Days of Wine and Rebels

         SO HERE IT IS…

the one-year anniversary of launching

Recipes For Rebels:

In the kitchen with James Dean 

…and I’m celebrating with this 2 in 1 special tribute!

Me, in Fairmount, IN at the official launch of Recipes for Rebels, September 2015

Me, in Fairmount, IN at the official launch of Recipes for Rebels, September 2015

As the summer draws to an end, James Dean fans flock to the tiny town of Fairmount, IN, celebrating Dean and commemorating the 61st anniversary of his death.

The end of summer also means the kids are back in school…families stay closer to home…and we start to spend more time in the kitchen.  The oppressive heat gives way to much more pleasant days… we relish in the bounty of the Autumn harvests.

Here in Greece, the farmers have just completed picking the grapes and started their wine production.  The olives will come to full ripening in about another month or so.  So I picked a recipe that celebrates WINE!  It’s Natalie Wood’s Beef Stroganoff.  I made a vegetarian version (you’d be surprised at how many veggies read this blog), but the meat version is just as easy and detailed below.  As a bonus, we’re serving the Stroganoff over Cloris Leachman’s Homemade Egg Noodles (yes, Cloris co-starred with James Dean too).  Both are fantastic recipes and definite crowd pleasers!

The recipe and my brand new “epic” video appear at the end of this blog…  (As a reminder, you can click on any of the pics throughout this blog to see them larger.)

SIX DEGREES…

Poster from the 45th Annual Academy Awards.

Natalie of course, co-starred with James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), and Cloris co-starred with him in a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV production of Forgotten Children (1952).  But I started to wonder…since I’m marrying these two recipes for this blog, did Cloris and Natalie ever work together on screen?

Well…in the “Six Degrees of Seperation” or “Kevin Bacon Game”…the answer is YES…sorta.  The closest connection I could find, was that both were featured presenters at the 45th Annual Academy Awards in 1973.  Cabaret won the most Oscars that year and Marlon Brando boycotted the ceremony (even though he won best actor for The Godfather).  A young Michael Jackson performed Ben, and other standouts of the evening included Angela Lansbury (opening the show), Raquel Welch, Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli, Sonny and Cher, Diana Ross, Bea Arthur, and Eddie Albert.

While I was planning this posting, I thought I’d do a whole Academy Awards-themed story.  But as I worked on the accompanying cooking video, it evolved into something else…regardless, you can see the whole show or tons of clips from the award show on YouTube (including Natalie and Cloris’ appearances)…I wasted several good hours having fun and watching them all!

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BEFORE PHYLLIS

Cloris Leachman

Cloris Leachman

Cloris Leachman still holds the record for winning 9 Emmys…more than any other actor.  During the 50s and 60s she was predominantly a TV actress.  Over the course of her career, Cloris accumulated 11 Broadway and 260 film and TV credits (so far).  She is most remembered for her role as Phyllis on the Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-77 ) and the subsequent spin-off show Phyllis (1975-77).  Not too long ago, at the age of 82 she became the oldest contestant on Dancing With the Stars.

Cloris was in Elia Kazan’s very first class at The Actors Studio in New York.  In 1952, Cloris played the lead in a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie entitled Forgotten Children.  It told the true story of Martha Berry, a young, wealthy southern heiress who gave up the luxurious life to bring education to the under-privileged children of the Appalachian mountains.  James Dean has a small part in the first 4 minutes of the half hour drama, playing her fiancé Bradford, whom she leaves behind.

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HERE’S A BRIEF CLIP FROM HALLMARK HALL OF FAME’S, FORGOTTEN CHILDREN:

NATALIE’S CRUSH

Natalie Wood

Natalie Wood

Natalie Wood began her acting career at the age of 4, and first gained notice in Miracle on 34th Street (1947) at the age of 8.  Of her 56 films, the best acclaimed roles were Splendor in the Grass (1961), West Side Story (1961), Gypsy (1962), Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), and most famously opposite James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1955).  She received an Academy Award nomination for her work in Rebel.

