Monday, January 19, 2015

Frugal cooking lessons

I have the day off due to the Martin Luther King holiday. Yay! It is below freezing now but later it is supposed to get up to 64 degrees, AND be sunny all day. Can't beat Georgia weather!

My neighbor who pastures her sheep in the field immediately adjacent to the side yard, said a momma sheep died, and had a baby lamb to take care of. She put a diaper on him and brought him inside the house. Bottle feeding every two hours ensued. Yesterday I heard her bring the lamb outside, its tiny baby bleat was so cute. When it warms up some later today I'll go outside looking for the little lamb. If he is amenable, lol, I'll take some pictures.

Yesterday I did my weekly cooking. It won't last me all week, it usually lasts till Thursdays, maybe Friday lunch if I stretch it. But the Sunday extravaganza comprises the bulk of dinners and lunches for the work-week. Where the prepared dishes fall short, sandwiches, fruit, or cereal fills in. I don't like to come home from 8 solid hours having run around on my feet to stand around in a kitchen. So I make several main dishes, side dishes, and desserts ahead. It also helps when I'm hungry, I'll eat what's made instead of eating something less healthy.

So this week I made:

MAIN DISHES
--Carrot-pumpkin-ginger soup
--Spinach-cheese quiche

SIDE DISHES
--roasted potatoes,
--roasted peppers/onions,
--roasted broccoli

DESSERT
--Pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins
--Banana-oatmeal chewy bars

FRUIT
I cut up three oranges that had been put on sale, for a citrus salad, and I also have mango, bananas, and a cantaloupe ripening for later in the week.

Why these dishes? To be frugal, you don't go to the store with a list of ingredients in order to cook certain dishes you want to make. You go to the store and see what's on sale, and THEN prepare your menu. Frozen carrots and frozen broccoli were on sale. At my local store the owners often gather overripe bananas, bag them, and sell 6-8 of them for 99 cents. And at the Dollar store, 30 oz cans of pumpkin were on sale for $1.50. I bought it all.

Not my soup but it looks like this
The frozen veggies and the pumpkin were fortuitous. I'd been to the grocery store last week and became a bit dispirited because the fresh veggies have gotten SO HIGH in price. The selection has been reduced, too. I really miss Bountiful Baskets. But enough of that, I'll drive myself crazy pining for a long-lost golden time of a plethora of fresh fruits and veggies via the now defunct food co-op.

In monthly budgeting, and I budget monthly because I get paid monthly, rent or mortgage should comprise no more than 25 to 30 percent of the net income. I live in a small place by choice, utilities are lower in a smaller place and it is easier to furnish and to maintain. My rent is very low but it's still 32% of my monthly net. It's one of the reasons I'm mindful of the grocery bill, make no stops in between the weekly shopping, and I am vigilant about using gas and heat and lights. If I can save on utilities I can overcome the 2% overage in rent. I don't like to skimp on food. Fresh, healthy food is important. I don't like to buy processed food or junk food, so again, committing to buy to fresh is important.

Monthly groceries should be about 12% of monthly net. I do spend about that much. So when veggies got so high I looked for an alternative. Doing without fruit and vegetables is not an option.

I've never been a fan of frozen vegetables, but for the first time I looked into their nutritive qualities. Apparently in some cases they can be more nutritious than fresh. Vegetables picked at the peak of freshness are then flash frozen, thus retaining nutrients. Fresh are picked prior to peak freshness in hope that continued ripening as it is transported to end destination. Here is a website explaining it:
While the first step of freezing vegetables—blanching them in hot water or steam to kill bacteria and arrest the action of food-degrading enzymes—causes some water-soluble nutrients like vitamin C and the B vitamins to break down or leach out, the subsequent flash-freeze locks the vegetables in a relatively nutrient-rich state.

On the other hand, fruits and vegetables destined to be shipped to the fresh-produce aisles around the country typically are picked before they are ripe, which gives them less time to develop a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Outward signs of ripening may still occur, but these vegetables will never have the same nutritive value as if they had been allowed to fully ripen on the vine. In addition, during the long haul from farm to fork, fresh fruits and vegetables are exposed to lots of heat and light, which degrade some nutrients, especially delicate vitamins like C and the B vitamin thiamin.

