Monday, January 30, 2012

Life This Week: January 30, 1939

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend! It's Monday, so it's time for "Life This Week." The Movie of the Week is Jesse James, starring Tyrone Power as Jesse and Henry Fonda as his brother Frank. Nancy Kelly plays Zerelda Cobb, later Jesse's wife, and Randolph Scott is the a marshall assigned the duty of bringing the James brothers to justice. In the beginning, the brothers are out to make trouble for the railroad that has forced Missouri farmers off their land. Officers of the railroad have even killed Jesse and Frank's mother. Unfortunately, Jesse gets obsessed with outlawry and his escapades become more and more dangerous and less and less rooted in justice. However, it's Tyrone Power and we forgive him. Plus, much of the movie was filmed on location in the Missouri Ozarks, which look great in Technicolor. It's definitely worth the watch.
Poster from Doctor Macro
In the first part of the film when Jesse and Frank James are hiding out, Jesse shows up at Zerelda's house under cover of darkness (and in a rainstorm).  Like any good 19th-century Missouri girl, she offers him a biscuit and a cup of coffee (served in transferware, no less). Here are my light, tall, fluffy baking powder biscuits. The recipe is from the revised Rumford Complete Cookbook from 1939, just like the movie!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Excursion to Chanute, KS

After breakfast this morning, Paul and I drove out to Chanute, KS (in the southeastern part of the state) to go to the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum. Fun fact: Chanute is where the default pin drops on the  Mac version of Google Earth. For info on each photo, please visit my flickr page. Hope you're having a great weekend! See you Monday with another "Life This Week."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Feasts and Festivals: Burns Night

Robert Burns is considered to be Scotland's greatest-ever poet. He's honored every year on January 25th. Traditionally, the thing to do on Burns Night is to eat haggis and read aloud Robbie Burns's "To a Haggis." A couple of years ago, I had a rather disastrous haggis-making experience. I thought I'd have some genetic predisposition toward it, seeing as a huge chunk of my ancestry is from Scotland. No such luck. So, this year, I'm incorporating sheep in a different way--roasted and with some yummy vegetables.
According to Mrs. Beeton, roast shoulder of mutton should be served with baked potatoes and stewed onions. I have complied with her suggestion and added carrots, as well. Mutton really should be used this time of year, but it's impossible to find, so I've used a shoulder of lamb I bought at the westside farmers market this summer and have had in the freezer until now. It's amazing that I could have forgotten about seven pounds of lamb, but there you have it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Life This Week: January 23, 1939

The cover story this week is a write-up on Bette Davis. I thought I'd watch one of her films I hadn't seen before--The Sisters (1938) co-starring Errol Flynn. They meet at an election-night ball and instantly fall in love. Frank (Errol Flynn) is a sports journalist and aspiring writer; Louise (Bette Davis) is the proper daughter of a small-town pharmacist. They elope to San Francisco and try to make a life for themselves. Too bad Franks's drinking and temper get him fired. Louise tries to keep her household afloat but only manages to drive Frank away. Suddenly--it's the San Francisco Earthquake of 1904. Will Frank and Louise rebuild their marriage while San Francisco crumbles around them?

Images from Doctor Macro

Friday, January 20, 2012

Feasts and Festivals: The Eve of St. Agnes

St. Agnes’ Eve--Ah, bitter chill it was!
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
The hare limp’d trembling through the frozen grass,
And silent was the flock in woolly fold...
John Keats, "The Eve of St. Agnes"

They told her how, upon St. Agnes’ Eve,
Young virgins might have visions of delight,
And soft adorings from their loves receive
Upon the honey’d middle of the night,
If ceremonies due they did aright;
As, supperless to bed they must retire,
And couch supine their beauties, lily white;
Nor look behind, nor sideways, but require
Of Heaven with upward eyes for all that they desire.
John Keats, "The Eve of St. Agnes"

Monday, January 16, 2012

Life This Week: January 16, 1939

The Movie of the Week this week is Gunga Din, which is pretty darn entertaining. Paul even liked it. I don't even want to go into the pitfalls or politically incorrect nature of colonialism or orientalism or any of that. Just accept this for what it is and enjoy it. Cary Grant and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., are charming, Joan Fontaine is beautiful and the Thugee villains are suitably evil. The plot and setting of the final part of the film will probably seem familiar because Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is totally a rip-off of Gunga Din. We liked Gunga Din better, though. Keep this one in mind for family movie nights.
Images from Doctor Macro

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dinner and a Movie: Queen Christina

Images from Doctor Macro.

