Monthly Archives: August 2005

IMBB #18: Frying Up Green Tomatoes!

August 28, 2005

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INT. TRAILER–DAY

The air conditioner of the trailer is going full blast, but it doesn’t stand a chance against the hot oil that sputters in front of Caryn as she chats on her cell phone and pokes around in the oil with a pair of tongs. She flips over a battered slice of green tomato to reveal a blonde, crispy underside.

CARYN

Mm. These are perfect. They remind me of home.

INT. WINNIE’S APARTMENT–SAME

Winnie cradles the phone on her shoulder as she paints her toenails a blazing red.

WINNIE

Yeah, I’ll have to pick up some of my own at the Farmer’s Market today.

She shoots a look outside where the heat is rising off the pavement in daunting waves.

WINNIE (CONT’D)

It’s so hot out there, you could fry ‘em on my front porch. And speaking of home, when are you coming back?

INT. TRAILER

Caryn drains the tomatoes on some paper towels and starts another batch.

CARYN

I wish I knew. They really don’t tell me anything.

The door of the trailer swings open and Amelia clambers in.

AMELIA

Caryn, you really should come to set. Your boss has been in a feverish fight with his co-star all morning. It’s quite a scene.

CARYN

(in her cell phone)

I gotta go.

She flips the phone closed, turns off the stove and hotfoots it out the door with Amy.

EXT. MOVIE SET

Caryn and Amelia arrive just in time to see Mr. R. scamper onto the set, just ahead of an inflamed Miss A. It seems that more crew than usual are swarming around the fiery display.

DIRECTOR

Action!

Miss A. immediately transforms her searing look into a dazzling smile, but Mr. R. refuses to look at her as the scene plays out. Caryn and Amy draw blistering looks from the sound crew as they whisper to each other during the shot.

CARYN

What happened?

AMY

No idea. They’ve been at it all morning.

Mr. R. smashes a glass on a painting behind him just as the director yells…

DIRECTOR

Cut!

Miss A. takes a fervent step towards Mr. R., but the director interrupts.

DIRECTOR (CONT’D)

Perfect! And that, my friends, is a wrap for our gentleman star!

Mr. R. looks up in shock. He had no idea that was his last shot.

DIRECTOR (CONT’D)

Let’s thank him for a truly radiant performance.

The cast and crew erupt in applause as Mr. R. steps off the set. Miss A.’s surprise is only slightly greater than Mr. R.’s but she wastes no time in chasing him after him.

Without looking back, Mr. R. quickens his pace. He grabs Caryn by the arm and yanks her with him.

MR. R.

Pack quick. Let’s get out of here.

Caryn and Mr. R. bolt from the hot pursuit of the raging actress.

CARYN

Don’t you want to eat first? I made–

MR. R.

Make it to go. We gotta burn some rubber, baby!

Caryn gasps to keep up with him. She doesn’t care, though. She’s going home.

I planned, fried and photographed these tomatoes for IMBB #18 before I saw that Nic from Bakingsheet had the same idea. Her oven-fried green tomatoes look wonderfully luscious (and probably lighter!), so try whichever recipe suits your fancy. The important thing to remember here is that tart green tomatoes are only around for a short time of the year, so get frying!

Fried Green Tomatoes

4 medium green tomatoes

1 cup flour

3/4 cup cornmeal

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

vegetable oil, for frying

1. Slice tomatoes into thick slices (about 1/3″). Stir salt and pepper into flour. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Place flour, eggs and cornmeal in three separate, shallow bowls.

2. Working 1 slice at a time, dredge in flour, dip in eggs and dredge in cornmeal. To avoid fingerprints in the coating, hold tomato slice around the edges. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remainging slices.

3. Heat about 1/2″ of oil in large, heavy skillet until hot enough for frying (350-375 degrees). Gently place one layer of slices in the oil (about 4-5 slices). Fry slices until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining slices. Serve hot with a sweet and spicy salsa.

Serves 4.

Dog Days: Pasta Salad!

August 24, 2005

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EXT. MOVIE SET–SOMEWHERE IN OHIO–SAME

Caryn follows Miss A. to the crowded set, only to discover a virtual sea of EXTRAS in Civil War attire waiting for their cue. Miss A. somehow spots Mr. R immediately. Her bee line to him takes out a few extras, but she doesn’t seem to care. Caryn cranes to see them when a booming voice yells in her ear.

