By Gini Rainey
Well, here we are only two weeks away from Christmas, and in the final throes of watching Christmas movies. Well, unless you’re a Cowboy fan, and then I would imagine you have that on your TV right now, instead of the Hallmark Channel. I don’t know about your house, but here at ours, we have a nice supply of Hollywood’s best in Christmas movies, among which are approximately 7 different variations on A Christmas Carol, not including Bill Murray’s “Scrooged,” or my friend, Nathan Granner’s “A Christmas Carol – Deluxe Edition” audio album that has him reading and singing his way through Dicken’s timeless tale of the miserly miser.
If you are as much a fan of Christmas movies as we are, you really need to get your hands on “The Dead Celebrity Cookbook presents Christmas in Tinseltown” by Frank DeCaro, a follow-up to his international best seller “The Dead Celebrity Cookbook.” This book, published in 2012 by Health Communications, Inc., is filled not only with some great celebrity recipes, but is a veritable cornucopia of information about vintage Christmas movies and the folks who starred in them – along with some of their favorite recipes. Although all the recipes sound really great, the trivia behind the movies is among the best.
Among all of the trivia in this book, you might find it interesting to know that Boris Karloff gave the voice to the Grinch in “Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” If you’re a fan of Barbara Stanwyck, you might enjoy “Christmas in Connecticut,” in which she plays a food columnist who gets herself into a jam. Of course, what’s this season without a visit to “White Christmas” the movie that sky-rocketed Bing Crosby to fame, while his rendition of Irving Berlin’s song by the same name sold over 100 million copies world-wide. If you haven’t seen “Holiday Inn,” you should take a couple of hours to watch this classic that stars Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby. Did you remember that William Frawley (Fred Mertz on “I Love Lucy”) was in “Miracle on 34th Street?” I sure didn’t, but if you want to go back to believing in Santa Claus, this movie starring Frawley, along with Natalie Wood, Maureen O’Hara, and John Payne just might do the trick. I could go on and on about all of the neat tidbits in this book, but perhaps you should pick up your own copy and read them for yourself.
Of course, who can talk about Christmas movies without bringing up “It’s a Wonderful Life?” Donna Reed played Mary to Jimmy Stewart’s George like nobody’s business, which probably explains the relatively simple recipe of hers that is included in this book. Seems to me that something like this would appeal to just about anyone during this busy time of year. Donna’s recipe for Lemon Bundt Cake can be made ahead and frozen – now don’t we just love that idea? Preheat your oven to 325°, then mix the following together in the bowl of your electric mixer: 1 (18.25 ounce) lemon cake mix, 1 (3.4 ounce) box of instant lemon pudding, ½ cup of vegetable oil, 4 eggs, and 1 cup of water. When well-blended, beat on high speed for 4 minutes. Pour the batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan and bake for 50 minutes, then invert onto a rack to cool completely. Glaze with pourable icing or sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. Helpful AND tasty hint – for the icing glaze use lemon juice and powdered sugar for a bit of extra zing!
Oh, and in case you were wondering, my husband says “A Christmas Carol” starring George C. Scott, filmed in 1984 is the best version out there. Me? I really, really, really don’t care for the movie. Those ghosts scare the willies out of me!