New Year’s Eve


Film (with rating): New Year’s Eve (PG-13)

 

Studio:
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

 

Summary: As
the old year comes to a close and the new year is born, people from all over
New York look for love, hope and happiness.

 

Review:
Katherine Heigl’s character said it best: “There are going be more
celebrities here than at rehab.” So very, very true. “New Year’s
Eve” is packed with more stars than a moonless sky in the desert. We’ve
got an eclectic bunch of actors, such as Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Josh Duhamel,
Zac Efron, Jon Bon Jovi (*sigh*), Lea Michele, Hilary Swank, Ashton Kutcher,
Abigail Breslin, Robert De Niro, 
and Sarah Jessica Parker. (I kept looking around for Jennifer Aniston. You just know she was contacted about this movie. It has her name written all over it.) Each one stars in a little vignette about
hope, love and forgiveness on New Year’s Eve. It’s a lot like 2010′s “Valentine’s
Day.”

 

So really, folks, we’re not seeing anything new. In fact,
some reviewers have compared watching this movie to sitting through an
impressive party filled with beautiful people who have nothing to say. I
wouldn’t go that far. Yes, “New Year’s Eve” juggles more than its
fair share of clichs, and some of the storylines are downright cheesy. But the
acting isn’t half bad, and with such a huge stage of talent, there’s bound to
be someone in there who resonates with you. Heck, I’d watch it just to see Bon
Jovi. Did anyone else have a poster of him and the rest of the posse tacked to
her ceiling back in the 1990s? Or was that just me?

 

I digress. 

 

Garry Marshall, the genius behind many classics like
“Pretty Woman,” tackles “New Year’s Eve” and his stamp is
evident. It’s not one of his better films, but he does his best to keep it from
sinking during the low parts. The film does have some touching moments and some
funny ones (Biel is a hoot). Not quite enough of these to totally overlook the
more unbelievable plot lines, but enough to keep us entertained and interested.
And for those of us who embrace the symbolism of New Year’s Eve instead of the
party-fueled hype, “New Year’s Eve” offers some rays of optimism. Not
many, but enough to keep us satisfied until that first resolution breaks. And
it can’t hurt to watch it in honor of Dick Clark, America’s Oldest Teen, who
gave us many, many years of amazing New Year’s Eves. Thanks, Dick. We’ll
miss  you.

 

Extra highlight:
Gag reel, of course.

 

What to serve for dinner: The ringing in of a new year is filled with
tradition. Let’s celebrate that by serving up some symbolic New Year’s food for
dinner.

 

Start with grapes. In Spain, revelers dine on 12 grapes at
the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day to ring in the new year–one grape for
each clang of the clock. Then dish up some black-eyed peas with collard greens
for luck (www.nytimes.com). Finish the
meal with pork carnitas (allrecipes.com), since pork is viewed by many the
world over as a symbol of wealth and prosperity.

 

Black-Eyed Peas with Collard Greens

 

1/2 pound black-eyed peas, rinsed

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1 bay leaf

Salt to taste

1 large bunch collard greens (1 1/2 to 2 pounds), stemmed,
washed well and chopped or cut in ribbons

2 tablespoons tomato paste dissolved in 1/2 cup water

1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill (to taste)

Freshly ground pepper to taste

For topping (optional): crumbled feta or fresh lemon juice

 

Place the black-eyed peas in a large saucepan, cover with
water by two inches, bring to a boil and then drain. Combine with half the
onion and one of the garlic cloves in the saucepan. Add water to cover by two
inches, and bring back to a simmer. Add the bay leaf, and reduce the heat. Add
salt to taste, cover and simmer 30 minutes, until the beans are just tender.
Drain through a strainer set over a bowl.

 

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large,
ovenproof lidded skillet or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil
over medium heat and add the remaining onion. Cook, stirring, until tender,
about five minutes, and add the remaining garlic. Stir together for 30 seconds
to a minute, until fragrant. A handful at a time, stir in the greens. As the
greens wilt, stir in another handful, until all the greens have been added and
have collapsed in the pan. Add the dissolved tomato paste and stir together.
Add salt to taste. Add the beans and enough cooking liquid to barely cover
everything, cover and place in the oven for 30 minutes, until the collards are
tender and the beans very soft.

 

Uncover the pot, and add a bit of liquid if the beans are
dry. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the dill, cover and continue
to simmer for another 10 minutes. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Serve warm or hot. If you wish, top with crumbled feta or a squeeze of lemon.

 

Pork Carnitas

 

1 (3 1/2) pound boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into
2 inch chunks

2 oranges, quartered

1 large white onion, quartered

6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1/4 cup kosher salt

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

2 bay leaves

 

Place the pork shoulder, oranges, onion, garlic, kosher
salt, cumin, black peppercorns, and bay leaves into a large Dutch oven. Add
water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to
medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Skim off any foam that rises to the top.
Cover loosely, and simmer until the meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Allow
the pork to cool, covered, in the broth for 1 hour. Shred the meat with two
forks. Can combine with BBQ sauce for a pulled-pork sandwich, or roll up the
meat in some tortillas with salsa.

 

What to talk about over dinner: What was your favorite story in the movie? Favorite
character? What was your best New Year’s resolution ever? Worst? How many
resolutions have you kept? Do you even make resolutions? Why are they so hard
to keep? Know any secrets to keeping resolutions? Who has kept her 2012
resolutions? What was the funniest scene in the movie? The most touching? What
was your best New Year’s Eve? Worst? Do you like the holiday, or do you feel
it’s more of a letdown? What would be your dream New Year’s Eve? Have you ever
been to Times Square on New Year’s Eve? Would you want to? Who else could
listen to Bon Jovi sing until next New Year’s Eve?