On a quiet night-- rare for the last several weeks-- I alternated between tending a pot of Florentine Beef Soup with Barley and Vegetables (recipe below) and the television, where no satisfactory sports were playing.
So I thought, what's on regular TV these days?
On NBC, Chris Hansen and his Dateline crew were doing executions of pedophiles-- or I guess you could call it a sexual predator fishing show. Decoys posed as young teens online and gave sexual predators the opportunity to come to a house crawling with cameras and police. I kept thinking, "Is this real? Are those actors? Who would do this? Do predators think it's this easy to meet kids? And why do they make such dumb excuses when they're hooked?" I couldn't tear myself away. It was a surreality show.
(And, by the way, go here for an amazing short film on contemporary "beauty"-- thanks for the link from MLight)
Then on CBS, an episode of the Unit with that trustworthy man from the Allstate commercials playing a trustworthy commander of an elite squad of specialist soldiers fighting Middle Eastern types in the hills of Ventura County, California. Much of the show was taken up with a firefight in which a billion bullets were shot in order to knock down 25 extras. When one of the soldiers said, "They're in the wire!" I flashed back to the John Wayne film, The Green Berets, a positive movie about Vietnam.
Then, still on CBS, Mandy Patinkin was interviewing a Postmodernist Literature professor for her links to a mad bomber. I kept waiting for him to go up and down escalators saying that a certain pill could lower bad cholesterol and raise good. Then at the end, the Postmodernist Literature professor, who feels pity for the mad bomber because he mistakenly thinks he is her long-lost son, takes a bullet meant for him. Who says Postmodernists aren't compassionate?
So the night was, pun intended, all about "potboilers."
Florentine Beef Soup with Barley and Vegetables
2 lbs. chuck roast cut in small cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 1/2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
8 cups water
1 28 oz. can Furmano's Chunky Crushed Tomatoes with Garlic, Oregano and Basil
1 cup uncooked barley
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary or 2 tsp. dry
1 bay leaf
1 (16 oz.) package frozen Italian vegetables (broccoli, zucchini, carrots, Italian green beans, baby limas)
1 (8 oz.) package frozen petite peas
In large soup pot brown liberally salted and peppered beef in olive oil. Add onions and garlic, stir, and sautee until onion is limp. Add tomatoes, barley, rosemary, and bay leaf. Stir and incorporate. Add water while stirring mixture. Bring to boil, then simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally. Add frozen vegetables and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Serve with corn bread or polenta cakes and a hearty red wine.