Monday, September 2, 2013

Happy Endings, Canadian Ships Collide.

Matt and I were discussing Anna and the King of Siam and this made me think of The King and I, which I admit, I love, it’s a great romantic movie. However, it is all The King and Ihappy and light. The book which came out  years ago, when I was young, called Anna and the King of Siam also was fairly light, but not as cleaned up as The King and I. Anna Leonowens was a typical Victorian woman who, admittedly, had the courage, rare in those days, to go to what she considered a more primitive country to teach the children of the King. If you actually read her memoirs she was particularly scathing about the whole lot of them and considered them to be barbarians. However, American movies have created a kind of romance between her and the King. I then remembered The Little Mermaid which I read as a child, I cried my eyes out at the ending which was how Hans Christian Anderson had intended – what does Disney do? Makes a happy ending. Why, can’t American kids – or Americans in general, handle rough concepts or unhappy endings? Life happens, whether it’s in a fairy stoAnna and the King of Siamry or not, people die tragically or otherwise, people don’t always get the endings they wish for, barbarian kings whip their slaves and decapitate their lovers, deal with it people. I like happy endings as much as the next guy, but right from a little kid, I learnt that happy endings don’t necessary occur. Sheltering your kids is not a good thing, IMHOP. They need to learn realism and I don’t mean reality TV either. Leave in the bad parts, Hollywood, please. Show the stories the way the authors wrote them. I watched the 1946 film on Saturday night. Still somewhat romanticised, but they did include the death of the conLeonowens_Portraitcubine and her lover. It was rather odd to see Rex Harrison as the King and Lee J. Cobb as his minister. In this film Ana’s son dies, I don’t remember if that was in the book or not, I suppose it must have been. I also noticed that a lot of the dialogue was the same as in The King and I. I guess they lifted a lot of the original script when they made that movie. Having written all this, I then went and researched Anna Leonowens and found out a lot I hadn’t known. Not least of which was that she died in Montréal in 1915. She had 4 kids in all, two of whom died in infancy, two of whom she took to Siam. She sounds like she was quite a woman for her time.

Talking of the book, I didn’t really know my paternal grandfather, I think I met him once, but he had an uncanny knack of choosing books for both my mother and I which we enjoyed unreservedly. I don’t remember the books he chose for me any more, but the one’s he chose for my mother have been favourites of mine for many years. How he knew what we would like I have no idea.

Incredible story, to me, two Canadian warships on training exercise, learning to tow, crashed into one another. The excuse being that hmcs-algonquin-warship-damage-1-6colthey were on close manoeuvres. Having been around ships of one kind or another most of my life, that sounds like balderdash to me and smacks of total incompetence. It’s not as though these ships move all that fast either. Somebody on the helm was not paying attention. Nobody was hurt, but HMCS Algonquin sustained considerable damage. HMCS Protecteur wasn’t as badly damaged, but from the looks of it, she was the one who rammed into the Algonquin.

This is a different take on a classic dish.  Ratatouille. Pronounced Rat-a-twee, not Rat-a-too-ee please.

Ratatouille Spirals

Contributed by Grace Parisi
  • SERVINGS: 10
This is ratatouille imagined as beautiful little rolls of eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, mozzarella and anchovy, all baked in a tangy, fresh tomato sauce.Ratatouille Spirals
  1. 3 pounds beefsteak tomatoes, scored with an “X” on the bottoms
  2. 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  3. 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  4. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  5. Kosher salt
  6. 2 cups cubed country bread
  7. 2 1/2 pounds firm medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick strips
  8. 2 1/2 pounds small eggplant, preferably Japanese, cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick strips
  9. 3 roasted red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  10. 18 oil-packed anchovies, cut into thin strips
  11. 3/4 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 2-by- 1/2-inch sticks
  1. In a medium pot of boiling water, blanch the tomatoes for 30 seconds; drain. Slip off the skins and halve the tomatoes crosswise. Coarsely chop the tomatoes, keeping the juices and seeds.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the garlic and crushed pepper and cook over moderate heat for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and juices and season lightly with salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened, about 25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, on a baking sheet, toss the bread with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toast for about 15 minutes, stirring once, until golden.
  4. In 2 separate colanders, toss the zucchini and eggplant with 1 tablespoon of salt each and let drain for 15 minutes. Shake out the excess liquid and pat the slices dry.
  5. Spoon the tomato sauce into a shallow 2 1/2-quart baking dish and scatter the bread cubes on top. On a work surface, top each zucchini slice with a slice of eggplant; blot dry if necessary. Place a strip of roasted pepper and anchovy and a stick of mozzarella at one end of each stack and roll up. Stand the rolls in the baking dish and brush with oil.
  6. Cover with parchment paper. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender and the ratatouille is bubbling; remove the parchment halfway through baking. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Have a great Labour Day.


  1. I remember being heartbroken when Bambi's mum was killed by hunters :-(

    What's with the 'eggplant, preferably Japanese'?? We make a point of buying food locally as much as possible. Interesting recipe though, prettier than the usual ratatouille I make when we have a glut of courgettes, aubergines, peppers and tomatoes in the garden.

    1. Me too, even these days it brings a tear to my eyes.

      I think Japanese is a type not a source Sue. I haven't made ratatouille in a long while. I am not totally enamoured of the flavour of aubergines (egg plants). Nice to have a garden like that.

  2. No veggies in our garden this year ... we were away for the critical 'watering' time so didn't plant anything this year. Last year we paid a local guy to water our greenhouse/garden veggies whilst we were away. It cost so much we decided it would be cheaper to buy the produce from Harrods!

    But we do have lots of apples/pears and damsons which are doing beautifully this year and will keep me busy freezing and preserving

    1. Pity no veg, but fruit is good. Love the Harrods comment. I didn't think they were that expensive. I used to love their Food Hall