Friday, May 4, 2012

Life This Week: May 1, 1939

In their fourth movie together, Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea star in Union Pacific, this week's "Movie of the Week." Directed by Cecil B. DeMille, Union Pacific is the story of the building of the transcontinental railroad. Or more specifically, it's about an Irish "end-of-track" postmistress (Barbara Stanwyck), her gambling fianc√© (Robert Preston) and the former Union army captain sent to maintain law and order along the line (Joel McCrea). Naturally, what happens is that postmistress Mollie Monahan and Captain Jeff Butler can't seem to stay away from each other. Probably because Joel McCrea has got to be one of the most adorable men ever. 

There are shoot-outs with Indians, brawls in saloons a train robbery and a burning bridge. After all, Union Pacific is a Cecil B. DeMille spectacular. It may sound a bit corny, but Union Pacific is actually pretty darn entertaining. Robert Preston is great at teetering on the edge of villainy and Brian Donlevy makes an entertaining baddie. Of course, Joel McCrea is terribly charming and despite her bad Irish accent, Barbara Stanwyck is at her plucky best. You know you'll be looking for a popcorn movie this summer--may I suggest Union Pacific?

Up to no good as usual, Union Pacific villain Sid Campeau (Brian Donlevy) enjoys cold roast chicken in his train carriage...

I personally prefer my roast chicken warm, but hot or cold, this recipe is ridiculously easy.

Easy Roast Chicken

1 free-range chicken (mine was 4.3 lbs)
1 onion, sliced
1 lemon
2 sprigs thyme
2 tablespoons very soft butter

One hour before roasting, take the chicken out of the fridge to come up to room temperature. After about forty minutes, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the sliced onion in an oval casserole just slightly larger than the chicken. Place the chicken on top and stuff the lemon and thyme in the cavity. Rub the butter over the top of the chicken and season well with salt and pepper.

Place chicken in the middle of the oven and roast for 24 minutes per pound (my chicken took nearly an hour and forty-five minutes). Pierce the thigh with a sharp knife to make sure the juices aren't pink. Rest chicken, tented with foil, for 15 to 20 minutes, then carve and serve.

Serves 6

Adapted from "Classic Roast Chicken and Gravy" from BBC Good Food.

You can roast potatoes while the chicken is in the oven, as well. I used whole new potatoes and served them halved and covered in the chicken's cooking juices.



Princesses Margaret and Elizabeth

Also in this issue, there's an article about "Britain's Royal Youngsters." We're told that as of her birthday (April 21st), thirteen-year-old Princess Elizabeth has "permanently graduated to long silk stockings and was given a diamond bracelet by her father." How grown-up she must have felt! Is that a corgi under the piano?


I couldn't resist posting another photo of Barbara and Joel. Look at how young they were! I'm not sure which film this photo is promoting (Gambling Lady, perhaps?), but Stanwyck and McCrea made six together--probably because they're such a cute couple. (photo source)


  1. Mmm, that looks so good! Perfect for a sunday dinner. And Barbara looks so sweet and young in these pictures! Also love the two little princesses...its amazing to look at those two little girls and know all that they would do and live through. Amazing.

  2. I do love Barbara Stanwyck...haven't seen Union Pacific. I'm not super familiar with Joel McCrea, but my dad once got his autograph (random), and you're right--he's awfully appealing-looking!

  3. I think Elizabeth's love for corgis must have started early. Aren't they sweet sitting at the piano? Love roasted chicken....

  4. Barbara & Joel = Just gorgeous. The pix of the princesses is also fab. One can never have too many roast checken recipes!

  5. Union Pacific sounds like a fun one! Great suggestion for summer. You can't go wrong with a good roast chicken - that's the first thing I'm teaching my sons to make.

  6. I love how your blog combines two things that I really adore: food and times past :) I'm passing on the liebster blog award to you. xxx

  7. I'm with Ninja. Food and movies - what could be better? Not much. Well, maybe a bag (or box) of unread books.

    Chicken and potatoes, Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea. Sounds good.

  8. Hi Lauren - a Stylish Blogger Award awaits you at the Vincentennial Cookblog xx


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