April 07, 2011

This Week's Line

This Week's Diva, Murderpanties Edition
Many a writer -- particularly a crime writer -- has taken inspiration from real life. Rarely, however, does real life follow the writer. Especially when there's no sign that the person living out the novels has ever read them. Such it was with Anjette Lyles, a 1950s murderess whose story was 40% Mildred Pierce and 50% The Postman Always Rings Twice.

But, anyway, to the all-too-true story of Ms. Lyles. She was a vivacious n' fetchin' Southern belle in Macon, Georgia. Her first husband owned a popular local cafe, a place as well-known for it's outgoing proprietress as its food. The talkative, buxom Anjette loved the business, the people, the attention, the money.

But her husband didn't: He sold the diner... and then became suddenly, horribly, violently, fatally ill. Soon after the restaurant re-opened, now re-named Anjette's, with the widow putting on a brave, even smiling face as she served her customers. And the lovely lady wasn't the restaurant's only attraction, There was also the location near the courthouse and county buildings, which brought in a steady stream of policemen, prosecturors, judges and jurors, none of whom suspected a thing. (In this aspect, she was also a bit like Bonnie Parker, another courthouse diner waitress whose seemingly golden heart shielded a less charming nature.) When Anjette began keeping company with a dashing young pilot who frequented the restaurant, everyone was delighted and, i'm sure, gossiped about it in the nicest way possible. Within a few months, Anjette and Buddy were married. Within a few more months, Buddy was dead. Not long after, Anjette's mother-in-law shuffled off this mortal coil as well.

But still, no one wondered about any of it. Bitch must've made one hell of a cup of coffee. Then one of her daughters took ill and was hopspitalized. The child seemed to rally and was taken home. The family received an anonymous letter warning that the child was in danger and Anjette was shopping for tiny coffins but, well, who wants to get involved? The child died soon afterward and, finally, someone thought that after four deaths of people in close proximity and four big insurance payouts, well, maybe we should look into this....?
Anjette was found guilty of murder in the first, but authorities declared her insane, specifically paranoid schizophrenic, thus avoiding the death penalty. She died in prison in 1977. But was she really insane? She claimed to "see" angels and demons and hallucinate. Which brings me to that 10% i left unaccounted for earlier: It's straight-up voodoo! No, for real, not only bumping people off, but burning black candles and stabbing voodoo dolls while totin' a Bible type of stuff!
Then, of course, it is also rather like the end of the original story of Double Indemnity, where Phyllis has actually bumped off a few other people besides her husband (annoying older relatives, first wives, babies... the usual) and dresses up in some bizarro red cloak of death before she and Walter Neff committ double suicide on a freighter bounds for the Far East... yes, I know, very different from the movie. But even Cain himself acknowledged that Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler's ending was better and if it's good enough for him.... I'm sure even he would admit he sometimes wrote a bit on the operatic side....

wonder woman stella stevens.jpg

This Week's Catfight
Thanks to the Las Vegas/Clark County Library District, i have the first two seasons of Wonder Woman spinning through my DVD player. Its magic is vast, too much to go into here. But suffice to say the pilot has this climactic brawl between Lynda Carter's All-American Amazon and Stella Stevens' Nazi Bitch. Stevens launches the throwdown by announcing that "I don't need a gun to defeat you, Wonder Woman: I was Nuremburg judo champ!" And it. Is. On.

This Week's Recipe... Recipes
I made these for a Beyond the Valley of the Dolls screening a while back, having people over always being a good excuse to finalize one’s recipes. Or vice-versa. Anyway, sliders. While i’m not crazy about the weird way the American food landscape is becoming obsessed with the gigantism of the quadruple Whopper and the six-pound burrito, neither does the corresponding teenytude of mini corn dogs, personal pizzas and tapas. Sliders, however have their uses. First, as a New Yorker, I’ll always have a soft sport for the White Castle. Also, sliders can be a good way to experiment with flavors and toppings that might be too overpowering in a full-sized burger. Hence, the recipes below. Layering ingredients above and below the patty as it’s done here helps the burgers remain properly aligned. I also strongly suggest using toothpicks to spike the little suckers together -- just make sure enough toothpick stick out that people don't eat them by accident. Better safe than sorry. Live and learn. Whatever.

Italian Slider
½ lb. ground beef
½ lb. Italian-seasoned ground turkey
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. black pepper
12 dinner rolls
4 oz. Mozzarella cheese
3 slices pancetta
2 Roma tomatoes
6 large fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1. Mix together the beef and the turkey with the garlic powder, oregano and pepper. Make sure you mix the meats thoroughly -- with the little patties, you cannot have the big separate chunks. If you need a food processor, use it. I probably would if i had one. Shape into small patties about 2-3 in. across and 1 in. thick.
2. Cut the mozzarella into slices slightly smaller than the patties. Cut the pancetta into slices about 1 in. wide and 3 in. long. Tear or roughly chop the basil leaves into somewhat smaller bits, but not so small that they just float way. Maybe you can get some of that microbasil stuff. That would be optimum.
3. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet to medium-high heat and cook the patties. Turn once, should be about 4-5 minutes for each side. Say, put on earrings and pour yourself another glass of red wine timing. Put the mozzarella slices on the patties after you turn them. Remove from pan.
4. Assemble the sliders. Put a slice of Roma tomato on the bottom bun, then the patty with mozzarella on top, two pieces of pancetta, then a few slivers of basil and a splash of balsamic. If you can lay hands on some tomato chutney or relish, you can put that on somewhere, or if you want to ketchup it, do that now because there's no adding condiments once they're assembled. Position the top bun. Consume.


Elvis Slider
1 lb. ground beef
12 dinner rolls
6 slices center-cut bacon
3 ripe bananas
2 tbsp. flour
¼ tsp. salt
¾ c. peanut butter

1. Season the ground beef with salt and pepper, maybe a dash of chili and/or garlic powder if you're nasty. Shape into small patties about 2-3 in. across and 1 in. thick
2. Cook the bacon and drain, reserving the grease. Cut each slice into 3 pieces.
3. Cut the pointed ends off of each banana and cut into four pieces. Using the bottom of a coffee cup or the palm of your hand, flatten—it’s okay if they go sideways or whatever, so long as they’re fairly flat and basically in one piece. Sprinkle the banana slices with flour and salt.
4. Heat up a little of the bacon grease in a heavy frying pan. Cook the bananas on medium heat until browned on both sides, about 8 minutes, turning once. (Think of it as singing "Suspicious Minds," flipping the burger, then singing the "Trouble"/"Guitar Man" medley from the '68 Comeback Special. Remove from pan and set aside.
5. Turn the pan up to high-medium heat and add a little more bacon grease. Or a little more than a little more, your sliders, your aorta... Cook the slider patties, turning once, for about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let rest briefly.
6. Assemble the sliders: Put a swipe of peanut butter on the bottom bun, then a piece of bacon, then the patty, a piece of banana, another piece of bacon, another swipe of peanut butter and the top bun. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Posted by lissa at April 7, 2011 11:32 PM