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April 27, 2007

Happiness Is A Warm Bun

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Cinnamon Bun
freshly grated cinnamon taste, and oh so fragrant

Honey Bun
a real honey of a bun, so caramelly, buttery and utterly delicious

I borrowed the title for this post from my cookbook SHE CAME IN THROUGH THE KITCHEN WINDOW: Recipes Inspired By The Beatles And Their Music, which is of course from John Lennon's Happiness is a Warm Gun. People my age would know that. I KNOW, it's corny and lame but I don't care, I need a title for this post! ;-)

I made one batch of sweet roll dough, one half for cinnamon rolls and the other half for honey buns, sweet, sweet yummmy buns. I used this cinnamon mill which is really fragrant and the taste is excellent. It's sooo good.

Cinnamon Mill

Sweet Roll Dough
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
½ cup very hot water
½ cup very hot milk
1 egg, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup soft butter
3½ to 4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
  • In a bowl combine water and milk, heat in the microwave oven for 1 minute, add 2 cups flour, sugar and egg. Beat for 1 minute, then add yeast. Beat for 1 minute. Add the salt and the rest of the flour and beat for 2 minutes. Transfer dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Form into a ball and put in a greased bowl, turn dough so that greased side is on top. Cover tightly with cling wrap and let rise for 1½ hours. Punch dough down, divide in half. Return the other half in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap while shaping the first half.
Cinnamon Rolls
filling
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons soft butter
glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Combine sugar and ground cinnamon, set aside. Roll dough into a 12 x 9 inch rectangle, spread the soft butter, sprinkle with the sugar mixture. From the longer side, roll tightly, pinching edges. Slice into 8 pieces, arrange in a buttered 9-inch round pan. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 40 minutes. Bake in a 375°F oven for 30 minutes. Glaze: Combine ingredients until smooth. Drizzle over baked cinnamon rolls.
    Freshly grated cinnamon taste, and oh so fragrant
Honey Buns
glaze
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons soft butter
2 tablspoons honey.
filling
2 tablespoons soft butter
2 tablespoons chopped nuts
2 tablespoons honey
  • Combine ingredients for glaze. Divide among 6 extra large muffin pans, set aside. Combine the filling ingredients, set aside. Divide dough into 6 pieces, flatten into a 6 x 3 inch rectangle, spread filling in the middle, roll up tightly, pinching edges, then form into a circle. Place circles on top of honey mixture. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 40 minutes. Bake in a 375°F oven for 30 minutes. Invert pan onto a container, leave for 1 minute. Remove pan, scraping all the caramel onto the honey buns.
Honey and Cinnamon Buns
Happiness Is A Warm Bun

♫ Happiness is a warm, yes it is, bu-u-un! ♫


Movie Rating

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My rating of 26 movies on dvd I've seen this year:

5 stars
Stranger Than Fiction
The Fallen Idol
The Prestige
The Science of Sleep
Kamikaze Girls
Éloge de l'amour
Fulltime Killer

4 stars
Night at the Museum
The Pursuit of Happyness
Casino Royale
Youth of the Beast
Unknown
Borat
Hollywoodland
The Virgin Spring
The Idiot
The Descent
Sleepless Town
The Final Cut

3 stars
The Last King of Scotland
Lost & Found

2 stars
Children of Men
The Illusionist

1 star
The Departed
l'enfant

-1
Copying Beethoven

Copying Beethoven is one of the lousiest movies I've ever seen, not worth a second of my time. It ranks among the worst and most stupid movies of all time, IMHO, which include Signs (Mel Gibson) and Minority Report (Tom Cruise).


April 26, 2007

All Vegetable Russian Salad

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Russian Salad

Russian salad, which was popular in the Philippines in the 80s, is supposed to have cooked ham, diced chicken, tongue, etc. I got this all vegetable version from my mother-in-law who used to serve it on New Year's Eve maybe to have a balanced dinner menu which is usually loaded with all sorts of meat and poultry dishes.

