Welcome to Maoist Orange Cake. Each week one of our Divas posts a thoughtful (but not necessarily serious) essay on whatever calls forth her Voice or strikes her Fancy. We invite you to join us wherever the discussion leads.
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"I would also like to add that ‘Maoist Orange Cake is possibly the best name for a blog ever. Just my twopence." -- The Sixth Carnival of Radical Feminists, 1 October 2007

The Twelfth Carnival of Radical Feminists is up at The Burning Times blog and mentions one of our posts, Helen 'Wheels' Keller, for recommendation. Orangeists spreading our zest!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Have A Little Priest...

Some one who loves me finally gave me a Christmas present that I actually asked for this year; not bath salts, or candles, or perfume---no, this was a wonderful present; a crockpot. I used to have one, years ago, but it was broken during a move, and I never got around to replacing it. I knew the minute I laid eyes on this one what delectable dish I would first cook in it---my famous beef stew.

Last Sunday, with the smell of a home-cooked meal in the air, S/O got all appreciative and offered to take me to the one movie I've been jonesin' to see ever since it was first released; "Sweeney Todd". I've seen the stage version four times over the years, and I'm also quite the fan of Johnny Depp/Tim Burton films. But I was unsure---I knew the subject matter, and I also know S/O has a definite dislike of the horror genre. (This is a woman who refused to watch the network T.V. version of "What Lies Beneath.")

And so I felt I had to make sure she was up to the experience.

Me : "Are you sure? Do you know what it's about?

S/O: "Of course I know what it's about. I saw the DVD of the Broadway production, remember?"

Me : "Yeah, but that's the stage version. This is a movie. It's going to be in your face, and probably gory. Are you up for that?"

S/O: "It's a musical. How bad can it be?"

Me: "You know what we're having for dinner tonight---won't that bother you?"

S/O: "It won't bother me---why should it?"

I was concerned that S/O would be frightened, but not so much that I was willing to forgo the show. I knew that the gore wouldn't bother me; I grew up watching Hammer films, and things like "Night Of The Living Dead"....I resolved to be sure to cover her eyes at the appropriate moments.

S/O stocked up on popcorn at the concession stand, even though I warned her she might not want to eat once the movie starts. We went to our seats, looking forward to the cutting edge (no pun intended) musical experience.

I wish I could comment on the film in an intelligent manner, to give my review, I really do. Things such as why the title song was cut (I mean, for Chrissakes!) or why Helena Bohnam Carter just threw away all the good lines. That's not to say I didn't think it was a good movie. It was. I just didn't enjoy it.

I couldn't get past the blood.

When Sweeney slashes his first victim, blood and flesh flies, and as he keeps on going, it only gets worse. Victims were gurgling, choking on their own blood as I watched them through my parted fingers. Concerned for my S/O's welfare, I turned to her. "Are you okay?",I asked. "Oh yeah, sure," she whispered, happily munching popcorn and swilling Mountain Dew. "You?
"Just peachy," I replied, through gritted teeth.

By the time the film ended, I couldn't get to the loo fast enough. S/O on the other hand, was quite proud of her new found slasher-flick stamina. "That was BLOODY GOOD, wasn't it?," she said with a sly grin.

I almost had the gory images out of my mind, until I returned to our apartment, fragrant with the aroma of stewed meat. S/O was gaily belting out showtunes as she tempted me with savory morsels. "Have a little priest.." she sang, trying to feed me a bite.

S/O had two bowls, and dessert.

I had a biscuit.


cybercita said...

thanks for the review -- i was pretty sure i wouldn't go, and now it's definite! i hate violent movies!!!

i made the mistake of going to see munich on a date with someone i didn't know well enough to ask if we could see something else instead. i spent the entire movie with my fingers over my eyes. yipes!

kat said...

oh noes!
The beginning of the post made me want stew....I haven't made it yet this winter, but I love it so much....

That's the second bad review I've heard about Sweeney Todd. I'm torn. Sondheim is the one Broadway composer that I like, and movie musicals are so rare these days, so on the one hand, I'm dying to see it (uh....pun sorta intended), but on the other, I'm not sure I'd like the result....

Maybe I'll wait to rent it so that I can turn it off if I'm too upset. That and save oh, $8 or so.....

shadocat said...

