Category Archives: Second Act

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.

No Time to Cook: Hummus!

July 5, 2005

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EXT. TRAILER–SOMEWHERE IN UTAH–EVENING

A truly gorgeous evening in the mountains. Caryn sits on the steps, thumbing through a local paper. Amelia strolls up from a trailer down the row.

AMELIA

I see you made it to Utah.

CARYN

Why is a Civil War movie shooting here anyway?

AMELIA

They needed to simulate the Smokies. When Hollywood thinks of mountains, they think of Sundance. It’s the closest to nature they get.

Caryn laughs as the door opens and Mr. R. appears with a napkin tucked in his shirt collar.

MR. R.

Are we back from dinner?

Amelia gives him her most flirtatious smile.

AMELIA

Five more minutes.

Mr. R. nods and goes back inside. Amelia immediately returns to her normal professional self.

AMELIA (CONT’D)

After we wrap, some of the other assistants are coming to my room to hang out. Can you make it this time?

Caryn inadvertently checks the door behind her before responding.

CARYN

Um, I guess so. I mean, sure. Can I bring anything?

AMELIA

Maybe just some dip or something.

CARYN

I make a pretty good hummus.

AMELIA

Oh please, no. Just pick up something at the store. Who has time to cook?

She laughs at the thought and starts down the row again.

AMELIA (CONT’D)

See you later then.

Caryn waves goodbye before going in to assess the damage from dinner.

INT. HOTEL HALLWAY–EARLY MORNING

Caryn tiptoes down the hall carrying a large bowl that has been practically licked clean of the hummus that was in it. When she gets to her door, she unsticks a note taped to it.

NOTE: “Looked for you all night. In the future, please let me know if you are going out. –R”

She carefully replaces the note back on the door and slips inside without a sound.

Hummus

This recipe from my mother makes a delightfully creamy hummus. And it’s so simple…

Mix in Blender:

1 16oz. can chick peas

3-5 garlic cloves

3/4 cup water.

Blend well.

Add:

1 cup sesame paste (tahini)

1 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tsp. salt

Blend well and chill.

Market Street’s Shrimp & Grits!

June 21, 2005

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EXT. MISSISSIPPI HIGHWAY–NIGHT

The only car out tonight is a stretch limo racing down the still warm pavement. Odd sight considering the area.

INT. LIMO

Caryn and Mr. R. are positioned at their opposite ends of the car, a mound of luggage piled on the seats between them. Mr. R. peers out the window.

MR. R.

I’m hungry.

Caryn looks out her window, but the car is enveloped in utter darkness.

CARYN

Shall we fetch some roadkill?

Mr. R. leans forward and rolls down the dividing window to speak to the driver.

MR. R.

Can you pull off at the next town to grab a quick bite?

The driver acknowledges the order but Caryn isn’t as willing to accept the change in plans.

CARYN

We’ll be late for our flight.

MR. R.

Don’t worry. They’ll accommodate me. I’m in first class.

Caryn sinks back into her seat and mutters to herself.

CARYN

I’m not.

EXT. COLUMBUS, MISSISSIPPI–MOMENTS LATER

The limo turns down a street bringing them into the center of an old, southern town. Beautifully preserved buildings lock in the secrets of their long history.

They approach a restaurant with big, glass windows that looks like the storefront of an old general store. A green sign in the window reads “Market Street Grocery and Grill.”

INT. LIMO

Mr. R. is considering his options when he sees the restaurant.

MR. R.

Stop here. This looks good.

INT. MARKET STREET GROCERY AND GRILL

Caryn and Mr. R. find themselves in the door of a classy, dimly-lit restaurant of polished wood. Dessert plates on the tables have been wiped clean, but the many happy DINERS show no signs of leaving just yet.

MR. R.

Ahh, civilization!

The HOST, a very tall man with dark hair, walks up and greets them. Friendly but showing no signs of recognition of his famed guest.

HOST

May I help you?

CARYN

Can we see a menu?

