Race: Human

Let’s get controversial, shall we? Today I’m going to take a step up onto my soap box while simultaneously baking a berry-licious dessert. Today in Disney Movie Project news I watched The Adventures of Huck Finn based on the classic Mark Twain novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. There are those that find the novel, and I’m certain the Disney film, controversial and offensive. Many say the character of Jim is an offensive caricature of a slave back in the 1800’s and how dare someone depict such a disgusting and embarrassing past of our country.  I say: ignoring the problem and being modernly politically correct isn’t always the answer. Would we really be depicting a part of history accurately if we pretended that piece of American culture didn’t exist? Does showing a piece of accurate history mean we agree with the principles of that time period? Absolutely not! Just because you tell the truth, doesn’t mean you have to agree with it.

If you’ve actually watched the film or read the book, the story is a heartwarming look at a controversial topic. It tastefully addresses a harsh reality of the American past, and bares a topic to the viewer that we still deal with today. History repeats itself over, and over, and over again. You’d think we’d learn, but what I have come to realize is that everyone needs to be a part of the drama and everyone needs to be offended by something. The friendship between Huck and Jim, a white child and a black man, during American Slave trade shows us the true meaning of family, friendship, and that we aren’t born with the inclination to be racist, judgmental, or oppressive of gender or cultural rights. In the film, Huck knows the laws of the land and that Jim is a runaway slave, but much like any child, only know that’s the way it is, but can’t say why. Children are taught to follow rules and to adopt certain morals and values, and as they grow older, they will either adopt their own, modify the ones they have, or continue to uphold “tradition”.

IMP Awards
IMP Awards

“Just because you’re taught something’s right, and everybody believes its right, don’t make it right.” –Jim

We like to think we’ve come a long way since America’s dark days, but have we really? I think we’re still in them! I think we innately sing the same song to a different tune over, and over, and over again. No matter what community we seem to be fighting for equality, the fact that we define people into “communities” is still segregating. We have black, white, Hispanic, LGBT, feminist, vegan, gluten free, etc. True we’ve made leaps and bounds, but if we have separated ourselves into communities to fight for our equal rights, doesn’t that defeat the purpose? Shouldn’t we all be ONE community of humans? If a child doesn’t understand the difference in all of these “communities” until they are older, when and why do we continue to separate and segregate? I am not LGBT, nor am I vegan, but does that mean that I can’t have something in common with and understand someone who is? Perhaps someone in the LGBT or vegan community also appreciates a good Disney movie or a delicious Blackberry Bar. Can’t we bond over the things that make us individuals rather than our skin color, sexual preference, or dietary needs? I don’t agree with or bond with every straight person because I’m straight and I don’t get along with every carnivorous person because we share a mutual love of steak. I get along with people that make me laugh, have kind hearts, and don’t mind my Disney obsession.

I am supportive of any and all “communities” fighting for equal rights. It is not anyone’s business but our own on how we live our lives. So why does society feel it is their responsibility to make someone’s rights and lifestyle their business? Quite frankly that is incredibly nosey and rude. I’m not saying I’ve solved the problem, but from my perspective, and my own morals and beliefs, I think if the human race started looking at themselves as one whole community rather than millions of segregated ones, fighting for equal rights wouldn’t be something we’d even have to consider doing because they would already be there. I as a human am of equal right and privilege as another human. Maybe someday we will see the world that way…Until then, everyone gets a fair and equal opportunity to show me their person, rather than just their community.

Ok. Stepping of my soap box now. My recipe that goes along with the film of the day/week is Blackberry Pie Bars. Believe me, I searched for Huckleberry recipes first because…well…what would be more appropriate for a Huckleberry Finn movie than a Huckleberry recipe? Unfortunately, at this stage in my Disney Movie Project, huckleberries just aren’t in season. So instead I found a delicious blackberry bar recipe  from Tracy’s Culinary Adventures that I’m pretty sure can be substituted for huckleberries.

Blackberry Pie Bars
Blackberry Pie Bars

unnamed (4)

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Filling

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (low fat is fine)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
    pinch salt
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 16 oz fresh blackberries

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray an 8×8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.(I used a 9×9 and it worked just fine!)