Bottom line: When vegetables are in-season, buy them fresh and ripe. “Off-season,” frozen vegetables will give you a high concentration of nutrients. Choose packages marked with a USDA “U.S. Fancy” shield, which designates produce of the best size, shape and color; vegetables of this standard also tend to be more nutrient-rich than the lower grades “U.S. No. 1” or “U.S. No. 2.” Eat them soon after purchase: over many months, nutrients in frozen vegetables do inevitably degrade. Finally, steam or microwave rather than boil your produce to minimize the loss of water-soluble vitamins.
Not my pumpkin muffins but they look like this

Hmmm. So when frozen vegetables went on sale I thought I'd try. I bought frozen carrots and broccoli. I decided to roast the broccoli, that was one way to get roasted veggies, which I love, and at the same time, cook out all the moisture.

The carrots became the soup. I sauteed onions and then dumped the frozen carrots right in the pot and cooked till they were soft and most of the moisture was gone. I knew I was going to puree them so any flaws in the carrots would be obliterated in the blender.

I learned that canned veggies lose a lot of their nutrients- except for two: pumpkin and tomatoes. With pumpkin, the canning process actually adds more beta carotene so the vegetable becomes more healthy. When I saw the 30 oz can of pumpkin on sale for $1.50, I immediately thought of several recipes- soup and two-ingredient muffins.

Two ingredient muffins (or cake) involves canned pumpkin and any boxed cake mix. Lots of people like spice cake mix with the pumpkin but I usually get yellow cake. Why? It's always on sale at the Dollar Store for $1.

So for $1.75 I can get 18 muffins. That's nine cents per muffin. I usually add a half a bag of chocolate chips so that brings the price per item to 13 cents per muffin. Still a lot better than 50 cents per muffin, or more if buying it out at a restaurant or drive thru. It goes without saying that eating out while on a budget is a no-no. It's wasted money.

If you have children, cooking all in a bunch saves time, prepares meals and snacks ahead which reduces spur-of-the-moment unwise purchases, and it also uses the oven more frugally.

If I look at my electricity bill I notice that weekend electrical use is assessed at a higher rate than weekdays. That's why the Electric Company always advises doing laundry or other high-electric use activities on the weekdays. I'm not going to cook at night after work, so since I choose the weekend I bunch up my cooking and stuff the oven to concentrate its use. At one point I had three pans of roasting veggies, a quiche, and the muffins in there.

My kitchen. Cute, isn't it!
It also concentrates my time. I only spent two hours doing it all at once. I went to church, came home and ate, watched a TV show, napped, and then at 5:00 I started cooking. By 7:00 I was done and eating a piece of quiche and side of roasted veggies for supper. While I was cooking I listened to music and a sermon. I didn't feel like a drudge nor put upon, it was relaxing. Cleanup happens all at once too, so I ate my supper at a clean kitchen table.

The key is to commit to it, forgo choosing recipes ahead of time, trusting yourself to creatively come up with dishes that use the items on sale, and be diligent to do it all at once.

Bon appetit!


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mushroom watering can





EPrata photos

Don't fall asleep too late or you'll be up all night

I had a good week, it was enjoyable at work. I was a bit tired when I got home though. I ended up napping for two hours, from 5:30-7:30. Of course that means I'm a tree full of owls now. (It's 12:30 AM on Friday night)

I have a sink full of dishes but I find it helps dampen the cringing guilt of not doing them if I simply DON'T LOOK.

I plan to sleep late on Saturday and then have a slow and relaxing day. Meals this upcoming week will be:

--Cream of Carrot soup
--Spinach-feta quiche
--Roasted potatoes
--Roasted peppers and onions
--Roasted broccoli
--Chewy banana bars

In between there'll be cantaloupe, citrus salad, a mango smoothie, etc. But my main meals and side dishes and dessert is listed above. I bought frozen broccoli and plan to roast that. I am going to try eating some frozen veggies because they are less expensive than fresh, yet are flash frozen at the peak of ripeness, retaining more nutrients. I don't like the sogginess of defrosted frozen veggies, but I think the roasting will remove the moisture and still give the broccoli piece that nice golden color and crunch. The cream of carrot soup likewise will be another experiment with frozen veggies.

I bake with bananas a lot because the local grocery store often packages overripe bananas into a bag and sells a bunch for 99 cents. This is handy.

