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2Well the Oscars are in the bag, a Gucci bag I’m sure. Last night was as usual a star filled performance. So many awards shows fill the air this time of year by the time the Oscars show up I am somewhat award show weary. Weary or not, however, I still tune in as I do every year. Not only to see which movie, song, director, etc. gets the nod, but to see the impeccably made up faces, perfectly styled hair and lovely fashions that make the show a much watched event. Sometimes the outfits that show up on the red carpet have me wondering if the wearer is devoid of mirrors in their home. Best dressed or worst they’re always interesting to be on the sidelines for. Surely I have missed my chance to ever wear a $60,000 dress accessorized by $1,000,000 worth of jewelry. Looking back I don’t think I missed my chance, rather it never presented itself.

Many of the movies nominated I have yet to see. Arrival is the only one I can check off the list. Interesting movie. Though the story line kept me involved beginning to end, as the credits ran I was scratching my head wondering what it was I’d just seen. Apparently I’m not alone. A movie reviewer during a critique of the movie said he had to see it several times to get the jist of the film, and still wasn’t sure he’d gotten it right.

I rather enjoy alien movies and I don’t mind a little horror now and again. There are so many gruesome horror films in the theaters of late. Not my favorite. Too much gore or weirdness such as films like Hellraiser, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Pumpkinhead leave me checking my door locks for weeks and silently screaming in my sleep. I prefer a gentler scare, if you will, along the lines of Alien, Contact, Poltergeist or Silver Bullet. Still scary, but not life altering.

La La Land is one film I am looking forward to purchasing a ticket for. Rick, most probably, will not be my date. Rick is more of an action movie or science fiction kind of guy. Guns, detectives, fast-moving cars and cyborgs are right up his alley. Thankfully, I enjoy those types of movies as well (though you can leave the cyborgs at home) or we’d always end up sitting in two separate theaters on date night. Action movies rank among my favorite fare. I remember seeing Bullitt for the first time. According to many critics the footage of Bullitt contains one of the best chase scenes ever filmed. The movie started out running and kept up the frantic pace until the final scene was over. Being young and stupid we choose the movie’s debut week to go and see it. By the time our group of six arrived at the theater long lines had already formed beyond the ticket booth. Wanting to sit together, we were told the front row of the theater was to be our only choice. Fine. To say it was slightly loud would be like saying the Pope is slightly Catholic. As it turned out the volume was not to be our main problem, viewing a movie of that type from that angle was going to be the main problem. Literally during that chase scene through San Francisco it felt as if we were going to exit the theater with tire prints stretched across our faces. Sometimes I had to close my eyes to keep myself rooted in my seat.

My favorite movie genre truly is comedy. Not many great ones are being produced these days. I miss the  older comedies with great comedic men such as Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, John Candy, Chevy Chase, Dan Ackaroyd and Robin Williams. The women back then were standouts as well as far as I’m concerned. Doris Day got things kick started in the 60’s and Goldie Hawn, Gilda Radner, Julia Roberts and a host (or hostess) of others carried the baton down through the decades to follow. The last “laugh out loud” movie I saw was Heat with Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock. I keep hoping to see a new crop of gifted comic actors showing up but as yet a good split your gut comedy seems to remain out of my reach.

Jimmy Kimmel stepped into the host shoes easily I thought. My favorite part of the night was when he brought a group of unsuspecting tourists into room. Imagine finding yourself in the middle of the Oscars after getting off your bus for a scheduled stop. Hilarious.

As usual there were unexpected moments. Perhaps the most notable was when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway inadvertently called out La La Land as Best Picture when actually Moonlight had taken home the gold. No small boo-boo that. Someone’s head will be lying across the chopping block I would imagine. Not the stars fault. A case of the wrong card in the wrong envelope at the wrong moment . I’m sure for the La La Land group felt like being thrown in ice water after a warm bath but with live television anything can happen and often does.

All in all another great Hollywood moment put to bed. Thank heavens for movies to take our minds off the unsettling world swirling about us. I was so sorry to hear that Bill Paxton unexpectedly passed at 61. So many fine actors lost last year.

I couldn’t take a picture that seemed to do this flavorful sandwich justice. Pretty or not it delivers on taste. Yum.