Russian Salad
2 apples, peeled, diced and mixed with a little mayonnaise
2 cups cubed cooked potatoes
2 cups cubed cooked carrots
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 cup raisins
¼ cup shredded cabbage
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups cubed cooked and chilled beets mixed with ¼ cup mayonnaise
2 cups mayonnaise
iceberg lettuce cups
  • Mix potatoes, carrots, celery, apples, cabbage, raisins, salt and sugar, chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Add mayonnaise, mix well. Add beets, mix gently. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 4 hours. Serve in lettuce cups, if desired.
Russian Salad
this salad pairs well with meatloaf, fried embutido, roast chicken, or pork chops.


Pork Chops with Peaches
pork chops stewed with peaches and barbecue sauce


April 24, 2007

Vietnamese Curried Pork Hocks

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Vietnamese Pork Hocks

I love Vietnamese food although I seldom prepare them as there are many excellent but inexpensive Vietnamese restaurants in my area. I bought pork hocks that I intended to make into paksiw or humba but made Vietnamese pork hocks with lemongrass instead. The dish is so delicious specially with Japanese short grain rice.

Curried Pork Hocks
2 pounds pork hocks
2 lemongrass stalks
1 cup roasted peanuts
4 tablespoon sugar or palm sugar
2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon garam masala
pepper
water
  • Cut 2 inches off the tops of the lemongrass, chop or cut in half. Put pork and lemongrass in a medium saucepan, add water to cover, heat to boiling, skimming top. Turn heat to low, cover and let simmer for 1 ½ hours. Add peanuts, sugar, garam masala, salt and pepper. Cook for a further 30 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
Vietnamese Pork Hocks
pork hocks, sauteed cabbage, and steamed short grain rice

Vietnamese Iced Coffee
iced coffee drink is a must when having Vietnamese style dinner

To make iced coffee: Combine 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 2 cups low fat milk, and 2 cups strong brewed coffee. Chill in the refrigerator. Serve with ice cubes or if you prefer frappuccino, put in blender with ice cubes and blend (frappuccino setting) until frothy.
Vietnamese sweet iced coffee: In a tall glass put 2 T sweetened condensed milk, add 5 ice cubes, pour brewed coffee, stir until mixed.


April 23, 2007

Zebulon Pike

I bought a new cd recommended by The Bad Plus. Zebulon Pike is a metal band with a difference, their music has the dramatic opera sound of the German composer Wagner. There are only 5 tracks on this cd, 2 of them are 22 and 20 minutes long, I love that there are no vocals, yay! I'm loving this band already and I just got their cd, Zebulon Pike II: The Deafening Twilight, this afternoon! I'm not really into metal (considering I'm ancient and I should maybe get a license to listen to them ;D) but I listen to Tool and Jimi Hendrix.



I can't believe I missed this concert in Baltimore, MD!

Paella

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Paella

Paella is one dish I make regularly and I'm sorry I can't post the recipe because I don't have one. I developed my own recipe from a variety of Filipino and Spanish cookbooks to suit our taste which may not appeal to others. I don't measure some of the ingredients, I add them as I cook, and I eyeball and taste it if it needs more liquid, salt, etc. The following recipe is not the one I use but it's close enough. This recipe from FAVORITE FILIPINO RECIPES by Pat Limjuco Dayrit is rich and elaborate with lots of seafood.

