Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Reading and Recipes: Young Bess and Sausage Sussex Blanket Pudding

Sausage Sussex Blanket Pudding is basically a Jam Roly-Poly  (I need to make one of those!) but with sausage instead of jam. I created this recipe from a suggestion in Florence White's Good Things in England. Originally published in 1932, the subtitle says it all: "Containing Traditional and Regional Recipes suited to Modern Tastes contributed by English Men and Women between 1399 and 1932..."

Monday, February 27, 2012

Life This Week: February 27, 1939

 Publicity photo and still from Doctor Macro

There are a lot of sub-par Westerns. Thankfully, Stagecoach (the "Movie of the Week") isn't one of them. I've now seen it three times and I've enjoyed myself during each viewing. The ensemble cast works well together, the threat of an Indian attack maintains a high level of suspense and then there's the happy ending I wanted. Even if you're not a fan of the Western, give this one a try.

To go with the movie, I made a February menu from Modern Meal Maker (1935). I can just imagine having this for dinner before going to a movie palace for a showing of Stagecoach. It must have seemed like quite an event! I wonder where it played in Wichita. The Orpheum? The Colonial? The Star? The Wichita? The Kansas? How exciting to have so many different theaters!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Dinner and a Movie: North and South

Before we get started, head over to Sunday's blog Ciao Domenica (a fantastic blog you should check out anyway) and read "Do We Need a Support Group?" (warning: contains Downton Abbey spoilers but you've already seen it, right?). I was thinking I needed to do a series called "For the Downton-deprived" and Sunday has generously confirmed that suspicion.

Who doesn't love Mr. Bates? I mean, besides Thomas and O'Brien. So--if you haven't already, you should check out North and South. It's even available on Netflix streaming. Brendan Coyle (Mr. Bates) plays Nicholas Higgins, an industrial worker whose family is befriended by Margaret Hale (Daniela Denby-Ashe), an idealistic young woman who has recently moved to the northern mill town of Milton from the bucolic south of England. Margaret's concern for Milton's workers brings her into direct conflict with the handsome yet dour mill owner, John Thornton (Richard Armitage).

I made a "North and South" Oven Supper to go along with my (now third) viewing of North and South. I even got Paul to watch it with me this time. Sure, everything's beige and green, but it was tasty!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Life This Week: February 20, 1939

Publicity photo from Classic Hollywood Biographies

This week's Movie of the Week is Made For Each Other, starring James Stewart and Carole Lombard. Seems like it should be a comedy, right? Well, there are funny moments, but Made For Each Other is a serious movie. I found it a bit weepy and melodramatic but enjoyable. Favorite philosophical quote: "Never let the seeds stop you from enjoying the watermelon." If you also happen to be a cash-strapped young married like Steward and Lombard in this film, you may appreciate the fact that it's free from Internet Archive.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Life This Week: February 13, 1939

Well, well, what to say about this week's Movie of the Week? Idiot's Delight has to be one of the oddest films I've seen in a while. First off, look up "Clark Gable Puttin' on the Ritz" and watch the video. Yeah, that's right: Clark Gable plays a song-and-dace man. Life writes, "Gable took [dance] lessons for six weeks, soaking his size 11-C feet in salt water twice daily. He still dances atrociously." Except for the dancing and singing (thankfully there's not much of either), Clark Gable fits the role of a woman-chasing, war-veteran vaudevillian quite well and Norma Shearer does a great job as an acrobat/phony Russian noble. The movie is a romantic comedy superimposed on a war movie. The characters get stuck at a resort when the borders are closed after the start of a world war. Keep in mind, World War II didn't begin until September 1939. Thankfully, Idiot's Delight is entertaining because it would otherwise just be an oddity. Watch it and see for yourself. Let me know what you think!

 Images from Doctor Macro

Friday, February 10, 2012

Dinner and Movies: Africa on Film

Greta Scacchi, in a still from White Mischief.

This post was originally going to be about the book and film White Mischief. I was able to get the book (written by James Fox, not the actor) through interlibrary loan and enjoyed it, so I thought, "Why not make a 'Dinner and a Movie' out of it?" My library just happens to have a copy of White Mischief (1987) on VHS. I thought I had hit a goldmine...until Paul and I watched it. Except for the synthesized music (it's supposed to be 1940), it's difficult for me to say exactly why this movie doesn't work, but it doesn't, and no amount of gratuitous sex, nudity or violence can make up for it (take note, future filmmakers). The story should be fantastic fodder for a movie--the young wife of a much-older peer takes up with a reckless, womanizing earl. Everyone is living it up in an exotic locale (Nairobi) while the rest of the world is at war. Suddenly there's a shocking murder that wasn't considered "solved" until 2007. Just read the book.

So--what to do? Thankfully, TCM has several hours of movies set in Africa planned for next Wednesday and Thursday that you can watch instead. Even better, these films star some of my favorite actors: Gene Tierney and George Sanders (Sundown), Clark Gable (Mogambo) and new favorite Ralph Richardson (The Four Feathers). There'll be more about The Four Feathers in July--it's a Life "Movie of the Week."

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Past on a Plate Featured at blogEATS

Hi everyone! I'm very excited because Dan at blogEATS has done a lovely write-up on The Past on a Plate and featured my Sour Cream Devil's Food Cake recipe. blogEATS covers food-blogging news; Dan has already introduced me to some fabulous food blogs I wouldn't have known about otherwise. If you're a big Downton Abbey fan like I am, don't miss "Homage to Mrs. Patmore."

Ta ta for now. See you Friday for Dinner and a Movie!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Life This Week: February 6, 1939 (and Feasts and Festivals: Washington's Birthday)

Today's issue of Life will get you ready for your Washington's Birthday celebrations. Does anyone still celebrate Washington's Birthday? It seems the only people who even get the day off anymore are postal workers. In case you're wondering, the observance of George Washington's birthday always falls on the third Monday in February (the 20th this year). People used to have parties and send each other adorable postcards.* In 1939, George Washington even became a style setter:

 So, do your hair like George Washington and bake like Martha Washington--

Friday, February 3, 2012

Dinner and a Movie: The Master of Ballantrae

Remember my Burns Night Roast Lamb Dinner? Well, there are two of us, so that means we were left with a good amount of leftover roast lamb. So, something fortuitous (at least to my mind) occurred. I had recorded The Master of Ballantrae from TCM and I had bookmarked a couple recipes for Scotch Broth. It's just the sort of thing to eat while immersing oneself in Jack Cardiff's technicolor Highlands.*

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Feasts and Festivals: St. Brigid's Day/Candlemas/Imbolc

Boxty Pancakes

1 lb potatoes, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups yogurt
up to 1/4 cup butter

Boil 1/2 lb of potatoes until very soft. Peel under cool running water then place in a large mixing bowl. Mash. Wash and peel the other 1/2 lb of potatoes and, using the large side of a box grater, grate into the mashed potatoes. Stir.

Stir in the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the yogurt a bit at a time until dough is soft and thinner than biscuits, but a bit thicker than regular pancake batter.

Melt one tablespoon of the butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet or on a griddle.When the foam has subsided and the butter is hot, fry the boxty pancakes, using 1/12 of the batter per cake. You'll need to work in batches. Flatten each cake with a spatula and cook around three minutes per side, or until nicely browned. Add more butter to the pan, as needed.

Serves 6

Adapted from "Boxty Pancakes" in Darina Allen, The Festive Food of Ireland (Schull: Roberts Rinehart, 1992), 10.