Natalie had a school girl crush on James.   She was 17 and attending Van Nuys High School.  She aggressively campaigned to win the role in Rebel, which she knew would transition her career from child star to a serious adult actress.

“Dean is the current rage at school and my popularity has zoomed one-thousand percent ever since the kids read that I would be working with him.”

Natalie Wood

Her Rebel co-star Sal Mineo recalled, “He was all she could talk about.  Every night for weeks in a row, she went to see East of Eden–she must have seen it over 50 times.  She even taught me to play the theme song from the picture on the piano.”

In press interviews she gushed, “He’s just pulsating.  Jimmy generates theatrical electricity.  Anyone playing with him can’t help but feel his tempo and drive.  Even if Jimmy doesn’t have a line to speak, I feel like he’s talking to me.  I can tell by the way he looks, the movement of his hands, the slight motion of his facial muscles.  I’ve never felt so excited with an actor as I do with Jimmy.”

Natalie was chosen to accept the posthumously-awarded best actor Audience Award from the Motion Picture Organizations for James Dean in 1955.  In her speech she said, “All of us were touched by Jimmy, and he was touched by greatness.”

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HERE’S A FEW CANDID AND BEHIND-THE-SCENES PHOTOS OF JIM AND NATALIE ON THE SET OF REBEL:

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THE RECIPES

HERE’S MY LATEST VIDEO…HOPE YOU ENJOY!

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Steve Allen at Fairmount High School in 1956. (photo courtesy of David Loehr)

Steve Allen at Fairmount High School in 1956.
(photo courtesy of David Loehr)

The sound track contains 2 versions of Steve Allen’s Gravy Waltz ( the first performed by him, the second with Lauren Lucille executing a masterful rendition of the lyrics).  Steve wrote those lyrics and won a Grammy for it in 1964.  He was a fan of Dean and produced an album and a TV special on the one-year anniversary of Dean’s death.  Here’s a photo that David Loehr of the James Dean Gallery recently shared from his personal archives…it shows Steve Allen in Fairmount, IN shooting interviews for the TV special.

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But back to the recipes…

I LOVE making homemade noodles and pasta (although I don’t seem to do it as often as I used to).  It’s a real treat!  Of course you could serve Natalie’s stroganoff on store-bought noodles…but there’s a real satisfaction that comes from making your own.  I always double (or even triple) this recipe (although I didn’t for the video).  Plan you noodle making for a day or more ahead…it is a lot of work (the rolling-out part, anyway) and  be sure tomake plenty extra.  Homemade noodles were once a way of preserving eggs.  The dried noodles only need to be bagged or stored in an airtight container.  The fresh noodles can also be frozen (don’t just refrigerate them, it tends to make them gummy and tough).

Cloris has several GREAT suggestions for the use of her noodles that are detailed in the Recipes for Rebels cookbook.  She has been vegetarian since the age of 35, and one of our favorites around the household is her “Bohemian” noodles where she tosses them with cottage cheese.  It’s perfect for those days when you just need something sort of plain, unchallenging, and comforting.

CLORIS LEACHMAN’S HOMEMADE NOODLES

Click to view larger.

Click to view larger.

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NATALIE WOOD’S BEEF STROGANOFF

Click to view larger.

Click to view larger.

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Natalie was once quoted as saying, “If I don’t learn to cook, maybe I won’t have to!”  This is ironic, since she was prolific with recipes in the celebrity columns of the era, and her children claim she was a very competent cook.  Natalie was of Russian heritage, so I strongly suspect this recipe might have been from her mother.  A family favorite that is sure to become one of yours too (it certainly has at our house).

I did a vegetarian version for the video, but the original meat version works exactly the same…just needing an extra hour of stewing time.

 

Thanks for reading!

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