Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Being Self-Reliant Makes Good Sense!

A few months ago I listed a couple of recipes that most or all of the ingredients could be stored on a shelf for a long term. I wanted to add 2 more recipes to that list. There are multiple emergency preparedness web-sites that encourage safe food storage for emergencies. Some list a 3 day supply up to a 3 month supply or more depending on the emergency.

Fema ( recommends a 3 day for emergencies. Other sites suggest you prepare for the “rainy day” scenario like being out of work and suggest 3-12 month supply of food. Whatever the reason, it is just wise to have extra food on hand for emergencies.

Here are a couple of recipes that my family enjoys and all the ingredients can be kept on the shelf for a long time.

Crock Pot Stroganoff
1 ½ lb round steak-cut up into small pieces (or used bottled or canned beef)
2 cans cream of celery soup
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 pkg onion soup mix
Mix everything in a crock pot. Cook for 8 hours. 3 hours on high and 5 hours on low. Stir in sour cream is you desire but it is not necessary. Serve over noodles or rice. (if using bottled meat, you do not need to cook as long and you can do it on a stove top instead of a crock pot).

Company Apricot Chicken
1-2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts(can use bottled or canned chicken)
8 oz bottle of Russian dressing
12 oz jar apricot preserves
2-3 c prepared rice
Arrange chicken in a slow cooker; set aside. Combine salad dressing and preserves; pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low setting for 6-8 hours. Serve over rice.  (to use bottled chicken, just drain chicken and put in crock pot. Cover with dressing mixture and heat through, 2-3 hours on low. It won’t need to cook as long since the chicken is already cooked, just enough to get the flavors to mix).

 You may ask yourself, “how do we cook this if there is an emergency and no power available”? I have given 2 examples in past blogs (look under “self-reliance” for past posts) and those are solar cooking or a box oven. Another option is butane cook tops. These are small and easy to store, but you do need to stay on top of the expiration dates of the butane canisters and replace them when needed. Just "google" or search for it if you want more information on these, but I have found the best price for these are at Oriental or Asian markets. They carry them regularly in our Oriental markets and you can get one for under $30. Check it out!

Monday, February 15, 2010

"My Name Is Khan" Sorry, Back to Back Reviews, But This Couldn't Wait!

I usually don’t put to movie reviews back to back, and especially Bollywood movies reviews but this next movie is so different from the last post that I felt I could break my rules this once. Yes it is a Bollywood film, and yes it had Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, in it but it is so different from any other of their movies.

First there is not one “real” musical/dance number. The story is pretty much told in flash backs as Rizvan Khan is traveling on foot, trying to meet the President of the USA to let him know “My name is Khan , and I am not a terrorist”.

Rizvan has Aspergers Syndrom, a form of high functioning Autism. SRK plays the part phenomenally. He has the mannerisms of a person with this condition, but he is so sweet that you can easily see how Mandira (Kajol) would fall in love with him. It is such a sweet relationship and I enjoyed watching the process of them falling in love, marrying and forming a family. Even Mandira’s son accepts Rizvan with all his quirks, and they have a fun and loving family.

The amazingly beautiful Kajol

Then 911 happens. Rizvan, who in Muslim, and Mandira who is Hindi, are affected by the country’s wariness of anyone they may suspect of being Muslim. Until finally, a tragedy occurs that pushes Mandira to regret ever marrying a Muslim man. In her anger she tells Rizvan to go, and not come back until the country, including the President knows that they are not terrorists, just because they are of middle-eastern descent. So, Rizvan leaves their home, taking literally what Mandira asked him to do and begins a several month’s long journey to spread the message.

He has many different experiences throughout his travels all over the country. The only part I had a problem with was the simulated hurricane that swept through a town in Georgia that Rizvan had been in and made friends. When he saw on a news report that the hurricane was coming and heading for the town he left the state he was in to go help them. “Amazingly” he beat the hurricane or got there as it was happening (I can’t remember which) but he was able to get into this town, when no other help could, and help the poor and hurt of the area. The only other people to get into the town, were the news crew that was following Rizvan to tell his story. They, (the writers) tried to explain this away in the story that it was because the military was off fighting in Afghanistan, so they weren’t here to help the people of our country. I took this as a subtle slam on President Bush which was unfair, untrue and unnecessary. The hurricane special effects were not what we are used to, with CGI now, but I’m sure they didn’t have the budget that most of our movies have so I can forgive the way it looked which was a bit amateur for our standards.

In the end, I think the movie makes the point that not all Muslims are bad, but even Muslims have to step up and help fight the extremists, and we don’t hear that too much today. I loved this movie, and so did my husband. He came with me for my Valentine’s Day gift. It was so sweet of him because I knew he was thinking he would be seeing one of the Bollywood musical type movies that I love but he agreed to anyway.

Try to find it in your area, it was a great movie!

Here is a trailer for you to see:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Shades of Hamlet in this Bollywood Movie

I know I am on a Bollywood kick lately but other than “The Young Victoria”, there haven’t really been any great movies to blog or review about, in my opinion. Plus, I have many years worth of Bollywood movies to catch up on.

Some of you may be wondering what exactly a “Bollywood” movie is. Technically, a movie made in India is considered a Bollywood movie, although my neighbor, Usha, who really introduced me to Bollywood after I saw “Bride and Prejudice”,(she gives me an endless supply and suggestions of movies), says that that really isn’t quite true. But we will go with that definition.