Paella
2 lbs pork tenderloin, cut into 1½ inch pieces
2 lbs chicken, cut into 1½ inch pieces
1 lb large prawns, shelled with tails intact and deveined
½ cups extra virgin olive oil plus extra for browning the chicken, pork and prawns
3 large crabs
2 cups clams
½ teaspoons Spanish pimenton (paprika)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Spanish chorizos, thinly sliced
3 cups rice
½ cup tomato sauce
6 cups clam broth
1 small bay leaf
salt and pepper
¼ teaspoon saffron mixed with 1 tablespoon water
1 cup frozen peas
2 pieces pimento, cut into 1-inch squares
2 hard boiled eggs
  • In a skillet, heat some oil and brown the chicken and pork pieces, set aside.
  • Salt the prawns and brown in oil, set aside. Boil crabs and quarter. Boil clams and remove the empty top shells. Set both aside.
  • In a paellera, heat olive oil, add chicken, pork, garlic, onion, paprika, green pepper and chorizo. Toss for a few minutes and add unwashed rice and stir until rice is slightly brown. Add tomato sauce, broth, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Stir a few times then add prawns. Bring to a boil. Add saffron and water. Cover and bake in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes.
  • Uncover and arrange clams, crabs, frozen peas and pimento on top. Cover and bake another 5 minutes. Serve with sliced boiled eggs.
Paella
I prefer to have my paella with wedges of boiled eggs and lemon

Mango Ice Cream
I also made mango ice cream, so creamy, so good and refreshing after working in the garden for 3 hours



April 22, 2007

Coconut Leche Flan With Caramelized Macapuno Strings Topping

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Coconut Leche Flan With Caramelized Macapuno Strings
Coconut Milk Leche Flan

I was browsing the Filipino cookbook Memories of Philippine Kitchens and the leche flan with caramelized macapuno preserves caught my eye. I didn't follow the recipe because there's too much sugar in it. I used my own recipe and used both coconut milk and low fat milk. I also baked the leche flan with the macapuno already at the bottom of the molds. I think Romy Dorotan's idea of adding the macapuno topping after the leche flan has been unmolded is the better method, mainly for presentation.

Coconut Leche Flan
flan
1 can coconut milk
1½ cups milk
½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar (more if you like the flan sweeter)
4 egg yolks
4 whole eggs
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

caramel
1 cup sugar for the caramel
Kayumanggi brand macapuno string preserves
  • In a large bowl with a handle, heat the coconut milk in the microwave until lukewarm, about 40 seconds . Add the rest of ingredients except the 1 cup sugar for caramel and macapuno. Whisk until thoroughly combined, set aside.
  • Prepare the pans.
Caramel
  • I used 4 ramekins and 1 oval leche flan mold. Spoon a layer of macapuno evenly on the bottom of the mold and ramekins.
  • In a small skillet, heat ½ cup sugar until it caramelizes and color is golden brown. Pour into the four ramekins covering the macapuno completely. Wash the skillet and caramelize the other ½ cup of sugar and pour into the oval mold.
  • Pour the egg mixture through a fine mesh strainer into the four ramekins, pour the rest in the oval mold. Arrange the ramekins in a square baking pan and the mold in another square baking pan. Pour hot water halfway up the sides of the ramekins and mold. Bake in a 325°F oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Cool completely in the refrigerator before unmolding.

April 19, 2007

Grilled Chicken

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Chicken Inasal

Grilled chicken with inasal seasoning is so delicious. The combination of spices and the addition of Star margarine give this dish a very tasty and distinct Filipino flavor. The slightly charred skin is to die for. Forget about dieting, this dish will make you eat like a Pinoy construction worker, with tons of garlic rice. :D

Grilled Chicken Inasal Style
1 whole chicken or chicken thigh/drumstick pieces
kosher salt water
3 stalks lemongrass, sliced into ½ inch pieces
¼ cup ginger, sliced
6 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons calamansi or lemon juice
1 tablespoon coconut vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
¼ cup annatto seeds
¼ cup olive oil
Star margarine
  • The day before, brine the chicken in 3 tablespoons kosher salt and enough water to cover, refrigerate overnight. The next day, rinse chicken slightly then butterfly, if whole or cut into serving pieces, set aside. In a small pan heat olive oil and annatto seeds. Turn off heat, set aside to color the oil. Combine lemongrass, ginger and garlic in a food processor and process until finely minced. Add calamansi, vinegar and salt. Transfer mixture into a glass container. Strain the annatto-infused oil, discard seeds. Add to the lemongrass mixture and mix thoroughly. Marinate chicken in the mixture for 1 - 2 hours. Charcoal grill (or bake in 400°F oven) until skin is slightly charred, basting often with Star margarine. Serve with plenty of garlic rice and chili & vinegar dipping sauce.