Directions: Crust

  1. Add the flour, sugar, and salt to the bowl of your food processor and pulse a few times to combine.
  2. Add the butter and continue pulsing until the pieces of butter are very small (like pebbles) and the mixture is crumbly. (I ended up just using a mixer and my hands because I have a crappy food processor. I think it had the same affect.)
  3. Transfer 3/4 cup of this mixture to a small bowl and set aside to use for the topping.
  4. Dump the remainder of the mixture into the prepared pan and press into an even layer to form the crust.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden and set. Remove the pan to a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Directions: Filling:

  1. in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, sour cream, flour, salt, lemon zest, and almond extract until well combined.
  2. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the blackberries.
  3. Spread the filling over the crust (distributing the berries evenly).
  4. Top the filling with the reserved crust mixture – I like to squeeze in my hand to form clumps then sprinkle over the top so the pieces vary in size.
Into the oven!
Into the oven!

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the bars are set (the topping won’t really brown much). Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow the bars to cool completely in the pan. To more easily cut them into squares, refrigerate briefly before serving. (I actually liked these best after an hour in the fridge!)

Yum!
Yum!

Movies Left: 587

Days Left: 527

The Lucky Nugget

On the menu tonight we have country fried steak with country gravy (from a packet), steamed green beans, and instant garlic mashed potatoes…Truth be told, I might have cheated a bit…if you couldn’t tell. I’m all for homemade everything…but I’ve never made country fried steak before, homemade mash, or homemade country gravy. I think I might have been afraid to cook too many new things in one meal. What if it all was a complete disaster and I ended up wasting time and money on food I just wasn’t going to continue to eat?

As I write this watching the featured Disney movie The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin, I feel not only ashamed that I didn’t go the extra step, but a bit of regret that I didn’t push myself…which was my goal when I began this project. In the movie, Griffin accompanies Jack, the boy he butlers (is that a word?) to California during the gold rush after the boy’s grandfather passes and leaves he his sister, Arabella, completely broke. It is important to tell you that Jack is 12 years old and ran away; Griffin follows him out there to ensure that he is taken care of. If a 12-year-old boy can move across a country to start over and earn a fortune, couldn’t I have at least mashed my own potatoes?

The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin (1967)
The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin (1967)
To celebrate the California Gold Rush from Disney Bound.
To celebrate the California Gold Rush from Disney Bound.

So, why chicken fried steak? Well, I wanted to capture a meal that was traditionally eaten in a wild western town – country fried steak being a popular delicacy. Bullwhip is a great western complete with stagecoaches, gunslingers, and the Lucky Nugget Saloon. Roddy McDowell (Griffin) was far from a rugged leading man, but the brilliance he brings to the moral, gentlemanly, and winningly clever character of Griffin makes him one of the best cowboys to date.

I’ve never fried anything before – let alone a juicy steak. I’ve cooked steaks in the past and I generally prefer mine medium to medium well, but in this case I decided it was best to cook the steak well-done. This is certainly not a meal I would cook every day as it is not the healthiest, but it is definitely a tasty way to treat yourself. At least I steamed the green beans right?

The recipe below is from Freeing My Martha. I definitely think KP made a better looking dish than I did, but the recipe certainly tastes fantastic! I think the most fun part of making this was cubing the steak. What a fabulous way to to let go of pent up aggression by beating a piece of beef senseless with a mallet!

Freeing My Martha Chicken Fried Steak
Freeing My Martha Chicken Fried Steak

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds cubed steak
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups non-fat milk
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon each-garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Additional Kosher salt and black pepper to season meat
  • Olive oil for frying

Directions

  1. Cut each cubed steak in half and season lightly with salt and pepper
  2. In a pie plate or flat bowl, beat eggs and milk
  3. In a separate plate, mix flour with seasonings
    • For each steak:
    • Dredge in flour mixture
    • Dip in egg mixture
    • Dredge in flour again
    • Dip in egg again
    • End with another dredge in the flour and set aside.
    • Repeat
  4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  5. Fry 3 pieces of meat at a time until they get golden brown and turn over to cook the other side.
  6. Drain over a wire rack
Yum!
Yum!

Days Left: 530

Movies Left: 588

It All Started With A Rabbit

They say it all started with a mouse. What they really mean to say it that it all started with a rabbit. A lucky rabbit in fact named Oswald. Oswald was Walt Disney’s creation before he developed Mickey Mouse. However he was working under a production company that was not his. He left with several co-workers and began his own company we know today. So…You could say it all started with a mouse, but I suppose you could also say his dreams started with a lucky rabbit.

A note from Walt Disney from The Telegraph
A note from Walt Disney from The Telegraph
Chelsea Medel
Oswald inspired outfit designed by Chelsea Medel from Polyvore

Here and there I watched a series of cartoon shorts from 1927-1928 featuring Oswald from the Disney Treasures Collection: The Adventures of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. You can buy the entire collection on Amazon believe it or not! Watching these old cartoons is watching a piece of artful animation history. It is amazing to know they did these with pen and paper verses the digital techniques we see today. Something truly remarkable about these old cartoons of Disney’s, are that the musical scores are just as much of a character in the cartoons as the drawn images. The music is what really drives the story forward and makes the cartoons memorable.

