Monday, October 31, 2011

Movie Mondays: Sleepy Hollow

Happy Halloween, my lovelies!! We're not much for the Halloween-ing in Australia, but I remember all too well those wonderful days in the dim dark past when I lived in Canada and stuffed myself with all the candy on the planet. * reminiscent sigh*

Ahem. Given that we don't do much in the way of Halloween celebrations down here, I figured I'd take the opportunity to watch one of my favourite Halloween-y movies. 

Sleepy Hollow. Okay, so it's not Halloween or even Nightmare Before Christmas, but it's brilliant. And brilliantly stupid. And more than a little ridiculous. I love it.

Reasons why Sleepy Hollow is awesome:
1. Johnny Depp.
2. Tim Burton.
3. Johnny Depp AND Tim Burton.
4. Tim Burton says in the commentary that he took pretty much every opportunity to cover Johnny Depp in fake blood. Just because he could.
5. Johnny Depp says in the commentary that he stole the iron maiden from the set and has it in his living room as a conversation starter.
6. All the typical little Tim Burton touches that you don't really notice until you think about it.
 7. Evil Christopher Walken.
8. The score. Danny Elfman is a genius.
9. The way Johnny Depp enunciates "decapitated".
10. The scene at the end in the windmill. Flour dust goes boom.
11. Michael Gambon's ridiculous hat. Even he looks surprised by its ridiculousness. Just sayin'...
12. The supporting cast includes Dumbledore, Vernon Dudley, Rita Skeeter, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine,  and Saruman. Seriously.

Not to mention, the following lines:
- "The heads are.........gone?"
- "Good horsey!"
- "You must NEVER move the body!" "Why not?" "...Because!"
- "We thought you'd shot your boat." (translation: "We thought you'd gone bonkers and run away")
- "We did not know it was a murdering plot!"
- (regarding a spider) "Kill it! Kill it! NO - stun it." (I always want someone to pull out a wand and yell 'Stupefy!')
- "Watch your head." <-- punny, no?
- "Where are we going?" "Anywhere but here!"

So there you have it. 

At the risk of sounding like Ghostface from Scream, what's your favourite scary (or Halloween-y/spooky) movie? Also, does anyone other than me love Sleepy Hollow??

K xx

Saturday, October 29, 2011

New York - the "Robot Busboy" edition

Our last full day in New York started with a trip here: 

Yup. 30 Rock. I was horribly disappointed that we didn't come across Liz Lemon or Jack Donaghy while we were there, especially as I get the theme song from 30 Rock stuck in my head every time I so much as look at a picture of the GE Building. Sad face... Still, the view from Top of the Rock made up for it:

Once we finished there, we each sold a kidney and went to TGI Friday's for lunch, solely because it was close by and we were too hungry to find anything else. It was definitely NOT worth the small fortune we paid. From there, we wandered down Fifth Avenue in the direction of Central Park. At the corner of 5th and 57th - just near Tiffany's - we saw something totally weird. A woman in an ornate wedding dress (and clearly on her way TO her wedding, because her bridesmaids were standing by the side of the road, but there was no sign of a groom or any groomsmen) ran into the middle of the road, accompanied by her photographer. 

She then proceeded to spin in circles, standing on a steam grate. In her wedding dress. In the middle of Fifth Avenue. Which was filled with traffic. Needless to say, the nearby cops weren't very impressed and chased her off pretty quickly. I wish to God I'd taken a photo of the whole thing to show you. Because it was INSANE. (And sadly, on this occasion, Google Images was of no help... *sigh*) 

Anyway. We continued up 5th Avenue and into Central Park. Again, there was a total lack of dead bodies or psychotic rapists hiding in the bushes. I'm almost entirely convinced that SVU has been lying to me all these years... We decided to go to the Central Park Zoo, as we had plenty of time on our hands and no real plans. It's kind of a sad little zoo, although it's not really surprising given how tiny Manhattan is in the grand scheme of things! Despite its tiny-ness, we still had a fun time. I was particularly taken with the fact that the snow leopard came out to play:

Usually they're sitting at the back of their cages looking sulky. I don't blame them, really! We sat by the seal pool for 20 minutes or so, just watching them play. Eventually, we tired of that (and that millions of small screaming children that were nearby) and headed off in the direction of Strawberry Fields. 

