Two New Projects for 2008

Introducing the two new projects for 2008.

Vegetarian Dinners Project (VDP)“, a decision to eat at least two vegetarian dinners per week. This decision was made for three reasons:

1- It is more environmentally friendly to eat more non-meat dishes. Since we are trying to be more ‘green’ this year (switched to non-polluting electric provider, using more environmentally friendly cleaning supplies in the house,…), a diet with more non-meat choices fits right in.
2- It is healthier to incorporate more vegetables, grains, fruits and legumes in our meals and cut back on meats and fats. Who knows, we might even lose a few pounds.
3- It is damn cheaper to eat more meals with no meat! Since I try to avoid mass produced meats as much as I can, it can get pretty pricey buying the ‘Humanely Raised, Grass Fed, Organic, Antibiotic Free, Free Range…’ critters. With two or three meals a week that contain no beef, poultry, pork or fish the food cost is significantly reduced. Lets call it a more quality but less quantity kind of thing

To motivate me even more I have decided to chronicle this project right here. I also created different categories for the meals we will be enjoying. These are:

  • Grains
  • Green Vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Root Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Bread and Pies
  • Pasta and Noodles
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Tofu
  • Mushrooms

I will be using several references to get ideas or recipes from. My primary go-to books will be:
Mediterranean Grains and Greens” by Paula Wolfert
The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean” by Paula Wolfert
Mediterranean Vegetables” by Clifford Wright
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” by Mark Bittman
The New Book of Middle Eastern Cooking” by Claudia Roden

A couple more disclaimers, I’ll never ever use any fabricated crap to substitute for meat. You know what I mean, stuff like Tofurkey and Veggie Dogs. It’s just wrong, I’ll be having the real thing instead for dinner on those nights. For the purposes of this project, fish sauce counts as vegetarian. I cannot make decent southeast Asian food without it, so it does not count.

Another project I’d like to work on this year is the “Happy in the Kitchen Project (HKP)“. Here I am planning to cook as many recipes as I can from Michel Richard’s fantastic book “Happy in the Kitchen: The Craft of cooking, The Art of Eating“. The recipes are unique, a little experimental, beautiful and the few I’ve tried so far are delicious. I’ve had the book for almost a year, but never seem to get around to cooking from it much. Once again, I am hoping posting about the meals would be a good motivator to keep on cooking.

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The Polar Express (Robert Zemeckis – 2005) A

This is truly a wonderful film that I watched a few times already with my son (well, I’ve watched many parts of it a few times but the whole thing maybe twice). It has some amazingly memorable sequences, like the train ticket and the train on the ice lake, fantastic animation and a sweet story. This a definite classic for me.

Flags of Our Fathers (Clint Eastwood – 2006) A-

It really is amazing what a great film maker Eastwood has become…that same guy from Spaghetti Westerns and Dirty Harry. Here he portrays the ugly brutality of those 40 days on Iwo Jima and the effects they had on those guys who raised the flag and got themselves famous in the photo. The effect of switching back and forth between the battle scenes and the war fund-raising campaign that was taking advantage of the public’s sympathy with the famous shot is very powerful and sometimes sad. I cannot wait to see the companion movie to this, “Letters From Iwo Jima”.

Le Samourai (Jean-Pierre Melville – 1967) A-

I really think this movie would’ve even worked better had it been a silent film. Melville fills this movie with so many fantastic long dialogue-free shots (starting from the opening shot in the apartment) that really are a pleasure to watch with or without sound. Alain Delon also creates a man of few words, and assassin seemingly obsessed with looking perfectly groomed all the time while trying to figure out who hired and is trying to kill him.

No Country for Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen – 2007) A+

“after killing the man…Chigurh answers the phone…pool of blood spreading..he looks at it…not wanting his boots to get stained he hoists his feet up on the bed…continues with his conversation.”

Not sure if this small scene  from so many perfect ones really does justice to how well made, haunting and terrific this film is. The mood, west Texas scenery, modern day cowboys, boots, money, guns and villains all capture the essence of McCarthy’s novel. When I read it, I could not put a face on the monster with the unpronounceable name he created, Chigurh, now all I can see is Bardem. He is that good. So is Tommy Lee Jones as a good sheriff in a very bad world that he is slowly growing disenchanted with. I do not see too many new (2007) films because I do not have the time to head to the theatre every week, but this one is the best I have seen this year and definitely one of the Coens’ top masterpieces.