I had thought all week that the Martin Luther King long weekend was next weekend. Imagine my joy when I discovered it's this weekend. I'll love Monday.

Another thing I love is Georgia. After a week of truly freezing temps, lows in the low teens and wind chills in the single digits, today after a black ice start it was almost 60 degrees and sunny, No-jacket weather at recess. Love it!

Gas is down to $1.88. My tank was 2/3 empty and it only cost me $20 to fill it up. Woot! I may be able to drive for recreation again.

A friend gave me an Amazon gift certificate for Christmas. Today I used part of it. I ordered Talbott Teas. A different friend had given me this new-to-me tea at Christmas, a sampler package. It is smooth and great tasting tea. I learned that Shane Talbott used to run a spa, and wanting to give his customers a refreshing and relaxing experience, he created a line of teas. The tea bar at his spa became very popular. In 2012 he appeared on Shark Tank, wanting to leave the spa behind and concentrate on tea. He won and his teas are going global. As they should, they're really good teas.

I also bought a box of thank you notes and two pairs of socks. I think I was absent the day the passed out the shopping gene to women, but trust me, I'm thrilled with the purchases. Wild with excitement.

Another friend gave me a subscription to a tea magazine. I am very much looking forward to its arrival.


Well I'm starting to get tired now so I think I'll turn in. Have a good weekend everyone.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Brr it's cold outside

We have had some severely cold weather this week. It's unpleasant. Severely cold weather for Georgia is single digits, whether wind chill or actual. Our low temp Thursday was 13 degrees and a wind chill of 9F. The rest of the time it's been below normal temps, with dark skies and/or rain.

Ice. EPrata photo

Brrr. A cold rain.

Still, there are bright spots. There are trees with leaves on them. I heard a Carolina wren yesterday, just beautiful with its rolling trill. The sun, when it is out, brightens blue skies to a startlingly clear degree. And the cold doesn't last. Tomorrow it will be 50 degrees again, and the same all week, albeit with rain. However on Friday it is supposed to be 58 with bright sun. So there you go.

OK< that was my pity party.

For lunches this week I made pea soup, salmon-quinoa patties, cut up a bunch of fruit, chilled hibiscus tea (it's really refreshing!) and for the first time, homemade granola/cereal.

It's so yummy!

My friend at school had given me a large tub of homemade granola. I love granola. I enjoy the crunchy texture and its versatility. It's good on fruit salad, in salads, and as a cereal. I asked her for the recipe and it is from "100 Days of Real Food." It's a food website dedicated to showing the good effects of not eating processed food, something I am totally on board with.

The recipe couldn't be easier to make. It is a bit expensive though, at least compared to a Dollar General huge box of corn flakes. But as my friend says 'healthy food costs money.' The recipe is here.

Cooking it not one of my strong points. I usually leave out an ingredient, leave the kitchen and get involved with something else and burn it, or just go fast to get done. I've tried several times to master pancakes but I can't seem to do it. I know, I know, pancakes are easy! Not for me.

I found a good recipe, gathered all the ingredients, and focused. I mixed and sifted and sizzled the griddle. I poured, and they were paper thin and rubber. What did I do? or not do? Forget the baking powder. Oy. I think I have to give up and switch to French Toast for my weekend brunches.

My omelet came out pretty good though. The photo doesn't do it justice. It has slightly crunchy edges and a soft middle. It's filled with spinach and Feta cheese. It is one egg plus milk. I think I'm successful with omelets and frittatas because they are better left alone.


Monday we went back to school after the long Christmas break. No kids Monday, but in they flooded Tuesday through Friday. They'd grown like weeds and burbled about their vacation and gifts and Santa. They were so cute! I really missed them.

I watched a great documentary over vacation, Muscle Shoals." It's the story of Rick Hall and his famous recording studio he founded in an out of the way place, northeastern Alabama. I also have clued in to a great TV series. It's from the Brits, who really know how to do TV. It's called "New Tricks". After a mishap on a SWAT raid, a 50-ish female police superintendent is removed from the fast promotion track and put in a new initiative, the Unsolved, Open case files and given a desk in the basement. She is given retired policemen to work with who retired before computers and who used to solve cases the old fashioned way, three old dogs. Hence the title, "New Tricks".

