Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Making the World a Better Place Through Cookies (and Other Goodies)... The Food 'N Flix March Roundup: Stranger Than Fiction

It's always fun to host a Food 'n Flix event--getting to share a favorite movie and seeing what deliciousness the participants were inspired to make. Or in this case mostly bake. 

We certainly had a lot of baking going on for our March film, Stranger Than Fiction--starring Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, and Queen Latifah. (Check out my announcement post here for more details about the film.) For some this was a new-to-them movie and for others an old favorite--but it seemed that everyone enjoyed their viewing, the cast, and seeing Will Ferrell exercise his dramatic acting 'chops.'

Although not the foodiest of films, this quirky 2006 quirky comedy-drama-romance-fantasy film brought much of its inspiration from Ana's (Gyllenhaal) bakery and the famous 'cookie scene' where she explains to IRS Auditor Harold (Ferrell) how she quit law school to become a baker.

"I was barely accepted. I mean, barely. The only reason they let me come was because of my essay: "How I was going to make the world a better place with my degree."

And anyway, we would have to participate in these study sessions, my classmates and I, sometimes all night long. And so I baked so no one would go hungry while we worked. Sometimes I'd bake all afternoon in the kitchen, in the dorm, and then I'd bring my little treats to the study groups and people loved them.

I made oatmeal cookies... peanut butter bars...dark chocolate macadamia nut wedges, and everyone would eat and stay happy and study harder and do better on the test and more and more people started coming to the study groups and I'd bring more snacks and I was always looking for better and better recipes until soon it was ricotta cheese and apricot croissants and mocha bars with a almond glaze and lemon chiffon cake with zesty peach icing.

And at the end of the semester I had twenty seven study partners, eight Mead journals filled with recipes and a D average. So I dropped out. I just figured if I was going to make the world a better place I would do it with cookies."

I think the world is definitely a much better place with all of the cookies, cake, muffins, puddings and other treats created by the bloggers who took part in Food 'N Flix this month! 

For Cakelaw from Laws of the Kitchen, (joining in with Food 'N Flix for the first time this month!) it was a cake Ana created that inspired her. She says, "Lemon Chiffon Cake with Zesty Peach Icing stuck in my head.  How wonderful does that sound!  Accordingly, I hit the books to look for recipes for lemon chiffon cake and zesty peach icing. ... The resulting cake is like an enormous sponge, which tastes only faintly lemony.  For me, the highlight was the frosting, which lifted the flavour of the cake and had a distinct yet subtle peach flavour."  

Ana's Dark Chocolate Macadamia Wedges proved to be very inspiring with three of the group recreating this mouthwatering treat. It was fun to see three different takes on what this recipe might look like brought to life. 

Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla says, "Making the world a better place with cookies? Sounds like a plan. Everyone always smiles when they eat a homemade cookie, right?!? I watched that scene half a dozen times - making sure that I got all the cookies she named written down. Then I looked at the list and tried to figure out what I wanted to make. In the end, I picked her dark chocolate macadamia wedges. Mainly because I'd never make anything like them before.

Debra of Eliot's Eats made her Chocolate Macadamia Nut Wedges with semi-sweet chocolate and a shortbread crust. She says, "Well, I have to say that after watching Will Ferrell (in his first dramatic role), Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah, and Maggie Gyllenhaal (whom I all adore), I have a new favorite FnF movie." ... “Oatmeal cookies, peanut butter bars, dark chocolate macadamia nut wedges….ricotta cheese and apricot croissants, mocha bars with an almond glaze, lemon chiffon cake with with zesty peach icing.” Ana’s sultry sweet words inspired me."

Julie of White Lights on Wednesday joins the Food 'N Flix family for the first time this month. She says, "One scene I love in this movie is when Miss Pascal bakes cookies for Harold.  How a grow man has never had a home baked cookie is beyond me and makes me want to bake chocolate chip cookies for the world.  But I love the way she talks about how she baked for everyone in law school, and then she starts listing some of the goodies she would bring. And there it was – Dark Chocolate Macadamia Wedges. I had to make them. ... These cookies are crumbly and chewy and so decadent with little melted pockets of dark chocolate and just a little crunch from the nuts.  They’re heaven. Just be sure to grab a glass of milk.  It will make the experience that much better".

