Silent House


Film (with rating): Silent House (R)

 

Studio:
Universal

 

Summary: A
young woman (Elizabeth Olsen) finds herself sealed inside her family’s secluded
lake house, panicking as events become increasingly ominous in and around the
home.

 

Review: A
horror movie without a lot of gore and over-the-top CGI. Thumbs up! Olsen, who
displays some serious acting chops, does a great job as Sarah, the terrorized
young woman who goes to her family’s lake house to help prepare it for sale.
Since it’s boarded up from the inside, darkness prevails in every corner,
leading to the creepy feel of the film from the get-go.

 

Directed by filmmaking duo Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, who
did the ridiculously terrifying “Open Water,” “Silent
House” is shot using meticulous camera choreography to look like a single
uninterrupted shot. This “real time,” Hitchcockian-like
cinematography trick is one of the high points of the film.

 

While the surprise twist at the end may leave some viewers
feeling cheated, the movie as a whole is a well-done thriller. Not great, but
very unsettling and worth the watch.

 

Extra highlight:
Eh, just switch back to the Olympics.

 

What to serve for dinner: Meatless Monday again! During these hot, dog days
of summer, it’s best to keep things 
simple, light and easy. There’s no real tie to the movie this time. I
just had a fantastic peach from my local farmers market and got a craving for
this salad. So here you go–Peach-Cucumber-Barley Salad. (www.goodhousekeeping.com)

 

1 cup pearl barley

1 3/4 cup lower-sodium vegetable broth

1 1/4 cup water

1  seedless
cucumber (English)

2  ripe peaches

2 pints cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

 Salt

 Pepper

1 can (15-ounce) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and
drained

1 head Boston lettuce, leaves separated

 

Place barley in 4-quart saucepan. Cook on medium 5 minutes
or until toasted, stirring. Stir in broth and water. Heat to boiling on high.
Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 35 minutes or until tender. Drain if
necessary, and cool slightly.

 

Meanwhile, scoop out and discard soft center from cucumber,
then cut into 1/4-inch pieces. Pit and chop peaches. Cut tomatoes in quarters.
Very finely chop basil. In large bowl, whisk vinegar, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon
salt. Add barley and toss until well coated. Cool until no longer hot, then add
cucumber, peaches, tomatoes, and chickpeas, tossing until well combined. Serve
over lettuce leaves.

 

What to talk about over dinner: What is your favorite scary movie of all time that
does not involve a chainsaw, finger knives, machetes or butcher knives? What
was the scariest scene in the film? Why? Have you ever been that scared before?
Have you ever been in a house that creeps you out? Have you seen “Open
Water?” Did you vow to never, ever go scuba diving again? Confession time:
My husband and I watched this film when I was six months pregnant and preparing
to go on vacation to the Bahamas. Where he wanted to go scuba diving. Mix one
terrifying movie and a very hormonal woman, and guess who didn’t go scuba
diving in the Caribbean?

Jaws

Photo #1


Film (with rating): Jaws (PG)

 

Studio:
Univ
ersal

 

Summary: A
massive, predatory shark terrorizes a small island community at the start of
summer, and the police chief, a scientist and a seasoned fisherman must stop it
before more lives are lost.

 

Review: Now
that Memorial Day is behind us, it’s officially the start of the summer season.
Let’s kick it off right with the original summer blockbuster, “Jaws.”
It’s an oldie, but man, is it ever good! To this day, I still can’t swim in the
ocean (sometimes even the pool) without hearing the trademark “Jaws”
theme thumping around in my head. Duh duh. Duh duh. Just the sound of it is
enough to freak me out. Thank you, John Williams. The Talented and Revered
Steven Spielberg took the novel by Peter Benchley and made it into one of the
finest horror films ever created. Perhaps one of the finest films.

 

You know you’re in for a fright when the opening scene is as
terrifying as the one in “Jaws.” A young woman runs into the sea at
night, only to be torn apart by something under the water’s surface. The fact
that we can’t see what’s causing all of this terror and death adds to the
movie’s ambiance. It’s been told that the mechanical shark, lovingly called
Bruce by Spielberg, was never tested in the water until the day the crew came
to Martha’s Vineyard to shoot. And Bruce sank. As he did for much of the
filming. So while the mechanical fish was in the shop, Spielberg shot many
scenes from the shark’s point of view. This actually enhanced the film; showing
as much footage of the shark as originally planned would have cheapened
“Jaws” and made the scarier scenes too campy.