VOICE

Extras, please come this way!

Caryn is surprised to find that the voice belongs to the timid 2nd 2nd AD she’d met before. The girl seems to have grown quite a backbone in the two months on the job. On a mission, the 2nd 2nd sees Caryn holding the plate of eggplant parmesan and stops.

2ND 2ND AD

Why aren’t you in costume?

CARYN

Oh, I’m not an–

2ND 2ND AD

We’ve been back from lunch for a half hour. You really should be dressed and in makeup by now.

Caryn tries to protest again just as Lauren appears and takes the plate from her.

LAUREN

I’ll take this. You go to wardrobe.

CARYN

But–

LAUREN

Look, clearly we’re short of extras. Be a team player and go.

She shoves Caryn toward the 2nd 2nd with a smirk and heads over to where Mr. R is getting berated by Miss A. Caryn has no choice but to comply.

EXT. MOVIE SET–LATER

Dressed in a dull gray hoop dress and holding a black parasol, Caryn is enveloped in the mass of extras around her, all sweltering in the summer heat. She squirms in her dress to get comfortable, but it is no use.

The crowd seems to perk up as Mr. R. saunters in front of them for the scene. He does not recognize his chef as she wipes the sweat from her forehead. Miss A. shortly follows him wearing an evil scowl on top of her thick make-up.

The crew gathers around for the shot. The Director takes a seat behind the monitor to watch the action just as Caryn spots Lauren watching her from the side, deeply satisfied with Caryn’s state.

DIRECTOR

Okay, going again! Try to look lively this time!

Caryn sucks in a deep breath, but the corset prevents her from getting much air. She straightens up in a futile attempt to look lively just as “Action” is called.

INT. TRAILER–LATER

Finally out of the costume and withered like the roasted tomatoes cooling by the stove, Caryn prepares an antipasto plate with a variety of olives, cheeses and vegetables. Mr. R. enters the trailer from the blackness of night outside.

MR. R.

I’m exhausted. Days with extras are always so long. They never pay attention.

Caryn turns to the tomatoes and slices them into pieces. Mr. R. picks at the cheese.

MR. R. (CONT’D)

Ah, this looks great for a hot day like today. Of course, you got to stay in the air conditioned trailer all day.

She throws the tomatoes on the top of a mound of assorted colors: pasta, basil and parmesan. She tosses olive oil into the pasta salad with the last ounce of energy left in her body.

Mr. R. seats himself at a small table by the window as Caryn serves his late dinner. He immediately picks out a roasted tomato to eat first.

MR. R. (CONT’D)

You know, we were short of extras today. You should’ve helped out. It’d be fun for you to be in the movie.

Caryn slams a dish into the sink.

CARYN

Yeah, sorry. Maybe next time.

Pasta Salad with Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

I learned how to roast tomatoes from July’s Bon Appetit and now I’m addicted. The roasted flavor really lends itself well to this simple pasta salad.

5-6 medium tomatoes

1/2 cup olive oil, divided

12 oz. tri-colored fusilli

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.

2. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and juice. Place tomato slices, cut side up, on baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil.

3. Bake tomatoes until slightly charred, about 50 minutes. Chop the halves into 4-5 pieces when completely cool.

4. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and cool.

5. Toss pasta with tomatoes, remaining olive oil and remaining ingredients.

Serves 6.

High Drama: Eggplant Parmesan!

August 20, 2005

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INT. TRAILER–SOMEWHERE IN OHIO–DAY

A now refreshed Caryn stirs a bright red tomato sauce simmering on the small stove in the kitchen. She tears leaves of basil into the sauce when the trailer door swings open.

Miss A stomps in with a tattered Confederate uniform sagging off her small frame and a fake rifle swinging at her back. She is surprised to see Caryn, but is less than cordial.

MISS A.

Oh, you’re back already? Where is he?

Caryn shrugs her shoulders.

MISS A. (CONT’D)

Well, he’s not on set, so he can’t be far. Tell him I’m looking for him.

She leaves the door open as she traipses back out. Caryn tastes the sauce and adds more basil.

