Tag Archive: food

Preparing for the Feast

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Next week, many of us will be working in our kitchens, preparing dishes for the big meal.

Some of us are only making one dish to take to a family gathering. If that is me, I am bringing my corn pudding or bread pudding. Perhaps you are bringing pies or biscuits or a fruit dish or the cheese and crackers.

Maybe you are making the whole meal – turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, relish tray, deviled eggs and pies. Pumpkin, apple, mince meat, and pecan. Maybe a French silk or banana cream arrives as well.

In the meantime, how-a-bout watching some movies that are food-based?

Image from IMDb.com

One movie I think about before Thanksgiving is Tortilla Soup. But that is a Mexican soup, you are thinking. I know but there is one scene in which the Hector Elizondo character is cutting open a medium-sized pumpkin, cleaning it out and then carving an intricate design so that the pumpkin can be used as a soup tureen.

The story is about a Los Angeles chef and widower who has lost his ability to smell. His three daughters live at home and are at different stages of life. The one constant is the big meal they share every week with dishes that are wonderful and difficult. These meals have announcements and drama. Promotions and relationships are announced.

I love how Elizondo creates a character that is fierce and loving and gentle. But the food you will see in this movie is incredible.

Image from IMDb.com

What you may not know is that Tortilla Soup is a remake of the Taiwanese movie Eat, Drink, Man, Woman directed by Ang Lee. The story focuses on a chef who has lost his sense of taste. His three daughters live at home and deal with their mercurial father as best they can while juggling work and relationship issues.

Every Sunday, he makes a huge meal that has many dishes. But the daughters notice that they are over spiced and no amount of telling him seems to make a difference. One by one, the girls leave because of different events in their lives. The emotions are right at the surface, always tangible, always intriguing. You will have to read the captions as this movie is not dubbed in English but do not let that turn you away.

Image from IMDb.com

Finally, a movie that I love for the food is Big Night starring Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub as Italian brothers who have a restaurant in New York. Shalhoub is a gifted chef who cannot stand cooking for people who only want spaghetti. A competitor tells them he can get the musician Louis Prima to visit their restaurant and it will put them on the map.

So the brothers use the last of their money and prepare a feast, a grand feast. There are many dishes and tastes. It is spectacular. But there is treachery and drama. Love is found and love is lost. The brothers fight and manage and do what they must.

These are wonderful movies to watch and they make one want to learn all of these different style of cuisine. I can almost smell that soup in the pumpkin tureen. While these movies may not be suitable for the youngest members of the family, I find those who are older might enjoy them more.

 What movies about food do you like to watch?

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Spice Cake Adventure

Oh, I know what you are thinking.

“She had an adventure with a Spice Girl.”

As if. I mean, I am a small town girl who loves her small town life and cannot fathom paying anything over $50 for a handbag. Posh Spice went to the Royal wedding. Scary Spice has her own reality TV show and a baby with Eddie Murphy. I don’t know what the other Spice girls are doing. Probably laughing everytime they go to the post box and pick up some ridiculous royalty check.

Spice Cake with Peanut butter Icing

My adventure had everything to do with cake. In this case it was the cake for Father’s Day that had to be spice cake with Peanut Butter Icing.

It started when I went to my local grocer and there was not a single box of spice cake mix on the shelf. None.

Cherry Chip, yes. Various chocolate, yes. Funetti, oh yeah. But no spice cake. I knew what was going to happen at that moment if no spice cake with peanut butter icing showed up for dessert the following night. Personally, I was not in the mood for tears and frustration. So I grabbed a box of yellow cake mix and plotted my next move.

I thought about what makes a good spice cake which are the spices. I knew there were spice cake recipes from scratch. I knew those recipes would detail the type and amount needed. So I looked up a recipe for spice cake and found one that would help me get there.  

Everything I need to make faux spice cake

I grounded the ginger and cloves, using the last of what I have in the grinders. I would really like more of these as the flavor is wonderful but I am not sure I can find them anymore.

My 14 y.o. measured out the rest in order to complete his present to dad of helping to make the meal. I mixed it all together put it in the bundt pan and, well, there it is. Those lines mean a part of the cake stuck to the pan and I had to play “jigsaw puzzle” with the cake.  Hate it when that happens.
Naked Spice Cake

While it was baking, I found the Peanut Butter Icing recipe on line. I thought I had printed a copy a few years ago. But it, like so many things, has disappeared in my house.

So the recipe which I once again cannot find combined 1 stick of butter, 2 cups confectioner’s sugar, 1 cup peanut butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 5 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk. I blended by hand and all turned out fine.
Maybe I am not like my grandmother who could make anything from scratch. But I can make a tasty cake from a box even when the box mix did not start that way.
Oh, and the husband loved it.
What did you make special on Father’s Day?

You eat that much?

Picture by Xenia

Today is Valentine’s Day and you have made the terrible realization that spring is not too far away. March 21 is just 35 days away. That means Spring and the clothing which is lighter and prettier and telling of rolls of fat is 35 days away.

“‘Noooooooooooooooo” is the collective scream being heard across the snow belt despite the joy of warmer weather. How does this happen? Where does all of this fat come from.

You know the answer.


Food loaded with fats and sugars and sodas that have nothing nutritional to give.

I love it, can’t get enough of it. When I am having a bad day, the thought of bread pudding cheers me right up. Chocolate cake, brownies with caramel swirls in it or even a simple frosted cupcake with a raspberry on top can do the same.

When it is my turn to make the Sunday Dinner, I go for chicken in cream sauces or crab cakes.  I like trying new recipes for soups, main dishes and desserts. All of which explains the extra weight I carry. 

That is why I put myself on a diet aimed at improving all-around health along the threat of diabetes. It runs in my family like the Mississippi during a flood. There are days that I feel like a ticking time bomb just waiting for my sugar numbers to explode and make my life miserable.

Today, I am sharing that diet that has helped me drop 30 pounds but be warned. This works for me and the condition I know I am going to have no matter how hard I try. My mother is a skinny woman and she has diabetes. I am 25 pounds over my highest allowed weight (by the insurance company’s charts) and despite making some great improvements, that chronic illness is headed my way.

What I have worked to do is make a diet that is tasty and not depriving me of anything. I also make sure to have plenty of liquid throughout the day.



First thing: 16 oz of water

Breakfast: 2 fried or scrambled eggs, slice of bread or malt-o-meal, 12-16 oz. green tea

Mid Morning: 12-16 oz coffee, 1 serving of a sweet cookie or a sweet roll)




Picture by Johnninbkk


Lunch: Sandwich or soup, starch (bread, chips or carrot sticks), fruit, 12-16 oz water

Mid-afternoon: 12-16 oz. coffee, 2 small pieces of candy (pic-a-snack or 2 Dove squares)

After work: Protein (hard-boiled egg or peanut butter), 12-6 oz tea


Supper: Protein, starch, veggie, salad, 12-16 oz drink




Picture by Karpati

The other important factor:

You have to get up and move. I walk about 20 -30 minutes a day with the dog, every day. EVERY DAY. I also try to do a 20-minute workout in the morning. I am getting a little anxious and want changes to happen quicker.

This is what works for me. Now tell me what has worked for you. Perhaps we can trade secrets that actually work.