 

The casting of “Jaws” is beyond compare–Roy
Scheider as Chief Brody, Robert Shaw as the salty Quint and Richard Dreyfuss as
the curious and ambitious Hooper. Who doesn’t remember the scene with all three
of them comparing their scars and singing “Show Me the Way to Go
Home?” Or Quint’s speech about the Indianapolis? The fact that these guys
were not uber-famous household names before this point again added to the
movie’s charm. If a movie about a giant man-eating shark can be charming, that
is.

 

“Jaws” is one of those once-in-a-lifetime movies.
It is a classic among classics. And a movie no one can forget. I may still
pause a second or two longer than necessary when entering the ocean, but I also
have appropriately used the phrase “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”
more times than I can count.

 

So get the summer started right by scaring yourself off the
beach and back on to the couch.

 

Extra highlight:
Steven Spielberg retrospective on “The Making of Jaws”

 

What to serve for dinner: I’m sorry, but I couldn’t resist…. Mako Shark with
Grilled Pineapple (From Food Network’s “Good Deal with Dave
Lieberman”).

 

 

Salsa:

 

1 medium ripe pineapple, trimmed, cored, quartered
lengthwise and cut again lengthwise

Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil

2 limes, juiced and lime halves reserved

1 small red onion, minced

1/2 bunch fresh mint, leaves finely chopped (about 1/2 cup
leaves)

1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, leaves finely chopped (about 1/2
cup leaves)

Couple pinches kosher salt

Superfine sugar, optional

 

Fish:

 

4 (8-ounce) center-cut mako shark fillets

Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

20 grinds black pepper

 

 

Heat a grill pan or griddle over medium-high heat. Lightly
rub the pineapple pieces with oil. Grill on all sides, about 2 minutes per side
or until lightly caramelized with nice char marks. Remove from grill and set
aside to cool slightly.

 

Cut grilled pineapple into 1/2-inch dice and add to a medium
bowl. Add all remaining salsa ingredients, including the lime halves. These
will lend the additional lime oils in the rinds to the mixture, making a more
aromatic salsa.

 

Set aside until ready to use.

 

While grill is still hot, rub each shark steak with olive
oil and season with salt and pepper. Place steaks on grill across the grill
ribs and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of
the steaks. Gently turn fish so it does not fall apart. Once the flesh has
become opaque and firm to the touch, it is cooked through.

 

Remove to a platter and spoon salsa over fish. Serve
immediately.

 

What to talk about over dinner: What was the scariest scene in this film? Why are
movies like this not made today? Did the fact we didn’t see the shark right
away add to your fear? Who was your favorite character? Favorite line? Did
“Jaws” make you afraid to go in the water? Do you feel bad for the
plight of sharks? What can you do to help this species? What is your favorite
book-turned-movie? What did you think of the ending? Would this film be as
iconic if released today? Why is composer John Williams so amazingly talented?
What is your favorite Williams score? There are some rumors that “You’re
going to need a bigger boat” was improvised by Scheider. What are some of
your favorite movies with a lot of improvised lines? “Caddyshack,”
anyone?

Halloween Horror Movie Marathon

Welcome to “Dinner and a DVD’s” first Halloween
Horror Movie Marathon. This weekend is sure to be jammed with all things
macabre, milk chocolate and monstrous, so take some time to curl up on the
couch with a big bowl of popcorn, light the Jack o’lantern and enjoy the show.
Happy Halloween, everyone!

