Archive for November, 2012

After the Feasting…

Family Movie Night


By Karyn Bowman


Do you have thanksgiving traditions that must be honored?


For us it is the green bean casserole. The husband loves it and feels it must be on the table in order for the meal to be complete. The kids must have jellied cranberry sauce although one year I picked up whole berry by mistake. Kids hated it, the adults loved it.


I try to change things up a little every year. I might make a different side dish, put something a little different on the relish plate, or try a cheesecake instead of pie.


But this year I have no such plans. It will be our favorites all the way.


I feel the same way about the movies we will watch. I really want to keep it to the old favorites this year.


Image from IMDb.comThe husband and I will probably stay up to watch Planes, Trains and Automobiles which stars the late John Candy and Steve Martin. These two men are trying to get home for the holiday after a snowstorm takes down their plane from NYC, sends them on a train south of where they need to be before finally getting home. Martin plays the persnickety advertising agency guy while Candy is the likable traveling salesman.


That these guys are an odd couple who do not get along is a part of the usual plot. But they are relying on each other to get home to the ones that they love and that can make for different dynamics. I am also taken by the differences in their personalities. A guy can be pretty prickly when his home is all it needs to be and the outside world cannot compare. Another guy can be friendly and maybe a bit annoying when his home is missing the one he loves the most.


This movie is more adult in context and there are a few scenes that have innuendos that may not be appropriate for the younger kids.


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For whole family watching, there is always Miracle on 34th Street about an old man who is considered crazy because he says he is Santa Claus. A new version with Richard Attenborough exists although I prefer the 1947 film with Edmund Gwynn as Kris Kringle. It is a movie I love and probably know the script by heart.


But let’s say you want something a little different with lots of noise, gun fights, and explosions. The other week our family finally watched Cowboys and Aliens. The movie follows a tradition western set up. A lone man comes to a town, manages to get into a fight with the son of the richest man in

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town and becomes a target.


Then the alien ships show up and steal some of the town’s people, including the rich man’s son. This is not going to be your usual posse and you may not believe how it all works out.

I found it was a good movie for pre-teens and up, although my 8-year-old watched it without any ill effects. And did I mention that Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford are in this movie? Their performances really make it worthwhile.


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.



Apple Butter – A Taste of Fall

Fall is my favorite season. I love the slightly cooler temps that allow me to be as comfortable as I want to be.

Walking the dog does not mean sweating buckets. Working in the garden does not require early morning hours to avoid heat stroke or the mosquitoes.

Baking is happening back in the kitchen along with regular soup night and cooking that is not planned around the latest heat wave.

The Stuff

But my favorite return in the autumn season is Apple Butter. I guess you can eat it any time of year but this is the time I crave it the most.

And without a doubt, it must be Musselman’s. No one makes Twinkies like Hostess and no one makes Apple Butter like Musselman’s .

In this picture, it is making Crunchy Oat Bread tasty. Sometimes I put it on soft white bread. I also like it on pancakes and my husband puts it on scrapple. If you do not know what scrapple is, well, you must not be from Eastern Pennsylvania. Which is a nice way of me saying check it out on your own.

So when I am eating a biscuit with my soup or bread with my morning eggs, chances are I am wiping a swath of that bread with the slightly cinnamon-tinged apple butter. Perhaps apple butter is nothing more than crushed apples, less chunky than applesauce and much darker in color.

And yet it is the sweetness and smooth texture makes it a tasty treat that most members in the family look forward to eating when I pull that familiar jar out of the shopping bag.

Do you have a favorite food item to eat in the fall season?

Thanksgiving’s Coming…

Family Movie Night


By Karyn Bowman


Next week is Thanksgiving already. Can you believe the year has gone so fast? Never mind that old chestnut; the better question is about what are any of us serving at the Thanksgiving.


What plans do I have for our menu?


Well, oyster stuffing is definitely on. Green Bean casserole in another must along with cranberry sauce


Another dish I plan on is Sweet Potato Casserole with a pecan topping. I love mashed sweet potatoes but my family is not so thrilled about them. That is until last year when I made up the topping with some pecans I happen to have in my pantry. I mixed the chopped nuts with a little flour, butter and brown sugar before spreading it on top of the mashed sweet potatoes already in a casserole dish. In the oven it went to get crunchy on top.


This was a Big hit!