He hands them a menu and the two pour over it with discerning eyes. The lengthy list of delectable selections is a virtual buffet of southern classics, spiced up nicely by some signature recipes.

CARYN (CONT’D)

Shrimp and grits! Yes!

Mr. R. turns on the charm to the host.

MR. R.

Would it be possible to get some food packaged to go?

CARYN

We’re not staying?

Mr. R. feigns annoyance.

MR. R.

I thought you were concerned about missing the flight.

Caryn turns to the host.

CARYN

Table for two please.

As they are shown to a table, Caryn mutters to herself.

CARYN (CONT’D)

The plane will wait.

Market Street Grocery and Grill

121 5th Street South

Columbus, MS 39705

662-245-1086 ph.

Market Street is a culinary gem in the heart of downtown Columbus. If you’re in the area, you must stop by! If it’s too far, Chef Opal was kind of enough to provide a taste:

Market Street’s Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp Sauce:

3 cups shrimp stock

2 cups heavy cream

3 Tb. fresh basil – chiffonade

1/2 cup white wine

TT salt and pepper (white)

TT any seasonings, personal choice

1/4 cup roux, blonde. (or until thickened)

Reduce stock by 1/4. Then, add cream, basil, wine and seasoning. Heat to simmer then add roux. Whisk until it coats back of spoon.

Grits:

4 cups yellow grits (works best but Quaker grits will do.)

**enough water to prepare grits according to package directions

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped

1 cup cheddar cheese (or any creamy cheese)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

TT salt and pepper

Add grits to boiling water**, whisking.

Add cream, peppers and seasoning until thick.

Add cheese, stir until melted.

10 per plate – sauteed shrimp. 21/25 count works best. Peeled and deveined.

Plating:

Works best in large pasta bowl.

Grits in middle (cakes, scoops or slightly runny.)

Sauce on top and around.

Place shrimp around and on top of grits.

Garnish with green onions and chopped bacon.

Chef Opal’s recipe is an estimate based on her cooking in quantity for the restautant. Adjust portions as necessary, especially with the grits.

Spicy Vegetarian Chili!

June 15, 2005

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EXT. SOMEWHERE IN MISSISSIPPI–MOVIE SET–DAY

Rain pours down in thick sheets over the expanse of the set now covered in blue tarp. Straggling crew members scramble to get the last pieces of equipment under cover.

LIGHTNING FLASH

Caryn jumps, knocking an empty can to the floor with a loud clang.

INT. TRAILER

Caryn chases the can over to the couch where Mr. R. sits like a sopping wet puppy with a towel draped over his shoulders.

MR. R.

They think they’re going to resume shooting today? Ha!

Caryn tosses the can in the trash. She stirs a spoon through a simmering pot of spicy chili. The multi-colored beans seem to be the only color in the trailer turned monochromatic from the pelting rain.

CARYN

This is ready. It’ll warm you up.

MR. R.

They should send us home.

Caryn prepares a bowl of chili, complete with a dollop of sour cream and snipped fresh chives. Mr. R. wraps his hands around the warm bowl.

POUNDING THUNDER shakes the trailer. Caryn backs against the wall. Mr. R. seems undisturbed, concentrating on the hot chili.

She quickly regains composure and collects the other cans from the counter. Mr. R. takes a break from his lunch to look out the window.

MR. R.

The storm is just getting started.

He looks over to his chef who is trying to remain cheerful amidst the gloom of the afternoon.

MR. R. (CONT’D)

Caryn, you should take the limo back to your room.

She looks up from her work.

CARYN

That’s very kind, but I’m okay.

He holds her gaze, not accepting her answer.

CARYN (CONT’D)

I have to clean up and–

MR. R.

Leave it! Just go. There’s no reason for both of us to be miserable here.

She pauses to examine her unfinished work. Slowly, she collects her things and heads to the door.

CARYN

Call me if you need anything?

He nods and returns to his chili. Caryn slips out, leaving her boss to brood alone in the mess she left behind.