 

Films:
Halloween, The Exorcist, Silence of the Lambs and Jaws

 

Summary: Ah, welcome to one of my favorite times of the
year: Scream Season. I do love Halloween, namely because it’s when I can
unabashedly celebrate my favorite film genre: horror. As a bona fide,
card-carrying member of the Horror Movie Fan Club, I adore this time of year. A
mere flip through the gazillion satellite channels proves to be a goldmine of
scary movies, both frightening and foolish. And all wonderful in my book. Now
that I’ve got little ones sharing the TV with me, my horror movie viewing must
be taken on the sly, grabbed late at night or during naptime. I’m not nearly
wealthy enough to fund the therapy bills that will result from my children
watching Linda Blair’s head spin around.

 

So do as I do: Put the kids to bed or send them to Grandma’s
and commence the Halloween Horror Movie Marathon. I’ve compiled a list of
classic, can’t-go-wrong films that are hallmarks of the genre. You’ve got the
original screamfest, John Carpenter’s “Halloween.” Jamie Lee Curtis
stars in this film that centers around psychotic Michael Myers and his crazed
attempt to kill off, well, basically everyone.  Then there’s “The Exorcist,” the original demonic
possession film about a young girl (Linda Blair) who winds up housing the devil
in her body. Scary scary scary. Pour the Chianti for the next film:
“Silence of the Lambs.” Rarely has there been a performance by an
actor that has been as completely perfect and chilling as that of Anthony
Hopkins, AKA Hannibal Lecter. Jodie Foster co-stars as the FBI agent in charge
of finding a serial killer by enlisting the help of the most notorious killer
around: Hannibal the Cannibal. Finally, we’ve got “Jaws,” the movie that
made an entire generation terrified to swim in the ocean. Or the pool. Or even
their bathtubs.

 

Review: Oct.
31 just isn’t Oct. 31 without at least one viewing of this classic 1978
crazed-killer masterpiece that not only started an endless chain of “Halloween”
sequels, prequels and spin-offs, but became one of the biggest cult classics of
the genre. We’ve got the good-girl babysitter, and her friends, and a crazed
killer who just escaped a mental hospital, all set to take revenge on Halloween
night. Can’t get much better than that. Plus, that Michael Myer’s mask
(originally a William Shatner mask purchased for a cheap and painted) is
insanely creepy. It’s campy, but it’s a classic. And as a special treat for you
in the 91030, “Halloween” was filmed, in part, in South Pasadena. The
famed Myers’ house is still there, except now it’s a chiropractor’s office.
Check out this site for more info about the filming locations, which include
Pasadena, too.

 

Next up on the docket: “The Exorcist.” You just
can’t beat this 1973 hallmark for pure, marrow-chilling evil. No other
demonic-possession movie has ever reached the unadulterated fear that “The
Exorcist” births in people, no matter if they’ve seen the film once or 100
times. The thing that makes “The Exorcist” special is that the
subject matter never jumps the shark and becomes silly, or grotesque for
grotesque’s sake. It stays frighteningly scary because questions are left
unanswered, and the evil is just banished, but not destroyed. While by today’s
standards, the special effects in “The Exorcist” pale, back nearly 40
years ago, they were mind-boggling. And if anyone watching it does not recoil
and grow icy inside when young Blair’s head spins around, check your own pulse
because something is not right.

 

“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver
with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” Ah, Hannibal Lecter, star of
“Silence of the Lambs.” Surprisingly, Anthony Hopkins is only in the
film for about 16 minutes of the 120 total run time. His presence is so huge,
so all-encompassing, it feels as if Hopkins’ Lecter is the whole movie. Utterly mesmerizing. Foster, too,
exploded every time she was on the screen. The scene in the dank, dark house
toward the end of the film still gives me nightmares. You know what else still
gives me nightmares? Moths. I’ll never be able to look at them again in the
same light.

 

Last, but not least, we have “Jaws,” another
hallmark in the birth of the modern-day horror market. “Jaws” shaped
a generation and turned countless people into selachophobics. I once read that
“Jaws” author Peter Benchley regretted sparking this tidal wave of
shark hate that swallowed the nation. But even so, he created one amazing story
about a rogue shark that took no prisoners. Between the great cast of Roy
Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss as well as the classic lines (“You’re gonna
need a bigger boat”), “Jaws” never gets old. The opening scenes
where the young, drunk partygoer is taken for a personal tour of the buoy is
horrific. The best part about “Jaws?” It takes quite some time for us
as viewers to finally see the creature doing all this hunting. And when we do,
it does not disappoint.