I didn't mean this to be a bad review of the movie---between killings I really loved it. I'm still trying to decide if it was way too gory, or if I've just gone soft as the years passed by. My S/O really enjoyed it, btw

hammerwoman said...

Recipe! Recipe! Please!

I'm probably not going to see the movie; never been one for slasher flicks, and if an inveterate fan says there's too much blood, I'm saving my money. But a good beef stew recipe is something to cherish. . .and yes, with biscuits.

So, please, Shadocat. . ? We're having my wife's 50th celebration this Sat (skiing, snowshoeing, eating and drinking, homemade music), but I'd love to make some stew on Sunday.

silvio soprani said...

Thanks for confirming what I suspected. I know very little about the play or the movie (except that the latter has Johnny Depp!) But throughout my ignorance of the Sweeney Todd story, all I could think was "no way do I want to see a slasher story about a BARBER!" I have enough trouble with the dentist!

On to a happier topic: the Crock Pot. (Now I spent my ten years in the 70s as a strict vegetarian, and many of my friends are still veggies, and I cook for them brilliantly. I am known in some circles as "The Tofu Queen."
HOWEVER, I love beef. I know I should not, but I do.
And I LOVE the way meat gets all tnder and stringy when you cook it for 8 hrs in a crockpot! It is the most wonderful achievement for a person like me who can never seem to cook a steak in the oven that retains its tender qualities. But in a crock pot--hooee!

So I am glad you are enjoying your new acquisition!

little gator said...

I make 3 things in my crockpot:

broth from chicken bones

chicken/bean soup

baked beans

So if there isn't chicken or beans involved I'm helpless.

ksbel6 said...

I have the coolest old stove/oven in my kitchen and instead of a 4th burner on the top, it has a crock pot. It is soooo handy. It comes right out and is easy to clean...it even has it's own timer. My favorite thing to make in it...polish sausage and kraut. Oh, and it is from about 1945, and I still have the original instruction book...complete with "how to make your man happy" using food :)

shadocat said...

okay, here's my recipe for beef stew

1-2 lbs. of beef, cubed
6-8 potatos, cut in chunks, with skins on
2 10oz. bags of frozen peas and carrots
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbs olive oil
2 cups of water
1 beef boulion cube
1 crushed bay leaf

Brown meat at onions in olive oil; pour all the contents into a large crockpot. Combine potatos, peas and carrots with the beef. Sprinkle with crushed boulion cube, and stir. Top off with water; cover and set crockpot setting on "low" for eight hours.

Approxiamtely 1/2 before serving, siphon out some of the stew liquid (a turkey baster works well for this) Using stew liquid and a bit of flour, I stir the two into a roux, then stir this into the rest of the stew. After 30 minutes, this cooks into a lovely gravy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

shadocat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shadocat said...

just got these off another "Sweeney" website; thought they might tickle your tastebuds...

Steak and Kidney Pie

Pastry for 9-inch double pie crust
1 pound lean stewing beef, trimmed and cubed
1 pound ox kidney, cored and chopped
2 tablespoons salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup beef stock
Milk for brushing

1. Heat oil and butter together in pan.
2. Toss the steak and kidney in seasoned flour, then fry in hot butter and oil until well browned. Put mixture on a plate.
3. Add onion to remaining butter in the pan and fry gently until slightly gold.
4. Add meat back to pan and pour in beefstock, slowly bringing to a boil.
5. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally until meat is tender.
6. Remove from heat; leave the mixture to stand until it is completely cold.
7. Roll out half of the pastry on a floured surface, then use it to cover a lightly greased 9-inch pie plate. Trim away excess pastry. Roll out remaining pastry to make a lid.
8. Pile on the cold meat with sufficient gravy in middle and moisten the edges of the pastry with water.
9. Cover with the pastry lid, pushing edges together to seal, and flake by cutting with the back of a knife.
10. Flute then stand pie on a baking sheet. Brush with milk and bake in oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Spotted Dick

Speculation is that this pudding's name came from its resemblance to a spotty dog, and dogs were often called "Dick" in Old England.
Serves 6.

(I once gave a canned version of this to my gay neighbor with a note that said, "Open In Case Of Emergency!")

