Wednesday, April 10, 2013
COME TO ME, MY LITTLE CHICKADEE!
What a pretty little bird the Chickadee is. The vocal, pint-sized songbird is native to North America and parts of Canada. It’s also the state bird of both Maine and Massachusetts; all of which is probably useless trivia you’re not remotely interested in; but then again, may be you are!
My only prior knowledge of chickadees was 1940’s most successful film after “Gone with the Wind” - “My Little Chickadee” that starred the cleverly-inspired pairing of Mae West and W.C. Fields. So my previous image of a chickadee was one of Mae West! How wrong could one image be?
“My Little Chickadee” ran second to Scarlett and Rhett’s blockbuster; and that must have blown the producers, director and actors away!
As an aside, and, perhaps, this is just another piece of totally futile, ineffective trivia, I was named after Vivienne Leigh aka Scarlett O'Hara...with the different spelling of "Lee" tossed into the mix. I prefer my spelling of the name...but that is by the by...gone with the wind!
Just so you are aware...1940 was a bit before my time; but that doesn't lessen my interest and liking of old movies, stories (as in books), music etc., etc., et al.
I always have one foot firmly planted in the present, but I do enjoy waving the other one around in the past, as well, while trying to remain evenly balanced and upright in the meantime. If I had a third foot, I’d plant it in the future in an attempt to discover what it has in store. The future is a cagey, secretive critter. It never wants to divulge much of what it has planned, believing surprise to be its best strategy. I don’t wholly agree with that policy, but, unfortunately, there’s little I can do about learning what undetermined events of the earthly hereafter lay ahead.
A few clues wouldn’t go astray!
“My Little Chickadee”, the movie, is set in America’s Old West. Buxom, tightly-corseted, shamelessly impudent Mae graces the screen as “Flower Belle Lee”; gruffly enigmatic, button-holed, top-hatted Fields is con man, “Cuthbert J. Twillie”.
The movie grossed upwards of $20m in the US alone; an extraordinary amount of money at the time; an extraordinary amount these days, too, I might add! I wouldn’t say “No” to such a sum! Without hesitation, I’d swallow my pride and accept it with thanks - thank you very much!
Scarlett O’Hara would have declared, if she’d been aware: “Fiddle-dee-dee! I do agree! That’s a mighty fee, Chickadee!”
The movie’s stars remain at the heart of cinema history; and in the hearts of their millions of fans, young, old and in the middle; the unique talents of West and Fields will long be remembered; as will their many witty quotes.
Some might say Mae unintentionally let her guard down, setting aside her fruitiness to display a tender, somewhat Christian aspect of her nature when making the statement: “Love thy neighbour – and if he happens to be tall, debonair and devastating; it will be that much easier!”
And that she was an adroit mistress of perception is clearly discernible when she mocked: “Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often!”
Mae West's insightfulness leapt boundaries previously unconquered when she declared: “I wrote the story myself. It’s about a girl who lost her reputation and never missed it!”
A diva to beat all divas, West never attempted to disguise her brazen honesty: “I only read biographies, metaphysics and psychology. I can dream up my own fiction.”
Crusty W.C. was also a reservoir of witticisms.
I’ve flushed out a few of his quotes, as well - such as: “I’m free of all prejudices. I hate everyone equally!”
Along with: “I never worry about being driven to drink; I just worry about being driven home.”
And then there’s this piece of good advice from the irascible rogue; “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again; then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it!”
And another of Fields' many, indisputable, truthful disclosures: “I cook with wine; sometimes I even add it to the food.”
Red Wine-Balsamic Chicken: Combine 1/4c balsamic, 1/4c red wine vinegar, 1tbs olive oil, 1tbs honey, juice of half lemon or orange, 1 minced garlic clove, 1tsp minced onion, 1tsp salt, 1tsp dried thyme and cracked black pepper. Pound 5 boned, skinned chicken breasts/thighs to uniform thickness – about 1-inch; add to marinade; coat evenly; cover; chill 2hrs or overnight. Bring chicken to room temp. Heat grill, med-low; place chicken on grates; cover; cook, untouched, 5mins. Flip; cook about 10mins; flip again; cook further 2mins.
Strawberry Chicken with Red Wine: Hull and slice 3c strawberries; set aside. Heat 2ts olive oil in small saucepan; add 2/3c sliced shallots, 1 chopped garlic clove, 1 bay leaf and 1/2tsp dried thyme; stir 2-3mins. Add 3/4c sliced strawberries; cook 1min; stir constantly; add 2tbs balsamic; simmer 1min. Add 1/3c red wine; simmer until reduced by half; add ¾c chicken broth; simmer 5mins. Whisk 1-1/2tsp cornflour in 2tsp water; add to saucepan; boil 1min; stir until thickened; strain; season. Reheat just before serving. Lightly coat 4 boneless, skinned chicken breasts with oil; season; grill 4-5mins per side; serve chicken over combined long-grain rice and wild rice; surround with remaining strawberries and warmed sauce.
Dry-Rub Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken: Grab 1 whole chicken; split down the middle...spatchcocked. Season the chicken with ample dry rub. Dry Rub Ingredients: 1tbs ground black pepper, 2tsp cayenne (optional), 2tbs chilli powder, 2tbs ground cumin, 2tbs brown sugar, 1tbs granulated sugar, 1tbs dried oregano, 4tbls salt, 1tbs white pepper, 3tbls celery salt, 1tbs garlic powder and 3tbs dried parsley. Store leftover rub in container; keep in the fridge. When barbecue is at an even temperature, lay opened/spatchcock chicken on grill; cook with cover on; turn occasionally...about 1-1/2 hours or until the centre of the thickest parts are cooked through.
Spiced Wine with Dried Fruit: Place 2 chamomile tea bags in cup; pour over 2c boiling water; let stand 4mins; discard bags. Combine tea, 750ml semi-dry white wine, 1/2c sugar, 1/3c orange juice, 1/4c light rum, 2tbs lemon juice, 1tbs raisins, 1tbs chopped mixed dried fruit, 1 bay leaf, 1 cinnamon stick and 1/8tsp nutmeg in saucepan. Stir over med-heat until sugar dissolves; bring to just simmer; remove from heat; cover; steep 20mins. Re-warm over low heat; don’t boil. Discard bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Ladle into mugs; serve.
Enjoy yourselves, my little Chickadees!