The park was filled with families and dogs and a bunch of old men on roller skates, which was ever so slightly confusing. But it didn't matter because it was a gorgeous day, which made me forget to look for dead bodies and SVU detectives for a whole five minutes:

We knew we'd reached Strawberry Fields when we heard a band playing Penny Lane. Having sung it as part of house music a millionty years ago, there's a possibility that I broke into song. I have a sneaking suspicion that I was better than they were... #winningatmodesty

Anyway. We eventually reached the John Lennon Memorial, and sat there for a while watching all the people take ridiculous photos of themselves making peace signs and duck faces. We briefly contemplated wandering further to see the Boathouse, the Reservoir and Belvedere Castle, but that seemed all too much like hard work. So instead, we headed back to the subway and our hotel. An hour or so later, we headed out in search of dinner. We vetoed the thousands of Irish pubs that we passed, briefly considered going to a restaurant that served mostly hummus, and instead ended up at a packed Italian restaurant. 

We really should have known that it wasn't going to be great when this happened:
Waitress: Can I get you guys some drinks to start?
Sara: I'm fine with water.
Me: Can I get a Sprite, please?
Kat: I'll have the cab sav [points at cabernet sauvignon on wine list]
Waitress: Sure thing!

[five minutes later]
Waitress: Okay. Here are your drinks. Three waters, a Sprite, and a White Zinfandel! 

Cab sav:

White Zinfandel:
Um, NO. They're not in any way the same thing. We eventually got that little misunderstanding sorted out, and resolved not to use Antipodean abbreviations in American restaurants again. 

I kind of wanted to order pizza, but a small pizza was 16" (!!!), and it seemed like you could pretty much only have a cheese pizza, and then pay extra to add a very limited number of toppings to it. As one of the few vegetarian toppings was broccoli, and as I'd learnt my lesson about broccoli and pizza in Chicago, I ended up ordering ravioli. As we were waiting for our food to arrive, we noticed that we had a ridiculously attentive busboy. Any time anyone in the restaurant so much as picked up their glass of water, he'd rush over with a jug to refill it the second they put it down. The same happened with clearing tables. No matter how far away the plates seemed to be, he'd make EXACTLY the same movement and they were suddenly in a pile in his hand. I quickly developed a theory that he was a robot busboy. This theory was further supported when he snatched Kat's plate away before she'd even put the cutlery down. Awkward. And definitely a robot.

And yet, despite the ridiculously attentive service from the busboy, we had to sit around the table looking expectant for a millionty years before we could get dessert. Sadly, the dessert turned out to be not worth the wait. Sigh. Not really what I'd hoped for on our last night in New York. 

Join me next time for the trip up to Boston.

Sorry. I just wanted an excuse to include that somewhere...

K xx

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mmmmm, chocolate pudding...

So remember waaaaaaaaay back before I left for the US when I said that our kitchen had just been ripped out? Well, it's FINALLY finished!

Insanely old photo in which I've trashed the kitchen because
I can't find the proper 'before' photos I took...

Aaaaaand after!

Anyway, I decided a few weeks ago that I needed to christen the new oven. And I decided that what I needed to make in it was Margaret Fulton's chocolate pudding before it got too hot for wintery desserts. Now, Margaret Fulton is an Australian legend. And our copy of her cookbook has definitely seen better days. It's just been republished, but our edition is from 1971.
It looks it, don't you think?

I assume the new edition has been changed, but I LOVE this edition because it includes stuff like this:
Please tell me someone else is a Red Dwarf fan and finds this funny?

How to eat spaghetti

It apparently requires...

...multiple steps.

Tipsy parson cake

I loves me some avocados and jellied turtle soup!

There is nothing about this one that sounds good...

