Category Archives: Second Act

Warming Up: Chicken & Artichokes!

January 31, 2006

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INT. MR. R.’S KITCHEN–AFTERNOON

The cast iron skillet is back in use as chicken breasts sizzle and pop to a golden brown in olive oil. Caryn is half engulfed in a low cabinet, rooting for something that doesn’t seem to be there.

With all her CLANGING, she doesn’t see Hank enter, dressed in swim trunks. He swings a towel over his bare shoulder.

HANK

Looking for something?

Caryn bolts up to a standing position, her head colliding violently with an open cabinet door.

HANK (CONT’D)

Oooo. Are you okay?

He reaches out to her but she brushes off the pain with a smile, the model of professionalism.

CARYN

Yeah. What can I do for you?

She opens a can of artichoke hearts. Hank looks in the fridge.

HANK

I’m just getting a soda.

CARYN

Isn’t it a little chilly for sun bathing?

She pulls her wool cardigan closed as she drains the artichokes in the sink.

CARYN (CONT’D)

You boys seemed to get plenty of sun while sailing around the world for a month.

Hank examines the tan line around his waist.

HANK

Nah. I could use a little more.

Caryn focuses on a pot of wild rice simmering on the stove. Hank sneaks a peak.

HANK (CONT’D)

I’m starved. Can I taste?

He tries to take the spoon from her, but she playfully smacks his hand away.

CARYN

I’m trying to work here.

Hank laughs and rests against the counter to watch her stir the rice.

HANK

Twenty Hollywood types cruising around on that boat and not one of them could cook. We sure missed you.

CARYN

Well, I can’t say I missed you poking around the kitchen all the time.

She returns to her search in the cabinet. Hank steals a sliced mushroom from a bowl and heads to the door.

HANK

Alright, kiddo. Call me when lunch is ready.

Caryn watches him leave. As the door swings closed, she can’t help snickering to herself…just a little.

Chicken & Artichoke Casserole

This is an old recipe from Cooking Light that I’ve adapted over the years. Satisfying on a chilly day.

1 box of wild rice (6 oz.), preferrably seasoned like the Near East brand products

salt, pepper, paprika

4 medium-sized chicken breasts

1 TB. olive oil

1 TB. butter

1 14-oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

16 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup flour

1 TB. fresh rosemary, chopped

2-1/4 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup dry sherry

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare rice according to package directions. Spoon into 13×9-inch baking pan.

2. Dusk chicken breasts with salt, pepper and paprika. Heat butter and olive oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until butter is melted. Add chicken and cook unti lightly browned, about 3 minutes each side. Remove from skillet.

3. Add mushrooms to skillet and saute until mushrooms release their moisture and moisture mostly evaporates, about 5 minutes. Whisk together flour, broth and sherry until combined. Add liquid and rosemary to mushrooms in skillet. Stirring constantly, cook until sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes.

4. Arrange chicken over rice and top with artichokes. Spoon sauce and mushrooms over the chicken and artichokes. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until thoroughly heated, about 50 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 4.

Lovin’ Lamb & Eggplant Casserole!

November 30, 2005

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INT. MR. R.’S MANSION–KITCHEN–AFTERNOON

Caryn slices through eggplant as a skillet sizzles nearby. The swinging door creaks open and Mr. R.’s head pokes through.

MR. R.

Going to the gym. Be back in a couple hours.

She nods and stirs the browning meat in the skillet.

MR. R. (CONT’D)

Is that lamb? Looks good.

He withdraws his head from the kitchen. Caryn chops fresh mint.

The door swings open again and she rolls her eyes.

CARYN

Change your mind already?

MAN’S VOICE (O.S.)

What?

Caryn looks up to identify the unfamiliar voice. She immediately straightens her hair at the vision of Abercrombie & Fitch standing before her. The SANDY-HAIRED MAN extends his hand.

MAN

Hi, I’m Hank. You must be Caryn.

She nods and shyly shakes his hand. The meat hisses from the stove.

CARYN (CONT’D)

Are you, um, a friend of–

HANK

Yeah, we’re buddies from high school. Just visiting for a while.

Caryn pulls her gaze away from his bright blue eyes and turns her attention to the skillet.

CARYN

He could use a friend around here.

Hank leans casually against the counter.

HANK

I hear you’re a great cook.

He peeks over her shoulder to see what she’s stirring.

HANK (CONT’D)

Is that lamb? Since when does he eat lamb?

Caryn turns her head at the accusation and they are nose to nose.

CARYN

He’s eaten it before.

They both look back down at the meat.

HANK

Huh. Interesting.

After a beat, he smiles at her with a sugary grin.

