In ten years of marriage, my husband and I have established a tradition of hosting a few annually recurring events. For many years, one of these was our yearly Hitchcock Movie Night. Every October we’d gather with a handful of friends to eat spooky treats and watch some of Hitch’s classics–Rope, Rear Window, Vertigo, Frenzy, and others. Having gone through quite a bit of the Hitchcock catalog by now, this year we thought it would be fun to switch things up a little. Recently we realized that several seasons of The Twilight Zone are on Netflix. Anthony grew up watching The Twilight Zone, but I’m a relative newbie (though I did see the Talking Tina episode as a child and was SCARRED). So we figured a Twilight Zone episode viewing night would be an interesting diversion from the lengthier Hitchcock movies–and it was! Unfortunately, due to the cold and flu season that seems to have started way earlier than usual (which almost sounds like the premise of a TZ episode), there were only a total of five of us that night, but hey, our couch isn’t that big anyway. I made some campy decorations, a few creepy desserts and some mildly alcoholic cider punch, and we were good to go. My best friend Joy and I even spent the couple of weeks before the party writing and filming our own 4-minute Twilight Zone episode, which I wish I could show you here, but Blogger tells me it’s too large to post. Waaaahhhh.
Anyway, here’s a rundown of the details of the evening in case you ever get the hankering to host your own homage to the uncanny in glorious black and white.
When it comes to party decorations, my motto is “When in doubt, go to Michael’s and go crazy with patterned paper.” If you noticed the picture above, you’ll see I am dead serious. To set the dichromatic tone, I made a couple of signs featuring the tagline from the Twilight Zone intro: You have now crossed over into…The Twilight Zone. I printed this sentence off an image on the internet, cut it out, and pasted it onto some snazzy black-and-white paper and boom, instant Twilight Zone party decor.
Next, rolling along with the patterned paper, I embraced my inner pennant fetish by making a black and white banner to hang over the food.
Speaking of the food…
Mother-of-mercy-what-is-that-terrifying-creation, you ask? Oh, just a pair of baby arms reaching from the grave, nothing to be alarmed about. Actually, it’s supposed to be baby arms reaching up from a garden bed….which was the premise of the episode my friend Joy and I wrote and filmed. (Now you really want to see it, right?) So these peanut butter frosted, graham cracker topped brownies were a delicious little tie-in with our project.
Loooooook into my coooookie. Our second sweet something was another visual to match the Twilight Zone theme. Even though I haven’t seen all that many TZ episodes, one image I associate with the show is a spinning black and white spiral. To me, these chocolate-orange pinwheel cookies looked just like an edible version of it. I used this recipe for chocolate orange cookies, and then, instead of mixing the chocolate and orange doughs, I kept them separate and rolled them out to two rectangles of the same dimensions…
laid one on top of the other…
chilled for awhile, then rolled the whole thing up…
sliced, and baked as directed.
Definitely a winner of a cookie I will repeat next Halloween!
In addition to our sweet treats (and some popcorn to round out the movie night menu) I made a pitcher of this chilled spiced rum and cider punch.
If I had my way with October in Phoenix, we’d be able to drink our cider hot, but the sad truth is that it was 95 degrees the day of this party and I didn’t want our guests sweating to the point of sliding off our leather couch. So chilled cider it was! I added a cinnamon stick or two and about a teaspoon of whole cloves to give it a little extra spice.
Last but not least, I would be remiss if I didn’t share the diverse mix of Twilight Zone episodes that made the party memorable:
1. The Fever: Franklin Gibbs believes gambling is an inexcusable vice…until he tries it.
2. What You Need: A man has the mysterious ability to give people exactly what they will need in the near future.
3. Living Doll: Little Christy’s doll Talking Tina has a mind of her own…and she’s prepared to use it.
4. Terror at 20,000 Feet: William Shatner stars as a man flying home after 6 months in rehab for a mental breakdown. Is he really cured?
5. Walking Distance: A very unusual, meditative episode about the transience of life and holding on to the good.
Though our party was almost two weeks ago, I’ve continued to ruminate on these episodes. The Twilight Zone continues to be a thought-provoking show, even 50 years after its air time. Thought-provoking enough, in fact, to consider having another party next year!
Here in the Phoenix area, it’s inevitable–every winter, some friend or neighbor WILL give you a giant grocery bag of extra citrus from their tree. There are just no two ways about it. It goes along with living in the Valley like getting used to the idea of scorpions and thinking of 87 degrees as normal October weather. It’s a blessing and a curse. But if you like citrus like I do, mostly a blessing. Every season when the bag shows up in my home, I engage in a frenzied scouring of the internet to determine how I will use up a gazillion oranges/lemons/grapefruit before they all go bad.
This year my citrus grab bag included quite a bit of grapefruit. Last year when this happened, I made several loaves of grapefruit bread (which surprisingly ended up being the hit of a bridal shower I threw–who knew?), ate grapefruit halves broiled with brown sugar (meh–okay), and made one heinously inedible grapefruit-tofu stir fry. (Please DON’T. EVER. TRY. THIS.) This year I went straight to Martha Stewart, remembering a grapefruit granita of hers I also made last year. Yeah, so I made a lot of grapefruit…it was a weird time in my life.
Anyway, one of Martha’s 30 grapefruit recipes (or should I say her staff’s 30 grapefruit recipes–no one in their right mind has 30 grapefruit recipes of their own) sounded intriguing. Warm Grapefruit Tea. I figured this must be an infusion of a regular tea with grapefruit juice. Nope. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a recipe for how to make hot grapefruit juice. There is no tea involved.
Well, like I say, I was intrigued. Reviewers raved about it, and I judge a lot by reviews–and who am I kidding, I have like 9 freaking grapefruit to get through! Throw me a bone here! Plus, as mentioned in previous posts, I do enjoy the element of surprise and/or trying something new when it comes to cooking. So I went for it. You’ll never guess…
It was amazing!
It really does taste like tea, but like the most refreshing hot tea ever. And with cold and flu season upon us, it certainly can’t hurt to get some vitamins and antioxidants in a new and unique way. Grapefruit is loaded with Vitamin C, as you may have guessed, but what you might not know is that it contains lycopene, the same antioxidant found in tomatoes (makes sense when you realize their flesh is in the same color family of pink/red). Grapefruit also contains plenty of Vitamin A and has a low glycemic index, which has been indicated in weight control and disease prevention.
Now what to do with all those oranges…
Warm Grapefruit Tea
(Adapted from Martha Stewart)
Juice from 2 large pink or red grapefruit (about 2 cups)
2-4 Tbsp. honey
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp. whole allspice or cloves
1/2 c. water
In a medium pot, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat. Strain and discard solids and enjoy carefully–it will be very hot!