1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup suet
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons currants, sultanas, or raisins

1. Mix all the ingredients together and moisten with a little milk to make a stiff dough.

2. Tie tightly in a floured cloth, drop into boiling water and boil briskly for 2 hours.

3. Serve with sugar or hard sauce.

Bubble and Squeak

This is a very old dish, used as a way to finish up the leftovers. The name comes from what happens when you cook it.
Serves 6.

1 medium head cabbage, sliced
3 slices bacon, diced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup cooked, cubed ham or beef
1 tablespoon butter
3 cups potatoes, mashed
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large saucepan, cook cabbage in small amount of water until done, about 5 minutes. Drain, remove cabbage and set aside.
2. In same pan, sauté bacon and onion until soft, add ham, and cook until heated through.
3. Stir in butter, then add the cooked cabbage.
4. Mix in potatoes and stir well. Season with paprika, salt and pepper.
5. Cook for additional 15 minutes without stirring, so that the edges and underside are browned but not stuck.
6. Serve piping hot.

Maggie Jochild said...

These all look excellent, Shado. I never stopped longing for beef, in particular, all the years I was a vegetarian, and now that I'm back to omnivore, I have it twice a week with gusto. I'll have Myra make your stew (with Gillam's help) and they'll report on it.

Had myself a laugh at the fact that you felt compelled to explain the etymology of spotted dick to this crowd...

I myself am fond of bangers and mash. And all varieties of pudd. Can't do kippers, though.

shadocat said...

Maggie, I wish I'd had one of YOUR famous biscuits with that stew (I cheated and used store-bought). Would it be askin' too much for ya to give us one more wee peek at that recipe?

Maggie Jochild said...

Well, I went looking for it online, thinking it must be part of all the Ginny Bates' excerpts at my blog, but I guess I only posted it here. So -- the recipe is below, followed by links to all the other Myra recipes online.

I seriously love cooking. And recipes.


Should be the size of a cat's head. Myra could never figure out how to make these rise enough with whole wheat flour, so this is a rare white flour treat. Makes about 8-10 biscuits.

Before starting, make yourself a biscuit cutter from an old 1-pound vegetable can. Cut out the top and bottom, sand down any rough edges, and wash well.

2 cups self-rising white flour
1 cup buttermilk
One-fourth stick of softened unsalted butter (or lard, if you decide to be tref -- or 1/4 cup bacon drippings)
Pinch of salt

Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Form a well in the center. Put the softened butter and a little of the buttermilk in the center and stir with a spoon. When the shortening is mixed in, add the rest of the milk, just until the dough is blended and forms a ball. It will be a moist dough.

Spread out waxed paper on your kitchen counter (you can make the paper stick to the counter by putting drops of water down first before you spread the waxed paper.) Sprinkle the paper with flour and roll out the dough. Don't handle the dough any more than you have to, it toughens the biscuits to be worked. Pat it out until it is about 1.5 inches thick.

Grease a cast-iron skillet well, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Dip the biscuit cutter into flour to keep the biscuits from sticking to the inside and cut out the biscuits. Put them into the cast-iron skillet so their sides are touching. Brush the tops with melted butter and bake 25 minutes until soft on the sides but done throughout.
VARIATIONS: Use tomato juice instead of buttermilk. They won't rise as high but they'll be red and a wonderful flavor.

Original Recipes from Ginny Bates
More Recipes from Ginny Bates
Last of Myra's Recipes from Ginny Bates

shadocat said...

Yes! Myra's biscuits! Trust and believe, they are the best!

kat said...

Mags, I made Myra's biscuits last week and they didn't totally work. now, I have to say that I'm having the worst luck with biscuits lately (I've been making them about once a week, with a different recipe each time), and I don't know what's going wrong.
Myra's were pretty close to right, but the dough was so wet that I couldn't cut them properly. I would put the cutter down, but when I removed it, the dough would grow back together immediately as though it was never cut.....

How soft is softened butter? That may have been part of the problem. Mine was pretty much melted, which I suspect is too soft.

Well, at least Myra's rose properly. One recipe I tried (Cook's Illustrated Cream Biscuits) gave me tasteless hockey pucks.

I'm rather obsessed, you see, and am wanting the perfect biscuit.

With stew, though, I have to say that I prefer toasted baguette, but that's just me....Toasted whole wheat rolls are good too.