HANK (CONT’D)

I, however, love lamb.

Lamb & Eggplant Casserole with Lemon Yogurt Sauce

I adapted this dish from a recipe published in the November 2004 Woman’s Day. It’s a pretty lean dish if you’re looking for a satisfying, but healthier meal between the Holiday festivities.

3 eggplants, about 1 lb. each, cut into 1/2 inch slices

2 TB. olive oil, divided

1 lb. lean ground lamb

2 cups chopped onion

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1 TB. cumin

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves, loosely packed

salt & pepper

1-1/2 pounds tomatoes, thinly sliced

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

SAUCE:

1 cup plain lowfat yogurt

1 TB. finely grated lemon zest

juice from one medium lemon

salt & pepper

1. Sprinkle 1 TB. salt over eggplant slices and set in colander over bowl to drain. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. After 30 minutes, dry eggplant with paper towels and place slices on cookie sheet. Brush both sides of slices with olive oil. Bake until eggplant is tender and slightly brown, about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, saute onion and garlic in 1 TB. olive oil until tender. Add lamb and saute until meat is no longer pink. Remove from heat and stir in cumin, cinnamon, mint and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Reduce oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with half the eggplant and then half the tomatoes. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Top with meat mixture, then layer with remaining eggplant, tomatoes and cheese.

4. Bake uncovered until hot, about 30 minutes.

5. To make sauce, mix ingredients together until smooth. Serve with casserole.

Serves 6.

Photo Finish: Pork Tenderloin!

October 31, 2005

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INT. MR. R.’S MANSION–BEDROOM–EVENING

The massive king bed nearly disappears beneath the volumes upon volumes of books and newspapers. The curtains are drawn and the light is so dim that a lone figure laying on the only open space on the bed is barely visible. He faintly resembles Mr. R. under the scruffy beard, only this man seems more portly and full than the fit, handsome actor.

The door to the bedroom creaks open, letting in a blinding stream of light. The man shifts to one side and turns the page of the book he is reading. The deep, baritone voice confirms his identity.

MR. R.

Thanks, Flora.

The woman puts the tray down on top of the books and he hungrily takes a look. A healthy green salad, some red potatoes dressed in rosemary and olive oil, and just pink slices of tender pork dabbed with a creamy mustard sauce. His mouth waters and he reaches for the fork tucked under the plate.

But he freezes before taking a bite. Poking out from under the linen napkin is a picture of Miss A.’s smiling face. Mr. R. slides the dinner items aside to reveal the full cover of the tabloid magazine currently sold on every grocery store shelf across the country.

He inhales deeply at the incriminating photo of the exuberant actress linked tightly to his own arm. The slow exhale is an extended effort to release wrath before speaking again.

MR. R.

Tell Caryn I don’t think this is humorous.

CARYN

Why don’t you tell her yourself?

Mr. R. guility looks up just in time to see his chef offer him a wicked smirk before slamming the door behind her.

Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Sauce

This is another of my mother’s recipes that my sister and I love. Pork tenderloin is one of the simplest dishes to make, and yet it turns out a very elegant, tender meat. If there are leftovers the next day, the pork slices nicely for sandwiches or to top a salad. The mustard sauce grows more intense the longer it sits.

2 pork tenderloins (about 1-1/4 lb each)

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup bourbon or tequila

2 TB. brown sugar

Sauce:

1/3 cup sour cream

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 TB. chopped scallions

1 TB. dry mustard

1-1/2 TB. vinegar

1. Combine soy, bourbon (or tequila) and sugar. Mix well. Marinate pork in mixture for 2-3 hours, basting occasionally.

2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

3. Remove pork from marinade and bake for 1 hour, basting occasionally with reserve marinade. When internal temperature of 150 degrees is reached, remove from oven and set aside for five minutes (temperature will continue to climb slightly).

4. Combine all sauce ingredients and mix well.

5. Carve pork into thin, diagonal slices and serve with sauce.

Serves 4-6.

Curve Ball: Risotto Cakes!

October 19, 2005

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INT. MR. R’S KITCHEN–DAY

Caryn stumbles into the kitchen, trying to carry way too many grocery bags in at once. She unloads the bags in the middle of the floor and takes a breath.

Flora is sitting at the table. The baseball game plays from the television in the corner.

FLORA

I’ve been trying your cell phone for an hour!

Caryn grabs the phone from her back pocket and flips it open. Dead.

Caryn

Sorry, Flora.

Flora starts to pick up the bags.

FLORA

Oh, it’s just that he wanted those rice balls again.

Caryn bends down to hear her.

CARYN

Rice balls? You mean the risotto cakes?