 

Extra highlight:
You won’t have time for these. Just put the next disc in the DVD player.

 

What to serve for dinner: Ah, dear readers. You’re in for a treat. First,
we’re going with start with some split pea soup (I know, I know. Clich, but
how could I resist?), courtesy of simplyrecipes.com, not Linda Blair. For the
main course, we’ll reel in some delicious grilled shark (cooks.com), served
alongside some low-fat fava beans with parsley and feta. For dessert, let’s
flash back to that scene in “Halloween” where poor Tommy Doyle gets
tripped and his pumpkin winds up as roadkill on the sidewalk. Can’t let all
that good pumpkin meat go to waste, can we? Let’s cook up caramelized pumpkin
and pear crumble (realsimple.com).

 

Split Pea Soup

 

1 lb (2 1/4 cups) green split peas

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 large leek, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

1 large clove of garlic, halved

1 herb bouquet*

2 well-rinsed ham hocks

Salt and Pepper

 

Pick over the peas and remove any stones. Wash and drain
peas. Place in a 4 quart pan with the vegetables, herb bouquet, ham hocks and 2
1/2 quarts of water. Bring to a simmer. Skim the scum off the top of the soup
for several minutes, until the scum ceases to rise. Cover loosely and simmer
about 1 1/2 hours, or until peas are tender, stirring occasionally in case they
stick to the bottom of the pan.

 

Remove the ham hocks and herb bouquet from the soup. Pure
the soup with a blender. An immersion blender works great for this; if you are
using a regular blender, take care to working batches and only fill the blender
halfway if the soup is still hot, and hold down the lid while blending. If you
want an exceptionally smooth soup, pass the pure through a sieve.

 

Return the pure to the pot and heat to serve. Add salt and
pepper to taste. Ladle into warm bowls and garnish with croutons and parsley or
chives.

If you want, don’t discard the ham hocks, but cut away the
outer skin and remove the meat from the bones. Dice the meat and serve with the
soup. Serves 6-8.

 

*Herb Bouquet: Tie 3 cloves garlic, 4 allspice berries, 2
bay leaves, 1 teaspoon thyme, 8 sprigs parsley in rinsed cheesecloth or place
in bouquet garni muslin bag.

 

Grilled Shark Steaks

 

8 shark steaks, 1-inch thick

1/3 cup lime juice

1 teaspoon lime rind, grated

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground

1 tablespoon liquid honey -or- maple syrup

 

Mix together all ingredients. Add shark, stirring to coat
well. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes
or refrigerate for up to 1 hour, turning shark occasionally. Drain shark,
reserving marinade. Grill shark steaks 4-inches from flame. Cooking with medium
heat, not high, is important in order to keep the fish tender. Serving Size: 8

 

Low Fat Fava Beans With Parsley and Feta

 

8 ounces canned or fresh, cooked fava beans

1 garlic clove

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup fat free feta cheese

salt and pepper

 

Warm fava beans in a small pot or boil until tender, about
three minutes. Drain and pour into a medium bowl. Mix in chopped garlic,
parsley, salt, pepper, and free fat feta (regular feta can be substituted if
desired).

 

Caramelized Pumpkin and Pear Crumble

 

2 large ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch
cubes

14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 15-ounce cans pumpkin puree

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup walnut pieces

 

In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, combine pears, 4
tablespoons of butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and spices and cook until the
pears are tender, 9 to 10 minutes. Add pumpkin and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Place the flour, brown sugar, and remaining butter in a
bowl. With your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients until large
crumbs form. Add the walnuts and combine well. Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a
9-by-13-inch baking dish, spread the pumpkin-pear mixture evenly on the bottom.
Sprinkle the topping over it and bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 40
to 50 minutes. Serve warm. Serves 8.