Shredded Beef with Horseradish Cheese and Cole Slaw

1 onion sliced
1 4 lb. chuck roast
1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2-1 tsp. red pepper flakes
4 garlic cloves minced
1 1/2 cups beef broth
4 slices Horseradish cheese
4 Kaiser rolls, halved

Spray 6 quart crockpot with cooking spray. Place onion slices on bottom of cooker. Whisk together salt, pepper, basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and red pepper flakes. Rub into all sides of roast. Place roast on top of onion and sprinkle with garlic cloves. Pour broth in pot. Cook on low for 10 hours. Shred pork with forks removing any fatty sections. Return to liquid in pot and continue cooking for 1 hour.

Preheat broiler. Place Kaiser rolls cut side up under broiler and cook until deep golden brown. Take tops out and keep warm. Place 1 slice of cheese on each of the bottom halves and return to broiler until cheese is bubbly and light brown.

Remove meat with slotted spoon from crockpot reserving liquid. Pile meat on the bottom of each roll. Take roll tops and dip face down in liquid. Serve with cole slaw either on top or on the side.

Cole Slaw

1/3 Cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 Cup milk
1/2 Cup mayonnaise
1/4 Cup buttermilk
1 1/2 T white vinegar
2 1/2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 Pkg finely shredded cole slaw mix

Whisk the dressing ingredients together and refrigerate. About an hour before serving toss dressing with chopped onion and coleslaw mix. Serve chilled.

Serves 4

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Last night was one of those odd sleep nights, mainly because I did not participate in any of it, sleep, that is. Not being an expert on the subject, I would deduce that having a lot on my mind when I went to bed, my mind just chose to process all those bits and pieces rather than just say goodnight like a normal brain.

Around two, with my other half snoring peacefully on his side of the bed, the large white cat on his chest moving up and down as he did, I gave up the fight and got up. At that time in the morning the choices for activities are somewhat more limited than during the day. I made a pot of coffee and turned on the TV. On the first channel that popped up an ad pitchman was touting the amazing characteristics of a mega food processor, which, according to the testimonials, was imbued with enough power to puree an entire water buffalo in less than ten seconds. Resisting the urge to pull out my credit card, and bearing in mind my already strained freezer space, I picked up the remote and indulged in a little channel surfing. With my other half asleep, there was no need to negotiate soccer, football, or chick movie. I had the power.

I don’t watch a lot of television. It’s on quite often, but for the most part I never actually see the programs. Being a very active person most of the day by the time I sit down and become interested in something I fall asleep. After looking through the offerings, I found several, of what I call the “new Christmas movies”. Is it my imagination or do they all seem to have been created by the same writer, based on the same three plots, and take place in the same small town? What happened to Miracle on 34th Street, and The Bishop’s Wife (the original with Cary Grant)? I instead settled on Shadowlands with Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. A chick movie I had not seen before.

Shadowlands is the story of two writers, one of which has a terminal illness. After seeing Deborah Winger’s previous movies, there’s no need to guess which of the two actors isn’t doing well. To say this movie requires an entire box of Kleenex, and possibly a grief consulting session following the credits, would be an understatement. Understand I tend to be an empathetic person. If I kill an ant, I sent a note of condolence to the family. By the time this movie was over, I had enough wadded tissue on my lap to make an afghan.

Anthony Hopkins was wonderful, as always. He brings such depth to his characters, and feeling. To excel at such a level at what you obviously love to do, must be gratifying at the very least, and downright heady at best. Although I love to emote, I’ve never had the urge to do it on stage. For me, it’s telling my Susie stories at the dinner table upon request, or during staff meetings where I used to work when prompted. Actually standing in front of hundreds of people or performing in front of a camera has just never called to me. Being an only child I definitely don’t mind stepping into the limelight now and again, just on a lesser scale. Hollywood isn’t exactly beating down my door with script offers, so for now I’ll settle for being more of a smoked sausage than a full-blown ham.

There’s nothing I like more on a rainy afternoon, except maybe a really excellent book, than curling up on the couch with my favorite throw, a bag of Limon potato chips, and a bowl of sour cream and switching on a great movie. My all time favorite, is, and most probably will remain, To Kill a Mockingbird. For whatever reason, I can see it over and over again and never tire of Harper Lee’s rich story of the deep South, and all that accompanied living there in that snapshot of time, and perhaps in some ways still does.