Flora nods.

FLORA

Yes, those cakes. With artichokes.

CARYN

But I don’t have any more artichokes. And I was just at the store!

Flora smiles apologetically. Caryn tosses the phone on the counter and heads back out.

CARYN (CONT’D)

Stupid cell phone.

INT. GROCERY STORE–LATER

Caryn scampers around the corner armed with the artichokes to discover that the only open checkout lane has a long line of HOLLYWOOD MISFITS. Their carts are filled as if expecting a blizzard.

Caryn gets in line. She smiles hopefully at the PINK-HAIRED MAN ahead of her and nods toward her two artichokes. He turns away as if he never saw her.

She sighs loudly, but no one in line hears. She picks up a copy of Cooking Light and flips impatiently through it. No interest in reading, she goes to replace it when she GASPS so dramatically that the whole line turns around to see if she’s okay.

Caryn doesn’t notice the attention of the crowd. She slowly lifts a large, glossy tabloid off the rack.

CARYN

Oh nooooo.

Sprawled across the cover is a huge photograph of Mr. R. and Miss A., arm in arm, laughing. In bright yellow letters, the headline reads: “Secretly Married?”. Caryn holds the magazine loosely in her hands, afraid to turn the page.

TEENAGE GIRL (O.S.)

Are you getting out of line, lady?

Caryn dazedly looks up to see the line moving ahead. The TEENAGE GIRL behind her taps her foot on the tile.

TEENAGE GIRL (CONT’D)

I’m missing the game here. Are you getting out of line or not?

CARYN

Yeah. I am.

Artichoke-Leek Risotto Cakes

2 large artichokes

1 TB. lemon juice

2 large leeks

1 garlic clove

2 TB. olive oil

3/4 cup arborio or carnaroli rice

2-1/2 chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups panko, or crisp breadcrumbs

1. Hack out the heart of the artichoke with a sharp knife. Clean all the fuzzy parts off and dice into large chunks. Douse with lemon juice. Slice white and light green parts of the leeks into 1/2″ slices.

2. Pulse artichokes, leeks and garlic in food processor until finely chopped.

3. Bring broth to a simmer in a small saucepan.

4. Heat oil over medium-high heat in large skillet or risotto pan. Add the artichoke, leeks and garlic and saute until tender. Stir in the rice and cook over medium heat until opaque, about 1 minute. Pour 1 cup of the hot broth into the rice, stirring constantly until liquid is mostly absorbed. Continue adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring the rice while it simmers. When all the stock has nearly been absorbed and the rice is thick, stir in parmesan until melted.

5. Remove risotto from heat and spread out in a tray to cool until room temperature (or refrigerate overnight). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a large cookie sheet.

6. With wet hands, form risotto into compressed round balls about the size of a fist. Flatten slightly and dip each one into egg and then panko. Space cakes evenly on oiled cookie sheet.

7. Bake until crisp and golden, about 25 minutes. Serve hot.

Makes 10-12 cakes.

Takin’ It Easy: Spinach Pie!

September 21, 2005

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INT. MR. R.’S MANSION–KITCHEN–DAY

The afternoon light warms the kitchen to a comfortable and sleepy temperature. Caryn sits at her table trying to stay awake. A magazine slips from her grasp and hits the floor with a THUD.

Caryn bolts upright as Flora enters.

CARYN

His lunch is on the counter.

Flora looks at the carefully prepared tray: spinach pie with a delicate, flaky crust, steaming tomato soup and a chilled glass of water with a lime wedge. Even a flower in a small glass vase.

CARYN (CONT’D)

Any sign of life in there?

Flora shakes her head no and takes the tray.

FLORA

Thank you, Caryn.

CARYN

Yeah, send him my regards.

Flora exits. Without a moment’s hesitation, Caryn returns to her nap.

Spinach-Ricotta Pie

Don’t put yourself out. Phyllo (filo) dough is actually so easy to work with and turns out a great dish. Be sure to thaw the dough completely before unrolling it.

1 lb. bag of baby spinach (about 15 cups)

2 TB. olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 TB. fresh oregano, chopped

4 eggs

4 oz. low-fat ricotta cheese

2 oz. parmesan, freshly grated

1 tsp. salt, divided

1/2 tsp. black pepper

4 TB. butter, melted

12 sheets phyllo dough

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Bunch or roll a handful of spinach leaves together, cut into thin strips. Repeat until all spinach is chopped. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.