 

 

What to talk about over dinner: What is the all-time scariest movie you’ve ever
seen? Why? What’s the best modern-day horror movie? What is your favorite
Halloween memory? Your favorite Halloween costume? Why is it that all Halloween
costumes for women toe the line of skankdom? What makes “Halloween”
such a cult classic? What’s your most frightening scene in “The
Exorcist?” Did you realize Hopkins was only in “Lambs” for such
a short time? What did you think of the other “Hannibal” films? Do
you remember “Jaws 3?” Wasn’t it in 3-D back in the day? What is your
favorite scene from “Jaws?” Admit it: That soundtrack still rings in
your head every time you set foot in the ocean, doesn’t it? Which movie has the
better soundtrack: “Jaws” or “Halloween?” Have you visited
any of the “Halloween” filming locations? Could anyone have guessed
that that tiny-budgeted film known as “Halloween” would thrive
throughout the test of time?

The Rite

Photo #5

Film (with rating): The Rite (PG-13)

 

Studio: New Line Cinema

 

Summary: Inspired by true events. Michael, a seminary
student (Colin O’Donoghue), suffers a lack of faith and attempts to leave the
seminary, but instead agrees to study exorcisms in Rome. When he’s paired up
with an unorthodox but effective priest (Anthony Hopkins), Michael realizes his
doubting ways may cause him trouble when battling the devil.

 

Review: This is not “The Exorcist.” Even the film’s
characters acknowledge that with some “pea soup” quips. But that’s not to say
“The Rite” isn’t a decent film about demonic possession. Not great, but decent.
Sure, there are some weak spots and the acting is not exactly Oscar-worthy
(O’Donoghue could have used a few more facial expressions, and Hopkins
sometimes needed a few less).

But overall, the film, helmed by Mikael Hafstrom
and based on Matt Baglio’s non-fiction book “The Rite: The Making of a Modern
Exorcist,” contains some decent scares, good visual effects, food for thought
and a wonderful opening sequence that is creepy as anything I’ve seen lately.
Hopkins channeled his inner Hannibal for some of the scarier scenes, and seeing
him deal with the devil and modern technology (even priests get interrupted by
their ever-present cellphones) helped make the film succeed.

Unfortunately,
there were some holes in the plot (exactly how do people get possessed around
here anyway? Is it like the flu and anyone in the area of a sneeze can catch
it?) and the use of almost comical “demons” (the donkey!) didn’t do the movie
any favors, either. I wish Hafstrom would have cut loose a bit and really gone
in for some chilling scares, as seen in “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.”

All in
all, it’s a decent flick that does encourage some thought instead of
spoon-feeding the viewer a bunch of recycled “Exorcist” fare. It’s not
completely unique, but not totally been-there-seen-that either.

 

Extra highlight: Alternate ending

 

What to serve for dinner: Since young Michael visits Rome,
cook up Italian food. Try pasta primavera (foodnetwork.com).

 

* 3 carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips

    *
2 medium zucchini or 1 large zucchini, cut into thin strips

    *
2 yellow squash, cut into thin strips

    *
1 onion, thinly sliced

    *
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips

    *
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips

    *
1/4 cup olive oil

    *
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

    *
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs or herbes de Provence

    *
1 pound farfalle (bowtie pasta)

    *
15 cherry tomatoes, halved

    *
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

 

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. On a large heavy baking
sheet, toss all of the vegetables with the oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs
to coat. Transfer half of the vegetable mixture to another heavy large baking
sheet and arrange evenly over the baking sheets. Bake until the carrots are
tender and the vegetables begin to brown, stirring after the first 10 minutes,
about 20 minutes total.

 

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted
water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, about eight minutes.
Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

 

Toss the pasta with the vegetable mixtures in a large bowl
to combine. Toss with the cherry tomatoes and enough reserved cooking liquid to
moisten. Season the pasta with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the
Parmesan and serve immediately.

 

What to talk about over dinner: What’s your favorite demonic
possession movie? The worst one ever made? Do you believe in possession? Why or
why not? How could this film have been better? What’s your favorite Anthony
Hopkins movie? Did you see any Hannibal in “The Rite?” Do you think frogs are
creepy now? How about those donkeys?

Red Riding Hood

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!

  Photo #2


Film (with rating): Red Riding Hood (PG-13)

 

Studio:
Warner Home Video           

 

Summary:
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
thriller.

