Monthly Archives: April 2013

April Photo Shoot: Outdoor Murals

It was a lot of fun putting together this month’s batch of photos- hope you enjoy!

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1 Year, 100 Movies: #77 All the President’s Men (1976)

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For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!

I love love love love this movie. Always have. Forever will. Reason #1: Robert Redford. Reason #2: It’s an intelligent and entertaining look at one of our nations most scandalous  moments in presidential history. Reason #3: Robert Redford. 😉

All the President’s Men is a fantastic film about the two journalists from the Washington Post that investigated the Watergate scandal- Woodward (Robert Redford) and Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman). The movie starts out with the actual scandal- and the security guard who finds the door kept unlocked with tape was played by- get this- the actual security guard, Frank Wills! He called the police and five burglars were arrested in the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex. The movie is based upon the tactics the unlikely pair of journalists use to investigate the story until they uncover the truth.

Bob Woodward, a new reporter for the Washington Post is assigned to the story. He learns that the burglars had bugging equipment and their own “country club” attorney- interesting for everyday burglars. He also discovers that one of the burglars had recently left the CIA and the others have CIA ties. He soon links them to E. Howard Hunt, a former employee of the CIA and to President Richard Nixon’s Special counsel Charles Colson. At this point Carl Bernstein is assigned to cover the story with Woodward. They are reluctant to work with one another, but find quickly that they work well together.

Having no other leads at this point Woodward contacts “Deep Throat” a senior government official that he has used in the past as an anonymous source. Deep Throat won’t give him straightforward information, but does tell him to ‘follow the money’. The pair connect the burglars to thousands of dollars in diverted campaign contributions to Nixon’s Committee to Re-elect the President. Through that campaign’s former treasurer Hugh W. Sloan Jr. Woodward and Bernstein connect a slush fund of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman and former Nixon Attorney General John N. Mitchell, who was then the head of the Committee to Re-elect the President. Executive editor of the Washington Post Ben Bradlee (Jason Robards) forces the pair to obtain other sources to confirm the Halderman connection. After the White House issues a non-denial denial of the story Bradlee continues to support them.

Deep Throat finally reveals to Woodward that the break in was masterminded by Halderman, and that the cover up was not to hide the burglary, but to hide covert operations involving ‘the entire U.S. intelligence community’ and warns Woodward that his life as well as Bernstein’s are in danger. Their editor urges them to continue despite the risk- and despite the fact that Nixon had just been re-elected. In the dramatic final scene Woodward and Bernstein type out the full story as the TV in their office shows Nixon taking the Oath of Office for his second term as president. A montage of the Watergate-related headlines from the following years is shown at the finish, ending with Nixon’s resignation and the inauguration of Vice President Gerald Ford.

The film is based off a book that was written about the Watergate scandal and is a very watchable film that holds your attention. It’s a study of a moment in history and the process of journalism. It could have been sensationalized for viewers, but Redford, who purchased the rights to the book – along with the screenwriter William Goldman and the director, Alan Pakula- decided to make the film real. They make the pavement covering, interview giving, library card shuffling and phone call making – potentially boring every day journalism – seem as intriguing as a bomb being disengaged two seconds before it goes off. Although a more accurate metaphor for this film would be various wires seen individually being put into place creating a ticking time bomb that finally explodes at the end. The film feels more dangerous for its subtlety.

In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns:

5star

2nd April Recipe test with Anna!

An easy dinner was the order of the day for our second April recipe test at Anna’s apartment. We made a chicken and green chili tacos and apple crisp for dessert.

The cast of characters for the chicken and green chili tacos:

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The finished chicken/spices/green chili:

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The cast of characters for the apple crisp:

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Such an easy process. Just peel the apples, cut them up and dump them in the pan- cover the pan with parchment paper or foil for easy cleanup:

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Then mix up the ingredients and dump over the apples. Stick it in the oven. Done. Could hardly be easier:

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Our dinner!

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And since I forgot to take a picture of the tacos since I was so hungry- here’s the shot from the website Anna found the recipe at:

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And here’s our apple crisp. Oh. My. Word. SOOOOOOO GOOD!!!:

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The Recipes:

Easy Chicken & Green Chili Tacos

Yield: 3-4 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10-15 minutes

Total Time: 25-30 minutes

ingredients:

For the Chicken:
1 tablespoon extra light olive oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1/2″ cubes
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2-3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4.5 ounce can of chopped green chilies
1-2 dashes cayenne, optional

For Serving:
Taco Shells and/or tortillas
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Shredded lettuce
Sliced black olives
Diced tomatoes
Cilantro
Sour Cream
Lime Wedges

directions:

For the Chicken:
Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and sear (breaking apart the pieces with a spatula as is cooks; chicken tends to stick together). Saute chicken for 6-10 minutes, or until chicken is completely cooked through. Sprinkle spices over the chicken & stir until well combined. Lastly, add the green chilies and cayenne if adding. Mixture will come to a bubble; reduce heat to low to keep warm while serving.

