Shudder Island (and how it relates to homemade potstickers)

Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio team up for a fourth time for this adaptation of Shutter Island, a novel by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River). The film opens in 1954 as World War II veteran and current federal marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his new partner, Chuck (Mark Ruffalo), ferry to Shutter Island, a water-bound mental hospital housing the criminally insane. They have been asked to investigate the disappearance of Rachel Solando (Emily Mortimer), a patient admitted to the asylum after she murdered her three children. As Teddy quizzes Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley), the head of the institution, he begins to suspect that the authorities in charge might not be giving him the whole truth, and that a terrible fate may befall all the patients in the spooky Ward C — a unit devoted to the most heinous of the hospital’s inmates. Complicating matters further, Teddy has a secret of his own — the arsonist who murdered his wife is incarcerated on Shutter Island. Driven to confront his wife’s killer, and stranded on the island because of a hurricane, Teddy must unravel the secrets of the eerie place before succumbing to his own madness.

-MSN Movies

When I was little, I distinctly remember reading the R.L. Stine Goosebumps book Be Careful What You Wish For.  It is this “scary” book meant to show kids that sometimes, you wish for something you don’t really want.  You may wish that your annoying sibling disappear forever, but when you notice his absence, you instantly regret it.

I certainly have moments like this.  “Oh, I wish it were warmer!”

…Months pass…

Whah! Why are all the flowers blooming?  My allergies are going to kill me!”

See, never happy. 

 Shutter Island conveys a similar message.  Curiosity totally kills the cat.  Leonardo Dicaprio is on this island to find the answer to two very important questions and he is not going to enjoy the answers.  In the original movie trailers, I thought that this movie was a horror movie.  It turns out that it is a film full of suspense and moral dilemmas that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Only after watching the entire movie (and perhaps re-watching it) are you able to understand the full implications of the ending.  Don’t worry, I won’t give it away 🙂

Now, you may be wondering, how on earth do potstickers relate to this?

Well, I had an epic fail in my kitchen.  EPIC.  While I could have just sat and cried about it(and I might have, I won’t lie), I decided to turn it into a learning experience and share this lesson with you.  Ahem.  Here it is.

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My Favorite Things: Part 6

Memorial Day

We are currently in the midst of Memorial Day weekend in the USA.  Many people take this weekend as only a lovely 3-day break from work and school.  Yes, that is fabulous, but I think it is also important to remember it as a time to honor those people who fight for us every day.  For me, it does not have anything to do with whether I agree with the current conflict or wars.  It has to do with thinking about and remembering those people who sacrifice for ideas that are noble: freedom, honor, and justice.

While I can (and do) laugh at videos like this one, in the end they break my heart.  How can we send people off to fight for our freedoms when many of us do not even have a basic understanding of how our country came to be or where we fit in the world today?

I ask you to do three things on this Memorial Day.

  1. Make sure you know where your country is on a map of the world.
  2. Think about your friends and relatives who were or are in the military.
  3. Eat a hamburger 🙂

Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes

The chocolate centre flows like dark lava onto the whiteness of the plate. The last ounce of stress drains from my body…. I have discovered the French version of Death by Chocolate.’ Part love story, part wine-splattered cookbook, Lunch in Paris is a deliciously tart, forthright and funny story of falling in love with a Frenchman and moving to the world’s most romantic city – not the Hollywood version, but the real Paris, a heady mix of blood sausage and irregular verbs. From gutting her first fish (with a little help from Jane Austen) and battling bad-tempered butchers to discovering heavenly chocolate shops, Elizabeth Bard finds that learning to cook and building a new life as a stranger in an even stranger land have a lot in common. Along the way she learns the true meaning of home – and the real reason French women don’t get fat … Peppered with recipes to die for, this mouth-watering love story is the perfect treat for any woman who has ever suspected that lunch in Paris could change her life.

– Back Cover

Now, if you have been reading at all lately, you will have noticed two important things.

  1. My posting speed is slowing to a trickle.  I suppose the reason for that is this pesky problem called “life.”  I have started taking night classes so I now officially work full time, take night classes, maintain my blog (meaning that I have to continue reading and cooking), and keep up some sort of social life so that I don’t go completely insane.  I decided I would rather have fewer posts of quality that I can be proud of, rather than many icky posts.
  2. I have already posted about my dining experiences in Paris.  What do I have to talk about now?

Well, I’m going to tell you. Continue reading

My Favorite Things: Part 5

“All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum

All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.

These are the things I learned:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm. Think what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

I propose that we all leave our respective schooling and jobs for the day and head down to Kindergarten. I think nap time, cookies and milk, and basic standards of respect and responsibility are just what the doctor ordered.

Swallows and Amazons: Potato Croquettes for the Kid in Us

Rating:  Strawberry

Truth:  I love children’s books.  I  know that their very designation for children means that I shouldn’t be reading them, but you know what, I’m going to color outside the lines on this one. 

Most well-written children’s books deliver for adults as well.  They are entertaining, witty, and help to nurture the kid inside us who really doesn’t want to grow up. 

Swallows and Amazons  by Arthur Ransome is just the type of children’s book that is an entertaining read for children and adults alike.  Some people might argue that it doesn’t have any deep Dickensian meaning or conflict. On the contrary, these books do have great meaning.  They show us that we shouldn’t always take ourselves too seriously.  That we can find joy and adventure in the most mundane of tasks. That the best-laid plans can fall apart and that being brave and trying your best is what matters.

In a world that sometimes feels like it is falling down around us, I think we could use to see a little more magic in our surroundings and adventure in our lives.

What children’s books have you enjoyed?

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Living The Sweet Life in Paris

Croque Madame: Ham and cheese, more cheese, and an egg on top!

A few weeks ago, I spent some time in my favorite city in the world (so far): Paris.

I had been there twice before, once for a high school trip and the other for a more extended study-abroad program.  I adored it both times and dreamt of a time that I could return.

Last August, I decided that since I actually had my life planned far enough ahead of time to book plane tickets, I would schedule my Parisian adventures for my school’s April break.

While I have seen all of the “touristy”  parts of Paris, I wanted to tackle all of the hidden gems that the locals know about and keep secret from us foreigners.

Nutella Crepe for the Latin Quarter

I turned to David Lebovitz, American expatriot in Paris, who has authored several cookbooks as well as the man behind the popular blog

Like me, he has a keen interest in food and has explored Paris by following his nose to the best bakeries, pastry shops, and bistros.

When I am not in Paris, I live vicariously through him.  When I am there, I follow his recommendations.

A few years back, he penned the book The Sweet Life in Paris.  In this book, he spins tales of Paris, its people, and (perhaps best of all) its food.  I love this book.

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