Anymassivesegue, onto the chocolate pudding. Here's what you'll need:

Technically, you need 1 1/2 teaspoons of instant coffee. But we didn't have any, so I just made up a small plunger instead. But more on that later. Start with 3/4 cup of self raising flour.

Dump it in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and a pinch of salt (it's there, I promise!):

If you're using instant coffee powder like the recipe says, add that into the flour and cocoa and salt. Meanwhile, put 100g of butter into another bowl.

Add 2/3 cup of caster sugar:

And cream it together:

Then add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract:

And 2 lightly beaten eggs:

You're meant to add them gradually. I, of course, read that line of the recipe AFTER I'd dumped them in. I don't think it made much difference. Add in a couple of spoonfuls of the flour/cocoa mixture:

Beat it together, then add the rest of the flour and 1-2 tablespoons of milk. From memory, I used one and it was fine. But if it seems a little too thick, add the extra tablespoon.

Here's the final mixture:

Grease an ovenproof dish (I was lazy and used spray canola oil), and spread the mixture out evenly:

Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of chopped walnuts if you're following the recipe. If you live in my house with a brother who refuses to eat nuts (and yet eats peanut butter every day. Go figure!), use a handful of dark chocolate chips:

Then make the sauce. Start with 2/3 cup of firmly packed brown sugar:

Add it to 1 cup of hot water (or, if you're me, 1 cup of hot coffee), along with 1 tablespoon of cocoa:

Stir until combined. Gently pour the sauce over the top of the pudding:

And bake at 190 degrees for 40 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving so people don't burn their tongues.

Margaret says you should serve it with a dollop of whipped cream and decorated with walnut halves. By the time I got it out of the oven, it was 10.30 at night and I just wanted pudding. So you get the undecorated version. Sorry...

It's pretty freaking amazing. Although to be honest? I prefer it made with instant coffee - it gives it a less intense coffee flavour. But it's been pointed out to me that as a non-coffee drinker, I'm insane and therefore not to be trusted to give judgements on such things.

So there you have it. New kitchen christened with one of the oldest recipe books we own!

K xx

Monday, October 24, 2011

Movie Mondays: Raiders of the Lost Ark

If you guys have been around these parts for a while, you'll know that back in the dim dark past, I did archaeology at uni. So it'll come as no surprise to anyone that I LOVE the Indiana Jones movies (with the exception of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It's an abomination and shouldn't be considered an Indiana Jones movie in any way...). Sadly, real archaeology is rather more sitting in a hole scraping soil off broken glass than it is finding lost cities and golden idols and the Holy Grail. Which may be in part why I became a museum curator... 

Ahem. I digress. During the week, I rewatched Raiders of the Lost Ark, as it's a) awesome, and b) on the AFI's 100 Years, 100 Movies list that's part of my Day Zero Project. If you haven't seen it, WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN SINCE 1981????? 

Things Raiders involves that are totally awesome:
1. Harrison Ford. With a bullwhip and a brilliant hat.
2. The whole opening scene in Peru.
3. A dude getting killed by a plane propeller.
4. John Rhys-Davies.
5. An evil monkey.
6. A very young Alfred Molina. Albeit for five minutes.
7. Ghost beasties that don't approve of the Nazi Party.
8. Face melting. (I actually found a GIF that I was going to use here, but in the end, it was too gross and I couldn't bring myself to do it to you!)
9. One of the most brilliant and hummable theme songs of all time.
10. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.
11. Secret chambers leading to buried treasure. 
12. Ridonkulous chase scenes.
14. Guns are better than swords.
Source. Apparently this scene happened because Harrison Ford had dysentery
 and didn't want to do the choreography they'd planned!

Plus? The following lines:

- "Professor of archaeology, expert on the occult, does one say it? Obtainer of rare antiquities." 
- "Indy, why does the floor move?"
- "Asps... Very dangerous. You go first."
- "Archaeology is not an exact science. It does not deal in time schedules."
- "You want to talk to God? Let's go see him together. I've got nothing better to do!"

What's your favourite Indy movie?

K xx
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