Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Where Aussie Tours Probably Don't Take You

I just finished Paul Newman by Shawn Levy, which described a charmed life from when Paul was the child of a prosperous sporting-goods dealer in Cleveland, until he was a vigorous old man, darting between movie sets, race tracks, the Newman's Own company and his beloved philanthropies.

Did it feel a little naughty to keep the book-cover picture of a shirtless Paul in his primest prime on my nightstand for a week or so? Yeah, kinda. Let's just say it was an easy book to pick up. I was always eager to read on. This does not, repeat, does not, make me one of his nympho fans, the women who constantly pushed Joanne and the daughters aside, just to stand speechless and panting before him.

I am, however, adding his eight or nine best movies to my Netflix queue. What's funny is that he made a ton of clunky pictures. But his best work was so good that he remained a titan of the movie world.

He started on a lark, in college, playing in the kinds of skits where you make fun of the professors and fellow students. It struck him as a handy way to avoid the sporting-goods business. So, with a wife and baby son, he went off to Yale Drama School. That was where he faced his first class exercise, discovering that he'd have to dig deep and show actual emotions. Yikes!! This was certainly not the same as being a funny man back at Kenyon College!

So he became a Method actor, the kind that's always asking, "What's my motivation?" These folks are a headache for their directors and fellow thespians. But the development of his craft over the years--well, show it to me, Netflix, as he grows from the young man whose actorly wheels could be seen turning in his head to the seasoned pro whose most subtle glance said volumes.

Anybody want to watch with me?

Also on the Finished Book Pile: The Turning by Tim Winton, a collection of short stories set in a workaday town on the western coast of Australia. They depressed me at first. "Angelus" did not sound like a town I would want to live in or visit, in spite of the seaside atmosphere, the whales swimming by just beyond the point, or the surfing that residents did over Christmas break. But as I met the same people in several stories, I got caught up in their lives, particularly the policeman father. He was the only straight cop on Angelus' crooked police force. Would he hold up under the pressure? Would his marriage survive? Would his sons pull out of childhood unscathed?

And now for something tasty, you can try:


9 lasagna noodles
1 10-oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (I used chopped broccoli; my family thanked me heartily for this substitution)
1 c. Parmesan cheese
1 1/3 c mozzarella cheese
1 1/3 c cottage cheese
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 TB salad oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
2 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. each: dried basil and oregano.

Cook lasagna. Drain. Pour cold water over noodles. Set aside. Mix 3/4 cup Parmesan, the mozzarella, cottage cheese, spinach/broccoli, nutmeg, salt & pepper. Spread 1/4 cup of this mixture on each noodle. Roll up and lay, seam side down, in a 7x11 baking dish. (I had leftover cheese mixture, which I sprinkled on top.)

Saute onion and garlic in oil. Add tomato sauce, sugar and herbs. Cook 5 minutes. Pour over rolled-up noodles. Cover. Bake at 350' for 30 minutes.

I think I always made it wrong before, setting the rolled-up noodles on their ends, like cinnamon rolls. The pan didn't look very filled-up that way. Stuff fell over. It was a mess. How handy for you that I've already made that mistake, so you don't have to. Just lay those noodles down on their sides, lazy-like, and it will all look and taste right.

This dish passed the Skooby test, big time. Calories, for those of you that care (and he didn't), are 277 per swirl.

Recipe from one of those community cookbooks. 

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