Sunday, November 26 – Saturday, December 2
This Week In Catching My Breath: Which starts with last week. I crammed so much friend and family activity, plus cooking, plus working extra at my part-time retail job, the whole week blurred right by. It was wonderful. This week was action-packed, too.
This week in New Cars: I bought a new car this week. One of my signs of a blessed and relatively successful adulthood, is that I don’t have to drive beat down cars. But I’m not a car person. I always say I’m “Car Blind” meaning I can’t tell one make of car over another. It means I never know what my co-workers drive. It means I don’t care what kind of car I drive as long as it’s reliable. I got about the cheapest new car on the lot, springing extra for the blue tooth option so The Google can give me directions through the car’s sound system. It’s a cute little car and I don’t have to worry about wheeling and dealing for a new car anytime soon.
This Week In Insta-Fads: If you’re home-cooking and you’re paying attention, this year’s hottest cooking gadget is the Instant Pot. Woooo-weeee! It’s a new-fangled machine that pressure cooks, and serves as a crock pot, steamer, and (my model) as a yogurt maker. The selling point really is the pressure cooking option which cooks food fast. Pressure cookers back in the day were quick, too…but super dangerous. Now we’re digital and programmable. Still I expect people to start getting hurt soon.
I got mine at a good Black Friday price and I’m ready to experience Instant Pot Magic. What I’m actually experiencing, is Instant Pot Learning Curve. The recipes I’m seeing on the internet are all over the board for cooking times and techniques. I found a recipe that said to pressure cook soaked beans for 20 minutes. I did. They turned to mush. I found another for pressure cooking unsoaked beans for 20 minutes, which I did with some cut up fresh kale. That was about perfect.
I tried beef stew (like, I have a crush on my kitchen equipment this weekend), and the meat and potatoes did well. The mushrooms, which I sauteed outside the Instant Pot, kept their texture after I added them in for a 15-minute pressure cook. The parsnips were mush.
It’s a new and good tool. It has flaws, but I think I’m going to learn to use it and end up using it a lot. It is definitely a time-saver for many meals.
This Week in Spicy: It’s funny to me how sriracha flavor has permeated food over the last couple of years. If there’s a snack food, or a gimmicky fast-food deal, sriracha can be found. So I don’t know why when I came across sriracha powder at the cafeteria at work I was surprised. But I was. Look, when nothing surprises me on the global level anymore, it’s nice to have a surprise on the local level.
This Week in Movies: The year-end movie release schedule, with Hollywood’s eye toward award’s season, always gets my movie-loving blood a’boilin’. I’ll see a big chunk of my total year of movies at the theater during December. This week I saw three:
- Playtime, a 1967 French film, a classic for serious film students, was presented by my local art cinema The Micro-Mini Cinema. The film, directed by Jacques Tati, follows Mr. Hulot, a Buster Keaton-like figure as he navigates a day in a modern French city. Presented as a series of vignettes, rather than a traditional story, we also meet a group of American tourists and drop in on restaurant opening, even thought the restaurant is still under construction as guests are arriving. The film is a nearly dialogue-free, but builds to a frenzy of music and hilarity. Roger Ebert loved this movie. It’s a good one.
- Three Billboards outside Ebbings, Missouri, stars Francis McDormand as the mother of a girl who has been violently killed, but whose killer has not been found. She puts up three billboards implying the police department isn’t interested in finding her daughter’s killer. The movie examines the hate and hurt we can hold inside and the damage it can cause. It’s an uneven movie with characters making some strange decisions, but McDormand, Woody Harelson, and Sam Rockwell do some fine work.
- Lady Bird, directed by one of my favorite young-ish actresses Greta Gertwig, is hands down one of the best coming of age movies ever made. Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf are terrific as daughter and mother as Lady Bird struggles to grow up and her Mom, Metcalf, struggles to teach her some final hard realities of life before sending her off into the world. Great film.