It's an interesting show, with a good handling of the unfolding of the cases i.e. in a way I can understand and keep up, lol,  humor, and no grisly stuff. It is case driven (procedural) and character driven, with funny dialog and quick wit. I like it because all the people in it are old(er), like me. Best of all, it's been on for ten years, so I have a few episodes to get through before my inevitable plummet into despair that I'll never find another good show. (Their seasons lasted only 7 episodes though).

I'm going to have a mug of pea soup and a garlic breadstick for lunch and then retire to the couch to finish my book. Have a good Sunday everyone.


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year

2014 was a good year, a regular year. At the end, my father died. That wasn't regular. We weren't close. That wasn't regular either. Oh well. I hadn't seen him in 8 years, and not for many years before that. But it's still hard to know that he isn't just distant, but forever gone.

Last January a third cat adopted me. I wasn't looking for another cat. I was very happy with two older cats. But the kitten was gong to die out there in the frozen cold, so...He's inside now and very loving and sweet. Murray. He only jumps on Luke's head sometimes.



Otherwise, it was a year that clicked along normally, albeit on the school calendar and not the calendar calendar. I love the school calendar year. (As an expatriate New Englander, an Aug to May school year just wrong. The school year should be September to June. But I digress). I love my job. In 2014 I went to work, went to church, went out a (very) few times with friends. I read books and wrote my 3,026th blog essay and adjusted to the changing seasons, and all the normal things. It's a normal life. A quiet life.

A few weeks ago I slipped in a large puddle inside a classroom, from a heretofore unknown roof leak. I was be-bopping pretty fast, and went down like a cartoon character, feet in the air and hit hard with stars rotating around my head. I was sent to the doctor, and he took an X-ray. Thankfully no bones were broken, just severely bruised, but he said, "You have quite a bit of arthritis in your knees. You probably knew that."

No. No I didn't know that. I didn't WANT to know that. See? This is why I don't like going to the doctor. Now I'll just fixate on my hurting knees, where before they felt fine.

Today was the first time Murray the new kitten sought cuddling. He'd cuddle before, but only for a few moments. Today he asked several times, persistently like cats do, and snuggled deep and purred. Welcome home Murray! You're finally a house cat.


This evening a friend stopped over and dropped off a gift basket, containing a new mug with tea, biscotti, and hot chocolate. Best of all we chatted in the driveway (her kids were in the car so she couldn't come in) and we laughed. It felt good to laugh. It is so nice to have friends. I am very, VERY blessed.

I learned how to do that HDR kind of color splash thing. See?

EPrata photo
That's my New Year's Resolution.

Happy New Year everyone.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

After almost a week of sopping, cold rain, the day dawned bright and clear. I'm glad for the people who have to travel. I am only going a mile down the road, to have Christmas supper with friends later.

Meanwhile, I've been playing with my photo editing software. I am making collages, and I am also experimenting with color splash. In Color splash, it strips the photo of color, except for the one spot the editor wants to splash back in. Here are the results of some of the splashes and collages.


In splash, I discovered, the key is to find one large graphic that is colorful. Most of my bird photos are of brown birds so when stripping the photo of extraneous color and adding back in the black or brown, it doesn't make for too much of a splash, lol. Here is one bird photo I'd had that was colorful. Kind of.

In the photo below, I snapped it at Campobello in New Brunswick Canada. It is of a pitcher plant, (a carnivorous plant like the Venus flytrap) and the surrounding color was various shades of green. I stripped the green and added back the plant's natural red.


In these collages, I know I went overboard with adding elements, but I am a child of a first camera being old Olympus with the 1940s huge flash bulbs and using 35 mm film, then waiting a week for your developed photos to come back. Being of an age to see the entry of digital photography into the world and then the added bonus of free photo editing software has simply made me giddy with delight.

In the photo below I began with a picture of the moon.


Then I added stuff. The butterfly is my photo too.


The "If not us..." will become a series on my other blog. The quote refers to Christians who are called to witness and testify to the power of a risen Christ.

In this next collage, I started with a photo of heather, a weed that grows around here.


Then I added stuff. I was reminded of the verse about the wheat and the tares, or the seed that falls on the weed.


I have lots and LOTS of photos of boats. These are both from Lubec Maine, bordering Canada. The natural slate gray of the water and the brown of the dock made it easy to strip the color, retaining the already existing blue on both boats



So that is some of the fun I am having today.

