Cooking · Food · Musings

This Made My Heart Smile

I’ve long been a fan / admirer / pupil of Jacques Pepin. I enjoy spending time with him in the kitchen. Any kitchen. What he brings to the table is not only a wide knowledge of food and technique, but an ingrained frugality. There is rarely any frivolity in his menus.

That is not to say that there isn’t a touch of whimsy floating about. If you watch any of his cookery shows for very long, you will no doubt catch bits and pieces of his humor, his cheekiness, his love of the kitchen – and people.

Chef Pepin’s menus encompass using the best of what is available and wasting very, very little. It comes from his background in France growing up during World War II when food, among everything else, was exceptionally scarce.

As a result, he learned how to stretch the proverbial penny until it squeaked, making meals out of what might seem nothing into something rich, satisfying, comforting, delicious.

I encourage you to spend some time with Chef in his kitchen. Listen carefully and learn as much as you can. He is eager to teach you, help you, mentor you so you, too, can make wonderful food for those you love.

Truly, Happy Cooking!

Books · Movies

Artemis Fowl

I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that the Artemis Fowl book series, written by Eoin Colfer, is 20 years old. Frankly, it just doesn’t seem possible. And yet…

The books, aimed at a Young Adult audience, brought together mythical creatures and Humans in a way that we hadn’t really seen before. Not, at least, in the same way. Artemis is not your typical youngster. And that is the ultimate understatement.

If you are interested check out Eoin Colfer’s website: https://www.eoincolfer.com/artemis-fowl

I haven’t yet caught up with the later additions to the family saga; the Fowl Twins books, but I’ll be sure to add them to my list.

From Book to Film

I’d like to say I learned a valuable lesson with the Harry Potter books and films. That is, do not – Repeat: DO NOT – expect the film to be as detailed or intricate as the books.

I’m thinking it was around film 5 that the lesson might finally have become ingrained. But I could be in error there.

Lovers of books that are made into movies or TV shows run the not uncommon risk (?) of being disappointed. Why? Simple. Time. There simply is not enough time to take the book word by word and move it into a film medium.

It might sound simple and easy but the end result just can’t justify any part of that exercise. The time and cost to actually produce the filmed product would exceed every expectation and the end result would be a disaster. The first book in the Fowl series is not that long and the resulting film, with the necessary edits, etc., still resulted in a film under two hours. Most audiences won’t want to sit through a longer film

So, do not expect the book to be the film. In fact, one thing that helped me with the Potter films was to not read the book close to the time I watched the film. I gave my brain time to ‘forget’ things so when I watched the film, it was fresh and relatively new.

The Film

First, can I just say how amazing Judi Dench is? I never, ever sit down to watch her work and am not amazed at the end result.

Second, the casting of this film is amazing. I really, really, enjoyed each and every character – the performers brought so much to the table with their efforts.

Third, Kenneth Branagh has shown a level of skill, of deftness of touch, with this film. He kept the target audience (kids) in mind every second of the way, so the audience wasn’t overloaded with graphic monsters, dark and dank settings.

In short, he wasn’t playing to adults with the standard blow things up, excess violence, not to mention graphic gore with the plot secondary to all the special effects. From some of the reviews I’ve read, this seems to have confused folks a lot. <shrug>

Granted, he could have treated us to every second of Artemis searching for the language to unlock the query to find the … … … you get the idea. The film would have gone from under two hours to over three for that alone.

The film actually gives us every piece of information we need to understand what is happening in the story. Yes, a little more information about how certain things do, or don’t, work might have been helpful, Especially if the viewer isn’t a student of myth lore.

Overall, I liked the end result. It was just the right balance of material. It has a beautiful design and the soundtrack is delicious.

Since I am one who might end up nodding off or foraging when a film loses my attention, this was a pleasant change. No pauses. No napping. No foraging.

Final Thoughts

I recommend both the books and the film. I encourage you to remember to leave some space/time between the books and the film, but both are worth your time and attention. Don’t embark with any preconceived ideas, however. Let the story unfold as written.

Enjoy!

Around the House

An Interesting Bathroom Update

More Home Renovation from DIY Danie

Danie Berger has spent the months since moving into her new home doing what I suspect most new owners do: making it her own.