To Serve:
Warm taco shells (or tortillas) and add cheese first, then top with hot chicken and green chili mixture. Add desired garnishes and serve!

CLASSIC APPLE CRISP

Preheat oven to 400°

Bake 40-60 minutes
 
Ingredients:
Peel and slice approximately 5 cups apples
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup butter
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup flour
Directions
Place apple slices in pan.
Mix other ingredients and crumble on top
Bake until bubbling
This absolutely delicious dessert is best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. You may want to double the topping for a bigger pan. If you use a half size pan the ingredients for the crumble are a perfect amount, and you could use three apples instead. Be prepared, it won’t last long!

1 Year, 100 Movies: #78 Modern Times (1936)

Clasic-Movie-Posters-MODERN-TIMES_-CHARLIE-CHAPLIN_-1936-large-1155206651For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!

There are so many different emotions in ‘Modern Times’ written, directed and starred in by Charlie Chaplin. The film can go from sadness to the heights of comedy without a blink of the eye- and tests out the waters everywhere in between. No matter what Chaplin’s character is going through there is always the common thread of his good-nature and comedy as the times he finds himself in are changing.

Believe it or not, this was my first Charlie Chaplin movie and it did not disapoint. It was his last ‘silent’ movie although it could also serve as his first ‘talkie’ as there is sound here and there. Chaplin starts out as a factory worker doing back breaking repeititive work, but with lots of spunk. There’s a really hilarious scene in which they have him test out a machine that automatically feeds the workers. He has a nervous breakdown after the test and is sent to a hospital where after his recovery he is mistaken for an instigator in a communist demonstration and is arrested. In jail he inadvertanly stops a jailbreak and is released. Once he’s back in society he realizes the environment is difficult to get work in and he’ll do anything to go back to jail. He runs into an orphaned girl and they become friends after he tries to take the blame for stealing a loaf of bread she actually stole so he can go to jail. Eventually – through several jail stints and miscommunications with the police they are both out of jail and working at a restaurant. She as a dancer and he as a waiter/singer. I loved his act where he improvised his forgotton lyrics by singing a story using an amalgam of word play, words in (or made up of word parts from) multiple languages and mock sentence structure while pantomiming. So funny. That and the scenes where he can’t get the in/out doors to the kitchen figured out. In the end the police come for them, but they escape and walk off into the sunrise in a mood of hope and expectation. It was a fun movie to watch- another one that makes me glad I am going through this list of movies!

In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns:

DownloadedFile

1 Year, 100 Movies: #79 The Wild Bunch (1969)

the-wild-bunch-1969-poster-51397bd8adc78For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!

The Wild Bunch, directed by Sam Peckinpah is a Western film that stars aging cowboys trying to make it big before they retire. AFI lists it as #79 of their top 100, and in their “10 Top 10” it’s ranked as the 6th best Western. For the film they used a revolutionary style of filming using multi-angle, quick-cut editing, incorporating normal and slow motion images. It’s normal for us now, but it must have been a sight to see for the first time.

I can tell it’s a very well made movie, and there was some really great acting… but Westerns in general just aren’t my kind of movie. This one unfortunatly was no exception. I couldn’t get into the character development at all – to be honest I had it on in the background while I got other things done. However I did enjoy the last shoot out scene- (one of about a billion in this film)- it was the climax of the movie and is part of the dramatic ending to this long bloody movie. I’m sure many viewers absolutly love this film, I’m just not one of them.

In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns:

two_half-stars_0

Set Design: The Importance of Being Earnest

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About a month ago I had the opportunity to help out a little for an afternoon on the set for a university’s stage production of ‘The Importance of being Earnest.” The set designer set me to work painting windows for the scene- so that’s what I did the entire afternoon- and I loved it. It reminded my of my old classes in high school and college. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I’d gone that route with my career instead…

I attended the production- the set turned out great for the black box it was performed in. The student actors were great- they were all so funny, and had to learn so much monologe! Check out the finished set- they worked so hard on it:

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Clearly my part was just a little, but I’m happy to have been a part of this wonderful production and to have fulfilled a goal on my 2013 Manifesto.

1st April 2013 Recipe test with Anna

April’s first recipe test: Strawberry Bruschetta, Thin crust cheese pizza and apple cinnamon chimichangas. Deliciousness.

