Friday, October 11, 2013

The Week in Reviews: Films, Books, Food and Meditation

[I review movies "Iron Man," "This is the End," "John Dies at the End," "Stuck in Love" plus a great foodie book and dole out some cooking tips.]



Iron Man 3 (2013)

Yet another installment in the Superhero franchise.  I already have expressed that I don't like films with precocious kids.  Well, I also don't like films with smart ass superheroes, either.  I much preferred Robert Downey Jr. when he played losers like Julian in Less Than Zero. (And remember when James Spader was hunky)?  I know this was well-reviewed but I thought everyone in it was annoying.
Rosy the Reviewer says...I am starting to think I don't like the big adventure movies anymore.  First "World War Z" was a disappointment and now this.  Not a fan.

This is the End (2013)

While attending a party at James Franco's house, he and his other celebrity guests must face the end of the world together.  All of the stars play themselves.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Now this was a funny movie.  See it!

John Dies at the End (2012)

Slackers John and Dave consume some special "soy sauce" and find themselves with otherworldly abilities.  This is Harold and Kumar meet "Ghostbusters" meet Quentin Tarantino.
Rosy the Reviewer says...this is either the most original comedy horror film ever made or the worst.   Could end up a cult classic but mostly I say...what the...?

Stuck in Love (2012)

An acclaimed novelist hasn't been able to write since his wife left him and he is not above peeking in her window to see what she is up to while his teen-age children are having their own angst.

Rosy the Reviewer says...why, at my age, am I always so drawn to films about teens and twenty-somethings? 
Because of little gems like this one.  It might be a bit predictable in its outcome, but it's a charming rom com with some complexity in its message and I am always a pushover for anything literary.  Lily Collins (Phil's daughter) is a delightful up-and-comer. Give it a try.



Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites by Kate Christensen (2013)

Frances Mayes started it all with her book "Under the Tuscan Sun" - memoir and recipes (which should not in any way be confused with the movie) and there have been many since.  Here Christensen, in the tradition of Ruth Reichl (another favorite), combines her memories of a chaotic life growing up in the 1960's with the recipes that gave her comfort.  Food sustains her as she matures and comes to grips with love, broken hearts, pain and joy.

Rosy the Reviewer says...This is my new favorite book. 
A sharp non-self-pitying story of loneliness growing up in the 1960's punctuated by the food memories that helped her cope.  It has inspired my next blog.


Knife Skills

Took my first cooking class this week and it was all about knife skills.  And I discovered I have been doing everything wrong for years.  It's a wonder I haven't cut off a finger.

Here are some tips I learned that could help you with your cutting, slicing and dicing:

  • First don't cut yourself...This may make you say duh but you would be surprised.  Don't leave a knife in soapy water (so you can't see it - been there done that), when it falls get out of the way (our instinct is to try to catch things that fall) and don't carry it around like you are going to cut someone and scare your family.  All good common sense.  Actually I discovered I didn't really have to worry about much of this because my knives are all so dull. 

  • A safe knife is a sharp knife. While you are sawing away on an apple with your dull knife, the apple could roll around, the knife could fall, you would try to catch it (see tip above) and you are down one finger.  So sharpen those knives.  You are supposed to hone everyday (you know, that long skinny thing in your knife set you didn't know what to do with?) and get professionally sharpened twice per year (that is, if you have been honing every day and you don't want to get a whetstone and do it yourself which takes hours).

  • To avoid round items from rolling around while you are trying to cut them...Make a small cut on one side so that one side is flat enough to lie still on the cutting board. This really works and is a revelation.

  • To cut an onion, don't cut it through it's equator but north and south from one little hairy end to the other. Then make cuts just enough through the onion so that when you slice it the other way lovely little chopped onions appear. 
       This probably explains it a bit better.
        How to chop an onion.

  • Likewise, slicing an apple or orange.  Cut it north to south rather than around the center, slice it and, splay them out and you can easily cut off the core and ends and you have lovely slices and especially easy to peel the orange at that point.

This varies slightly from what we learned in class but is very close.  Bottom line, cut through the core, not through the center.

Those are just some of the tips but it was very helpful. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...Cooking classes rock!
Now I am looking forward to my next class, "Simply Seafood," to see what else I have been doing wrong all of these years!

By George, I think I've finally got (sic) it!
After doing Oprah's 21 Day Meditation Challenge, I purchased the set of CD's. 

I know, I know, that was the point, I get it.  But it has been a good thing for me.  I have completed the first 21 day series - "Miraculous Relationships" - and am working on "Perfect Health."  Then it's on to "Creating Abundance (does that mean I am going to finally win the lottery?)

Each session is about 15 minutes long starting with a pep talk from Oprah about the topic of the day, followed by Deepak giving me the "centering thought" for the day and the mantra.  And then I meditate for about 10 minutes listening to New Agey tinkling music.  All very serene.  But you know, I find it has helped me.  What can possibly be wrong with a soothing voice telling you how to be kinder, healthier and richer?  Hubby says he can sense a difference which makes me wonder if he was saying I was a bitch before.  

But I am not going to go there.  Om....
Rosy the Reviewer says...Namaste.
If you have movies, books or knife skills tips to share I would love to hear from you. 
And are you meditating?

Catch me on Tuesday when I will be sharing Baby Boomer memories and recipes from my Mother's kitchen circa 1950.
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  1. I had to laugh about your knife skills class revelation of having done it wrong all these years. I took a knife skills class and felt the same way. I'm back to a lot of my old habits but I did get our knives sharpened and it really helped (duh!).

    1. Thanks, Juhli. Yes, getting my knives sharpened is first on my list and I think I have already forgotten what I learned last Tuesday! :) Rosy

  2. I had the lucky opportunity to spend 2 summers working in the world's largest retail meat market at Cameron Station in Alexandria Virginia in 1966 and 1967 (very hot & humid). There were 39 full time butchers, as well as scores of butcher's assistant's, of which I was one. Learned a lot about meat and knives (which we weren't allowed to use). You might consider getting a glove for safety. Good luck with the classes!

    1. Thanks for your comment. You are probably right. Will check out those gloves!