INT. TRAILER–LATER

A fully costumed Mr. R. scrambles in and swiftly closes the door behind him. Caryn is salting thick slices of deep purple eggplant piled in a collander.

MR. R.

What’s that? Eggplant?

CARYN

Yes. From a local farm.

MR. R.

Great. I’m going to go read in my room. If anyone comes by, tell them I’m out.

He slips into the small bedroom portion of the trailer and slides the door closed. Caryn takes some mozzarella from the fridge.

INT. TRAILER–LATER

The breaded eggplant slices sizzle in hot oil as they fry to a golden brown. Caryn must leave them unattended to answer the pounding on the door.

An indignant Lauren is standing on the other side.

LAUREN

When did you get back? Where is he?

CARYN

I don’t know, but I’m really busy here.

Lauren beams her gaze through Caryn to scan the trailer before she backs up.

LAUREN

Tell him I’m looking for him.

INT. TRAILER–LATER

The kitchenette is now clean from the debris of the simmering, salting and frying. Caryn removes a hot casserole dish from the oven, thick tomato sauce bubbling from underneath a layer of crisped mozzarella and parmesan.

The bedroom door slides open again and a sleepy-eyed Mr. R. emerges.

MR. R.

I assume you had to field a couple hotheads, eh?

CARYN

Yeah. Clearly I missed some stuff while I was away.

MR. R.

You didn’t miss anything. I have to get back to set.

He spots the steaming dish of Caryn’s labors.

MR. R. (CONT’D)

Bring me some of that?

Caryn nods as he returns to the set. She digs into the eggplant and scoops some onto a plate. The door violently opens again.

MISS A.

Where the heck is he?!

CARYN

You just missed him. He went back to set.

Miss A. lets out an ugly grunt and storms back out. Caryn follows with the plate of eggplant parmesan, eager to watch the show.

Eggplant Parmesan

I love Gourmet‘s Eggplant Parmesan recipe, but I substitute two large cans of peeled roma tomatoes for the fresh tomatoes, which helps to reduce some of the labor. I also sometimes use whole milk mozzarella instead of fresh mozzarella.

A very hearty, vegetarian dish, it tastes even better the next day. After it has been refrigerated, it easily cuts into the nice, neat squares pictured.

The Mothership: Zingerman’s!

August 14, 2005

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EXT. HIGHWAY 23–DAY

The music can be heard blaring from the typically white rental car as it passes mile after mile of green farmland. The car speeds past a large blue sign that reads “Welcome to Michigan.”

INT. CAR

Caryn makes a valiant attempt to drown out the radio with her stellar, off-key singing. She proudly wears a faded, dark blue t-shirt with MICHIGAN printed in maize-colored letters.

Another sign approaches in the distance. Caryn leans forward to see it. As it comes into focus, she grins: “Ann Arbor, 39 miles.”

INT. SMALL GROCERY–ANN ARBOR, MI–DAY

Caryn enters the traditional, Mid-Western house that has been transformed into a haven for any discerning cook. It is a small space, but the shelves are lined to the ceiling with delectable goodies.

Caryn picks up a basket as she is greeted from behind the bread counter by a COLLEGE WOMAN with pigtails and a wealth of earrings.

COLLEGE WOMAN

Can I help you?

CARYN

Yes, just one sec.

She scans the rows and rows of hearty, golden breads stuffed with everything from olives to chocolate and cherries.

COLLEGE WOMAN

Have you been to Zingerman’s before?

Caryn looks up and smiles.

CARYN

Yes, many times.

And indeed she has. Caryn fills her basket with unusual expertise, knowing exactly what she wants from the enormous selection of fine cheeses, imported dried pastas and rare teas. She doesn’t miss the meat counter or the array of chocolate. When one basket is filled, she grabs another.

INT. ZINGERMAN’S NEXT DOOR–LATER

The coffee house is filled with dining tables where the delicatessen patrons enjoy their prized sandwiches. Caryn sits at a table, patiently reading a catalogue. Several large bags brimming with her loot fill the other chairs at the table.

A WAITER sets a basket in front of her. Tangy sauerkraut topples out of the side of the reuben sandwich and into the basket. Caryn picks the kraut up with her fingers and tastes it. It is good, but it is not why she is here.

