Monday, April 2, 2012

Table Discussion - The Hunger Games

love coffeeWelcome to my virtual kitchen!!  
Pull up a bar stool and join in the discussion!!

Today I've brewed a delicious coffee - I've ordered Gevalia coffee in the mail for years (I heard it was "freshest" that way!) This Karoma Estate coffee from the Dominican Republic is absolutely amazing. You'll love it!!  It's very smooth with gentle depth, mildly acidic.

Karoma EstateAnd to go with today's discussion, I've baked fresh bread.

Have you made bread from scratch much?!  It's sensitive stuff. Even if you have a break-maker, it helps to know the character of bread as you add & adjust ingredients.  Unlike other recipes, bread recipes need to be adjusted based on weather, humidity, temperature, etc... so bread & I get along rather well. (If I have to follow a recipe exactly, I'm pretty much in trouble.)

Basic White Bread 
        1 cu.   warm milk (you can substitute water, but it must be warm - not hot, not cold, WARM!)       
2 T     honey or raw sugar or agave (sugar wakes up the yeast!)
  1 1/2 tsp   yeast

Let the first three ingredients sit while you prep the rest. Watch for the foaming that says you've awoken your yeast!!  (My kids love saying "yeast" - it is an entertaining word.)
        3 cu.   Flour  (half white, half wheat is Ok - all wheat requires more liquid and babysitting.)
        2 T     Oil
        1 tsp   Salt  (salt kills yeast if it comes in contact too early, but you need it for flavor & short-term preservation.)

If you have a bread machine, it's so easy to select a setting and walk away, letting your bread make itself. Smells so delicious!!!  If you don't have a bread machine, you mix these ingredients thoroughly with a bread mixer attachment or by hand (think: gently!) and let sit 'til it rises double in size. (1 hour-ish) You want the consistency to be slightly sticky and very soft.  Knead it (punch & roll & punch & roll vigorously lengthening the stringy fiberous yeastiness) and let rise again in a pan or rolls or something 'til double (1/2 hr-ish) and then bake 'til done... probably at 350-ish for 30-ish mins. It's done with the outside is crusty & the innards are not doughy.
Don't you love all my "ish"s?!  Usually I get into a lot of trouble in the kitchen for my "ish"s, but with bread, we get along very well.  My first rolls could not be broken open with a pick-ax, but bread treats most first-comers badly, so I kept at it.  Besides, they were hilarious to throw. They made a stupid smacking sound against the wall. Memorable.

Some imagination is required, but I think this is acceptable among book lovers, no?  You can whip up your own coffee & bread or just *deep breath* pretend... and on we go:

For discussion today, the most recent craze, The Hunger Games!

I made it to see the movie this past weekend.

I happened to see the movie with FOUR people who have NOT read the book (seriously?!) and then gathered to critique it with someone who had LOVED the book and had lots to say about the movie, too. All relatives, so I listened carefully.

What is most interesting to me is... I felt the same about the movie as I did the book - I love it and hate it at the same time. I haven't really heard that report - love/hate - and I've really kept hush about it... but my Dearest (Cool, Man) agrees with me on nearly every point. (So many reasons we got married!!) So, I told him I'd vent, which made him feel better!

Hunger Games is a great story. I was very happy with Katniss and I loved her actions and thoughts. Not only is she believable and logical, she's brave and fast. I really like her... in the movie, as in the book.

When my sis-in-law, Ang, burst out about how very much she enjoyed the entire series, we dug into WHY? I pointed out that Katniss has such limited choices. Her circumstances are so harsh and the just constrict tighter as the series progresses, Ang agreed - agreed enthusiastically. She likes that part about the series, whereas I squirm.  I don't like how Katniss embraces these limitations, her character changes under the weight of them. And although the progression is completely logical, it's very painful to watch. (I thought.)

Together?The other main difference between Ang & I (which my dear Cool, Man agrees with me on) is the difference between Peeta and Gail. One of the reviews I read, Tiffany @ Book Cover Justice, mentioned loud swooning tweens over Peeta. I watched with a silent bunch, which was nice, but I still struggle with Peeta.  (As in the book, so in the movie.)  It's just that,

Peeta's great but...

 * He grew up "soft" and "rich" even in such a poor district. (He knew how to make good bread, though. Hmmm...)
 * He says so little to Katniss before popping this "I've always loved you" thing, which to me is so lacking in backbone. How can he announce it to the world before he tells her?!
 * Then he continues his lack of communication, which is supposed to be ok because he's so darn NICE.
 * He can barely take care of himself in the game. His best skill is hiding.
 * And although he's very intelligent, he consistently defers to Katniss or Haymitch or whoever.  Even if his main motivation is to help everyone else, his laid-back approach at carrying out his plans always rubs me backwards.

Maybe it's simply that I like Gail better? "Simple" Ha!  Gail doesn't make great choices over time and Peeta proves wiser. Still... what Gail & Katniss have at the beginning of Hunger Games is to me sweeter than what Peeta and Katniss have by the end of the series.

In fact, the end feels like a strong dose of resignation to me. Like, "if the world's going to be this sucky... fine!" Like The Last Unicorn's sad contemplation over regret. *sniff*

And between the beginning and the end is a WHOLE LOT of me digging in my heels with a fading scream of "Nooooooooo....!!!!"

So I have two rather large questions.  And, of course you can vent about the movie or Peeta vs. Gail or whatever. In fact, if you reviewed the book or movie, add your link to it so we can come check it out!!  Plus... it's kind of fun to think of all the little things that had to be cut out of the movie just for time's sake.  Like the whole MUT thing wasn't expanded on as much, although, I didn't mind not seeing human eyes in those evil mut dogs at the end!!!

How do you feel about the sad side of the Hunger Games? 

On one level, there's the concept of kids killing other kids, which is plenty big. But on a deeper level, Katniss & her mom & other characters swallow the sadness with deep resignation. Do you feel this improves the story with added depth? Or does it bother you like it does me?

Do you enjoy the romance in the Hunger Games?

Do you like Peeta right from the beginning? Does it bother you that Katniss rescues him repeatedly? Or does that add to their relationship? Are you sad when Gail is so obviously left behind because of experiences? (Or am I presumptuous to say "obviously"?!) If you do love Peeta right from the start, what exactly endears you to him? And do you think Katniss is a character that would be attracted to that, too?

CoffeeI would like this to be an open discussion, so please be nice!!  Even if you want to strangle me for not tripping to get to Peeta!!  If you click the "subscribe by email" button by the comments, you can get all the comments in your in-box so you can follow along with other people's responses to your thoughts and respond again. If you post your own discussion, link back to let us know!!