Stay for Tea

Month: October, 2008

Food stop motion

A double dose of foodiste stop-motion animation, thanks to Youtube.

Culture clichés abound in this little history lesson, but I don’t even mind the beef Stroganoff. In fact, the entire enactment of wars in XX and XXI is kind of clever, gruesomely messy (like real war is), but also made me incredibly hungry after watching.

PES makes really clever stop-motion shorts and this one is full of magic. Enjoy!

Tarkovskiye Apartments

Yesterday J. and I went to see The Mirror (Zerkalo) directed by Andrey Tarkovsky. I haven’t yet come up with the right words to talk about the film. It was at times intimately familiar, even though I’d never seen it before. Some of the most beautiful dream sequences I’ve ever seen are visualized in the film. It’s full of heartache, nostalgia, restlessness and urging poetry. I know I will have to see it again, because there are some things I am sure I didn’t catch, particularly since several actors play more than one role.

I love the sounds and the close ups that Tarkovsky created. The textures and the layered fragile details. I also really loved the interior scenes, and in particular the modern day apartment occupied by Aleksei.

Very interesting wall textures, long hallways, gilded mirrors and shelves upon shelves of books. It’s one of those apartments that probably becomes more embellished during our recollections, which is perfectly portrayed in the film. The same exaggerated beauty exists in his childhood home, the wood cottage nestled among the trees in a remote village.

I wonder if there is something in the national character of Russian people that leans towards the deeply textured, a little bit dilapidated homes that are pictured in the films? I am naturally drawn to these kinds of environments. In fact, my dream home would be the exact combination of the tall ceilings and textured walls of the city apartment, combined with the dark wood floors, flickering candles and open front porch of the house in the woods.

Note on the design: The production designer for the film, Nikolai Dvigubsky, doesn’t have a large body of work. Notably, he was the production designer for Konchalovsky’s “Uncle Vanya” and “Siberiade,” as well as the 1989 reimagining of the opera “Boris Godunov.” I’m going to bump up the Konchalovsky films on my list to see if Dvigubsky has a distinct style.

Fall is here

I’m starting to nest, more. Specifically, the urge too simmer and bake is getting hard to rein in. This evening, I made roasted garlic soup, root vegetable casserole, butternut squash in soy sauce & mirin with black sesame, whole wheat cous cous and a baby spinach salad with goat cheese. Two friends came over, people I haven’t seen in a long long while, and we chatted for several hours over a hearty meal. These are all variations on recipes found in thrift-store purchased cookbooks.

Roasted garlic soup

Easy as pie. Actually, easier THAN pie. I made it vegetarian. Simply used veggie broth (I cheated and used out of the box stuff, but you could make it from scratch). Roast a large head of garlic in the oven at about 400 degrees, for 40 minutes. I cut off the top of the garlic, drizzled it with a bit of olive oil and wrapped it in tin foil.

Squeeze out the garlic cloves and smoosh ’em into mush. Mix them and stir them and smoosh them into your simmering veggie broth. Cover and let simmer on a low flame for 30 minutes, so that the broth becomes fully infused with the garlic essence, which is full of magic. Serve with croutons and spices to taste. It’s a light broth soup, with a subtle flavor, but gets the appetite going.

Butternut squash

Again, I took a shortcut and purchased two packages of pre-sliced & peeled squash. Mixed several tablespoons of soy sauce with a generous dose of Mirin. Brought it to high heat in a deep skillet & stirred in the squash. Covered, reduced heat to medium and let the squash simmer for about 20 minutes, or until just soft and slightly browned. Tossed with roasted black sesame seeds. Tada!

Root veggie casserole (this serves 4)

This really is as easy as it gets. The hardest part is peeling and chopping all the veggies. I used one extra large carrot, 3 red yams, 2 leeks, and about 6 shallots. Peeled and chopped all the veggies but shallots, which I peeled and kept intact. The vegetables should be chopped into medium sized chunks.

In a deep skillet or large saucepan, heat up slightly less than 1/4 cup of butter. Simmer the veggies until slightly browned, adding fresh ground pepper and sea salt to taste. Stir in 2 teaspoons of brown sugar, and simmer some more, letting the vegetables caramelize a little. In a separate sauce pan, bring to a boil 1 cup of vegetable stock, 1 bay leaf and 3-4 sprigs of thyme. Pour the vegetables into a casserole dish and add 1 drained can of chickpeas. Mix in the vegetable stock with the herbs. Cover and cook in 300 degree oven for 1 hour. Remove cover and increase heat to 400, letting the vegetables stew for about 15 more minutes.