Malted Milk Ice Cream
malted milk ice cream with crushed malted milk balls for dessert, yummmm


April 17, 2007

Sunflower Tart

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Sunflower Tart

Since mangoes that taste and look a little bit like our Philippine variety started appearing in most groceries, including Costco, I make sure I have a box in the house until the season is over. I have made them into chutney and ice box cakes twice, had them with a variety of ice cream flavors and today I made Sunflower Tart, adapted from the cookbook DESSERT UNIVERSITY by Roland Mesnier. His recipe for the tart shell is so buttery rich and unhealthy I only used half a cup instead of 1 whole cup of butter. I also used reduced fat milk and custard powder in place of eggs for the pastry cream. I don't think the not-so-rich pastry and cream made a big difference in the tart's overall appeal and taste, the mangoes after all, is the star ingredient here.

Mangoes

Mango Tart
1 baked sweet tart shell
custard cream
thinly sliced mangoes
chocolate sprinkles
chopped nuts
¼ cup apricot jam mixed with 1 T water

tart shell
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
pinch of salt
1 large egg
2 tablespoons water
2 cups flour

custard cream
¼ C custard powder
2 C milk
3 T sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Tart shell: Combine butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream together until smooth. Stir in vanilla, lemon zest and salt. Stir in the egg and water, then add flour until just combined.Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and wrap in plastic wrap, refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.Roll the chilled dough into a 13-inch round, transfer to a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Fold the extra dough into the pan and press firmly on the sides. Bake in a pre-heated 375°F oven until golden brown. Cool completely before filling.
  • Custard cream: In a small bowl, mix custard powder and sugar, then mix a small amount of milk to make a smooth paste. Heat the rest of the milk until almost boiling. Pour the milk into the custard paste, whisking continuously. Put back into the pan and cook until the mixture boils and thickens. Transfer into a clean container, cover the surface with plastic wrap and cool in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  • To assemble: Spread the custard cream evenly on the tart shell. Place a 3-inch cookie cutter in the center of the cream. Arrange the mango slices on top of cream resembling sunflower petals. Boil the apricot and water in a saucepan, strain, then brush it lightly and evenly over the mangoes. Scatter the chocolate sprinkles in an even layer inside the biscuit cutter and carefully remove the cutter. Sprinkle chopped nuts on the outer edge of the tart. Remove tart from the ring and transfer to a serving platter.

April 15, 2007

Black Pepper Ice Cream

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Black Pepper Ice Cream
with chilled melon in lime syrup and cracked pink peppers

Black Pepper Ice Cream with Mango Cubes
with ripe mango cubes

Black Pepper Ice Cream
from THE PERFECT SCOOP by David Lebovitz, page 102

Makes 2 cups
½ cup whole milk
1/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, coarsely cracked
pinch of salt
1 cup heavy cream
3 large egg yolks
  • Warm the milk, sugar, salt and ½ cup of the cream in a medium saucepan. Cover, remove from heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.
  • Rewarm the peppercorn-infused mixture. Pour the remaining ½ cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer, pressing the peppercorns gently to extract as much flavor as possible. Discard the peppercorns and stir the custard into the cream. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
  • Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

This flavor, David says is spicy and lively. Cibo Matto's White Pepper Ice Cream lyrics describe it best. I agree, it's refreshingly different and I like it. Try it also with thick fries, you'll be surprised they go perfectly wonderful together, sweet and peppery, salty and crunchy.
a few lines from White Pepper Ice Cream song:

White pepper ice cream
Sweet or spicy?
White pepper ice cream
Ça m'est égal
Ça m'est égal