This means reassessing the colors, style, changes, etc., that need to be done to make the home reflect the current owner/occupant, not the last. 🙂

One of the first projects she did was to change the upstairs bathroom from a lavender hodge podge into a farmhouse haven. I’m still loving the updated cabinet she did for her towels, etc. The one thing that wasn’t done in that bathroom was tackle the shower / tub area. Considering what she accomplished elsewhere in the room, that made a lot of sense, but the time has come and see what magic she spun:

I have to say there are some interesting inspiration pieces, er, updates here. And, I have to give kudos for the effort put into the area. Not sure I’d be the one to tackle such a project, but the end result is pretty awesome.

You might want to take the time to see what other projects she has been working on or completed in the house. The lady has a eye for style and color and I have to admire her efforts.

Musings

Are You In Your Own Way?

I’ve had a bit of an epiphany lately. Actually, possibly, more than one.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, as a result of several tried and true tools going bonkers and giving up the ghost, as it were, I ended up not only replacing them, but picking up some things that I’d put on my long term Thinking About It List.

As those items were delivered and I began to repair, replace and tidy up a bit, I realized that because I had stopped waiting for my opportune moment, and just got on with the job(s), things were actually getting done. I wasn’t waiting for me to get around to making that wall hanging, quilt, or put up mini blinds.

To put it bluntly: I just got on with it. And, you know what? It was worth it!

I realized that the mini blinds just were not going to be hung because, frankly, I really didn’t want them. Maybe another time, but not now. As for the sewing projects, I’m not ready to dive into any at the moment and waiting for me to get ready literally kept putting me on hold.

Sort of a version of what happens when you ‘want’ something. You keep staying in that state of ‘wanting’ and never actually ‘getting’.

Now there is an additional side to this epiphany. Some things actually do take time to happen. I’d been pondering a certain set of gallery wall frames but had nothing to go in them and they ended up being relegated to my “Later” list.

I’ve recently begun to clear out my craft room and I also picked up a couple of sets of designer series paper from Stampin Up. Now, I don’t make enough cards to accommodate a lot of stock on hand, but those papers are luscious!

And then I realized that they were the perfect size for those frames and would be beautiful home decor pieces. And they are!

Now I can feel myself relaxing to think about a wall hanging or two. The roadblocks I put up for myself by Waiting Until The Opportune Moment were gone and opened up a bit of possibility.

The Opportune Moment
The Moral of the Story

If you find yourself stuck and you don’t seem to be getting anywhere, take a moment to stop and look closely at the situation. Did you manage to put yourself in your own way? Are you stopping you from achieving what you want because you are waiting for the perfect situation or the opportune moment?

While everything might not be perfect to get the end results you want, perhaps you can find a solution for now with the idea of updating, upgrading or improving later? The longer you wait the longer you wait.

I hope this helps.

Food

My Favorite Kitchen Tools: The Food Processor

I admit I don’t use mine nearly enough. I know some folks who have never used one and aren’t really sure if they need one. I know some folks only pull it out during the holidays.

It truly has become a work horse in the kitchen, tackling chores that used to be done by hand or maybe with other machines.

What is it? The food processor.

I bought my first one years ago after watching one of the PBS chefs use it to make biscuits and pie dough. I figured if she could do it, so could I. I’ll be honest, I have yet to try either one in my machine but knowing it can be done lends an air of possibility.

Not sure what you can do with one? Check this out:

Possibilities!

If you are looking for an excellent book filled with tips, tricks and recipes, check out The Food Processor Bible by Norene Gilletz. The 30th anniversary edition is available on Amazon, among other places.

America’s Test Kitchen has compiled a book of their tips, tricks, and recipes in addition to what to look for and consider when buying a food processor. You can find “Food Processor Perfection: 75 Amazing Ways to Use the Most Powerful Tool in Your Kitchen” on Amazon.

Why Have One?

I love to cook, but there are some tasks that I simply do not like. For example: Grating anything. Every grater I’ve ever owned has rusted, taken more of my skin than is reasonably necessary and basically made the job more of a hassle than it is worth. Solution: The grating discs that come with the machine make grating everything easier. Cheese, vegetables, you name it. Simple.

The slicing blade makes prepping potatoes for fries easy, tomatoes might be a bit more difficult – depends upon the ripeness of the fruit and the sharpness of the blade.