 

Review: Take
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.

 

Extra highlight:
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.

 

Gravy

 

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

    2
large carrots, finely shredded

   
3/4 cup best-quality mayonnaise

    2
tablespoons sour cream

    2
tablespoons grated Spanish onion

    2
tablespoons sugar, or to taste

    2
tablespoons white vinegar

    1
tablespoon dry mustard

    2
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
Potter” chapter?

The Wolfman

Photo #44

Film (with rating): The Wolfman (R)

Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Summary: A haunted nobleman (Benicio Del Toro) returns home
to Victorian England and his father (Anthony Hopkins) when his brother goes
missing. But he finds more than he bargained for when he learns that a
bloodlusting beast is ravaging the countryside.

Review: I can remember begging my mother to let me watch
“monster movies” on television as a child. Instead of dolls and pink
fluffy things, Mom rewarded my good behavior with classic monster action
figures from the toy store. So it was with great excitement I waited to see
“The Wolfman.” The trailers painted it to be a dark, haunting remake
of those classic monster flicks I loved so much.

Director Joe Johnston did a
great job with the gray, dismal scenery and setting; the Victorian family
mansion is nothing short of deliciously spooky. Unfortunately, he spent too
much time going for the “boo!” scares and not enough time really
working on the suspense that made those classic monster movies so great.

Del Toro seemed miscast in this film, much as I hate to say
it. His dark, brooding persona falls flat, and his lack of a British accent is
also painfully noticeable. Hopkins, on the other hand, does add some spice into
this oft-sleepy film.

One thing that hurt “Wolfman” is the special
effects. Seeing men turn into werewolves in the way that Johnston crafted it is
actually comical. Sure, it was creepy and gory in “An American Werewolf in
London,” but nearly 30 years later in the 21st century, it
reeks of absurdity.

Overall, the movie, in itself, isn’t as bad as some critics
stated. Yes, there are some laughable parts where there should have not been
even a giggle, but overall, it is an enjoyable flick with shades of the true
monster-movie feel.

Extra highlight: deleted scenes

What to serve for dinner: You have your choice. Pick an
English favorite–fish and chips–or something a little more akin to the
wolf–Steak Tartare.

Fish and Chips (allrecipes.com)

     *
4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into strips

    *
1 cup all-purpose flour

    *
1 teaspoon baking powder

    *
1 teaspoon salt

    *
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

    *
1 cup milk

    *
1 egg

    *
1 quart vegetable oil for frying

    *
1 1/2 pounds cod fillets

Place potatoes in a medium-size bowl of cold water. In a
separate medium-size mixing bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and
pepper. Stir in the milk and egg; stir until the mixture is smooth. Let mixture
stand for 20 minutes. Preheat the oil in a large pot or electric skillet to 350
degrees F.  Fry the potatoes in the
hot oil until they are tender. Drain them on paper towels. Dredge the fish in
the batter, one piece at a time, and place them in the hot oil. Fry until the
fish is golden brown. If necessary, increase the heat to maintain the 350
degrees. Drain well on paper towels. Fry the potatoes again for 1 to 2 minutes
for added crispness.

 

Steak Tartare (cooks.com)

1 lb. filet mignon or top sirloin, freshly ground (do not
use any other grade of beef)

2 tbsp. yellow mustard

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 egg yolk

2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/4 c. finely chopped onion

3 tbsp. capers, drained

4-5 dashes hot pepper sauce, or to taste

Seasoned salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tbsp. cognac (optional)

Mix together all ingredients lightly to avoid packing the
meat too much. Mound steak tartar on chilled plates and serve immediately with
thinly sliced pumpernickel or toasted French bread.

What to talk about over dinner: What was the one monster as
a kid you were afraid of? Which one did you like the most? What’s been the best
monster-movie remake you’ve seen? Why? Where did this one succeed, or fail? Who
would have been better cast in the lead other than Benicio? What did you think
about the transformation scenes? If you could live in any other time in
history, what would it be and why? What’s your favorite Anthony Hopkins film?
If you had to be a monster, who would you be? Compare these werewolves to those
in the “Twilight” books. Which ones do you like more?