Last night was quiet. A friend stopped over and we visited and had Christmas cookies and tea. Then I watched documentaries and then listened to Louis Prima for a while. Right now I'm going to get dressed and take a walk in the sunshine. With my camera of course ;)

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My father's obituary: John B. Prata Jr.


PRATA, JOHN B. JR. of North Kingstown and Naples, FL passed away on December 15, 2014 at 12:15pm. He was the loving husband of Raisa E. Prata with whom he had resided for 16 years. Born in Providence, he was the son of the late John and Yolanda (Bernardoni) Prata.

Besides his wife, he is survived by his three children: Elizabeth of Georgia, Christopher (Sharon) of RI and Jessica (Stephen) Ph.D. Miller of Maine and two grandchildren. He also leaves three sisters: Norma Prata of Providence, Lorraine (Raymond) Tortolani of Florida, Janet Msumba of Massachusetts, two grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.

John was graduated from Classical High School, class of 1951, and the University of RI in 1954, with a degree in Accounting and Economics. He was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity where he served as Secretary and Treasurer.

He entered the Navy Officer Candidate School and was commissioned an Ensign in May, 1955. John served aboard the USS Estes out of San Diego and participated in Operation Redwing in the Marshall Islands, Redwing being the hydrogen bomb tests at Bikini and Enewetok atolls. He later served at Quonset Point where he was the Paymaster.

USS Estes
Redwing: "Erie", Runit Island, Enewetak Atoll, 1956
Upon separation from active duty John entered the New England Institute of Anatomy in Boston where he received a diploma in embalming in June 1959. He was elected President and graduated first in his class. He entered the family business where he served his apprenticeship and earned titles of Registered Embalmer and Licensed Funeral Director. During his tenure at Prata Funeral Homes John was elected President and Treasurer, eventually expanding the business from four funeral homes to nine, becoming the largest Funeral Service firm in RI. He was also President and Treasurer of the New England Soliciting Co. and The Merritt Co., both being burial insurance firms. He also founded Westminster Memorials, Inc. a cemetery monument company.

In 1972 John founded J. B. Prata, Ltd. a coater of adhesive tapes and printer labels, marketing its products throughout the U.S., Europe and South America. In 1964 he entered politics in East Greenwich as a member of the East Greenwich Republican Town Committee. He ran for and was elected a member of the Town Council in 1966 and was re-elected in 1968 serving as Vice President of the Council. In 1972 he was elected Chairman of the Republic Town Committee. With quality candidates and outstanding efforts by Committee members, all 20 of the contested positions were won by Republicans, a first in everyone's memory.

He also served as President of the East Greenwich Jaycees, founded the Golden Agers Club, was a founding member of Save the Bay, and a founder and officer of The Greenwich Club. Online condolences may be made at www.fullernaples.com

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas vacation started yesterday at 2:30

Today was the first day of Christmas vacation. Phew. Working in school is great, and being stationed in the kindergarten wing is the best, if you ask me. Except perhaps, the excitement the week before Christmas break. It all gets to be a little much, lol. The kids are wildly excited and as Friday nears they can barely think straight. It truly, truly is like herding cats.

Our state is being hit hard with flu, extra quickly and extra severely.

Center for Disease Control
These last ten weekdays we had many children out with the flu and many staff as well. At one point with three kindergarten classes, we had only about 10 kids in each class, or nearly a 50% absentee rate in our wing. Other grades were not so hard hit. The little ones don't seem to take the no nose-picking, no uncovered sneezes, no uncovered coughing as seriously. Germs spread fast. I'm glad vacation came now so that we can all clear to personal home corners and stop the contagion.

Today I slept until 7:00 am, late for me. I enjoyed leisurely coffee, watched the last two episodes of the British detective show "Broadchurch." Then I had a nice brunch and then went back to bed at 10:00 until noon.

When I awoke I decided to finally clean out the fridge and do the dishes. When I'd completed that long-overdue task, I processed fruit. I'd bought a pineapple, half-cantaloupe, mangoes, and grapefruits several days ago. Unprocessed fruit does not do my body one bit of good so I spent a while chopping and peeling. If it is ready in the fridge, I'll eat it. I hate to see unpeeled fruit go to waste. Now I have chopped up and cleaned fruit to throw in the delicious homemade granola my friend gave me for my birthday. I also roasted potatoes, broccoli, and processed a bunch of jalapeno peppers and roasted them too. A friend gave me some of her fresh eggs for a Christmas present so I boiled four eggs to be ready to put into spinach salads this week. All that took me several hours.