Chipotle-Infused Vegetarian Chili

The chipotle peppers lend so much of their flavor to this quick chili, you’ll think it simmered all day long.

1 TB. olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

1 green pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. oregano

2-3 canned chipotle peppers, chopped

2 15-oz. cans black beans, drained

1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained

1 15-oz. can pinto beans, drained

1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes

1 can tomato paste

3 cans water

1. Heat oil in large, heavy dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and green pepper and saute until transulent and tender.

2. Add garlic and saute for one minute. Add cumin, oregano and chipotle peppers and saute 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.

3. Add beans, tomatoes, paste and water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes, or until thickened.

Serves 8.

Civil Wars, Red Beans and Rice!

June 5, 2005

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INT. TRAILER–LATE AFTERNOON

Mr. R. enters in a tattered uniform of the Confederate Army and a deep layer of makeup. His dense, dark hair is slicked back neatly, but there are fake cuts and scrapes across his broad forehead. Caryn stifles a laugh from the stove.

CARYN

(in her thickest Southern accent)

Is the wah over?

MR. R.

No, just breaking for lunch, Miss Scarlett.

Caryn takes the lid off a large pot on the stove. She scoops a heavy ladle of thick, red beans into the bowl. Mr. R. picks a piece of andouille sausage from the pot.

MR. R. (CONT’D)

If your army ate this well, y’all might have won.

She adds a spoonful of buttered rice to the beans and hands it to the soldier. He plops down on the couch to eat.

MR. R. (CONT’D)

Who ever heard of a Civil War comedy anyway?

He is barely on his second spoonful when the door opens and Lauren walks in. She is dressed down in an attempt to fit in with the crew, but her $400 jeans somehow miss the mark.

LAUREN

I swear our caterers make the worst coffee on the planet.

She slams her cup on the table and pulls a Diet Coke from the fridge, just as the door opens again and Miss A. makes the reunion complete. She is the worst dressed of all in a pink, corseted hoop-dress. Obnoxious curls bob from her whole head.

MISS A.

The AC is out in my trailer. Mind if I crash in here?

No one responds, but she wasn’t really asking. Caryn steps nimbly aside as Miss A. helps herself to a bowl of the beans.

LAUREN

You don’t have much room in that corset to eat.

MISS A.

I know. Loosen it for me, will you?

Lauren sighs and makes half an effort to untie the strings. Mr. R. continues to eat, trying not to spill on his costume. Caryn pretends to clean around the stove.

When the strings are slightly loosened, Lauren steps back to assess any damage to her nails. Miss A. takes her bowl to the door.

MISS A. (CONT’D)

Well, I’m wrapped after the next shot. So I’ll see you at eight?

Unsure who she’s talking to, Lauren and Caryn look toward Mr. R. who nods quietly without looking up.

MISS A. (CONT’D)

Good. I’m gonna go get my makeup touched up.

She leaves. Caryn resumes her pseudo-cleaning, but Lauren stares at Mr. R. a moment.

LAUREN

You know you’re in every shot for the remainder of the day.

Mr. R. sets his bowl aside.

MR. R.

Yeah, but I think we’ll finish a little early.

Lauren laughs icily and starts for the door too.

LAUREN

Wouldn’t count on it, Big Guy.

As soon as she’s gone, Mr. R. shakes his fingers through his hair, effectively messing up the design. He leans back on the couch with his eyes closed. Caryn wipes vigorously at a non-existent spot.

MR. R.

No, Caryn, the war rages on.

I have been looking forward to trying one of the recipes at New Orleans Cuisine and the Red Beans and Rice is a perfect example of Danno’s commitment to authentic cuisine from Louisiana. I substituted a meaty ham bone for the neck bones. The tender meat slowly fell off the bone as the beans simmered. For someone who spent a large portion of her life within shouting distance of Creole and Cajun Country, I couldn’t have been happier with this recipe!

California’s Finest: Guac!

June 1, 2005

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EXT. SOMEWHERE IN MISSISSIPPI–MOVIE SET–DAY

Under one of the large, white tents, enough tables are set up for a few hundred people. CATERERS are busy setting up for lunch.