As we make the ramp up to the holiday, I am sure there are a few movies that people like me say are “must see” because they focus on the turmoil and dysfunction of family get-togethers.



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How can you do Thanksgiving without watching Home For the Holidays with Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr. as they go home again. This movie – not meant for anyone younger than teenagers because of the context – has its bitter moments and sweet moments.


Another Thanksgiving adult-only feature is Pieces of April starring Katie Holmes as a young woman trying to turn her life around. She decides to show her family how well she is doing by hosting Thanksgiving in her NYC apartment. Problems start with a broken oven and continue with a mom having issues.


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My personal favorite movie to watch during the Thanksgiving holiday is family friendly Miracle on 34th Street.But I am a sucker for sappy movies about mythological characters that want to inspire good in the world.


That aspect lead me to the summer movie now on DVD, Brave.


Set in the Scottish Highlands, we meet Merida , a young girl who is on the edge of adulthood. But she and her mother do not see eye-to-eye. That could not be more true as her family prepares for the Highland Games that will determine whom Merida will marry.


That is when Merida goes to find the witch to produce a spell to help her mother see her point of view. But you know it is never that easy. Things go wrong and now the girl has to find a way to undo all that she has done.


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Disney put out a movie a few years ago called Brother Bear that worked on a similar premise although it it was the main character who was turned into a bear. I was not fond of that movie and felt it missed something.


Brave perhaps touches closer to home for me because my kids are head strong and want their way. I connected with the mother as voiced by Emma Thompson. But I can also get how the daughter wants her freedom. Merida ’s solutions may not be the right ones at first but they are certainly interesting.


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Dogs and Rain Storms

Family Movie Night


By Karyn Bowman

If you have a Labrador retriever, you know what I am about to say is the truth.


They are the smartest dog and the dumbest dog you will ever meet.


My black lab will remember if I have left the front door open. He remembers every place he has ever seen a cat or a rabbit. He knows how to find hidden candy and makes the nightly search for food that has fallen to the floor or simply left out on the table.


But the moment he gets loose, my Storm becomes the biggest idiot on the planet. He runs to yards that have dogs and purposely gets them barking. He runs into the street without looking, runs up to people and barks at them for no reason.


The other night when it was raining, my black lab got out of the house. How it happened does not matter because he will take advantage of anyone when he wants to escape. But there we were, trying to catch a black dog on a night with an inky black sky. We could barely see him and tried to do what works best which is make him follow us.


Well, eventually, we succeeded in doing just that. But not before he was almost hit by a car. Thankfully that car made him slow down and we caught him. But for a moment I thought the dog was going to get hit and I would not have blamed the other driver one bit as he is so hard to see.


We were lucky but one of my neighbors was not. Their dog died in a similar incident.


Losing a pet like that matters. Pets become a part of our daily lives, a member of the family. They depend on us for everything, even that daily walk. Neighbors have told me sad stories over the years of the loss of a pet. Maybe it was a different dog that killed their dog or a long illness or a sudden cold that did in the animal. But what was most important was how the loss of the pet was felt by the family.


This is reflected in movies as well.


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I am not sure how many people saw Old Yeller. It is about a family in post-civil war Texas who is adopted by a dog. The father played by Fess Parker, is out of town on a cattle run and the oldest son has been put ‘in-charge.’ His first instincts are to chase off the dog but Yeller proves his worth time and time again.


Sadly, there is an illness going around that affects animals and Yeller gets it after protecting his family one more time. The boy must make a hard decision most adults do not want to face.


I can’t say you won’t cry when you watch this movie; I am certainly thinking about it as I write about this movie. While this movie is better suited for tweener family members and those who are older.

Another movie that focuses on the loss of a pet that is best suited for all members of the family is Bolt voiced by John Travolta. The story is about a TV dog that is purposely lost and works to find his way back to his owner. But along the way, Bolt learns some lessons about making friends and living life in the moment as he has never done before.


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Pork Chop Delights

As the weather gets cooler, I am in the mood to get back to the kitchen.

It is not like I have not looked at recipes all summer. It is not that I haven’t wanted to cook. But the summer heat takes all of my energy away as well as my appetite.

But with colder temperatures coming on, the coziest place in my house is the kitchen.

I found a recipe for boneless pork chops with sauteed Brussels sprouts and a sour cream sauce. I found this recipe at I may have seen it on my Facebook feed. And then I did what I do best – I made a print out and planned when to make it.  I had to put it off. A late summer heat wave forced me to put it to the side.

