Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Change Your (Cruciferous) Fate!
I had been holding my breath for last weekend.  Weeks and weeks for Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, months for Brave.  ALVH will wait for the next post as I still need to go lied down in a cool, dark place and practice calm breathing every time I think of that stinking mess of a celluloid disappointment.  But Brave.....
A young Scottish princess seeks to change her fate, avoid an arranged marriage, forge her own destiny...
And does.  With her mother.  Not with a man.  Not saved at the last minute by her big strong beau who’s won her over.  NO last minute glorious wedding.  


It begins with a mother instructing her teenage daughter in duty and protocol and ends in a beautiful friendship between two women that left me weeping several times through the film.  Each character is a finely crafted personality, nothing is tritely cookie-cutter. Throughout literature and film, conflict is carried as close to the end as possible, each person wrapped in their own spite, sorrow, fear and anger until the last possible moment for redemption when 1) The hero saves the day, Boy and Girl revel in True Love and Disapproving Parent joyfully accepts newly repented children; or 2) The fate of the pained falls far beyond salvation and Lives are ruined, Loves lost and Lessons are learned, which tend to become the motivation driving the plot of Case 1.

Brave has lesson learned from the past, but also fallible personalities who can immediately regret their harsh words and rash actions, as real people do.  The family is not perfect, the resolution not facile.  It is dark and perilous and Merida is a breathtaking heroine, especially when paired with her mother.  

As GingerMan posits, the true test of feminist strength in plotting comes when two female characters carry a story and do not focus on the romantic involvement of a Prince Charming or his necessity for resolution and salvation.  Brave is all skirts, even the ones on the blokes, and in battle, all skirts are equal.
Another masterpiece from Disney-Pixar.  Bring your kids and your tissues.  Bring your honey and tissues, this is some seriously bad-ass animation!  The texturing, lighting, movement of hair and fabric and facial expressions is exquisite.  D-P are pushing the envelope ever further toward perfection and this movie is absolutely BREATHTAKING (have I said that enough?) in it’s beautifully rendered Scottish medieval backdrop.
What better to finish a great movie night than Broccoli Salad, V 1.0 (oh, and some pulled pork!)?
We begin at the beginning before getting fancy with all the variations mentioned in the last post, and I’ve only just realised that I forgot the onion.  It is included in the recipe. I was in a state, is all I’m sayin’--Go see a woman become a Woman, Brave and True, then come home and snarf this down on a hot summer night!
  • 1 Med Head Broccoli:  Pare down to bite-size florets, then skin the stem and cut into bite-size pieces-you’ll be pleased when it’s cooked- it’s crunchy and sweet!
  • 3+ Strips Bacon (Follow your porky-lovin’ heart)
  • 1/4 C Yellow Raisins OR Brown Rasins OR Dried Cranberries 
  • 1/4 C Chopped Yellow OR Red Onion

  • 2/3 C Light Sour Cream
  • 3T+ Sugar
  • 1T White Wine Vinegar OR Apple Cider Vineagar
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
  • Several Grates Fresh Nutmeg OR
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp Fresh Ground White Pepper 

Blanch the Broccoli:  A) Fill a large pot 2/3 full with water, set on the stove on highest heat and get to a near-boil;  B) Set a colander in the sink and have a bowl of ice handy;  C) When the pot comes to near-boil, turn down to medium, then pop the broccoli into the CALM, NOT BOILING WATER.  Stand over it for 3 minutes, watching the color change.  You're looking for an immediate brightening of color-3 minutes, that’s it. D) Remove pot from stove IMMEDIATELY AND DUMP BROCCOLI INTO COLANDER;  


UntitledE) Run cold water over broccoli and toss in colander for a count of 20, turn off water, then dump the ice into the colander and gently mix the broccoli and ice then LEAVE IT TO COOL.  Make sure you keep the broccoli in the colander so the water and ice all drain away, preventing water-logging.  The point of blanching is to take the raw edge off veggies and convert a bit of their starch to sugar, giving them a lovely bit of sweetness and softening them just a TINY bit.  They should be bright green and very crisp, but the florets will have lost the characteristic rubberiness of their raw state and the peeled stem will be a heavenly, crunchy sweet treat. 

 Cook the Bacon:  I have often just dried out the same pot, cut the slices with scissors into the pot and cooked them up, then removed and drained.  Technique is not crucial, but if you have an electric stove, you can leave the burner on, dry the pan real quick and get the bacon back on while you're dealing with the broccoli's ice stage.
  Mix the Dressing:  Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Taste for sweet/sour balance and correct for your preference.  I like it sweet-tangy, your mileage may vary.
  WHY SOUR CREAM??  Most traditional recipes use mayonnaise or Miracle Whip, but when I was in a panic the last time, I subbed the sour cream and loved it, so my base-line is Clover Light Sour Cream.  Mayo and The Whip will have their day in court, I assure you!
Notes on variants:  Apple Cider Vinegar will give it a bit more fruitiness; Dried Fruits can be mixed and matched to great effect; and black pepper can be substituted just as well, but use less as it is more pungent and somewhat more acrid (that is a positive attribute in pepper, remember).  

UntitledSPECIAL NOTE:  Fresh Nutmeg is not a mystical device, you can find them in many markets, at Penzeys shops or at  They seem a bit pricey, but you get HUGE flavor from a few grates and in a ziploc or tupperware container they will literally last until the end of eternity.  You will get your money’s worth and all it takes is a microplane grater or a fine-grade rasp from the hardware store.  Nutmeg is bitchin’ on all dark greens:  kale, spinach, broccoli, chard, etc. as well as anything Indian and all baking applications.

MIX IT ALL UP!!!!  Just toss all the stuff into a large bowl and add the dressing, then gently turn over and over with a spoon to cover.  Voy-OLA!!! 

  SERVE: With a generous side of Pulled Pork from your crock pot with any of Guy Fieri’s kick-ass BBQ sauces (you'll probably find them in your supermarket, but this is a shopping link as well,) on a toasted brioche bun.  


Be Bold, Be Beautiful, and most of all Be Brave, in your kitchen and your life. In the words of Ben & Jerry’s founder Ben Cohen, there are very few irredeemable mistakes, so start experimenting and change your Fate! 

**Seriously, All photos property of Joy of Cooking Fairy or Disney-Pixar, You know what's-what and Who's Who, play fair and be good, Munchkins.

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  1. Love your review of Brave - makes me appreciate it even more! Wasn't the anticipation killing you? They really did a great job promotin that one.

  2. Yes, it did nearly kill me--we saw the first trailer right around New Years and I actually wrote it on my calendar! The early reviews weren't overwhelming, and I hate to sound like an axe-grinder, but I just don't think most industry-related people get strong girls who don't need a boyfriend. Thank you so much for stopping in!