Food 'N Flix founder and my pal Heather of girlichef made these irresistible Sweet & Salty Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies. Heather says she toyed with making one of the sweet treats from Ana's list, "But in the end, I couldn't resist a good old comforting chocolate chip cookie, like Ana makes for Harold after a rough day (she made sure of it) of auditing. This is a great scene; one of my favorites of the film. It's the scene that really starts to soften Harold, and perhaps help him to look at things in a different light. And really, who can resist warm gooey cookies fresh out of the oven, with a glass of cold milk? Not I."

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor brings two different baked goods to the party, Peach Jam Bars and Chocolate Chip Cookies. She says, "Maggie Gyllanhaal plays Ana Pascal, a baker who changes Crick’s life. One of my favorite scenes…Harold brings Ana flours....The movie is peculiar and strange yet you want to know what will happen to Harold and Ana and the other characters. There is also a good scene where Ana makes cookies for Harold...but he doesn't want to accept them. "How can anyone not like cookies?!"

Caroline of Caroline Makes says, "I love the idea of making the world a better place through baking, and I guess in some ways that's why I like taking cakes into work - it brightens everyone's day a little! Based on this exchange in the film I knew I had to make cookies for this month's Food 'n' Flix. ... The original recipe was called "peanut crunch cookies" as it uses crunchy peanut butter, but I used the smooth kind so I can't really keep that name! Instead I call these: Peanut Coconut Cookies. ... My favourite cookies were the ones with the Reece's Pieces peanut butter cups, as they add a little chocolate as well as the peanut butter and coconut flavour, though I also like the fact that these can also be vegan if you leave the candy out."

Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz says, "My inspiration for this month was off the menu board in the bakery the movie takes partly place in, I made Blueberry Banana Muffins. ... The food part in the movie is minor but they all take place in a bakery where Crick is auditing the owner and future girlfriend. I went with a couple of items that were on the menu board of the bakery. Actually I combined 2 muffin recipes into one. Hands down best muffins I have had in a long time.  I grossly mashed my bananas so you could still taste full pieces of the fruit when eating the muffins. he blueberries were unusually large too and this helped, they seemed to explode in the mouth."

Finally, here at Kahakai Kitchen, I was inspired by the green apples that appeared in the film, as when Harold carries one in his mouth on his daily run for the bus. Although I looked for an apple treat to bake, I ended up finding these Lemon Puddings with Granny Smith Apple Compote instead. Puddings, lemon, apple and caramel are some of my favorite foodie things, and the fact that they were all in this dessert made me happy. ;-) I also served these tangy and sweet puddings with cups of the "twig" tea that Ana offers up at the bakery.

Mahalo to everyone who joined in this month's Food 'N Flix: Stranger Than Fiction round! I drooled through this entire roundup. ;-) 

If you missed this month, join us for April when Heather of girlichef will be hosting your choice of the animated films Kung Fu Panda 1 and/or Kung Fu Panda 2.



  1. Whoa! What a roundup! All drool worthy creations. Off to visit you all now. You are an excellent host :-)

  2. Awesome roundup - so much fun! Deb, thanks so much for the off-the-wall pick and for hosting this month :)

  3. Fabulous round-up! I chuckled at the three dark chocolate macadamia wedges...they all look different! I'm sure everything tastes amazing. can't wait till next month's event.

  4. Great round up and thanks for picking a great film.

  5. Great minds think alike...right, Camilla and Julie. LOL. Seriously, though, these were all some truly inspired treats. Thanks for hosting, Deb.

  6. What a great roundup! Thanks for hosting and for introducing me to this terrific film.

  7. Thanks Tina! This was a fun one. ;-)

  8. Thanks for letting me host Heather! ;-)

  9. I loved how different each one was Camilla--the many moods of chocolate macadamia wedges. ;-)

  10. Thanks! I was happy to share this film with everyone. ;-)

  11. Thanks Debra--you truly were so great minds this month. ;-)

  12. Thanks Cakelaw--hope to see you in future rounds! ;-)


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