Month: January 2012

Blazing Peanut Noodles

At the time I’m writing this, I have 140 pins to my food board.

The thing is, the majority of them are things that I would like to cook at some point. I’ve already made 5 or 6 recipes off of that board.

I was looking for something fast, easy, cheap, and relatively soft- the whole root canal thing.

I found a recipe on foodgawker that I pinned to my food board- and then wondered about it- love food eats’s fiery hot noodles.

It sounded really good, don’t get me wrong. But…that’s not nearly hot for me. And there’s no protein- and I started dreaming about the peanut noodles I used to make in grad school. And soy sauce? Why would I use soy sauce when I can use fish sauce? Or…even better…oyster sauce?

This is what my lunch turned into.

Blazing Peanut Noodles

*Contains both nut and shellfish products. You could use sunbutter or almond butter for the peanut, though it’ll give a different flavor profile. Swap the oyster sauce for soy sauce.

**Makes one serving. Increase the sauce recipe to serve more.

*** I have never measured anything for my peanut noodles. This is one of those entirely to taste recipes. Most of these ingredients can be found at a larger store like Wegmans or at a speciality shop.

1 serving cooked straight noodles (I used linguine because I had it, but I used to use instant ramon noodles without the seasoning packet with really good success)

1/2 tablespoon chili paste

approx. 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

approx. 2 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 teaspoon smooth peanut butter

approx. 1 teaspoon sugar

approx. 1 teaspoon sesame oil.

approx. 1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 serving vegetable of choice

Mix all ingredients other than noodles and vegetables in a small bowl. Set aside

Stir fry vegetables in small pan (I used green beans for the example). When the vegetables are at desired doneness, add sauce. Allow to cook down for approx. 30 seconds stirring constantly. Add noodles and stir to coat.

Reality

I don’t know if it’s a case of themes running in cycles, or simply being forced to be more aware of trends that always happen, but there’s something that I’ve been noticed lately that has the wheels in my head turning.

Mainly, does the reality of a story somehow make it off-limits, one that isn’t allowed to be treated as horror?

What I’m trying to ask is, does the historical or sociological basis of a piece place it above being used as a horror element?

According to comments that I’ve received, it does. But is that necessarily true?

My first gut reaction is that even if it is inappropriate to use historical elements as horror elements, we’re well past the point where trying to stop it would be ridiculous. The meaning of that statement runs deeper than just the obvious fact that people are doing things like relying on Nazi imagery to make zombie films.

This is where I find topics like the sociology of fear to be especially interesting– part of the way that humans interact with the horrific is by placing it right in front of their faces. Society processes fear by being afraid.

One of the ways that a truly effective horror film works is by envoking images that we know we’re afraid of, but sometimes we don’t want to admit that we’re afraid of; when I first became aware of the term torture p.orn with regards to horror films, it was in analysis that suggested that Hostel and other similar films were popular because of an ingrained zenophobia that society wasn’t ready to address (but  one could argue has started to be addressed in the forefront of society) (note: that term isn’t in reference to anything sexual, and that link goes to a New York Magazine entry).

We use fear to talk about fear.

Bosch was painting hell long before Saw went 3D

What does that mean for movies that rely on actual historical realities? This extends to macrolevel events like racism, and more microevents such as true crime.

The immediate thought is that there is something banal about using such images to create horror entertainment, and it’s arguable that they may not even be horror in the first place, even if they’re suggested to be horror or rely on traditional horror images (which is the point that I was trying to make with my review of Older Than America and other such films).

Is that true though? I find it interesting that on one hand, movies should reflect themes that we are familar with- so that we can connect with them- but on the other, there are themes that shouldn’t be used, even if the writer has a personal connection to that theme. It’s okay to support movies that rely on themes like love, but if it’s darker than that, it’s not appropriate.

I understand the logic about profiting from other people’s tragedies, or rather, the logic against such things, but at the same time, horror isn’t the only genre to rely on such things- Saving Private Ryan may have been fictionalized, but the war that it’s set in isn’t.

Rename Ed Gaines Norman Bates, and you have a classic of American cinema

Kindertrauma has a review that I am unable to pull up right now that suggests that one of the reason that people have problems with true crime and similar branches of horror is that there are horrible things that scare us but we can handle because we know it’s not real. On the other hand, there are horrible things that scare us more because we are fully aware, even if we are hesitant to admit it, that there are things that we are all fully capable of doing if pushed too far.

The review was referencing a movie about John Wayne Gacy. It went on to say that such movies can make the viewer nervous because we’re touching on a type of fear that’s completely different from one created by zombies or vampires- this is a fear of things that we know, even if it’s improbable, that could in fact happen to us.

So this brings us to the discussion about if it’s even appropriate to do ‘historical horror’ for lack of a better word, and if such a thing can even exist.

Part of the problem is that I do believe, wholeheartedly, that horror is not a distinct genre. Things can be horrific without being Dracula or Frankenstein, and work on a much subtler level than Saw or Scream. In fact, I personally believe as a fan that as much as I love ‘traditional’ American horror tropes, I think it’s more effective for a film to be rooted in tensions that actually exist.

Is it appropriate, or possible to use history to create horror? In a nutshell, I think that from the standpoint that American society uses horror to challenge the things that scare us headon, yes. I do believe that it should be handled with sensitivity- as much as I love Dead Snow I’m not certain if it would have been as successful as an American film- but I also don’t think that horror is by definition an insensitive genre. If anything, I think that horror may be an exceptionally appropriate locality to examine the parts of our past that are less than pleasant.

