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Dinner and a Movie

Martha Stewart Living, September 2007

Shortly after Lisa, Meg, Shelaigh, Sue, and I met at our sons' preschool, we established movie night, a weekly excuse to get out of the house for some much-needed adult time. Our boys have since grown up, but we still get together once a week -- and we now have the option of staying at home to share a meal and watch a film or an awards show. As always, we chat, eat, watch, and then chat some more.

Our gatherings are weeknight affairs, so when it's my turn to cook, I rely on a menu that can be prepared in advance and assembled at the last minute. I start each evening with an adult riff on popcorn and soda. The rest of the meal includes seasonal flavors; tonight, it's roasted pork with onion and carrots, fig chutney, beet salad, and stone-fruit cake. Everything is served buffet-style so we can settle on the sofa for dinner and Bernardo Bertoluccis 1900, a movie unlikely to play at our local cinema anytime soon.

Vanilla-Rum Colas
Spicy-and-Sweet Popcorn
Roasted Pork Tenderloin
Beet and Tomato Salad
Open-Face Plum Cake

Cook's Countdown
Up to a Week in Advance 
Make the fig chutney. Select and rent the movie.
Up to Day Before 
Roast the pork and vegetables. Roast, peel, and slice beets.
The Morning Of
Bake the cake.
Just Before 
Gather drink ingredients. Make the popcorn. Assemble the salad. Set out the pork, vegetables, and chutney.

Shopping List
6 red beets
4 to 6 ripe tomatoes
1 bunch small carrots, stems attached
1 medium onion
9 or 10 large black plums
5 ounces each dried Black Mission and Calimyrna figs
1 lemon
1 orange or 4 kumquats, or a combination
1 bunch fresh mint
Garam masala
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
2 cans or bottles (12 ounces each) cola
1/2 cup whole milk
2 pork tenderloins (1˙ pounds total)
1 bottle dark rum
1 bottle ruby or tawny port

Pantry Items
Unsalted butter
1 large egg
All-purpose flour
Baking powder
Granulated brown sugar or
light-brown sugar
Pure vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick and ground cinnamon
Coarse salt, table salt, and black pepper
Cayenne pepper
2 dried bay leaves
4 garlic cloves
Extra-virgin olive oil
Vegetable oil

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