Caryn wanders around base camp, stretching her legs and looking around. She strolls up to the craft services table to investigate. A smorgasboard of snacks is spread out for all to partake. She grabs a little piece of chocolate.

WOMAN (O.S.)

Are you Mr. R.’s assistant?

Caryn turns around to be greeted by a prim, YOUNG WOMAN with a tight ponytail and stylish glasses.

CARYN

Um, yeah. I’m Caryn.

WOMAN

I’m Amelia. I’m the director’s assistant.

CARYN

Oh wow. That sounds like fun.

Amelia picks up a tortilla chip and cracks it into two pieces.

AMELIA

It’s okay. Your job sounds like more fun. How is it to work for him? He seems soooo cool.

Amelia dips the chip particle into a bowl of brownish guacamole and eats it.

CARYN

Yeah, it’s okay, I guess.

AMELIA

You’re so lucky. He’s even hotter in person than on screen. And he’s so charming.

She stirs the water back into the guacamole and scoops another helping onto the other half of her chip. The CRAFT SERVICES MAN comes up and places another bowl of chips on the table.

CRAFTY MAN

How do you like the guacamole? I just made it fresh.

Caryn takes another glance at the gloppy mess.

AMELIA

It’s really good. Thanks.

Amelia’s cell phone starts buzzing away at the clip on her belt.

AMELIA (CONT’D)

Oh! I gotta go. Caryn, come over to our trailer later. Some other assistants are gonna watch a movie.

Caryn smiles and nods enthusiastically. Amelia grabs another chip on her way, but Caryn opts for an apple.

EXT. TRAILER–LATER

A FedEx box with Caryn’s name on it leans against the trailer door. Caryn rips it open to find a box full of fresh California avocados.

She peeks inside the box looking for an explanation and finds a brief note scrawled on paper.

NOTE: “Thought you might miss California by now. Punky is happy but shedding orange fur all over my couch. Call us sometime. –Matt”

She flips over the note to discover a recipe in the same handwriting.

Matt’s Guacamole

in my opinion, the key is absolutely fresh ingredients and nothing

extraneous. the simpler the better. also i personally hate tomatoes in guacamole.

3 medium California Haas avocados

1/2 cup red onion

1 tbsp minced cilantro

1/2 tsp minced garlic

1 tbsp lime juice

1 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste

salt & pepper to taste

1. peel & pit avocados. mash the pulp in a bowl.

2. combine with remaining ingredients and adjust salt, pepper, and

cayenne to taste.

serve immediately with Frito’s(r) brand corn chips or cover & refrigerate.

(mark bittman claims that including the avocado pits in the dip helps prevent the guacamole from turning brown if it is prepared up to 4 hours in advance. i don’t know if this is actually true, but it is definitely true that leaving it out for awhile will allow the guacamole to turn a really disgusting shade).

- M

p.s. just kidding about the fritos.

Skip the Donut, Fry an Apple!

May 28, 2005

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EXT. SOMEWHERE IN RURAL MISSISSIPPI–EARLY MORNING

Giant tents can be seen from quite a distance on the flat, Southern landscape. Dozens of WORKERS unload heavy, shiny lights from their big-rig trucks. Other FOLKS mill about a couple of steamy, catering trucks, discussing the day’s workload over their cups of coffee and donuts.

Row after row of trailers are lined up, indistinguishable from one another as PEOPLE pass in and out with clipboards and headset walkies. One trailer, however, wafts with the smell of frying dough and apples…

INT. TRAILER

Caryn has already made the new kitchen her home. She stands comfortably over the small stove, dropping rings into oil bubbling madly in her cast iron skillet.

Mr. R. lounges on the couch, script in hand and a napkin tucked into his shirt collar.

MR. R.

I can’t believe you brought an iron skillet all the way across the country.

CARYN

I would’ve shipped it, but I didn’t know where we were going.

(she pauses)

I’m still not quite sure where we are.

