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.

Laborless Lemon Shortbread!

September 5, 2005

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INT. CARYN’S APARTMENT–DAY

Caryn lounges on the couch, still wearing pajamas that look like they’ve been on her body for a few days. A cup of lemon-blueberry tea steams from the coffee table. Next to the cup is a severely depleted pile of buttery, lemon shortbread.

Mom walks in from the bedroom, fully dressed for a day on the town. She turns down the volume on the blaring television.

MOM

Is that all you’re going to do all day? Lay around eating shortbread and watching weepy movies?

CARYN

I sense that you don’t approve.

MOM

I’m going shopping. Want to come?

Caryn rolls over on the couch and stretches.

CARYN

Mom, it’s Labor Day and I have no desire to do anything that even remotely hints at the idea of labor.

Mom hooks her little pink purse on her arm, which perfectly matches her pink capri pants.

MOM

Suit yourself, but you really can’t afford to eat any more shortbread.

Mom leaves and Caryn reaches for another piece.

Lemon Shortbread

1 1/2 sticks of salted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 TB. grated lemon zest

1/2 tsp. lemon extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream together butter and sugar until light. Sift flour into butter. Add zest and extract and blend until smooth.

3. On an ungreased cookie sheet, press dough into an 8″ square with lightly floured fingers. Smooth top and score into 2″ squares with the back of a knife.

4. Bake until lightly golden on edges, about 20 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Cut into 2″ pieces and continue to cool on wire rack.

Yield 16 cookies.

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

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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.

Start the Day Off Right: Blueberry Muffins!

July 25, 2005

Blueberry-Muff.jpg

INT. HOTEL HALLWAY–DAY

Caryn sits on the floor outside the door, talking on her cell phone.

CARYN

I think we only have a few more days here and then we’re off again.

INT. MATT’S HOUSE–LIVING ROOM

Matt flips through a car magazine as Punky bathes himself on the couch next to him.

MATT

You know, I’ve switched over to reading Chocolate and Zucchini. She updates more often.

INT. HOTEL HALLWAY

CARYN

Ha, ha. We have a day off today, so I’m working on another entry.

Loud laughs are heard from the door behind her.

CARYN (CONT’D)

I gotta go. I’m sure they’ll be crying for their breakfast any minute now.

She snaps the phone closed and stands up.

INT. MR. R.’S HOTEL SUITE

Mr. R., Lauren and Miss A. are gathered in the living room of a suite that could pass for a small house. Hard to believe his room and Caryn’s are even in the same hotel.

Caryn enters and heads straight for the kitchen where her streusel-topped blueberry muffins are cooling. She carefully lifts each one out of the pan and lays them in a linen-lined basket.

MISS A.

It’s so nice to have a day off. These six-day weeks are too long.

LAUREN

I’d rather shoot the whole movie straight through and head back to LA as soon as possible.

Caryn places the basket of muffins on the table and pours coffee.

MR. R.

Come on, Lauren. Everyone needs time off. What should we do today?

Miss A. takes a muffin and tears it open. Hot blueberries leave deep blue stains on her fingers.

MISS A.

Maybe Caryn can pack us a lunch and we’ll sight-see.

No one reacts to the suggestion, so she tries again.

MISS A. (CONT’D)

Or we could plan a little dinner party here!

Lauren casually looks up at Caryn from her caffeine fix.

LAUREN

We could do that. Some of the people on the movie. Maybe twelve?

Mr. R. opens the paper as he picks streusel off the top of his muffin.

MR. R.

Caryn, you can put that together for this evening, right?

CARYN

Sure. Whatever you want.

MR. R.

Okay then. We’ll relax around here today and have a few people over tonight for an easy dinner.

Everyone seems content. Mr. R. immerses himself in the morning news, Miss A. takes another muffin and Lauren enjoys her second cup of coffee while she skims some paperwork.

Caryn heads back to the kitchen, muttering under her breath.

CARYN

Sure. Everyone needs time off…

Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins

These muffins are incredibly moist and tender. Make sure that the streusel topping is light and crumbly before sprinkling on tops, or it will sink into the batter. When working in a warm kitchen, keep the topping cool by temporarily storing it in the fridge.

2-1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 TB. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 eggs, lightly beaten

5 TB. butter, melted and cooled

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup buttermilk

2 cups blueberries

Streusel Topping:

3 TB. flour

2 TB. brown sugar

1 TB. sugar

2 TB. cold butter, cut into pieces

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease 12 muffin cups.

2. To make streusel: place flour, brown sugar, sugar, butter and cinnamon in a small food processor. Pulse until coarse crumbs. Keep cool until batter is ready.

3. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

4. Whisk together eggs, butter, vanilla and buttermilk. Add flour mixture to buttermilk mixture, stirring just until moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Gently fold in blueberries.

5. Fill muffin cups with batter until level with edge. Sprinkle streusel topping over batter.

6. Bake until golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Muffins will be very tender when warm. Carefully loosen edges with a spatula when slightly cool. It’s okay to cool muffins in pan until they are stable enough to handle.

Yield: 12 muffins with over-sized tops.