I highly recommend if you've never seen them.
1.Mister Roberts (1955)
2.The Thin Man (1934)
3.The Night of the Hunter (1955)
4.The Mind of Mr. Soames (1970)
5.The Getaway (1972)
6.The City of Lost Children (1995)
7.Key Largo (1948)
8.The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)
9.Paint Your Wagon (1969)
10.The Anniversary (1968)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fresh goodies from the oven, Part 2

Honey almond bars-These are a crowd pleaser. Simple and delicious but not too sweet. I've made this with all three varieties of honey from Uriah Creek Apiaries and been very pleased with the results. You can taste the subtle difference in flavor and it's wonderful.

This the first batch I made, following the recipe to the letter. Since then I no longer put the icing on them, they're just too good by themselves. The honey does it without needing any other flavors to distract from the simple combination with the almonds and cinnamon.

Raspberry peach bread-I throughly enjoy making seasonal quickbreads and this was my first try at this combination. Very well received but next time I'm dicing the peaches instead of being lazy and just slicing them.

Blueberry peach bread-I made this at the same time as the raspberry to start off my spring season baking. I try to use local ingredients as much as possible and go with the seasons.

Forest fruit bread- I call it this because saying blueberry strawberry raspberry bread is just too long. I love the base recipe for this quickbread because it's only limited by my tastes and imagination. In the fall and early winter I make it with apples and cranberries, by themselves or combined. I've also made this in a pineapple coconut combination. I expect to try my hand at a version of this, come autumn, with fresh pumpkin from the garden of my friends Rob and Mary.

I've gone over to using local, seasonal, and organic ingredients as much as possible. It only makes sense to me to follow the rhythm of the seasons, support local farmers, and stop putting unnatural chemicals into the earth. Not trying to change the world, just how my behaviour affects it. I'm a part of the cycle of life on this planet and need to act accordingly.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fresh goodies from the oven

I've waxed lyrical about my baking, but never actually posted what I make. Here is some of what I've been bringing forth from my oven this season.

Pineapple cookies-I'll have to go back and try this again. They came out more like biscuits in smell, taste, and texture. Not a problem in itself but not "pineappley" enough. If I can get this recipe to work to my satisfaction, I will experiment with pineapple coconut cookies.

White chocolate macadamia coconut cookies-No need to change this recipe, they were a hit the first time around. I brought a few dozen to a friend's barbeque and there were no leftovers for my friend to enjoy. I used a tool called a cookie scoop and they came out perfectly uniform in size, allowing me to get a dozen more than the recipe said it would make.

Blueberry buckle-A "buckle" is a berry filled, single layer cake with a streusel topping. It's not a cobbler which it is sometimes confused with. Another first time hit, the only changes I'd make to this would be how many varieties I could make. Strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, etc.

Molasses cake-Good but it needs something. I'm trying this one again with raisins and a cream cheese based icing like you would find on a carrot cake.

Fruit filled oatmeal bars-Another first time favorite, this one is with cherry pie filling. I'll be doing this again with apple, blueberry, and peach. I went lazy on this and used canned pie filling. Eventually I will be making my own, just not yet.

I've got a few more recipes to show off but that's for the next posting. Need to get off my lazy ass and not go weeks between posts. I apologize to you my dear readers.