Last week I saw a great new one (ok, I mean new to me, but it came out in 2007) entitled “Om Shanti Om”.

I tried to describe it to friends and family as a “murder, suspense, romance, comedy, musical”, and I got very strange looks. But there really is not a better way to explain it.

Shah Rukh Khan

It stars my favorite Bollywood star, Shah Rukh Khan (soon to be seen in the movie “My Name Is Khan” opening here in the USA on Feb. 12th). He is amazing!!! He sings, dances, he acts and his dimples are so cute!!!


The movie opens in the 70’s and our hero, Om Prakash, is a bit actor in movies. He has a crush on one of the leading ladies of the time, Shantipriya, played by Deepika Padukone (this was her first movie). As Om tries to woo Shanti, he finds out a secret about her.
Deepika Padukone
She is secretly married to an awful movie producer, Mukesh, and he wants to keep their marriage a secret. Om is devasted. One night while at the movie studio, he sees Mukesh and Shanti go on to a movie set and Om witnesses the murder of Shanti. He tries to save her but he is severely injured and later dies from his injuries in the hospital. He is immediately reincarnated (remember this is a Hindi film, so this works!) as a baby that is just born in the same hospital.
Shanti and Mukesh
Now, fast forward 30 years and the “new” Om is now a famous movie star “Om Kapoor”, and he starts to have flashbacks of his previous life. He doesn’t know the explanation until he meets Mukesh for the first time and all the memories of his first life and the murder of Shanti come back to him.

Now we have the “Hamlet” connection of “a play within a play”. Om and his friend are going to reenact the murder to try to get a confession from Mukesh in order to get justice for Shanti after 30 years.
The video of the final confrontation with Mukesh
The sets are great, the costuming is phenomenal and music and choreography is so fun you want to get up and dance with them!!! (Which I do when no one is home and I am not ashamed to admit it!)

One of the highlights of the movie is an awards show and post award show party where many of my favorite and famous Bollywood stars have cameos. So funny!!!

You need to be prepared for sub-titles but don’t let that put you off! It is quite violent in the murder spot so be prepared.

This is now my 3rd favorite Bollywood movie, behind “Rab ne Bana di Jodi”, and Veer-Zaahra (both with Shah Rukh Kahn). I hope you will watch it and let me know what you think.

Post Award Show Party when he sees Mukesh for the 1st time in his second life
"Om Shanti Om"

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My argument for “happily ever after”…

I get a lot of teasing/criticism/grief from many friends and family about the fact that I need to have a happy ending to the books, and movies that I read or watch. I am going to try to explain why this is the case, but be aware, there may be some spoilers in this as I use examples, so if you see a title of a book or movie that you haven’t seen or read, and you don’t want to have the ending ruined for you, jump ahead.

My argument-

I read for entertainment. I watch movies also for entertainment. Therefore, if there is a sad or depressing ending to the story, I am not entertained. For some reason, I am wired to take these stories more personally. That is why at the end of a great book, I am sad to say “good-bye” to the friends I feel I have made while reading them. But when the ending is sad, I feel I have not been entertained, instead I feel that I have wasted my time in reading or watching this particular story because I am depressed for a couple of days afterward. I like to analyze and dissect the stories. For example, in my last blog on “Our Mutual Friend” I mentioned how I didn’t really like “Great Expectations”. That is because of the ending, no other reason. I loved the rest of the story up to the very end. I felt like I had been left dangling in the fate of Pip and Estella. All Dickens had to do was to end the book with them getting together, both learning an important lesson and beginning their new life together, wiser people, not to make the same mistakes again. Instead we don’t know if they might get together eventually or not.

Now many friends point out to me the fact that in my all time favorite classic novel, “The Count of Monte Cristo”, they think the ending is sad because Edmond and Mercedes do not end up together.

But my argument is that it does have a happy ending because after getting the justice (yes, I said justice, not revenge) for the wrongs done to him after so many years, Edmond is once again ready to fall in love with Haydee who is devoted to him. He could never have loved Mercedes as he did as a young man after so long and her betrayal by marrying Fernand Mondego. I think this ending is perfect! However, Hollywood and the BBC have failed to follow the book in ANY adaptation.

I feel I am also a realist in that I know life is not all perfect. I can go through a lot of heartache in a story as long as the ending is happy or optimistic. Let me use “Gone With the Wind” as an example. I liked this book and the movie, however, I didn’t feel like Scarlett learned anything from her mistakes and at the end, she was the same spoiled girl she was at the beginning. I would have been fine with her not ending up with Rhett Butler, had she learned how to treat people, not to use them to her advantage. It would have been a more satisfying experience if she was a better person at the end but she wasn’t.

Another example is “Follow the River”. The whole book was full of the trial and hardships of Mary Ingles, who was kidnapped by Shawnee Indians along with her 2 sons. It took her months of every kind of hardship you could imagine including losing her newborn and 2 sons before she made it back to her husband. I loved this story! I don’t think I could read it again knowing what I would have to go through again with her, but I still loved this book!

Jane Austen, Sharon Kay Penman, and Agatha Christie, three of my favorites!

I hope I have made my point as to why I love to have happy endings. I could give many more examples. I know the authors I can count on for happy endings, and if I read a new author, YES, I read the ending first, to make sure it will end happy so I do not waste my time on something I know I will be unhappy with when I am done. What do you think?