The cast of characters for the Strawberry Bruschetta:

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Cutting up the strawberries:

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Mixing the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and pepper:

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Slicing the baked french baguette on a bias:

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Once you’re ready to eat, just spread on some goat cheese, drip on the olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixture, add the strawberries and top with basil. YUM:

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The cast of characters for the thin crust cheese pizza:

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Mixing the ingredients for the pizza sauce. I can tell this will be on heavy rotation in my kitchen:

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The cast of characters for the apple cinnamon chimichangas:

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After making the apple mixture we rolled it up in tortillas:

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Then we fried them up in a heart healthy(er) corn oil and then gave them a bath in a cinnamon sugar. Next time I would love to add some cheesecake mixture to try to recreate Applebee’s old cheesecake chimichanga that was my favorite dessert. It was a sad day when they discontinued it.

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The completed meal- SO TASTY!!:

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Want to test out these delicious recipes?

Strawberry Bruschetta

Yield: about 4-6 servings

Ingredients

1 cup strawberries, hulled and diced
1 tbsp. sugar
1 French baguette, sliced on a bias
4 oz. goat cheese
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
¼ cup minced basil leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

thin crust cheese pizza

Yield: 2 13-inch pizzas
Ingredients:
For the crust:
3 cups (16½ oz.) bread flour
2 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. instant yeast
1 1/3 cups ice water
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1½ tsp. salt

For the sauce:
1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. ground black pepper

For topping:
Olive oil, for brushing
½ cup (1 oz.) finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded whole-milk mozzarella

Directions:
To make the dough, combine the flour, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a food processor* fitted with the metal blade. Pulse just to combine. With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube and process just until the dough is combined and all dry ingredients are incorporated, about 10 seconds. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

Add the oil and salt to the dough. Process until the dough forms a smooth, tacky ball that clears the sides of the bowl, about 30-60 seconds. Remove the dough from the bowl, knead briefly on a lightly oiled work surface, about 1 minute. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days. (After the period of refrigeration, the dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and frozen for later use.)

To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl or container and refrigerate until ready to use.

One hour before baking the pizza, adjust an oven rack to the second highest position and place a baking stone on the rack to preheat. Preheat the oven to 500˚ F. Remove the pizza dough from the refrigerator and divide in half. (If you plan to freeze a portion of the dough, this is the time to wrap in plastic, place in a freezer bag and freeze for later use.) Form each half into a ball and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Spray the dough balls lightly with cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

To assemble the pizza, transfer a dough ball to a well floured work surface. Flatten into an 8-inch disk, leaving a slightly thicker edge around the rim. Using your hands, gently stretch the dough to a 12-inch circle. (I needed to use the rolling pin a bit to get my crust thin enough.) Transfer the dough to a well floured pizza peel and stretch to a 13-inch circle. Lightly brush the thicker edge of the disk with olive oil. Spread ½ cup of the pizza sauce over the dough. Sprinkle evenly with the grated Parmesan and the shredded mozzarella. Carefully transfer the pizza to the preheated baking stone. Bake until the cheese is bubbling and slightly browned, 10-12 minutes. Let cool about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

* This dough can also be made in a stand mixer or by hand. Keep in mind, the idea is to avoid warming the dough, so a food processor or mixer is optimal.

* I used pizza dough from Trader Joe’s- and it was fantastic. So if you want to make it a little easier for yourself, go ahead and cut a few corners and go the grocery store route. 

Cinnamon apple dessert chimichangas

Ingredients

For the Apple Pie Filling

  • 4 baking apples, chopped (I used a mix of granny smith and gala apples)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice

For the Chimichangas

  • 8-10 small tortillas
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs. cinnamon
  • Oil for frying

Instructions

    For the Apple Pie Filling

    • Combine the water, cornstarch, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for approximately 3 minutes, or until the mixture becomes very thick.
    • Add the chopped apples and reduce to a simmer. Allow the apple mixture to simmer until the apples become just tender (approximately 10 minutes). Allow the mixture to cool.

    For the Chimichangas

    • Mix cinnamon and sugar in a shallow bowl and set aside.
    • Spoon apple pie filling across the bottom 1/3 of the tortilla.
    • Roll in both sides of the tortilla before rolling up the bottom of the tortilla over the filling, and then continue to roll the tortilla up like a burrito.
    • Meanwhile, heat a small skillet with 1/2 an inch of oil. Once oil is hot, fry the chimichangas on all sides until the tortilla turns golden brown. (approximately 30 seconds on each side)
    • Remove the chimichangas to a paper towel-lined plate and allow to drain briefly. Immediately roll the warm chimichanga in the cinnamon sugar mixture to coat and serve.
    • You can serve the chimichangas drizzled with caramel sauce if you desire.