Food for Thought

If you aren’t sure about spending a lot of cash on a machine you might not use a lot, do what I did. Once the first machine left the kitchen, I picked up a much less expensive model that I am quite happy with. I don’t use it a lot, but it has all the same features as the more expensive models and is the same size (11 cup) bowl so I have a lot of flexibility. Should I decide I need to move up once again to a higher end model, I can do that, but for now, I’m happy with what I’ve got.

While you might be tempted to go the less expensive route, I do suggest you consider what you might be using yours for. If you are thinking bread or cookie doughs check the reviews Very Carefully. Some machines simply can not handle them.

Also, I would caution to not go for a smaller machine. The standard 11 cup machine allows you a lot of flexibility where a smaller one just doesn’t have the capacity. You end up working harder, which defeats the purpose of the machine, right?

If you want to make meal prep easier and faster, the food processor is the machine to consider. You will be amazed at the range of foods you can prepare in the machine, too.

  • Slicing, chopping or shredding fruits or vegetables
  • Grinding meat
  • Making pie or biscuit dough
  • Making cakes
  • Pureeing fruits or vegetables
  • Making breads
  • Making sorbets or soups

I hope this has helped if you are considering a machine. If you are a user, I’d love to know what you use yours for.

Media

Summer Viewing

Or, What Is There To Watch?

If you are like me, Summer isn’t all about being outside and spending loads of time away from home. Even when there isn’t a pandemic. I don’t do well in heat and my allergies just won’t accommodate all the outdoor flora and fauna.

All that being said, I like to find something I can dive into during the summer months. A few years ago I discovered Agents of S*H*I*E*L*D and it was a magical time! In past years, there was the possibility of catching up with reruns or finding new shows to capture my imagination. And the movies! Oh, my!

Now, we all know this past year has been not only chaotic for pretty much everything, it has kept many of us hanging when it came to series or films. I have no idea how much I’ve lost track of – and there was a time when I had 2 – yes 2 – VCRs fully programmed for each week. Sadly, I miss those days. It says a lot about the state of TV when that isn’t an option.

A Game Plan

Why am I thinking about this now, you ask? Simple. The other day I was browsing Disney+ and discovered, quite by accident, that a film I’d been looking forward to had already dropped on the platform and was waiting for me.

In what can only be described as a ‘head slap moment’, it occurred to me that if I’d overlooked my Watchlist there, what else have I been missing out on?

If you are like me, your Watchlist is probably tucked away, ignored or forgotten.

If you are a long time visitor here, you know I often talk about “Reset Days” – those times when we reset the modem, the Roku box(es) and revisit what we have lined up for channels or services. Well, here is an addendum to the Reset Days.

I’m going a bit old school and sitting down with pen and paper to collect my various Watchlists and combine them into one source where I can keep track of, and hopefully sit down to watch, what is on that master list.

One of the things that stands out about the various platforms is the variety of material they offer. Disney+ covers so much it is almost (?) overwhelming. Acorn and BritBox carry a lot of things most of us in the US are used to seeing on PBS, but they have more available in an easy to access format. PlutoTV has a wide variety of material including music videos and sports – and speaking of sports – Amazon has a lot of sports as well as Paramount+.

I mention this if you are contemplating cutting the cord but someone in your household is devoted to sports. There are a lot options available to help you curb that cable bill and you might not have to pick up a sports platform to do it.

There is also a bit of overlap. America’s Test Kitchen, for example, has its own Roku channel, but you can find episodes over on PlutoTV, Amazon, and PBS. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out there are more options out there, either.

Which brings me back to the free streaming platforms. There are several free options that provide a lot of material covering a wide variety of categories. I’m going to be sure to add them to my Master List as I contemplate summer viewing.

I fully realize that some will think this is a bit silly, and it might be, but I challenge you to take a look at what you’ve added to your own Watchlists and see what you’ve missed or forgotten or ignored. I do have one series (Murdoch Mysteries – AcornTV) that I’ve deliberately tucked aside. The entire season (14) is there, along with all the others, so if you are new to the show, you can watch all of the earlier seasons and dive into the movies, too.

With Summer upon us and everything up in the air, I can now schedule my viewing so I don’t miss things I’ve wanted to see while not getting stuck in that boredom rut where I have no idea what’s on.

Care to join me?