MR. R.

Me neither. All I know is that there isn’t a Starbucks in sight and Lauren has been on a latte-deprived rampage all week.

Caryn winces at the thought as she drains the rings. A timid knock sounds at the door before it is cracked open. The very young, shy SECOND SECOND ASSISTANT DIRECTOR peeks her head in.

2ND 2ND AD

Mr. R.? I think they’re ready for you in make-up.

Mr. R. rolls the script up under his arm and walks over to the girl in the door. She is clearly enamored with the star.

Caryn piles some crisp, doughy apple rings onto a napkin.

CARYN

Wait. Take these with you!

MR. R.

Ah! Perfect. Beats the heck out of craft services.

The 2nd 2nd looks at Caryn in wonder, but is afraid to speak. The pair heads off down the row to find another trailer. A couple CREW MEMBERS wander by nonchalantly, but as Mr. R. passes, they can’t help a quick glance back.

BATTER-FRIED APPLE RINGS

The tartness of a Granny Smith apple will cut through the cakey dough. The batter isn’t sweet, so you might want to add sugar. Or use a sweeter apple, like a Golden Delicious.

1 cup flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 TB. shortening

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

4 medium apples, pared and cored

vegetable oil, for frying

confectioner’s sugar

1. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening with a fork or two knives until crumbly. Add egg and milk. Whisk until batter is smooth.

2. Heat 1/2″ of oil in large, heavy-duty skillet until hot enough to fry. Test by dropping a tiny dab of batter into oil. If too hot, batter will burn before apples are cooked, so adjust temperature accordingly while frying.

3. Cut apples into 1/4″ slices. Dip apples into batter until well coated. Drop into hot oil. Fry until golden and apples are cooked through, about 2 minutes each side.

4. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with sugar just before serving.

Yield: About 2 dozen rings.

IMBB #15: Riesling Fruit Salad!

May 22, 2005

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EXT. VALLEY HOUSE–LARGE BACKYARD–LATE AFTERNOON

Matt is hosting a rousing barbecue of LA’s young and swanky crowd. PARTY GUESTS mingle by the barbecue pit that has been dug in one corner of the yard. Caryn and Winnie hang out near a table of salads, taking in the scene. Given the recent heat wave, they are appropriately dressed in cool linen.

Matt leads a tall, gorgeous BLOND WOMAN over to Caryn and Winnie. Her sparkling blouse and high heels might be better suited for cocktail hour, but she wears it well.

MATT

Caryn, Winnie. This is Lisa.

The ladies exchange greetings as Lisa scoots other plates aside to put down her colorful pasta salad.

CARYN

That looks very tasty, Lisa.

LISA

Thanks. I actually can’t eat it, though. I’m a carb-free vegan.

Caryn and Winnie share a look.

MATT

Caryn, what did you bring?

She points to her molded fruit salad, where peaches and pears glisten under a pale gold gelatin.

CARYN

It has a late-harvest riesling in it.

LISA

Ohhh, a jello salad. I liked those when I was a kid. How cute.

Caryn’s eyes narrow as she opens her mouth to respond, but Matt jumps in.

MATT

You must be thirsty, Lisa. Let’s go get a drink.

Lisa nods and heads towards the beverage table. Matt whispers back toward Caryn and Winnie.

MATT (CONT’D)

Hot day, huh?

He winks just as he is enveloped in a small crowd.

WINNIE

A carb-free vegan? What the heck does she eat?

Vic sneaks up behind Winnie.

VIC

Who are you two critiquing now?

Winnie links her arm into her fiance’s.

WINNIE

Are y’all ready to go? I’m tired already.

CARYN

Yeah, I have an early flight tomorrow.

Winnie pretends to pout at the thought. By the drinks, Matt leans in to whisper something into Lisa’s ear, causing her to break out in a high-pitched squeal of a laugh.

CARYN (CONT’D)

I don’t think we need to say goodbye. Let’s go.

EXT. FREEWAY–NEXT MORNING

A stretch limosine idles in the left lane of a jam-packed freeway that simply does not move.