In Queen Christina, the Queen of Sweden (Great Garbo), dressed as a man to preserve her anonymity while out riding, meets the new Spanish envoy to her court, Don Antonio (John Gilbert). They're forced to share a room at an overcrowded inn during a snow storm. This is a pre-code film, so when Antonio discovers Christina's a woman, the two engage in a torrid love affair. What will happen when Antonio discovers she's a queen? I'll let you learn the answer for yourself. I adore this film so much. Paul bought it for me as part of the Garbo: The Signature Collection DVD set, which also includes a couple of my other all-time-favorite movies Ninotchka and Flesh and the Devil, as well as seven other fabulous Greta Garbo films.

I whipped up a wintry Scandinavian menu to go with Queen Christina. It's hearty, simple food, like what might be served at a roadside inn during a snow storm. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Think Thin Thursday: Shrimp and Dill Soup

Shrimp and Dill Soup

Shrimp and Dill Soup

1 quart court bouillon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup sifted sprouted barley flour
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup milk
squeeze of lemon juice
glug of dry white wine
sea salt

To serve:
1 lb shrimp, cooked
1/4 cup cream

Place court bouillon in a small saucepan and heat to boiling, then turn heat down to low and place a lid on the saucepan.

In a soup or stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat, then whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, for a couple of minutes. Gradually whisk in the hot court bouillon and bring to a boil. Boil three minutes then turn heat down to a simmer.

Whisk in cream, milk, lemon juice and wine. Stir to combine. Simmer a couple more minutes. At this point, you can store any extra soup in a covered container in the fridge.

To serve, place 1/4 lb shrimp in the bottom of each bowl (four total). Pour the soup over the shrimp then drizzle each bowl with 1 tablespoon cream and snip some fresh dill over the top.

Serves 4

Adapted from "Shrimp Soup with Dill" recipe in Best of German Cooking by Edda Meyer-Berkhout.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Life This Week: January 9, 1939

The always-adorable Myrna Loy stars in this 1939 De Soto ad. It mentions that Ms. Loy's next film will be Another Thin Man. I'm always up for watching a Thin Man movie and I couldn't for the life of me find the "Movie of the Week," Zaza, starring Claudette Colbert and Herbert Marshall (anyone know if it even still exists?). So, I got Another Thin Man from Netflix and had a thoroughly good time. Sure, the plot is a bit convoluted, but William Powell and Myrna Loy are as charming as ever. Definitely recommended.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Life This Week: January 2, 1939
  • Film: The Dawn Patrol, starring Errol Flynn, David Niven and Basil Rathbone
  • Recipe: Escalopes de porc à la normande (Pork chops and apples in a cream/brandy/cider sauce)

Feasts and Festivals: Twelfth Night/Epiphany
  • British Twelfth Night cake recipe
  • Sprouted whole wheat flour
  • No white sugar

Dinner and a Movie: The Three Musketeers
  • Dinner: Vincent Price's Filets de poisson cardinal (White fish roulades with shrimp in a tomato/brandy/vermouth sauce)
  • Movie: The Three Musketeers (1948) starring Gene Kelly, Lana Turner and Vincent Price

Anyone else counting down the hours until the premiere of season two of Downton Abbey? Paul and I can't wait! :-)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Dinner and a Movie: The Three Musketeers

When I found this recipe in Vincent and Mary Price's A Treasury of Great Recipes, I knew it was destined for a write-up on the 1948 version of The Three Musketeers. What better accompaniment to Vincent Price's portrayal of Cardinal Richelieu than a dish of Filets de poisson cardinal? This recipe is a bit involved, but what else would one expect of a recipe from the famed Tour d'Argent? Just give yourself some time and be sure to read the entire recipe before you start. Bonne chance!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Feasts and Festivals: Twelfth Night/Epiphany

Well, here it is: the end of the Christmas season. The three wise men have finally found baby Jesus, so we can all take down our trees now. Yes, I'm being a bit flippant. (Not that you're surprised!) It's funny how we end holiday festivities on January 1st and everyone goes back to work, but there are still four more days of Christmas left after the first of the year. Surely there's time for one more fruitcake?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Life This Week: January 2, 1939

I have to admit that I'm very much looking forward to my Life This Week feature this year. Think of all the great movies I'll get to watch--1939 is often hailed as one of the best years (if not the best year) in filmmaking. Well, The Dawn Patrol isn't quite Gone with the Wind, but how could I resist after seeing this ad in the January 2nd issue of Life magazine? January 2, 1939, that is.