The afternoon was filled with bible study, and also learning how to use the new bible study software I'd bought. I studied the Sunday School lesson, and I wrote a blog entry at the other blog, ("The Way of Balaam"). Then the evening was for dinner (ham sandwich and roasted potatoes and broccoli) and playing with photos. I experimented with layering and making a collage out of one of my pictures. I'd taken a shot of the full moon last week, and I used a lasso tool to make a cutout of a butterfly photo I had. I opened Pixlr to layer with the items they have on their photo editing software. It's harder than it looks, but here is what I came up with-

We go back to school January 5 and the kids return January 6. I'm looking forward to more study, more reading, more learning how to make art out of my photos, more cooking, and more tv and movie watching. I like the hermitage here, and I don't plan any social activities.

Except for church. And speaking of that, I better get to bed so I'll awaken fresh and ready to worship tomorrow, this last Sunday before the birth of our Savior.

Vacation is here and it just feels so good!!


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Fresh bread and staying in

I'm still in my pajamas. I'm savoring every last moment of school break.

In my defense, I was making bread in the machine and I didn't want to leave the house until it was finished. A safety precaution, not leaving the apartment with electrical appliances running.

Now I'm waiting for the bread to cool for ten minutes, so I can slide it out of the pan. But then I'll need to wait another thirty minutes to slice it so I can taste and see if the switch to different ingredients improved it any.

After that I'll be guessing I'll need to wait until the carb coma nap has passed. But then it will be dark and I won't want to go out anyway. If you give a mouse a cookie...

I'll probably go out, really. I need to use my $5 off coupon from the Dollar Store and I definitely need some groceries. I don't have the ingredients to make pea soup, and what would the start of my winter week at work be with no soup??

screen grab
I watched an independent documentary last night, "The NY Pizza Confessions." It was an OK movie, consisting of mostly stopping people on the streets of NY to ask them their opinion about pizza. Only one guy, a recent immigrant, said he did not like it. But he said he DID like the fact that New York is exactly the same as in the movies.

One gal who was pretty expressive, said that getting a slice last thing at night after a hard day, is like putting a pillow inside of you. Right on, sister.

One guy who was stopped on the street gave his answer to the pizza question, then said like a typical New Yorker, "Um, I don't want to be offensive...but...you're doing it wrong." The cameraman laughed and said "Is that right? Would you like to try?" And the New Yorker said, "Yes!" He took the microphone and put on the headphones and walked up and down the street interviewing people for a long time, lol.

There was a very affecting and poignant interview with a homeless man. Apparently there is one spot down near the wharves where you can get a slice for a dollar. The homeless and migrants panhandle for change until they accumulate enough, then they buy a slice. And then start all over.

This man the crawl said was "Al Carpenter" spoke poignantly of life on the streets. Of trying to get people's attention who studiously look the other way, of the reduction in spirit until crime is the only way to stay alive, of all the people passing him, have a home to go to. A place where they put a key in. He spoke of loneliness. He was sad but didn't appear to be bitter, just a lost soul on the streets. It was the best part of the movie.

But then a while later he appeared again in the movie and this time his language, previously clean, was foul to the max and he was angry. Spittingly, gesticulatingly angry. Perhaps the man is schizophrenic, or perhaps simply focusing on his life to a stranger roused long suppressed emotions. I don't know.

Now here is definitely a good thing to think about. One man who was interviewed ran a pizza condiment company. You know at McDonald's you get packets of sugar or salt or pepper and they're in paper packets? This is the same, except they're strictly for pizza. The Red Pepper pack, or the Parmesan pack, or the Oregano Pack...the man said that the most unsanitary thing in a pizza parlor is the cheese shaker. People who use the bathroom and don't wash their hands use the shaker. People who cough into their hands use the cheese shaker. And then you use it and touch your pizza with those same hands. Ewwww. He has a great point.

It was a movie about pizza, why we like it, what we like on it, how to eat it, and what it represents (the more philosophical interviewees opined.)

It's warmed up here. I suppose I ought to go out and be a productive citizen and do my chores. Let me think about it for a while...while I finish my tea...