INT. LIMO

Caryn and Mr. R. sit quietly on opposite ends of the plush car. She hugs her bag to her chest and watches traffic creep by as Mr. R. reads a book. After a moment, he sighs and snaps the book closed to examine the traffic situation.

MR. R.

I won’t miss this.

CARYN

I think we all need a little break from this city.

The traffic starts to pick up for no apparent reason and in little time they are breezing down the freeway, finally on their way…

This entry was posted as a part of IMBB #15: Has My Blog Jelled?. Check out the many other creative entries!

Riesling Fruit Salad

2 small peaches, peeled and sliced

1 pear, peeled and sliced

2 apricots, sliced

1/2 pint raspberries

1/2 pint blueberries

3 envelopes unflavored gelatin

2 TB. sugar

3 cups white grape juice

2 cups riesling, preferrably late harvest**

1. In small saucepan, sprinkle gealtin over 1 cup grape juice. Let stand 2-3 minutes. Stir in sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often until granules are completely dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour into a large bowl. Add remaining grape juice and wine.

2. Place bowl over a larger bowl half-filled with ice water. Let stand about 20 minutes or until gelatin starts to thicken, stirring occasionally. Whisk gelatin to form bubbles throughout. Stir in fruit. Remove from ice bath and pour into 8-10 cup mold. Refrigerate at least 8 hours until firm.

3. Place a plate upside down on top of mold. Invert onto plate. If gelatin does not release, dip mold up to rim in warm water for 5 seconds before inverting.

Serves 12.

**Sparkling grape juice can be substituted for a non-alcoholic version.

No Kidding: Pot Roast!

May 19, 2005

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INT. MR. R.’S DINING ROOM–EARLY EVENING

Mr. R. sits at the table with a thick book open before him. He is dressed in his usual Hollywood attire again and looking much refreshed. Caryn brings in the sliced roast on a large serving platter and a bowl of hot, buttery smashed potatoes.

Mr. R. looks up from his book and examines his dinner.

MR. R.

Is this what I’ve been smelling all day?

CARYN

Yes, sir. It cooked for almost four hours. Makes it soft.

MR. R.

Well, I’m finally hungry again. Looks great.

He spears a couple pieces of beef with his fork and drags them to his plate. Caryn pushes a bowl of sauce closer to him and he spoons it over the meat.

MR. R. (CONT’D)

Well, Caryn, are you ready to cook out of a trailer?

Caryn laughs.

CARYN

I’ve been packed for days!

MR. R. piles potatoes next to his entree.

MR. R.

Great, then you can help me pack.

Caryn backs up to the door.

CARYN

I think I better leave the packing to you and Flora. I’ve seen your shoe collection.

Mr. R. laughs as the beef seemingly melts in his mouth.

MR. R.

That’s funny, but I really wasn’t kidding.

Caryn slumps in the door.

CARYN

I know. I’ll get the suitcases out.

Blue Ribbon Pot Roast with Smashed Potatoes

After reading the fabulous article about pot roasts in Cook’s Illustrated, I couldn’t wait to try my hand at it again! The meat is fall-apart tender and incredibly tasty. Slice leftovers for hot, open-faced sandwiches the next day.

1 boneless, chuck eye roast (3-4 lbs.)

2 TB. vegetable oil

1 cup onion, chopped

1/2 cup carrot, chopped

1/2 cup celery, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp. sugar

1 can low-sodium chicken broth

1 can low-sodium beef broth

1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

water

1/4 cup red wine

salt and pepper

2 lbs. small red potatoes

2/3 cup butter

1/2 cup half-and-half

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Season roast with salt and pepper.

2. Heat oil in large Dutch oven. Brown roast until golden on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Add onion, carrot and celery. Cook over medium heat until starting to brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and sugar and cook for 30 seconds. Add chicken and beef broth and thyme. Return roast to pan and add enough water until liquid is half-way up the sides of the roast. Bring to a simmer.