What is the first word?
Sweet or spicy
Ça m'est égal
Ça m'est égal
It's all the same to me

I was shot with bullets of pepper
On my lips
I feel a nip


April 13, 2007

Guinatan Halo-halo

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Guinatan Halo-halo
warm anise flavored coconut milk sweet 'soup' with jackfruit, assorted root vegetables, glutinous rice balls and bananas; weird ingredients to non-Filipinos but so delicious, and uniquely ours

I was cleaning my overstuffed freezer and found frozen ube, saba bananas and jackfruit. I went out and bought 2 small taro and a small sweet potato, made a few bilo-bilo and voila! Guinatan halo-halo.

Guinatan

Guinatan Halo-halo
1 can coconut milk
4 - 5 pieces ripe jackfruit, cut into strips
1 small sweet potato, diced
2 small taro, diced
1 small ube (purple yam), boiled whole and diced (optional)
5 small ripe saba, sliced
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon anise, optional
pinch of salt
½ cup glutinous rice powder
water
  • Prepare the glutinous rice balls by mixing water, 1 tablespoon at a time, with the rice flour to make a very stiff dough (galapong); form into ½-inch balls, set aside.
  • In a saucepan, heat the coconut milk and a canful of water, add the taro and sweet potato, cook for 2 minutes. Add the rice balls, saba bananas, jackfruit, anise, sugar and salt. Simmer until cooked. I add the pre-cooked ube in individual soup bowls just before eating because it colors the guinatan a purplish hue. Serve with a drizzle of thick coconut milk, if desired.

April 11, 2007

Mango Chutney, Red Hot Chili Sauce & Mangosteen Preserves

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For the past 2 days I have been attending to my garden, which is very tiny, but cleaning up after winter, and feeding plants and lawn take time. We have plenty of leftovers so I haven't really been cooking. I am making siopao this afternoon, though and will post them tomorrow. Meantime, I am sharing with you the recipes for two condiments and a fruit preserve that I made last week. Enjoy!

Mango Chutney and Hot Pepper Sauce
mango chutney and red hot chili semi-dry sauce

Chutney: 3 chopped mangoes, ½ onion, chopped, ½ C golden raisins, ¼ C chopped ginger, 1 chopped garlic clove, ½ C each white and brown sugar, 3/4 C vinegar, ¼ tsp each whole allspice, whole cloves and whole peppercorns, 1-inch pice cinnamon stick and ½ tsp salt. Bring everything to a boil, then simmer for 2½ hours. Store in sterilized jars.
Chili Sauce: Cook finely minced red hot chili, finely minced small piece of pork roast or chicharrones, sugar, salt, vinegar, chopped garlic and chopped shallots for 30 minutes until almost dry but still moist. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Mangosteen Preserves
mangosteen preserves

I have mentioned this in a previous post. To make: boil the syrup from 2 cans of Thai mangosteen with 5 -6 T sugar until almost caramelized, add the fruits, separated into sections, and cook until thick and dark brown/purple in color. I purposely burn the bottom just for a second to deepen the flavor and color.

The Bad Plus

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My favorite jazz band's new album is coming out on May 8, I can't wait!
Here are samples of their music:
And Here We Test Our Powers of Observation


And my favorite song Cheney (the Vice Pres.) Piñata




April 10, 2007

The Best Caramel Ice Cream

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Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream

I was set to make black pepper ice cream. I have always wanted to try this unusual flavor because of one of the Japanese group Cibo Matto's song 'White Pepper Ice Cream' and I think, although not very sure, it was also mentioned in the funny novel Cooking With Fernet Branca by James Hamilton-Paterson. But when I read David Lebovitz' post this morning I changed my plans and made the caramel ice cream instead. Sigh, I am such a sheep, I'm going to baa anytime soon. Who cares, at least I made the bestest tasting caramel ice cream ever. The black pepper ice cream can wait another day.