But then the weather worked in my favor. We went shopping and a collective groan came from the children as I put Brussels Sprouts in the basket. They could not believe I would subject them to such horror.

So we moved on. Later that week the husband bought boneless pork chops. That is a very important aspect to the recipe. It becomes difficult the pound the meat when a bone in the way.

Brussels Sprouts simmering in the pan.

So on the day of the meal I took about a pound of Brussels Sprouts,washed them and cleaned off the ends and dried out top leaves before halving the little green balls. Once that was done, I threw them into a pan with plenty of butter.

After they turned a nice color, I removed them from the pan and kept them warm. As I was sauteing the sprouts, I put the pork chops beteween sheets of plastic wrap and used my rolling pin to flatten the chops to about a 1/4 inch thickness. I dredged them in a flour mixture with salt, pepper, and paprika. I added more butter to the pan and fried those little tenderloins.

First side in the pan.

They were not so little but about four minutes on each side did the trick. They were a nice golden brown color once I flipped them over.

Don’t they look great?

Once all of the chops were cooked so that they were only a little pink on the edges, I placed the Sprouts and Chops in a platter. I made a quick sauce with sour cream, brown sugar, and a bit of milk that I heated in the pan after sauteing the veggies and meat.

Hey, Good Looking.

I paired this with rice since we had a nice sauce. The husband drank a red wine. I did not since wine tends to put me to sleep. As for the kids, two hated their ‘no  thank you’ servings of the sprouts. The oldest ate his serving and the others as well. There was nothing left once the meal was over.

Bummer because that would have made a good lunch the next day.

What have you been cooking lately?

Scary Movies That Fail

Family Movie Night


By Karyn Bowman


It is Halloween week. Just because it is the day or two after doesn’t mean we are going to stop watching those Halloween movies. But let’s do something different.


Let’s celebrate the bad movies, the lame thrillers and horror movies. Let’s celebrate those that set up rules and then not follow them. Let’s celebrate those that decided to make a movie based on a bad idea but kept going anyway because the star said he would have it no other way.


I am not talking about movies like Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th. As much as I cannot watch them, I have to admire movies that are well made and consistent in their storytelling.


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Let’s talk about bad movies such as DarknessFalls.  This movie has an interesting premise. An old woman is lynched after being falsely accused of harming children. But at her death she vows to come back and take children away by killing them when they lose their last baby tooth should they see her.


On the night Kyle loses his last baby tooth, he sees the apparition and he stays in the light. But his mother makes the mistake of stepping into a darken room and, well, what happens next is not pretty. As an adult, Kyle chooses to live in Las Vegas and he carries super duper flashlights with him at all times.


That is when his friend Caitlyn calls asking for help because her little brother is going through the same issues that Kyle went through. So he returns and the fun begins.


I like the premise of this movie because it is based on real fears of what can happen in the dark, what can happen in the places we cannot see. But here is the problem. The light issue can be hit or miss, the amount of light does not seem to matter for when the tooth fairy can get you. She starts showing up in the strangest of places.


Plus, some of the town’s people do not believe or even know that the Tooth Fairy exists, such as one townie that yells out “these are my woods” right before the worst that can happen, happens. The town has a curse on it and most people do not know about it? Sorry, not buying that part.


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But this movie is nothing compared to Snakes on a Plane starring Samuel L. Jackson. The legend of this movie is that Samuel L. Jackson loved the cheesy title so much, he would not make the movie unless the title was retained. Another interesting point is there was a lot of internet chatter about this movie with interested parties leaving plot ideas.


The basic plot is this: A witness against a mob boss has to fly to the trial. Of course, there are people who want to prevent this. So the plane is rigged to release a number of hungry dangerous and poisonous snakes in the belief one or more will take out the witness and confusing doctors from giving him the right antidote.


The agent taking the witness in is Samuel L. Jackson (playing himself) and no one should mess with this guy. Julianne Margulies is the lead stewardess who is on her last flight before heading off to med school.


As the cast dwindles and the flight comes close to landing, there is the pivotal moment that must happen to make every other bad moment in this movie worth sitting through.


Are these selections horrible? Well, yes, they are. And maybe the opportunity to make fun of them is the only good thing about these movies.


Do you have favorite bad movies?


Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.