3. Cover with a layer of foil and then the lid (foil makes seal tighter). Transfer pot to oven. Turn roast every 30 minutes and cook until very tender, about 3 1/2 hours.

4. Add potatoes to Dutch oven and continue to cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove potatoes from pan and set aside. Transfer roast to carving board and cover with foil.

5. When liquid is slightly cool, ladle into a large, heavy-duty plastic bag. Allow fat to rise to surface. Snip off corner of bag and drain liquid back into pot, stopping before fat layer is reached. Boil over high heat until reduced by half, about 8 minutes. Add red wine and boil 2 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper.

6. To make potatoes: Smash potatoes with fork or potato masher. Add butter and cream and stir with a spoon. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with a pad of butter.

7. Meat can either be sliced or pulled into large pieces. Spoon sauce over meat. Serve with potatoes and remaining sauce on side. Garnish with thyme sprig, if desired.

Serves 6.

Guilty: Gorgonzola Grit Cakes!

May 5, 2005

gorgon-grits.jpg

INT. MR.R.’S MANSION–KITCHEN–EVENING

Fresh steaks marinate on the counter and a large skillet is coated with oil. But the kitchen is devoid of its cook.

INT. MR. R.’S MANSION–HALLWAY–SAME

Caryn meanders through the passageway, looking at the bizarre art on the walls. She stops at the bottom of a flight of stairs. She looks over her shoulder, but there is no one around. Caryn creeps up the stairs and peers around the corner.

INT. UPSTAIRS

Another hallway lined with doors. Haphazardly she chooses one.

INT. BEDROOM

Caryn finds herself in an elaborately decorated suite with a window that seems to hover above all of Los Angeles. By the teeny-sized and elegant clothing strewn about the room, it is clear that this is Miss A.’s room.

Caryn holds one of the dresses up to her body. She grunts at how much it doesn’t cover and tosses it aside. Backing up, she nearly trips over a pair of glittering silver stilettos.

To her credit, there is a brief moment of hesitation before Caryn kicks off her own boring shoes and slips into the Blahniks. She tiptoes across the room to a full-length mirror. She pulls up her pant leg to consider the new calf line.

MR. R.

Caryn.

Caryn cringes, afraid to turn around. Mr. R. stands behind her, his raincoat dripping on the floor.

CARYN

Yes….sir.

MR. R.

Dinner?

Her face crumples like a ball of aluminum foil.

CARYN

Yes, sir. Fifteen minutes.

INT. DINING ROOM–LATER

Mr. R. has changed into his jeans and t-shirt and he sits alone, reading. Caryn serves him the grilled steak, accompanied by a still sizzling grit cake that is starting to seep gorgonzola from the side. Mr. R. slices it in two with his fork and takes a bite as Caryn tries to exit.

MR. R.

Caryn.

She stops, head hung low.

MR. R. (CONT’D)

I don’t think there’s any reason to mention–

She musters a look over her shoulder at him.

MR. R. (CONT’D)

–your exploits…to A., do you?

CARYN

Um, no. Sir.

He resumes eating, but as Caryn escapes, a sly smile cracks on his lips.

Gorgonzola Grit Cakes

3 cups water

1 cup water ground grits (not instant!)

1 tsp. salt

3 oz. gorgonzola, crumbled

1 egg, beaten

flour for dredging

2-3 TB. vegetable oil

1. Bring water to a boil. Add salt and grits and lower heat. Cook until thick, stirring constantly, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in egg and gorgonzola, stirring until cheese is melted and well combined.

2. Pour grits into 8″ cake pan (round is better). Cool in pan and then refrigerate uncovered until completely set, at least an hour after cool.

3. With a 2-1/2″ round cutter, carefully cut grits into 6 rounds and remove from pan. Dredge rounds in flour.

4. Heat oil in large skillet until hot. Pan-fry grit cakes until golden, about 2 minutes each side. Serve immediately.

**Make sure that the oil is hot enough before frying or the grits will begin to fall apart before browning.

Makes 6 grit cakes.