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TND – This Week . . . or, “It Takes a Village”

March 28, 2012

Dinner table discussions at MND run a gamut of topics. Sometimes we discuss why the local theater company’s production of “The Lady’s Not for Burning” is a travesty that completely misses the point of the play. Sometimes we fulminate helplessly at the latest shenanigans from the political establishment. Sometimes we explain why we (I) have a crush on Henry II, and expound on why the next historical series Showtime or HBO makes should be The Plantagenets!* Sometimes we data mine our collective reading experience to help one of the (many) librarians around the table create a recommended reading list. Sometimes we negotiate the delicate task of coordinating eight schedules to find a time for everyone to go see the latest movie based on a YA novel (in this case “The Hunger Games” and it was actually creepily easy). And sometimes, sometimes we just get silly.

Last night edged more towards the silly than the serious, and after we’d thrown out a couple of suggestions for a YA fantasy reading list we got down to the serious task of casting who would play us, and all of our family members, in the as yet to be made movie of our lives.

Let me backtrack. A couple of weeks ago my roommate sent me an email about an opportunity to buy up an entire dilapidated village in the-middle-of-nowhere France for a mere $440,000 (which honestly, is less than you’d pay for a 3 bedroom house in my town). I responded that if we did that we’d obviously have to write a blog that would then get turned into a novel. To which she replied that it would then, of course, get turned into a BBC miniseries.

This miniseries would (obviously) be called “It Takes a Village”, and would be an entertaining frothy mélange of “My Year in Provence” with a dash of “Julia and Julia”, and a soupcon of “Under the Tuscan Sun”, and the food porn bits from “Eat Pray Love” (which was otherwise the most mind numbingly boring movie about pretty people eating pretty food in pretty locations I’ve ever watched). There would be the obligatory crotchety neighbor who doesn’t want the village restored (played by Colin Firth), his long suffering daughter (played by Emma Stone), and at some point would involve the comedic hijinks that always ensue when someone’s entire family turns up to spend Passover in a half-restored village where the plumbing only sometimes works, and the lights invariably cut out halfway through the Seder.

With me so far? Good.

Casting was not only race blind (because we’re all good overly educated socially aware WASPs, except for that part where at least half of Dinner is actually Jewish (but New England Jewish which is just like being a WASP, but with brisket instead of pot roast)), but also gender blind (mostly because once we’d cast one person as David Tennant it was too perfect to renege on, but we didn’t want to be heteronormative and so her wife’s casting also had to be gender swapped – see above about being overly educated socially awareWASPs).

I, apparently, will be played by Christina Hendricks – it should be noted I look nothing like Christina Hendricks, but I am obviously totally fine with this casting choice, because have you seen her? My roommate will be played by Amber Tamblyn. Other members of Dinner, in no particular order will be represented by Jennifer Hudson, Carey Mulligan, Selma Blair (with the occasional guest appearance by Nathan Fillion as her husband), David Tennant, Matt Bomer, and Vin Diesel.

Our mothers will obviously all be cast from that pool of awesome venerable British leading ladies who class up any production just by showing up in the morning. Mom, you’ll be pleased to know I snagged Maggie Smith to play you. You’ll be kept company by Judi Dench, Joanna Lumley and Miriam Margoyles. We decided that everyone’s father should be played by Gary Oldman both because Gary Oldman is awesome, but also as a meta-narrative commentary on the similarities of the modern nuclear family, and the ways in which all fathers want to protect their daughters from making crazy-pants decisions like buying a dilapidated French village.

There was more casting, but at a certain point it’s only funny if you were there so I’ll spare you the entire cast list. Suffice it to say, it would be an excellent miniseries stacked with every random British and Canadian actor you’ve never heard of. And also, as I said, Dinner got a little silly last night.

* Look it would be awesome. Eleanor of Aquitaine was the most beautiful woman of her time! She went on Crusade! The culture of courtly love was born out of the court at Poitiers! She marries the French king and then runs off with the future English king because Louis VII was really boring and Paris was cold and damp (not, mind you, that England was less likely to be cold and damp) and she hated her mother-in-law (at least according to E.L. Konisburg and “A Proud Taste for Scarlet & Miniver”). Henry II did things other than kill Thomas Becket (who totally had it coming). Why is no one making this?

Mustard Baked Chicken with Pretzel Crust
Broccoli Slaw
Carottes Râpées
Warm Potato Salad
Fruit Plate

Jelly Beans & Cadbury Mini Eggs

Mustard Baked Chicken with Pretzel Crust
I confess, I was seduced by Spring last week and couldn’t bring myself to make the weather appropriate pork roast that I was originally thinking of cooking. Instead I made a dinner of salads and dressed up chicken fingers.

2 lb chicken breasts, cut into strips
4 egg whites
½ cup whole grain mustard
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup water
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
¾ lb pretzels, crushed*
Flour

Line a rimmed sheet pan with foil, and place an oven safe wire rack on top. Preheat oven to 450.

Cut the chicken into strips (or butterfly it for larger filets).

In a blender combine the egg whites, mustards, water, olive oil and vinegar and blend until well combined. It will be very thick.

Place the pretzels in a ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin until they are broken down to rough crumbs (you don’t want to powder them, just break them down enough that they’ll stick to the chicken).

Toss the chicken in the flour, then dip in the egg white/mustard mixture (wiping off the excess), drop into the pretzel crumbs and toss to coat (use your hands to help really press the pretzel crumbs on to form a solid coat). Place on the wire rack.

Lightly spray the chicken fingers with an olive oil mister, or cooking spray. Bake in a 450 oven for 12-15 minutes, or until cooked through and crisped.

Serve with honey-mustard sauce (2 parts honey : 1 part whole grain mustard – if you’re feeling fancy you can add 1 tsp of marmalade or the zest of an orange).

* The original recipe for this called for hard sourdough pretzels. I had better luck using the regular thin pretzels. The large hard sourdough pretzels, while they taste good, are so hard that when you try and break them down they either end up as powder or in such large chunks that they wouldn’t stick to the chicken.

Broccoli Slaw

Recipe previously given: Each Peach Pear Raspberry?

Carottes Râpées

Recipe previously given: Stuck a Feather in His Cap

Warm Potato Salad
I was right, it was awesome with the addition of 6 strips of crispy fried and crumbled bacon.

Recipe previously given: Post Thanksgiving Abstemiousness

Fruit Plate
I have hit that point in late Winter/early Spring where I am going crazy for some fresh fruit that isn’t apples or pears. What this translates to is that I’ve started adding small mountains of citrus to my grocery cart, and opt for any tropical fruit that seems vaguely ripe and is in a somewhat affordable price range whenever I see it.

Jelly Beans & Cadbury Mini Eggs
Because I was craving jelly beans, and because at least once in the Easter season you should indulge and eat your body weight in Cadbury Mini Eggs.

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One comment

  1. […] Recipe previously given:  It Takes a Village […]



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