She gently scoops the sandwich into her hands and sinks her teeth through the crispy rye bread and into the tenderest corned beef known to man. She has travelled across the country for this moment and it is worth every mile.

INT. SMALL GROCERY–LATER

Caryn lugs her bags through the store on her way to the car when she is stopped by the pigtailed woman from before, now behind the deli counter.

COLLEGE WOMAN

How was everything?

CARYN

Oh, it was perfect, thank you.

Caryn turns toward the door, but hesitates a moment before turning back.

CARYN (CONT’D)

Actually, I’ll take another one of those reuben sandwiches to go.

Zingerman’s Delicatessen

Zingerman’s Reuben Sandwich is not only an example of the best of its kind, but for this University of Michigan alumna, it is a true taste of home.

422 Detroit St.

Ann Arbor, MI 48104

734-663-DELI ph.

Open 7AM-10PM daily.

When you can’t make it to Ann Arbor, Zingerman’s has a wonderful online catalogue that will keep you satisfied until your next trip. It includes a reuben kit.

Family Recipe: Garlic & Green Beans!

August 9, 2005

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INT. MR. R.’S HOTEL SUITE–NIGHT

One fantastic dinner is spread out on the table before Mr. R., Miss A. and Lauren. Enough food for twice their number. But the trio doesn’t even notice the extensive preparation as they are absorbed in the company of each other.

MISS A.

(laughing)

And if he didn’t yell “Cut!” when he did, I thought I was going to die!

MR. R.

I’m fairly certain he did that on purpose.

Laughs all around.

MISS A.

This movie just gets more insane every day.

Lauren sits back and smiles contentedly.

LAUREN

Let’s just hope it earns us all an insane amount of money.

The conversation continues, the food gets cold. But it doesn’t matter to Caryn because unbeknownst to anyone in the room, she has snuck out.

INT. CARYN’S ROOM–SAME

Caryn stands before the mini-bar fridge in her room. She has emptied out the tiny bottles and chocolate bars and replaced it with some of her own groceries.

A bag of green beans ages gracefully on the middle rack, but Caryn selects it anyway. She snags a head of garlic that also looks like it has seen better days.

Hot oil heats in a wok, rigged up to a hot plate. Caryn sets about cleaning the green beans. She is hungry and tired. She has big plans for these beans.

INT. MR. R.’S HOTEL SUITE–LATER

Most of the cast and crew on this movie are asleep. Caryn, however, is cleaning up the vast mess that was left for her. She periodically grabs one of her green beans, now transformed into a salty, garlicy creation.

Mr. R. enters wearing a plush hotel bathrobe tied loosely at his waist and drying his wet hair with a small towel. A green bean hangs from Caryn’s mouth when she spots him. She quickly munches it up.

CARYN

I thought you went to bed.

MR. R.

Nah, just in the shower. What are you doing here so late?

She pauses in her work and contemplates his question.

CARYN

Mr. R., I really think I need some time off. When we get to Ohio tomorrow, I’d like to take two days for myself.

The seasoned actor lowers the towel from his head with the precise amount of concern.

MR. R.

Um, sure. Take whatever you need.

CARYN

Great.

The pair stands in silence for a moment. Caryn considers the pile of dishes still on the table.

CARYN (CONT’D)

Okay, good night.

She grabs her green beans and answers his previous question by a quick exit to her room.

Uncle Barry’s Garlic & Green Beans

My Uncle Barry, born and raised in China, is one of the best cooks I know. He has many perfected dishes in his repertoire, but he is always willing to experiment. This dish is one of the most requested at family dinners. Use a wok as a frying pan if you have it.

1-2 lbs. of green beans

3 tsp. finely chopped garlic

vegetable oil

salt

1. Remove the tips and strings of green beans.

2. Soak the green beans in water for about two minutes and drain off the water.

3. Heat enough oil to cover beans until very hot. Deep fry the green beans until there are wrinkles (about 3 to 5 minutes).

4. Remove the beans from frying pan and drain off oil from pan.

5. Add garlic to pan and roast for 30 seconds. Add green beans and salt.

6. Let garlic and green beans sit for about 2 minutes (over low heat, to get the garlic flavor). Serve.