in honor of the woo woo big night in hollywood– a random selection of sarah’s recent rental faves.

#1: michael clayton. damn, damn, damn good.

and then, because I am a chick and confess it, yes, I do like chick flix: feast of love. morgan freeman really has that sage narrator thing down pat.

and finally, because all things even remotely dealing with jane austen must be observed (with one hideous exception): the jane austen book club and becoming jane. oh, that dreamy james mcavoy.

sarah recommends…

partly in response to electric firefly’s recommendations in honor of Upcoming Unnamed Romantic Holiday and partly because I’ve been in a movie renting phase again, I’d like to offer up a recommendation of my own.

In the Land of Women. I sort of dislike posting trailers because too often they spoil the surprises and good stuff– I love it when I go in to a movie knowing and expecting virtually nothing and am swept up into the reality it creates– I also think that trailers are a very specific medium separate from and wholly different from the feature-length films they supposedly represent, such is the power of editing and pacing. this movie is not what the trailers would seem to sell it as, a romantic comedy– it’s a lot more thoughtful and quirky and therefore, I think, lovable than that. the strengths are really good writing, superb pacing, and beautiful performances, even if you may or may not have preconceptions about meg ryan from her previous roles. and, really, what’s not to love about adam brody?

I wish I could recommend more than this, but really a lot of what I’ve watched recently has just sort of slid right off the plate of my consciousness. I liked Fracture, even though it’s pretty formulaic, because how could a movie with ryan gosling and anthony hopkins be anything but watchable? but frankly it’s thin. the rube goldberg devices are nifty, though. I tried to watch 300 and had to shut it off about ten minutes in, which I virtually never do– somehow the same types of artifices and over-the-top-ness that I adore in Sin City, here just felt way off the mark and immensely irritating to me. Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix was… I won’t even say enjoyable because poor Harry is just being set up to grapple with one impossible situation and set of condemnation and misunderstandings after another, and it just kind of feels like a gulag to me. if you want fantasy The Golden Compass is far more multifaceted and compelling, for my money.

quick & tasty

Easy Garlic Lemon Pasta

  • pasta of your choice (last night mine was rotini)
  • olive oil
  • one large clove of garlic, peeled & smashed with the flat of a knife
  • kalamata olives, pitted & halved
  • half a lemon
  • grated parmesan

Boil pasta until al dente; drain and return to pan.

Drizzle with olive oil and turn on lowest flame.

Add garlic and toss.

Add olives and squeeze lemon over; toss.

Remove from heat, sprinkle generously with parmesan, and savor.

for undoing the winter blues

at least this is a sathead’s happy tactic.

A Delicious Cup of Cocoa

  • 2 heaping teaspoons of cocoa powder– I use Droste, or else, if I must, one of the standard available baking brands, Hershey’s or Nestle
  • milk– I prefer 2%; just, I beg of you, do not use skim
  • a pinch of salt
  • one large cup or mug
  • one soft throw
  • one good read

Pour a goodly measure of milk into a saucepan– for me there is no measuring this, but then it is my Tiny Talent. Say, enough to fill up your favorite big mug.

Turn the flame up high, even tho all the books say low– milk scalds faster with more heat, and I am preternaturally impatient. Simply stick very close by to catch it before it boils over, because that’s just a big mess all over your stove; trust me.

Dash in just a splash of warmed milk, and stir to a rich paste. If too pasty, dash in a splash more.Mix your cocoa, sugar, and salt in the bottom of your big cup.

As soon as the milk begins to rise in the pan, turn off the flame and pour into the cup. Stir mighty well. And you might want to hang onto your spoon, since it tends to settle.

Install yourself with throw blanket and book.


for good luck in the new year!

here’s what I’ll be making today:

Hoppin’ John

1 lb dried black eyed peas
2 T olive oil
1 smoked pork jowl or 1/4 lb thick-cut smoked bacon
Andouille sausage
1 onion, chopped
1/2 t black pepper
1 t crushed red pepper
1 t salt
1 28 oz can tomatoes
1 c uncooked rice

Presoak black eyed peas. Brown pork in olive oil. Add onion, and cook for 5 minutes. Add 8 cups of water, black pepper, red pepper, salt, and bring to a boil; cook for 10 minutes. Add peas, and cook on low boil, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Add tomatoes and rice, reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Turn off head, let stand, then fluff. If you used a jowl, remove, shred meat, and add back in.

(Note: you can sub in frozen black eyed peas, if you, like I often do, fail to plan sufficiently ahead. Ahem.)