3. Add spinach, oregano, and 1/2 tsp. salt to the onion. Cook over high heat until nearly all the liquid has evaporated from the spinach, about five minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

4. Beat eggs in large bowl. Add ricottta, parmesan, pepper and remaining salt. Stir until smooth. Add spinach mixture.

5. Brush the bottom and sides of a 13×9 baking pan with butter. Arrange half of the phyllo sheets in the bottom of the dish to cover and extend 1 inch up the sides (trim excess if necessary). Brush with butter.

6. Spoon spinach mixture over phyllo dough. Cover with remaining dough and neatly tuck the edge under. Brush with butter and diagonally score the top with the tip of a sharp knife.

7. Bake until pastry is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cut into 8 large squares and serve hot.

Serves 8.

Spicy Hot: Shrimp Wraps!

September 11, 2005

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INT. HOLLYWOOD MANSION–KITCHEN–DAY

Sizzling shrimp are the focus as Caryn prepares lunch. She tosses them around, determining that they are done, and then carries the skillet to the counter where the rest of the ingredients wait patiently.

Flora walks in with arms full of dirty laundry.

CARYN

Hey, Flora.

FLORA

It’s good to have you back again, Caryn. This place is so lonely when he’s on a movie.

Caryn smiles as she carefully drops the shrimp on top of the lettuce, cheese, tomato and jalapenos that sit in the center of a large flour wrap. Flora shoves the laundry into the chute and watches it tumble down to the basement.

CARYN

Will he be coming to the table for lunch today?

FLORA

No, Caryn, I’ll bring it to him.

Caryn stops, a bowl of pink sauce in her hand.

CARYN

Are you kidding me? I haven’t seen him in a week. Is he going to hide away in his room forever?

Flora shrugs apologetically. Caryn sighs with impatience. She finishes the wrap and slices it neatly in two before handing the plate to Flora.

CARYN (CONT’D)

In that case, Flora, tell him I’m leaving early today. I’ll put his dinner in the fridge.

Flora disappears through the swinging door. Caryn looks at the rest of the shrimp in the skillet. She resignedly shakes her head before taking out another wrap for herself.

Spicy Shrimp Wraps

This is a fast, but tasty, recipe for a quick meal. Pretty much all the portions of ingredients are negotiable, so adjust according to taste.

1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 TB. ground cumin

2 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. cayenne

2 TB. olive oil

1 lime

1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce

1/2 cup tomato, diced

4 oz. hot jalapeno jack cheese, shredded

1/2 cup pickled jalapeno, chopped

4 large flour wraps (or flour tortillas)

Sauce:

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 TB. sour cream

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped

2 tsp. adobo sauce

1. To make sauce, combine ingredients in small bowl until smooth.

2. Combine salt, pepper, cumin, paprika and cayenne. Add shrimp and toss to coat.

3. Heat oil in large skillet over high heat. Add shrimp and saute until cooked through, about two minutes. Remove from heat and squeeze lime over shrimp.

4. Evenly distribute lettuce, tomato, cheese and jalapenos over the bottom third portion of each of the four wraps. Divide shrimp over the other ingredients on the wraps. Drizzle with desired amount of sauce. For each wrap, fold in sides and roll up from the bottom. Slice in two and serve.

Yield: 4 wraps.

Memories of Childhood: Linguine with Clams!

September 2, 2005

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INT. KITCHEN IN ATLANTA HOME–EVENING–FLASHBACK, LATE 1970s

CHILD CARYN, about 5, sits at a table flanked by her YOUNG MOM and her blond-haired, blue-eyed SISTER KRISSY, about 7. Her YOUNG DAD sits across from her wearing square glasses with thick black frames. All are dressed in the appropriate attire for a family in the late 70s: bellbottoms.

Caryn and Krissy pick at the plate of pasta in front of them while their parents try to ignore them. Caryn sorts little pieces of indistinguishable seafood from the long strands.

CARYN

Mommy, what’s this?

YOUNG MOM

Linguine. Eat it.

CARYN

Lin-gweeeee-neeee?

Caryn spears a piece of shrimp with her fork and sniffs it. Krissy does the same and both girls immediately recoil in horror. For the rest of their meal, the girls attempt to clean the pasta of any evidence of the sauce before sucking up one strand at a time.

INT. CHURCH–CHRISTMAS EVE–FLASHBACK, EARLY 1980s

The traditional church with hard, mahogany pews is filled with the radiant light of the candles in the PARISHIONERS’ hands . The CHOIR leads the church in familiar Christmas hymns.

Mom, Dad, Krissy and Caryn, dressed in festive velvets and taffetas, sing the chorus with full, wide-opened mouths. One by one, the FOLKS in the pew in front of the family turn around to see who is behind them.

Mom and Dad seem to catch on to the unwanted attention before the two girls. Dad casually whispers to Mom at the start of the next verse.