It was a bit tough to figure out what I could make that goes with Oswald because it’s not like making homemade rabbit food would be appetizing. I brainstormed ideas of what wild rabbits are associated with and went with a fresh, garden vegetable theme.  Below is an Italian Pasta recipe from Flour On My Face. The only thing I added was chicken. I know, I know. Rabbits are not carnivorous…but I am! I respect the individuals that can function without meat in their diet…but I just can’t. I get cranky. There are meats that I won’t eat such as veal, lamb, or animal organs, but other than that, bring it on and slather it in some sauce! This pasta dish is pretty delicious and I will definitely continue to make it a meal this summer.

My goal from Flour On My Face
My goal from Flour On My Face

Ingredients

  • 1 12 ounce box tri-colored pasta, cooked, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
  • ½ piece of chicken breast
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup broccoli florets, cut into bite size pieces
  • ¼ cup red pepper, diced
  • ¼ cup green pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated and more for topping when serving.
  • salt and pepper to taste

IMG_2281

Directions

  1. Sear half a piece of chicken breast in olive oil at medium heat
  2. Drain pasta well and place in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add all the cut up or diced vegetables.
  4. Mix parmesan with the Zesty Italian dressing. Stir well after five minutes.
  5. Pour dressing over pasta and veggies.
  6. Stir well.
  7. Refrigerate 2 hours or over night to allow flavors to marry.
  8. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan.

IMG_2289

Days Left: 531

Movies Left: 589

Forgive Me Flubber

Let’s talk about forgiveness. How do you forgive someone who hurt you and continues to hurt you? Is there a point where you say, “No more,” and walk away? Does forgiveness have to mean you forget? As I’d mentioned in a previous blog entry, my self-discovery journey began because of a guy. He wasn’t a bad guy if I am being honest with myself. He treated me well and was incredibly kind and selfless…up until it ended. I had never felt a door slam so hard on a relationship that the wind was completely knocked out of me. What was once a warm, safe place to land became a dark abyss filled with invisible ticking time bombs. How do you forgive someone for tearing you apart from the inside out?

My Disney movie project lead me to this reflective place while I took part in a Flubber-a-thon this week. I began with the 1961 The Absent Minded Professor followed by the 1963 Son of Flubber featuring the ever warm and delightful Fred MacMurray. In comparison, his 1997 Flubber counterpart, Robin Williams, brings the same warmth and kindness to the character of Professor Brainard as MacMurray – may they both rest in paradise.

Absent minded Professor Brainard, who, through his dedication to science and mankind, develops a flying, rubbery substance to help save his small college from financial ruin. Unfortunately, the professor’s scattered behavior creates a mishap with his fiancée, Sarah, by becoming so engulfed in his work that he forgets their wedding…three times. Sarah of course forgives Brainard after he wins her back with his endearing charm and flying, rubbery miracle. They live happily ever after by literally flying off into the sunset. It’s not only a heart-warming  story of geeky-guy-gets-girl, but it is so smartly adapted from the novel that Disney fans of all ages would enjoy these films.

I found myself relating primarily to Sarah’s plight. How could she forgive someone who doesn’t make her a priority in that way? How could she not want more for herself? Professor Brainard was not a bad man by any means; his focus was just elsewhere. I think the conclusion I’ve come to is that forgiveness is not something you do for another person; it is something you do for yourself. You don’t provide forgiveness because the other person deserves it; you provide it because you do. Grudges and anger only blacken your heart and turn your soul into a jaded one. Forgiveness sets you free from that pain by allowing you to let go. However, just because you forgive someone, it doesn’t mean you have to forget. Instead, you just grow a little wiser from the experience.

On a lighter note…a much lighter note in fact. I hunted to try and find an edible flubber-like recipe. The only thing I came across was glow in the dark gak. Remember that stuff? However, gak…not so edible. I thought about what kind of foods might be similar to flubber and then it hit me: Jell-O! Simple and from a box, yes, but there are so many possibilities with Jell-O. And…It is rubbery and wiggles.  Below is a layered Jell-O recipe from The First Year: Cooking &Crafting that took about three days to make. The recipe takes about 11-12 hours total…but ain’t nobody got time for that. Despite the length of time it took to make this delicious, low calorie dessert, it was worth it and a perfect fit for the Flubber-a-thon.