The Sea and the Sands

So what, exactly, is the connection between a coaster, a rug, and BPAL?

I need kitchen rugs. Or want. Or need. Whatever, scatter rugs are in short supply.

JC Penny wants $20 for scatter rugs. I need at least 3.

$60…for something to put boots on so the snow doesn’t leave puddles and something to stand on when I do dishes.

That’s…3 bottles of general catalouge BPAL. Multiple back ups of Nephilim.

I don’t want to spend $60 on rugs. I don’t care enough about rugs to comparison shop. I don’t really want to go used for rugs, bugs scare me too much.

During a recent indulgence of my increasingly terrifying pinterest habit, I found this tutorial:

Source: cocoknits.com via Katie on Pinterest

So I made a coaster, thinking that it would make a dent in my fabric stash that’s been languishing for 3 years. Being knit into coasters is still better than being thrown away. (Yes, I know that there’s something weird with the padding in that html. I just don’t have the energy right now to find it.)

Then it hit me…I could just knit…rugs. Who cares if they’re going to be lumpy and lopsided? I’m going for function over form here.

So there. One rug, first finished project of 2012, and $20 for BPAL. Or groceries, more likely. But you get the idea.

One Man Hide and Seek- An Update

I have made progress on my hunt for information on one man hide and seek (or I haven’t, depending on your stance on it).

This is the response that was passed along to me:

“As for the hitori kakurenbo, I assume it is Internet made-up, or something of urban legends. I am not even sure what it is like. but there are other horrorish rituals like that which you are never supposed to do. I can tell you of it, but frankly I am a bit afraid of the aftermath, be it true or not.”

So…on one hand, the source thinks that this ritual is completely made up. On the other…there seems to be an implication of similarly themed (at least in the sense of potentially dangerous rituals) ‘games’ or rites that are presently known culturally speaking.

Chicken Enchiladas

I go through phases with my cooking.

Sometimes I dream of spending hours in the kitchen, cooking and cleaning and making everything pinterest worthy (so much for my dislike for that site).

Other times I can’t be bothered to open a box of macaroni and velveeta.

Lately though, when I get in the mood to cook…I cook.

This is not a weeknight meal, unless you’re snowbound and have hours on your hands to fill up. This took me easily 2 hours, including chopping and cooling time.

I adapted the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, though not by much. Mid swears these are as good if not better than the ones we get from our favorite mexican place.

Chicken Enchiladas with Red Chile Sauce

the lighting in here is horrible at night. I do most of my cooking...at night.

mkes 10, or 4 and freeze the rest of the filling
Vegetable oil (for sauting)
1 medium onion ,chopped fine (about 1 cup)
3 medium cloves garlic , minced
3 tablespoons chili powder – I used Penzey’s Chili 9000 with amazing results
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
3 mid to large sized chicken breasts, sliced thin (and you do want them relatively thin strips)
2 cans tomato sauce, the little cans like Aldi and Goya make- don’t use spaghetti sauce

3/4 cup water
1/2 fresh hot pepper, grated*
2 cups-ish grated cheese
10 corn tortillas (six-inch)
Vegetable cooking spray
Grated cheese

1. In a medium saucepan, saute onion until it begins to brown. Add in spices including garlic, and stir to coat. When you can smell the spices, add the chicken and stir until just coated. Add in tomato sauce and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for approximately 8 minutes.

2. Place chicken mixture into a strainer and let sauce drain into a LARGE bowl (mine overflowed at first) and then refridgerate chicken for 20 minutes. Make sure to smush chicken with a potato masher or spoon to get as much of the sauce as you can.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray tortillas with cooking oil and bake in a single layer for roughly 3 minutes, you want the tortillas pliable. Mix chicken with pepper and cheese.

4. Increase temperture to 400. Line a baking pan with parchment paper (not necessary, but I don’t like scrubbing bakeware) and a thin layer of enchilada sauce. In the middle of each enchilada, place a scoopful of chicken mixture. Roll tightly and place fold down in pan. Top with additional sauce and cheese to taste.

5. Cover with tin foil. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes and serve immediately.

*Yes, grate. With a cheese grater. I didn’t want massive chunks of pepper and I wanted uniform heat so I grated half of a jalapeno.

Older Than America

Mid’s 30 second review of this film: this is the most boring horror movie ever.

I don’t think that’s entirely fair, for a couple of reasons.

First- I’m not certain that most people would recognize this as horror. Scream or Nightmare on Elm Street it’s not. Admittedly I thought it was traditional American horror going in (thank you Netflix and your habit of describing movies as vaguely as possible).

However, there’s a story in one of the horror anthologies I have in my collection about a boy who accidentally shoots his brother in the face with a BB gun. The author’s introduction suggests that real life is horrific enough without monsters.

Second-it’s not the storyline’s fault. The movie follows the story of a woman named Rain who begins to have visions of horrible events in her mother’s life. She comes to realize that her mother isn’t mentally ill, and never was, and that her visions are actually a type of memory. These memories help to uncover a history of brutality and cultural destruction.

Mid says that the storyline would have been better as a book.

I think that I agree. The storyline’s solid, and there’s no reason for the movie to be as dry as it is. I think that it would just be better as a read, not a movie.