Growing up going to the movies was an event. My first date was to the movies, and many following. Sometimes if we sat in the balcony we had to see it twice so we could tell our parents what the movie was about when we got home. Smile.

Theaters aren’t as majestic these days. Generally there are ten in a building, no balcony, no cartoons (what!), and for the most part, one movie, one price. I can remember when my first husband and I, newly married and not having much money, would go into Los Angeles on a Saturday and go to the old theaters featuring “Three Top Hits for $1.50. In truth, it was one top hit, one you’d never heard of, and the third a movie that you could make in your living room on your cell phone. It was fun for us though, except the smell. I do remember that. Street people, and lost souls, hungover, or about to be, who scrounged up the price of a ticket and either slept it off slumped in their seats or escaped the elements for a few hours. In our experience bathing was a luxury they weren’t able to indulge in regularly, so we would try to sit off by ourselves and always brought a bag of Vick’s menthol lozenges to block the smell. Funny. There were also the occasional trenchcoat types, who we avoided altogether, even a Vick’s lozenge couldn’t make that all right.

The last time we went to a movie, there was a couple sitting in front of us. The woman was what I refer to as a “theater narrator”. From the moment the lights dimmed she began an incessant discourse about the actors, what’s going to happen next, what just happened, what the ending was going to be, repeated requests for food, family updates, and in between all that actually carried on a cell phone conversation with her brother. About half way through the other people in the theater began drawing lots to see who was going to insert what was left of her hot dog into the perpetually open hole between her nose and the bottom of her chin. Her companion kept shushing her, but it seemed her idea of whispering was what most of us would equate with loud conversation. If I was her spouse, I’d corner the market on duct tape.

Anyhow, now I’m tired, and it’s time to get up. Have a great day. I made this recipe with catfish, and it was wonderful, but any white fish would be good. The sauce is a lot of production for a little output, but you don’t need much and it’s so good. It does not reheat well and needs to be served immediately.

Fried Catfish with Tangy Mustard Sauce

2 Tbsp. grape seed oil
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 lb. catfish filets
1 1/2 tsps. hot Hungarian paprika (or regular if you prefer)
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/8 tsp. of cayenne pepper
Mustard Sauce (recipe below)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 fresh lemon
Lemon wedges

Heat oil and butter in large non-stick skillet over med. heat. Season fish well with salt and pepper. Dust with paprika and sprinkle cayenne over all filets. Add fish to skillet. Cook until golden on both sides, about 3-5 mins. per side or until thoroughly cooked and flakey. Before removing from pan squeeze 1/2 lemon over fish. Transfer to warmed platter.

Mustard sauce

3/4 cup dry white wine
2 tsp. minced shallot
1 pinch thyme
1 small bay leaf
6 Tbsp. butter
2 large egg yolks
1/8 tsp. Hungarian paprika (or regular if you prefer)
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt to taste

Bring first 5 ingredients to a simmer in small saucepan. Simmer 10-15 mins. until mixture has reduced to 2 Tbsp. Pour into med. metal bowl and allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile melt butter in separate small skillet until frothy. Skim froth and pour clarified butter into small glass container and keep warm.

Whisk egg yolks and paprika into wine mixture in metal bowl. Place over larger pan of water on low bowl. Don’t let water touch bottom of bowl. Keep whisking over heat until mixture forms ribbons, about 5 mins. Add clarified butter and continue over heat until mixture is smooth and creamy, about 2 mins. Remove from heat and add mustard. Mix well. Spoon along side fish on plate. Yum.

Note: A reader suggests this method for the sauce as well. If you’re looking for an easier route to this delicious sauce he suggests you travel this road.

As to your sauce, I have a much eaiser method. Take the butter and DO NOT MELT IT but place it in with the well chilled egg yolks and your wine reduction. The chilled butter will temper the yolks and keep your sauce from breaking. You then place the pan on low heat and begin stirring immediately and for about 5 minutes until the sauce thickens naturally. Using my method, you never have a broken sauce

Blessings on you and yours
John

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