I’m back! Anyone miss me? With the long holiday weekend
approaching, I’m sure most of us will be outside, enjoying grilled food and
fireworks. But hey, the fun in the sun can’t last forever. So with temperatures
predicted to be in the triple digits, pluck this DVD off the shelves, turn up
the AC and enjoy a bit of downtime before you need to reapply another layer of
aloe to your sunburned skin. Happy Fourth everyone!
Film (with rating): Red Riding Hood (PG-13)
Warner Home Video
Medieval villager Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) is torn between two men: the
brooding yet hot outsider named Peter and the rich Henry her parents want her
to marry. Before Valerie and Peter can run away together, a werewolf kills
Valerie’s sister. Everyone in the village becomes a suspect when a famed
werewolf hunter warns that the killer can be living among them in this gothic
some very attractive and young Hollywood stars, add in a lycanthorpe, toss a
bit of that dark and brooding medieval charm, pepper it with plenty of romance
and mystery, and you’ve made all those jonesing for a “Twilight” fix
very happy. No wonder: “Twilight” helmer Catherine Hardwicke directs
“Red Riding Hood” as well, and her fang-loving influence is obvious.
That all said, I don’t think “RRH” is a bad flick or a cheap rip-off
of the vampire/werewolf bandwagon. Instead, I believe it can stand true on its
own. No, it’s not a classic retelling of the fairy tale, but it’s a nice
spin-off. The setting is almost a character in itself. The dark, creepy woods,
the gothic feel to the village, the way the ambiance wraps itself around the
viewer–all of this makes for some good movie viewing. There’s even a nice
cliffhanger–a sequel setup?
Seyfried is lovely as the title character, giving
the movie a modern feel. Hardwicke tags the film as a gothic who-dunnit, which
it is in a way. In short, I loved the feel of the film. I know “The
Wolfman” was bashed about by critics, but even with its cheesiness, I
enjoyed the foggy, creepy setting. “RRH” has that same feel, but with
a stronger story foundation held up by better acting.
It’s beautifully made,
and combining that with the multi-faceted plot, you’ve got yourself a winner.
Even if you’re not a teenage girl wearing a “Team Jacob” t-shirt.
The alternate ending (on Blu-Ray)
What to serve for dinner: Everyone knows the traditional fairy tale about
Little Red Riding Hood, right? She’s off into the dark woods to go see Grandma.
So let’s cook up a dish that your grandmother would: fried chicken with pan
gravy (www.cdkitchen.com), coleslaw and mashed potatoes.
Fried Chicken and Gravy
3 pounds broiler/fryer chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups shortening
Rinse chicken and place in a large bowl with buttermilk.
Cover and refrigerate at least one hour or, better yet, overnight.
In a large plastic bag, combine flour, half the salt, thyme
and half the black pepper. Remove chicken from buttermilk and place on a large
plate (do not pat dry). Season chicken on both sides with remaining salt and
pepper. Add a few pieces of chicken to the bag, close and shake to coat well;
place on a clean plate. Repeat with remaining chicken.
In a deep 12-14″ skillet, melt shortening over medium
heat. When shortening reaches 350 degrees on a deep fat thermometer (hot but
not smoking), add chicken, skin side down, one piece at a time. Cover and fry 8
minutes (uncover halfway through to see that oil is simmering and chicken is
turning light golden); turn heat down if oil gets hotter than 350 degrees or
the skin gets too brown or burns.
Turn chicken over with tongs. Cover skillet and fry 8 more
minutes. Uncover skillet and fry 15-20 more minutes, or until chicken is golden
brown outside and no longer pink inside, turning occasionally.
Note: If your pan isn’t big enough to hold all the chicken
pieces, cook half the pieces first and then place them on a baking sheet in a
200 degree oven while you fry the second batch. If you want all the chicken
done at the same time (it takes about 35 minutes to fry up each batch), you’ll
have to get two skillets going at the same time.
Drippings from frying chicken
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/3 cup whole milk
After chicken is cooked, pour off all but 2 Tbs. drippings
from the skillet. Place skillet over medium heat and whisk in flour, salt and
pepper until smooth. Gradually whisk in milk. Continue whisking until gravy
boils and thickens. Serve with plenty of hot biscuits.
Cream Cole Slaw (Bobby Flay, www.foodnetwork.com)
1 head green cabbage, finely shredded
large carrots, finely shredded
3/4 cup best-quality mayonnaise
tablespoons sour cream
tablespoons grated Spanish onion
tablespoons sugar, or to taste
tablespoons white vinegar
tablespoon dry mustard
teaspoons celery salt
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Combine the shredded cabbage and carrots in a large bowl.
Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, onion, sugar, vinegar, mustard,
celery salt, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl, and then add to the cabbage
mixture. Mix well to combine and taste for seasoning; add more salt, pepper, or
sugar if desired.
What to talk about over dinner: What was your favorite fairy tale? What’s the
fascination with vampires and werewolves all about? Did you hop on the
“Twilight” train? Why or why not? Do you like vamps or wolves better?
What’s the movie with the best setting/ambiance? What movie had the worst? Who
was your favorite “RRH” character? Would you rather be a werewolf or
a vampire? Or a witch? Anyone getting ready for the last “Harry