April 9, 2007

Sorbet, Ice Cream, Pastillas de Leche, & Peeps!

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Pineapple Sorbet
fresh pineapple sorbet with rum

It's ice cream season! Actually we have ice cream all year round, I just didn't have freezer space the last few months. But with my new ice cream book, David Lebovitz' THE PERFECT SCOOP (psst, go buy a copy, it's the only ice cream cookbook you'll ever need), I have to make room in my freezer, or I will get a compact upright freezer just for ice cream, cakes and dessert. ;D

Coffee Ice Cream and Mangosteen Preserves
coffee ice cream topped with mangosteen preserves, I missed you so!

Pastillas de Leche
pastillas de leche, recipe here

My Peeps
and, they're disgustingly sweet but I gotta have my peeps!


April 4, 2007

Fish for Holy Week

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Bacalao
bacalao

Tawilis
tawilis steamed with sea salt and kamias and wrapped in banana leaves

Bacon-wrapped Monkfish
monkfish chunks wrapped in prosciutto

I cooked a few fish dishes, there's also meat and vegetarian dishes for non fish eaters. I'm not inclined to do anything for the next few days and also will not be posting until Easter. So here are some ideas for a fishy weekend:
  • Monkfish chunks wrapped in prosciutto, sauce is butter and white wine
  • Fresh cod simmered with black olives, red bell peppers, sliced baby potatoes and onions
  • Tawilis steamed with salt and kamias wrapped in banana leaves
  • Baked or grilled milkfish stuffed with chopped tomatoes and onions

April 3, 2007

Mangoes On A Cloud

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Mangoes and Cream

I made mango ice box cake instead of tart because it is easier to prepare. Line an 8 x 8 inch square glass container with whole, not crushed, fat free honey graham crackers. For the cream: refrigerate ½ can of fat free condensed milk for 2 hours. Beat powdered egg whites, equivalent to 4 whites, until stiff, sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar and continue beating for 2 minutes, set aside. In another bowl, beat ½ cup heavy cream until it holds its shape, gently fold in egg whites. Whip cold condensed milk for 2 minutes, then gently stir into cream mixture, add 1 cup chopped mango pulp. To assemble: Spread cream mixture on top of graham crackers. Top with mango balls. Freeze until almost firm. Thaw slightly before serving.

Variation
: Use sliced peaches (in jar not canned), drained and sliced very thin, in place of mangoes.


April 1, 2007

A Rant & A Rave

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I have been ill with a mild flu since Thursday, felt a little bit better today and was able to watch 2 movies on dvd (but refused to cook). One is the awful Children of Men and the other is the brilliant The Fallen Idol directed by Carol Reed & written by Graham Greene.

