I couldn't help but talk about this today. My family and I went to see the new movie version of Les Miserables on Christmas night. You must go! You absolutely must go and see this! A story of Jean Valjean, a french man who was sent to prison for stealing a loaf of bread so his sister's child would not die of starvation. Bitter? You bet he was! But this story shows the struggles of mankind to maintain faith and hope in a world that is not always kind. It's the end of another year and we are all reflecting and resolving - just like the characters in this song. Some are resigned, some are resolute, all are reflective. I love how the New Year celebration embraces both sides - the outgoing as well as the incoming. You might be looking for something to add to your celebration party so, in the spirit of the Thenardier's - "here a little dip, there a little touch" - I have come up with a Warm & Creamy Crab Dip. It doesn't take much time at all to prepare - so you'll have plenty of time to go see the show!
I am a HUGE Les Miserables fan - thanks to my Great Aunt Gwen. She was coming out to visit us one summer about 20 years ago and heard that the stage production would be in town while she was there. She asked if I had ever seen it. I hadn't. Had I read the book - she asked. I hadn't. tsk,tsk She had been a school teacher before retiring. An educated mind was important to her. She said that she wanted very much for me to see it and would provide the ticket but hinted (strongly suggested) that I read the book before I see the musical.
Luckily, I headed straight out and got a copy of the book. I say luckily because it's a very long story - even the unabridged version. Being a mother of five young children, it was going to take me awhile to get through it. Or would it?
Victor Hugo, the author of the novel on which the play is based, can be a wordy guy. I think he took several pages to describe a leaf. I almost gave up. But I didn't! Soon I was pulled into this world of Jean Valjean, The Bishop of Digne, Javert, Fantine, Eponine, Cosette, Marius, the Thenardier's. My kids could tell I was lost in another world but they were miraculously fine with it - almost as if they knew that I was about to bring something noteworthy to the family.
Each evening I tucked them into bed and went straight to my book. I read and read and read.
In the morning, as I fixed them breakfast and we ate together, they asked me about what had happened in the story. Each morning I was able to catch them up on the happenings of these memorable characters. Bless their little hearts! They sat transfixed as I related the story to them in these daily doses. They'd ask their questions, I'd try to answer them in words they could understand. Indeed, Les Miserables captivated our whole family. My oldest son read it on his own by the time he was 12 years old - and could intelligently discuss it if asked.
I eventually went out to buy the soundtrack so I would be familiar with the music when I went to the play. I was amazed at how well the music and lyrics captured the essence of the story. It was a spiritual experience for me.
When my aunt came, she provided the babysitting while my husband and I attended the play. I had never experienced ANYTHING like the moment when Jean Valjean sang "Bring Him Home." I was a blubbering fool. And I have blubbered each time I have seen this production. And I am not alone according to the amount of sniffling I hear around me.
In a nutshell, Les Miserables, is a story of mercy and kindness and integrity overpowering hatred, bitterness, and injustice. Redemption wins over revenge. It's all about our choice of how we will react to the unfair and unkind actions of others. It's about how even one simple act of tender mercy towards another can bring about a change in a heart for forever - and then ripple on and on and on . . . .
Warm & Creamy Crab Dip
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 oz. swiss cheese, shredded fine
1/3 c. mayonnaise
2 green onions, sliced thin
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 roasted red pepper, diced, about 1/4 c. (I used store-bought)
1 t. Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 t. salt
1 - 6 oz. can of lump crab meat, drained and checked for cartilage pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, stir together the cream cheese, 2/3 of the swiss cheese, and mayonnaise until well blended. Add the sliced green onions, diced celery, diced roasted red pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, and the salt and stir to blend well. Fold in the crab meat. Coat a 2 cup serving dish lightly with cooking spray and smooth the mixture out into the dish. Top with the remaining 1/3 of the shredded swiss cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes until bubbly. If needed, turn on the broiler and toast the top until it is golden brown.
Remove from oven and serve warm. But it's also delicious cold! Serve with chips, crackers, or vegetables!
*Special thanks to my daughter, Debbie, for catching a potentially hazardous spelling error BEFORE hitting the 'publish' button. An errant placed 'p' instead of 'b' in the title of the recipe could yield a completely different dish!