DAD

Maybe next year we shouldn’t have the chicken with forty cloves of garlic before the candlelight service.

INT. ATLANTA KITCHEN–EVENING–FLASHBACK, 1980s

Caryn continues to grow up with every appearance. She wanders in wearing a neon orange sweatshirt with matching ribbons in her pigtails. Mom, now with a wavy perm in her hair, stirs parsley into a sauce on the stove.

CARYN

What’s for dinner?

MOM

Your favorite.

The drama queen spots the can of clams and staggers back.

CARYN

Nooooooooooo!!!!

INT. ATLANTA KITCHEN–DAY–FLASHBACK, LATE 1980s

Same place, same Mom in a sparkly blouse, but Caryn’s pigtails are now gone and she’s a tad bit taller. A large stock pot simmers on the stove. Mom peaks in as Caryn tries to steal a look too.

MOM

Want to try it?

Caryn is alarmed at the mere suggestion.

CARYN

Before dinner?

Mom flips off the lid.

MOM

Yep.

She scoops a little of the rich, tomato sauce into a bowl, leaving the chunks of pepperoni and sausage in the pot.

MOM (CONT’D)

I always like to have a little of the sauce with some bread for lunch. I like it better than on spaghetti.

She hands Caryn a slice of white bread. Mom and daughter tear off a piece of their bread and dip it into the sauce, coloring it a bright orangey-red. Caryn tastes it.

CARYN

Mmmmm. I wish we could have spaghetti every night!

Krissy, now the typical 80s teenager with big hair and colorful hoop earrings, walks in and sees them eating.

KRISSY

Hey! How come nobody called me?

INT. ATLANTA KITCHEN–EVENING–FLASHBACK, 1990

Dad, older but wearing the same thick-framed glasses as before, stands at the counter opening the mail. Mom stirs a pound of linguine into a pot of boiling water. The sound of a car’s motor is heard from the garage off the kitchen.

DAD

She’s baaaack.

Before long, a teenage Caryn comes in and unloads her backback in the middle of the floor.

MOM

Don’t leave that there. Take it upstairs.

CARYN

What’s for dinner?

MOM

Linguine.

Caryn dejectedly picks up the backpack and stomps out.

CARYN (O.S.)

Motherrrr, why can’t we ever have meatloaf or mac and cheese like a normal family?

Mom and Dad shrug to each other and continue about their business.

EXT. CARYN’S DUPLEX APARTMENT–EVENING–PRESENT DAY

A travel-weary Caryn drags her over-stuffed luggage up the steps of her front porch. She takes out her key to unlock the front door, but is surprised to find the door already slightly ajar.

INT. APARTMENT

Mom is sitting on the couch watching television when Caryn enters.

CARYN

Mom, what are you doing here?

MOM

I thought I’d come visit for a couple days. Good thing, too, because you really left this place a mess.

Caryn shoves the suitcases aside and plops down on the couch.

CARYN

You really could have given me a little warning before heading across the country to visit me.

MOM

I made dinner.

Caryn perks up at the thought of food. Mom goes into the kitchen.

CARYN

What’d you make?

MOM

Your favorite.

Mom’s Linguine with Shrimp and Clams

I learned to cook by watching my mother, who rarely made a bad meal. Originally from a Joy of Cooking recipe, Mom has made this quick pasta for as long as I can remember, much to the dismay of her children. She has adapted it over the years and often adds a dozen fresh littleneck clams to the canned. If using fresh clams, steam the clams in white wine by themselves in a pot with a lid. Make the sauce without the shrimp and add the steamed clams when you add the canned.

6 Tbl. olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 cup finely chopped parsley

1 cup minced clams with liquid (canned)

1/2 lb. shrimp, chopped into small pieces

1/8 tsp. oregano

1/2 cup white wine or vermouth

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 lb. linguine

parmesan cheese, freshly grated

1. Cook linguine according to package directions.

2. While pasta cooks, heat olive oil in large skillet until hot. Add minced garlic and cook gently 5 minutes.

3. Add parsley, clams, shrimp, oregano, wine and cayenne. Heat until bubbling and shrimp are pink.

4. Add sauce to hot cooked pasta and dress with parsley and lots of fresh parmesan.

Serves 3-4.

**This entry fulfills my obligation to the Memories of Childhood Meme for which I was tagged by Haverchuk. I’m now tagging Lisa at the new Lekker Lekker Lekkerste, Tara at the beautiful Seven Spoons and my buddy Danno at Cook’s Journal and Nola Cuisine (because he tagged me once before and I’m getting him back).

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

eggplant-2.jpg

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.