Children of Men 2 Stars
Why do I keep watching movies that have gotten rave reviews only to find out they suck big time. Children of Men is one of them. I was excited when I heard about this movie being made based on P.D. James' novel. I was hoping the movie will be better than the book. P.D. James is one of my favorite authors and I have read nearly all of her mystery novels (Adam Dalgliesh as well as Cordelia Gray) but I did not particularly love her 1993 novel The Children of Men. My main problem with the book is not the plot but the second half and the ending. She seemed to have lost interest and did not know how to end it. Regardless, I still liked the idea of a movie set in the future when men all over the world stopped producing sperm and therefore no babies were born for the past 18 years. I was hoping that the moviemakers will improve on this story and with Clive Owen (I loved him in Croupier and the TV series Second Sight) as Theo I was really looking forward to watching it. Huge Disappointment. The movie is awful: all shades of gray in the entire movie, why? Men not being able to produce sperm would not prevent the sun from rising, so it is so very annoying not to see a little bit of color. The untalented Mexican director Cuaron wanted a certain atmosphere of gloom, with evil terrorist fighting the equally evil government, and illegal immigrants being caged like animals, but what do they have to do with the world without babies? The movie is all about Theo and his charge, the pregnant black woman, running, being chased by terrorists, ducking bullets, having friends who help them get killed unnecessarily along the way; these scenes kept repeating like a nightmare, it kept going on and on and on until everybody they encountered got killed and the only ones remaining are the woman and her child. And, as the movie progresses Clive Owen gets grimier and grimier as he nears his death and the end of the film. The director and the writer spent so much emphasis on illegal immigrants. I do not want certain political agenda being prominently forced on me in a movie that advertizes as SciFi, I want to be entertained, not fed political crap. I could watch politically themed movies and documentaries if I want to. The movie (as in the book, my main complaint, actually) did not offer any hope for the future. Why? Because the father of the child is not known, according to the girl there were several possibilities (sounds like she's a ho) and was never discussed again, in the book P.D. James killed him. THE FATHER is the only hope for the new generation but his character was set aside, and then the baby born they decided should be a GIRL! How will she be able to continue having babies if there are no men producing sperm, dumb, dumb, dumb. Now, if the baby were a boy, then he might carry the father's genes that gave him life and there will be a slight chance of a world with new babies, but no, the baby has to be a girl. Reminder: the title is Children of Men, take your cue from the title, you morons. Just imagine her age at say, 80, when everybody has died including her mother, all alone in the whole planet, isn't that the saddest thing, and this movie (and the book) didn't make any sense at all. One laughable idiotic moment (others thought it's poignant, whatever) in the movie: The soldiers stopped shooting at the rebels/terrorists as Theo, the mother and the newborn child were walking amidst them, they did the sign of the cross, let them pass, then resumed fighting, what the heck is that? JesusMaryJoseph! This is the first child born in 18 years and that's their response to the phenomenon? I would have been stunned at the sight of a newborn baby and would have brought the mother and the baby to the Warden right there and then, yes, that's what I would have done.
The 2 stars is for Clive's crying scene and for Michael Caine being the only person in the whole movie who was happy (his character is an old pot growing/smoking hippy, that's why he's happy).

The Fallen Idol 5 Stars
This black and white 1948 movie is by the same director/writer team of The Third Man, Carol Reed and Graham Greene. The screenplay was written by Greene based on his own short story The Basement Room. The movie is not your typical "the Butler Did It" thriller, it is visually dazzling, and the dialogue and acting are brilliant. The butler, Mr. Baines actually did not murder his wife who is the caretaker of the boy, Phile, who thinks he pushed his wife to her death. The boy is alone in the embassy, where they live, with the couple while his father, an ambassador to England of an unspecified French-speaking country, is out of the country to fetch his wife from a hospital somewhere where she was being treated for the past 8 months. The boy has been drawn to the likable Mr. Baines who indulges him, takes him for walks and to the zoo, and even gave him a box for his pet snake, Macgregor. He also loves to impress the boy and tells him stories of his 'adventures' in Africa, which are all lies. On the other hand, his wife is harsh and stern and terrorizes the child and her husband. Mr. Baines has fallen in love with an employee of the embassy. When the boy followed him one day, he saw him in a coffee shop with the girl, Julia who said she was leaving the next night because there is no hope in their relationship. Phile joined them and had pies and tea with them, which Mrs. Baines absolutely forbids. While the 2 adults are talking the boy hears everything, including the part when Mr. Baines said he will ask his wife for his freedom. To make the story short the wife died accidentally after she and her husband argued about Julia. When the police came to investigate, Phile tried to save his dear butler and friend by lying to the police. But with each lie he unwittingly made Mr. Baines look more and more guilty that you will start to think, what an obnoxious boy, shut up already. But the movie has a happy ending, the police found out for themselves how Mrs. Baines died.
The things I love: the child is wonderfully natural, he is not a professional actor but the son of a French couple immigrants in England. Carol Reed himself enacted the parts for the boy to copy and both he and the boy did an exceptionally good job. I love the simple but memorable story, the intelligent dialogue and the beautiful visuals.


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