"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Soup of the Week & The Office: Back from Vacation

This is one of my favorite soups. With just a few ingredients, it's ready in no time.

Louisiana-Style Taco Soup

1 pkg (8 oz) red beans and rice mix
1 pkg (9 oz) tortilla soup mix
1 lb ground beef
1 cup salsa
1/4 cup sour cream

Prepare mixes according to package directions. Meanwhile, cook beef; drain. Stir in salsa and the prepared rice and soup. Cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until heated. Garnish with sour cream.

Note: I used Zatarian's New Orleans-Style Red Beans & Rice and Bear Creek Tortilla Soup mix.

The Office: Back from Vacation

Is there any doubt that this is the best sitcom on TV? Not only is it funny, but there are some great stories with hellacious plot twists. Witness this episode, which dealt primarily with Michael returning to the office after a vacation in Jamaica. Michael revealed that he did go to Jamaica with Jan. Not only did she go with him, but let's just say they "bonded" down there.

At the same time, we saw Karen and Jim having their first fight when she says that she wants to rent an apartment two blocks from where he lives but he feels that she is practically moving in with him. It seems strange that Jim is acting this way, especially since he seemed to have rebounded so quickly from his rejection by Pam.

Anyway, back to Michael. When he first got back to the office, he was definitely in a giddy mood. Playing a steel drum and singing "Hot, Hot, Hot" and wanting to have an "Inventory Luau" certainly seems festive, don't you think? He gets the Party Planning Committee on the case, but you just knew that it wouldn't stop there. He just had to share his pictures of Jan in a skimpy bathing suit with someone, and he thought he was just sending an e-mail to his pal Todd Packer. Of course, as is his wont, his enthusiasm and braggadocio get in the way and he mistakenly e-mails it to the "Packaging" department, and quickly the picture makes the rounds in Scranton.

Meanwhile, Pam surprisingly counsels Jim about his dilemma with Karen and says he should not be so concerned about her move. Jim readily agrees, but the ever-so-subtle look on her face made me think that she was disappointed that Jim was so quick to agree with her.

Of course, pandemonium occurs over the picture of Michael and Jan. The warehouse guys have blown it up into a huge poster despite Dwight's "search-and-destroy" mission for Michael. In addition, Michael seems to be genuinely remorseful over what he's done, and when Jan finally shows up at in Scranton to speak to Michael, the forlorn look on his face made you think he was about to get the axe.

Next come two pretty incredible plot twists. First, we see Pam upset and crying. It wouldn't be a stretch to think that maybe she blew it with Jim, and her new found independence isn't making her any happier. But shockingly, the person that offers her comfort is Dwight! Who'd have thunk it! He actually acts like a human being concerned for her, but of course he has to throw it all away when he thinks she might be PMS'ing. Too bad. It would have been very interesting if Dwight had been a real comfort to her and offered his friendship.

Not surprisingly, the shocker of all shockers is that Jan is in love with Michael, despite her admissions of self-destructive behavior. But, she says even though he's wrong for her, she wants to be with him. (Cue "If Loving You is Wrong, I Don't Want to Be Right"!) After a passionate kiss and her telling him to meet her at his condo later, he tells her "You complete me." Brilliant!

At the end, Roy and Pam share a joke over their scuttled honeymoon plans, but I just don't think he will be successful in winning her back. I just get the feeling that Pam will try to win Jim's heart, but I'm not sure she's going to do anything that drastic. We'll see what happens.

As I mentioned earlier, this was just a terrific episode. Well written, well acted, and had you begging for more at the end. What more can you ask for?

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