Thursday, November 27, 2014

Best Food Movies!

Now that I've recovered from my turkey-stuffing-green beans-sweet potatoes-cranberry-roll-apple spice cake Thanksgiving dinner, and the obligatory leftovers of turkey-cranberry sandwich on toasted rye with sweet potatoes on the side, let's discuss the best food movies ever!

I blogged about Jiro Dreams of Sushi at my other blog, from a Christian perspective. But if you want to every detail of sushi from the buying to the preparing to the eating, and see a lovely, incredible art form of making sushi at its world highest level, this movie is for you. You WILL be hungry for sushi after.

Babette's Feast. (In Dutch with subtitles) I saw this when it first came out in 1987. It is so hard to believe it has been that long. Sigh. Anyway, it is an amazing movie. As Epicurious.com describes the film:
Almost a quarter-century after the film's release, the culminating scene of this quietly urgent Danish drama still stands as the most beautifully rendered depiction of a lavish meal ever committed to celluloid. But it's not just spectacle for spectacle's sake: The triumphant banquet sequence also communicates volumes about the movie's central theme, the eternal tug-of-war between self-denial and sensual gratification.

Big Night: two Italian brothers in 1950s NJ run a restaurant that's failing. The elder brother (Tony Shaloub) mourns that the locals do not appreciate his delicate touch, while the younger (Stanley Tucci) persistently trues to convince his brother to try new approaches. They pin their last hopes on cooking for Louis Prima.

Kings of Pastry: once every four years French pastry competition. Lovely artistic sugar creations! Coupled with the drama and heartbreak of competition. It's gripping and absorbing...and beautiful.

The Moo Man- Yes, it is about milk. Wikipedia, "The film focusses on a small dairy farm run by Steve Hook, which produces and sells raw, unpasteurised organic milk. Near Hailsham, Sussex, Longleys Farm is situated on the Pevensey Levels. The farm was started by Steve's father Phil, who is still involved in the business, and who also features in the film, along with Steve's wife and four children. The film covers Steve's struggles to keep the 55-head-herd farm afloat in the face of the power of the supermarkets, and shows his close relationship with his cows, especially Ida, a 12-year-old Friesian. The documentary was filmed over four years." It sounds boring. It isn't.

Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers: documentary is an ode to "the stinking rose". As the reviewer in IMDBcom said, "This is a very good movie about garlic with shots from the Gilroy Garlic Festival and lots of good information about cooking with garlic from some of the best cooks in the SF Bay Area. I view this as a comprehensive guide to garlic provided in a very entertaining fashion. "

The Restauranteur: IMDB, "A film about the grueling construction of not one but two world class restaurants. We follow Danny Meyer, arguably the most successful restaurateur in America. Our cameras follow the creation of Eleven Madison Park and Tabla during the hellish eleven month construction process. Meyer imparts his business and restaurant philosophy while trying to keep his cool. Jumping back to the future, 2009, we learn how the restaurants have evolved, EMP receiving a coveted four stars by The New York Times. The title card sparked cheers in the audience at The Sonoma Film Festival, where the film was awarded Best Documentary - Food." It's really fascinating to get an insider view of what it's like to build and maintain a restaurant, and the restaurateur's philosophy of the food/dining experience. Look for a young Tom Colicchio- with hair.

Other films with food as an important plot point but not about food per se are Mystic Pizza with a young Julia Roberts and Bagdad Cafe with CCH Pounder, Jack Palance and Marianne S├Ągebrecht. For sheer quirk-to-food information ratio, you can't beat either of those movies.

TV show- The Supersizers Go... A BBC production of food history in Britain. Restaurant critic Giles Coren and comedian Sue Perkins live and eat their way through the cuisine of six different eras in Britain's history. The duo are seen by a doctor prior, then they eat, live, and dress as if they were actually living in the era (Edwardian, Restoration, WWII, Elizabethan, 1970s, and Regency. My favorite episodes were the 70s and Wartime (WWII). After ward they are seen by a doctor again and some of the eras provide surprising results as to how healthy or unhealthy their diet was. The Restoration era offered some truly sickening food but it was normal to the people living at the time. I mean, Lamb's face?  And worse. They pair gamely eat all of it. Extremely interesting, and also very entertaining!