Saturday, January 20, 2007


How long has this week been? So long I can't even come up with a clever title for a blog post.

  • I had some friends over for chili earlier this week and made two of the recipes from the comments here -- both ones that involve chocolate, which I couldn't resist: Mrs. Pilkington's vegetarian variety, and the meaty "Laura's Chili" from facelesswords. They were both terrific, so thanks very much to those commenters and to all of you who left recipes.
  • I also made my mother's signature Ramen Noodle Salad, which we Kleins break out for pretty much every potluck and picnic we attend, thanks to its ease and deliciousness:

Becky Klein's Ramen Noodle Salad

  • 1 package precut cole-slaw mix
  • 2 packages ramen-noodle soup mix, beef or Oriental flavor
  • 2 bunches green onion, chopped
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Slivered almonds as desired (optional)

Mix the slaw mix, ramen noodles (crushed), onions, and almonds. Separately combine the liquid ingredients, sugar, and seasoning from the ramen-noodle packets. Toss salad with dressing and serve immediately. Yum!

  • I finally saw "Casino Royale" last night -- also yum. I went in thinking I wasn't going to like Daniel Craig as Bond -- too lined, too thuggish -- but his smile and the intensity of both his performance and the movie won me over.
  • And last week I saw "Pan's Labyrinth." It's definitely not for children, even though it's partly about children's stories, and I recommend it if you can stand bloody, sometimes gratuitous violence. More commentary, but also spoilers, if you highlight what follows: What most impressed and depressed me was the ending, because it isn't often that writers/filmmakers/fantasists of whatever sort are willing to admit that sometimes stories are only stories, no matter how beautiful they are, and they can't heal and comfort and fix everything -- that sometimes they're just escape, not rescue, and escape isn't enough. It's a gutsy move on Guillermo del Toro's part, considering his audience would be primarily aesthetes like him and me, and it left me feeling, "Well, my job is pointless . . ."
  • Also thinking about my job: I don't often watch "American Idol," but I like the audition shows for the sheer range of characters they display, and my heart hurt this week for poor Nicholas of Salt Lake City. After he gave a truly awful rendition of "Unchained Melody," Simon barked, "What the bloody hell was that?" and Nick answered, in a tiny voice, "That was me." It wasn't a put-on line -- Nick was speaking from his heart, just as he sang from his heart -- and I wish Simon had tempered his criticism a little more after that, as he seemed to do for the overweight man toward the end of the show (sorry, but I can't remember his name). . . . Actually, Simon's critiques reminded a lot of Jane Austen, in that the fools and villains in Austen's novels are people with either no self-awareness or no humility or both; and while Simon, like Austen, always called things exactly as he saw them, the degree of vitriol in both creators' judgements felt generally in proportion to their subject's arrogance or lack of talent. Though also sometimes neither one of them can resist getting in a good line. . . .
  • Finally, for any of you who think editors are slackers: I am now going to work, and I'm planning to work tomorrow too. From home, granted, but.


  1. Hooray! I love the famous Klein ramen noodle salad! I remember it fondly from (surprise, surprise) a mini-potluck gathering at my old place in Carroll Gardens. It clearly made a lasting impression.

    It's very much a dish from "Middle America," BUT I mean that in a v. positive way (unlike, say, my opinions of "Lutheran Salad"). It's good to have the recipe!

  2. I want to see Pan's Labyrinth, and The Fountain.

    Another staple of midwestern potlucks--orange jello with nuts and mini marshmallows and hopefully not celery. Sound familiar?

  3. I'm delighted that you tried "Laura's Chili" and enjoyed it!

    My sample chapters may not have taken your breath away, but at least my chili did. :)

  4. Thanks for your thoughts on Pan's Labyrinth. You helped me get a grip on why my head's been spinning since seeing such a mindbender of a movie. Immediately after, staggering into the sunlight,I literally run into an old boss who practically falls to her knees telling me she sends me blessings every day for the positive change I brought to her life. We don't always know the effect we have in literature and life. Just gotta keep doing the best we can.