Oscars Sunday

My friends come to our house for an Oscar party every year. I usually make lots of finger foods, but this year, there’s only going to be five of us. My daughter’s starting a new job so can’t get off to be with us. And another one of us moved away, so we’re going to be a small group. Small enough that I thought we’d just have a nice supper before the red carpet gets serious, and then we’ll have a few snacks while we watch the show.

Since it’s the Oscars, I try to get a little fancy. I’m making the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for seafood chowder, then I’m making two pork tenderloins with sauces along with chicken, spinach, and gruyere turnovers and grilled caesar asparagus. Mary Lou’s bringing lemon bars for dessert, and I’m going to make some popcorn with a peanut butter/honey glaze to munch on in the living room.

My friends are serious movie buffs, so they’ll debate which movie, actor, and actress should win, and I’ll listen and learn. C.S. Boyack uses movies a lot to explain writing techniques on his blogs. https://storyempire.com/2022/11/25/lets-learn-from-a-case-study/ There’s lots of carry-over. So, I really do learn when my friends discuss what made one movie great while another one disappointed. We always have a good time.

Three of us at the party are writers, so that might explain where our focus goes. Mary Lou has gotten obsessed with Kdrama on TV lately, and she told me she’s learned a lot about hooks by watching it. I’m not the best at end of chapter hooks, and she’s critiquing my latest Jazzi and Ansel right now. She promised to give me some ideas she’s learned from the Korean series she’s watching. Awesome! Ideas to keep readers turning pages are always welcome.

Whether you’re watching the Oscars or not, here’s wishing you a wonderful Sunday! Enjoy.

Party Time!

Four of my friends are avid movie fans. Me? Not so much. But I love getting together with them, so every year, I host an Oscar Party. My contribution is my house and food. They’ve seen almost every movie nominated and know the actors and actresses, even the directors. I know what they love to eat. So we all have fun.

This year, because of Covid, instead of watching the Oscars in February, like we usually do, we’re getting together tonight. It’s warmer weather, so that’s changed what I’m putting on the menu. There are things I think of as winter weather food and lighter offerings I think of as warm weather food. Dawn’s bringing Oscar party bags and sent her husband to help my HH decorate the house with tall cardboard Oscar statues, a red carpet, and more. Mary Lou’s bringing her special deviled eggs and brownies. I’m making a Spanish frittata with lots of potatoes, crab cakes, a steak salad with sliced pears and blue cheese, and shredded salmon Bruschetta. Since my grandson’s joining us, I made two lemon meringue pies, too. (One of his favorites).

Just like our reading preferences, we all have movie preferences, too. I’m not very sophisticated. I love a good mystery. Mary Lou and Dawn go for quality storylines (even if it’s depressing–which I try to avoid), cinematography, and depth. They’re both serious about costumes being correct for the time period, too. Mary Lou writes movie reviews on her blog. You can find her here: https://historyfanforever.wordpress.com/

I go for entertainment. There was a time when I watched serious, meaningful movies, but those times are rare these days. Same goes for message movies. Hopefully, I’ll get back to them someday, but this has been a tough year in more ways than one, and I’m just not in the mood. I’m starting to read darker, grittier books again, though, so who knows? Maybe I’ll work my way to more serious movies again eventually. But I have to say, my grandson streamed Mortal Kombat, the movie, for us last night, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So entertainment might be my preference for a while:)

When I taught school and while I raised our kids, I heard parents try to dictate what their kids read, hoping they’d read “quality” books instead of comic books or Choose Your Own Adventure. But as long as kids or people read, I’m fine with whatever keeps them turning pages. Same with movies. We need different things at different times, so I get it.

Tonight, I’ll watch the Oscars and see what people think is the best of the best for this year. Just like some books win the Agatha or Edgar awards, it’s nice to know what’s considered top quality among their peers. I’ll enjoy myself. And just in case you’d ever like to make Shredded Salmon Bruschetta, here’s how I made this time. (I constantly tinker, so it usually doesn’t turn out the same every time).

The salmon: Coat the bottom of a nonstick pan with olive oil. I use a thick slab of salmon to make this and sprinkle it with salt, pepper, and fennel seeds. In the hot oil, sear the salmon flesh side down for 7 minutes with a partially cracked lid on the pan at medium high heat. Turn the salmon, so it’s skin side down, and lower heat a little and sear for another 7 minutes with partially cracked lid so the center of thick salmon cooks through. I like my salmon DONE, not medium well. Check to see that it flakes, and if it’s finished, remove from pan and let it cool. Once it’s cool, you can pull off the skin and shred it into big pieces.

For the bruschetta: thickly slice French bread. Coat both sides with olive oil and garlic salt. Bake at 425 for 6 to 8 minutes.

Coat the bruschetta with: mayo mixed with a little white wine vinegar, minced garlic, and dill. Salt and pepper to taste. (Sorry. I don’t measure this. I just throw it together). When ready to serve this, I spread the mayo mix on the bruschetta, then top with shredded salmon, and then I top that with halved grape tomatoes or a tomato relish.

Hope you enjoy your Sunday night!


Lots of Cooking/No Writing

Every year, for a while now, we have friends over on Oscar Sunday for a party.  My daughter drove up from Indy on Saturday afternoon, and we visited and went out to eat to build up our energy for an all-day cooking extravaganza.  We don’t mess around.  When we cook for the Oscars, we try to make Wolfgang Puck proud:)  We might not be in his league, but we take inspiration from his go-for-broke style.

The menu this week year: mushroom/puff pastry turnovers, shawarma chicken with tzatziki sauce, beef satay, ham pinwheels, Greek topping bruschetta, fruit pizzas and key lime pie cupcakes, among other things.  Mary Lou brought spinach/artichoke dip to die for and deviled eggs.  And then Dawn sent her HH with decorations for our living room.  I’m talking two fake palm trees strung with white lights, a shimmering streamer “curtain,” banners, and balloons.  This is me with the palm trees.  At the other end of the room, there were more decorations.  Dawn takes parties seriously:)

Oscar party 2020--me

Dawn and her David, Mary Lou, and John S know their movies.  Holly, HH, and I?  Not so much.  But it’s fun listening to them debate cinematography, best actors and actresses, directors, and costume design.  There are so many things that go into making a great movie.  Just like there are so many things that go into making a great book–characters, pacing, plotting, voice, setting, and dialogue, among others.  Most writers I know study movies to see how they’re put together and what makes them work, then can apply many of the same things to writing.

Every year while watching the Oscars, though, I marvel at how dedicated the people who are nominated are.  So are the writers I hear on panels when I attend conferences.  And when artists of any kind get down to talking about their work, the ones I’ve heard realize how lucky they are if they’re noticed or discovered, and they can list all of the elements of hard work that went into what they created.  It’s a joy when all of that hard work pays off, when everything comes together to let you win a part, sell your first novel, get good reviews, or win an Oscar.  But there are so many wonderful, talented people who never win an award, but keep doing what they do and work hard to do their best at it.  I applaud them, too.