last night for dinner i reheated some frozen beef and barley and mushroom soup and made a spinach, bacon, lentil, roasted red pepper and avocado salad with lemon vinaigrette. it was delicious and fortifying and nourishing. i've been craving butterscotch pudding like mad lately (ever since it popped up on all the food blogs about a month ago) and i committed to making it yesterday, using a tablespoon of bourbon and one of the dotytron's laphroiag. the recipe came out a little pasty and ever-so-slightly gritty, so i think i might use a different one next time...but it was plummy to delve into a little coupe of the stuff, my spoon catching some of the whipped cream on its' way in.
i finally saw the romanian shmashmortion movie, "4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days" it's really good. it takes place over a single day in communist romania (1987) and focuses on a girl attempting to support her friend as she gets an illegal (they're all illegal at that time) abortion. in the process, she has to make a difficult decision. the movie neither trivializes nor sensationalizes the events, which was refreshing. i think so often, with independent, critically lauded films (i'm thinking the lars von trier school, or the usual oscar/independent spirt awards nominee) you're set up for unremitting tragedy more often than not (or, you get the plucky, intelligentsia comedy of the "little miss sunshine" ilk). while the events of this film aren't anything to take lightly (and make no mistake, the movie IS NOT a comedy!), the movie takes a stark, slightly detached perspective, steeped in the realism and intimacy of the performances and the way the narrative unfolds. you get a sense of the day to day life experiences of a range of people under communism. the texture of the film, the dark landscapes, the shadowy interiors, the utilitarian aesthetic - mirror the oppressive scenarios that delineate the field of potential action for the characters. it's definitely worth seeing.
last night we also watched "man on wire," about philippe petit's successful traversing of a wire rigged between the world trade centre towers. the documentary culls from extensive archival footage and photographs taken by petit and his helpers, along with recreations and interviews with the principal figures. the film manages to give you a sense of the magic, wonder, and enormity of spirit that imbues the act, and the kind of situationist-inspired flight of the imagination that the concretization of such an improbability can engender.
the film is a little bogged down by the fact that the main figure, philipe, while as suitably fanciful and artistic as someone who would dream of such a thing can be, is in the end, all too human, and i personally found his humanity, the imperfect corporealness of his personality, to be too much at odds with the ethereal grace that is his performance on the wire. it was jarring, but perhaps that was the filmmaker's intention. the non-existence of the towers themselves provides a shadow of loss that tints the film, permeates every frame - what philipe and his accomplices accomplished can never be replicated, and the viewer is keenly aware of it, though the filmmakers never address the issue. i wonder if this film could have been made or been as impacting if the towers still stood? either way, it's worth seeing. i'm also wondering how influenced i am by the use of satie's gymnopedie no. 1 in the score. probably a lot. lol!
today i'm going to dodgeball and then hosting a super bowl party (where the super bowl is an afterthought - we may or may not have it on) for the team. i almost kiboshed the shindig because about 3/4 of my team doesn't understand the concept of rsvping. it was aggravating but understandable, because i don't think they're used to the kind of parties that i throw. i don't think they're aware that rsvping kind of makes a difference when someone is preparing a tonne of food and drink for you. it's just not their usual bag, i guess. i made a ground beef, hominy, and kidney bean chili with my usual mixture of secret herbs, spices, and dried chilies. i made a VAT of guacamole with which there'll be sour cream, tomatillo and jack's garden salsa and freshly fried corn chips. i'm deep frying some cheese stick and jalepeno poppers (purchased - i'm not THAT crazy), and i also made some ribs that i'm going to baste with a sticky sauce before finishing them in the oven. i may or may not make cornbread, depending on how many peeps show, and i made the devil's food cupcakes with brown sugar buttercream. we also have beers and cocktails if people want.
the sauce for the ribs is one that dr. rei made for us once, from a recipe in food and drink magazine. i quite liked it. she threw everything into the slow cooker (i think), but i braised my ribs separately, with the intention of basting them with the sauce for the final heating, and then cutting them into individual riblets for consumption. i made some small changes to the original recipe - i've posted it below. the sauce is a pleasant sweet-sour combo that has vaguely asian notes. i upped the lime because i love the flavour and fragrance of limes.
in sad news, i broke my slow cooker. the ceramic is NOT meant to be used for stovetop cooking apparently, and when i touched it with something cold, the ceramic bowl cracked. it's thwarted death once before, when i almost melted off the knob. i was ready to junk it then but it got a sensible, last minute death penalty-by-way-of-garbage disposal reprieve from the dotytron. i'm going to have to get a new one when i go visit my sis in a couple of weeks.
icky sticky pile of bones (their name, not mine!!! i would call this "sweet and sour oven-braised ribs")
4 racks pork back ribs
6 limes, 4 thinly sliced, 2 left whole
1 tsp (5 mL) whole black peppercorns
1¼ cups (300 mL) ketchup
¾ cup (175 mL) pure maple syrup
⅓ cup (75 mL) balsamic vinegar
¼ cup (50 mL) cider or red wine vinegar
2 tbsp (25 mL) soy sauce
2 tsp (10 mL) dry or Dijon mustard
¼ tsp (1 mL) cayenne pepper
- preheat oven to 350ºF (160ºC).
- cut ribs racks in half. place ribs in a 9x13" pan. place lime slices on ribs and sprinkle peppercorns onto baking sheet. pour 1½ cups (375 mL) hot water into pan. cover entire pan with foil, sealing edges tightly. Bake for 1 to 1½ hours, or until ribs are fork-tender and pulling away from the bone. discard water, lime slices and peppercorns.
- meanwhile, combine ketchup, syrup, balsamic vinegar, cider vinegar, soy sauce, mustard and cayenne in a saucepan. squeeze the juice from the two whole limes and put the juice and the juiced limes into the saucepan. bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, for about 20 minutes or until reduced by about one-third and thickened.
- line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. place ribs on pan and brush heavily with the sauce, reserving any extra sauce. bake for about 20 minutes in a 400F oven, brushing halfway with reserved sauce, until ribs are glazed and sticky.
(dr. rei seemed to have great success with just dumping everything [minus the boiling water] into a slow cooker - i think that's how she did it!)