Layered Strawberry Jello Cup
Layered Strawberry Jello Cup from The First Year: Cooking & Crafting
Ingredients
  • 5 packages of Strawberry Jello mix
  • Water
  • 2 cups of Cool Whip (I used fat free), plus more for topping
  • strawberries, to top each parfait
Directions
  1. Layer 1: Combine 1 cup boiling water in a bowl with a packet of strawberry jello mix. Stir until the mixture is dissolved. Add in one cup of cold water and stir. Evenly divide this mixture among the cups you’ll be using. Refrigerate until set, 1-2 hours.
  2. Layer 2: Combine 1 cup boiling water in a bowl with a packet of strawberry jello mix. Stir until the mixture is dissolved. Add in one cup of cold water and stir. Add in 1 cup of cool whip, and stir until mixed. Evenly divide this mixture among the cups you’ll be using, layering on top of the previous jello layer. Separation may occur, causing a lighter and darker layer. Refrigerate until set, 1-2 hours.
  3. Layer 3: Combine 1 cup boiling water in a bowl with a packet of strawberry jello mix. Stir until the mixture is dissolved. Add in one cup of cold water and stir. Evenly divide this mixture among the cups you’ll be using. Refrigerate until set, 1-2 hours.
  4. Layer 4: Combine 1 cup boiling water in a bowl with a packet of strawberry jello mix. Stir until the mixture is dissolved. Add in one cup of cold water and stir. Add in 1 cup of cool whip, and stir until mixed. Evenly divide this mixture among the cups you’ll be using, layering on top of the previous jello layer. Separation may occur, causing a lighter and darker layer. Refrigerate until set, 1-2 hours.
  5. Layer 5: Combine 1 cup boiling water in a bowl with a packet of strawberry jello mix. Stir until the mixture is dissolved. Add in one cup of cold water and stir. Evenly divide this mixture among the cups you’ll be using. Refrigerate until set, 1-2 hours.
  6. Before serving top each parfait with cool whip and a strawberry. (I’ve learned if you cut the strawberry in half and place it cut-side-down on the whip topping, it gives the allusion that it is a whole strawberry, but it will lay evenly on the cool whip)

Below is my attempt. It looks pretty similar, but the most difficult part of this was getting the layers right. some layers were thicker than others. However, it was still delicious even if it is not the prettiest.

Jello Cup

Days Left: 531

Movies Left: 590

I Swear By My Tatoo

This week I watched a Jules Verne classic: 20,000 Leagues under the Sea featuring the ever so handsome and rugged Kirk Douglas. I also discovered that I can cook something for a meal I never imagined I could make. My life generally consists of Chinese takeout and pasta…sometimes I will toss in a PBJ, but for the most part I stick to the prepared food section of the grocery store.

However, in celebration of my under the sea Disney adventure, what else would be more appropriate (or cannibalistic) to prepare than seafood? I did some recipe hunting on Pinterest (which is the world’s best virtual cookbook,) and I found a clam linguini that looked rather tasty. The recipe calls for the steaming of raw clams; it was incredibly intimidating because not only is that a foreign meal preparation for me, but steamed clams always sound so elegant to me. Surprisingly enough they one of the cheapest seafood items to buy in bulk, and they are also one of the easiest things to make. Ever. Making the broth to steam them in is probably the most challenging part…but that’s just pouring stuff in a pan. So, after tackling this recipe and succeeding, I believe I have a bit more confidence in my abilities than I previously had.

I found this recipe from Chungah’s blog Damn Delicious. And it is damn delicious! It has a spicy kick to it which is always a plus in my book. Below is a picture of the desired finished product and the recipe I used from her site.

0f30b8e6249d35bf420e6fcace524653
Clam Linguine steamed in a veggie broth with red pepper flakes.

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 ounces linguine
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, optional (but so much better with)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth, or more, as needed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 pounds littleneck clams, cleaned
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well.
  2. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in vegetable broth; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in clams. Cover, with a tight-fitting lid, and cook until the clams have opened, about 5-8 minutes. Discard any unopened clams.
  4. Stir in pasta and additional vegetable broth, as needed.
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.

Now this is how mine turned out! Not identical, but close enough I’d say!

Clam Linguini

The film is fabulous of course – right down the pet sea lion, Esmerelda. Captain Nemo makes it his life’s work to destroy all war ships that he believes are after his strange under water contraption a.k.a a submarine. The unfortunate truth is that he will destroy the ships and people on them before they even have the opportunity to learn what it actually is – whether they were curious or not. Instead, the general public believes the sub to be a treacherous sea monster. It is quite the adventure filled with explosions, cannibals, and betrayal.

“I swear by my tattoo!”

Days Left: 537

Movies Left: 593