Disney Parks Chef Remy Ratatouille Plush

Ratatouille is a French Provençal stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice. Recipes and cooking times differ widely, but common ingredients include tomato, garlic, onion, zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper, and some combination of leafy green herbs common to the region wherein the dish is being prepared.

Check out the end of this post for an awesome ratatouille recipe! But before we get there, let’s meet one of the most famous chefs ever to prepare this dish. His name is Remy:

Plush and Perfectly Cute!

This plush comes from the Parks as a Theme Park exclusive. It is so soft and huggable and he looks awesome in his little chef hat, or toque blanche (“white hat”), if you’re truly French. Although it appears the term has an Arabic origin.

Remy has been scouting my kitchen for the perfect utensils and appliances to create his signature dish. But first, he made some coffee before selecting… a bread knife? Well, maybe he needs that for ratatouille, what do I know?

And now for the promised recipe for the perfect ratatouille, at least, according to Martha Stewart:

Ingredients

  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large eggplant (1 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 large yellow onions (1 pound total), diced large
  • 1 head garlic, cloves smashed and peeled
  • 2 bell peppers (any color), seeded and diced large
  • 2 large zucchini (1 pound total), diced large
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon fresh marjoram or oregano leaves
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

And now the three-step process to create the dish from those ingredients:

  • Step 1 – Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place tomatoes and juices on a rimmed baking sheet and use your hands to break tomatoes into 3/4-inch pieces. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and bake until thickened, 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Spoons down. Now we prepare more ingredients:

  • Step 2 – Meanwhile, in a colander, toss eggplant with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Let sit 20 minutes, then squeeze out excess liquid. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 4 tablespoons oil over medium. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until onions and garlic are soft, 5 minutes. Add peppers and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

How much salt and pepper? You’re on your own, chef!

  • Step 3 – Add tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bay leaf, and marjoram to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and cook at a gentle simmer until vegetables are tender but not mushy, 15 minutes. Season to taste with vinegar, salt, and pepper. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Not sure if you can pull this off? Here are a few tips from the Master:

Cook’s Notes

This recipe yields a batch big enough for these other recipes: Ratatouille with Pasta, Ratatouille and Baked Eggs, and Ratatouille Phyllo Wraps. It can also be served as a simple side dish or spooned onto toasted crusty bread. A-ha! That’s what Remy wanted the bread knife for!

Remy is known for thinking outside the cooking pot. Maybe this Ninja Air Fryer can be used to speed up the process and cut down on fattening oils?

Even though I’ve invited Remy into my home, he still hasn’t provided any dishes for my family to eat. What’s up with that? I’ve even taken to calling him my Little Chef, but apparently, he never liked that nickname! I guess it’s cereal for dinner again tonight.

Posted in Animation, Characters, Food, Kitchen, Merchandise, Pixar, Plush | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nostalgia Illustrated Magazine – The Pleasures of the Past

I’ve set the Wayback Machine to 1975 on a sweltering July day. It’s time to explore some of The Pleasures of the Past via the esteemed Nostalgia Illustrated magazine! Who’s ready for some dog-eared, yellowing, smelly fun?

This old magazine certainly has that vintage aroma. And it’s pages are filled with such old time delights as Marlon Brando, movie posters, King Kong, Fatty Arbuckle (apparently not the nicest of guys), the politically incorrect Charlie Chan, and a touch of Star Trek and Wurlitzers. But what we’re going to focus on is found on page 55: Four Cartoon Favorites.

But first, the cover:

July 1975 Issue for only $1.00

I pick things like this up if I see anything Disney or animated on the cover. The fact that it contained an article by one of my favorite critics was a bonus!

Leonard Michael Maltin (born December 18, 1950) is an American film critic and film historian. He has also authored several mainstream books on cinema, usually focusing on the aspects of history and nostalgic sentiments. He has contributed to many magazines and supplementals over the years, such as this one I found recently at a local antique mall.

Being as Nostalgia Illustrated has the word ‘nostalgia’ in the title, it probably shouldn’t surprise us that Mr. Maltin was tapped to provide an article! The article in question is entitled, as previously mentioned: Four Favorite Cartoons. For some reason, most of the images are out of sequence with the text of the story. Oh well. Editing is such a lost art!

I will discuss each character out of sequence with the magazine text so as to keep my comments with the relevant images.

Bugs Bunny: Maltin points out that Warner Brothers made their cartoons faster and funnier than Disney. This gave them their signature style. The characters were self-aware and often talked to the audience. I would say that Disney characters have a wider audience today than any characters created by Warner Brothers, but saying who’s are better? Now that’s a great way to start an argument!

Donald Duck: It may have all started with a Mouse, but it pretty much finished up with a Duck. Yes, Donald far outdid Mickey in both fan base and prolificity. Maltin mentions that it was his temper that put Donald over the top with audiences and Walt Disney had a new money maker!

Popeye the Sailor Man: This character got his start in comic strips before making the transition to animation in, of all things, a Betty Boop cartoon entitled (wait for it) Popeye the Sailor. He exploded in popularity with his gruff way and catchy theme song. And what’s with that green stuff? Nature’s steroid, I guess. Like all beloved characters, Maltin tells us that with time and studio changes, Popeye’s star power faded away. But the salty sailor is “still shown on television in testimony to (his) matchless humor and originality”.

Gertie the Dinosaur: Okay, you have to be an animation buff of epic proportions to know this character! Pioneering the combination of live-action and animation all the way back in the early 1900s, Winsor McCay gave life and personality to a megaton monster! Maltin postulates that the true legacy of Gertie is that she was first to make us believe in a character that didn’t exist at all. And she did it without speaking a word!

As always, the story is continued somewhere in the back

The page above lists a number of other cartoon characters that Maltin loves. Honorable Mentions, if you will. It should be fun to enlarge the page and see how many of them you remember. But be careful! Such an undertaking could make you feel really, really, really old.

Leonard Maltin at Walt Disney Studios

Leonard Maltin has been a noted Critic for decades and is closely tied to the Disney company, often appearing in promotional materials and as a host for various DVD extras and television specials. I do enjoy his take on all-things theatrical and especially like his coverage of animation history.

Now it’s time to close the magazine before I succumb to the overpowering stench of 45-year-old mold. Be thankful this blog isn’t presented in Smell-O-Vision!

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Walt Disney Showcase Collection: Canadian Mickey

Is there anything more Canadian than a Lumberjack? Maybe a beaver. A Mountie. A tuque. Hockey. Tim Horton’s. Okay, but a Lumberjack is up there! Maybe top three.

He’s a Lumberjack, and he’s Okay.

He sleeps all night and works all day!

These famous song lyrics apply to the rugged Canadian Lumberjack and the little, happy-go-plucky Mickey Mouse. I guess if you give a plaid shirt and an axe to just about anyone, they’re going to strike a pose and eventually attack a tree.

I think you’ll agree that no one makes Botanical assault look so stylish as does our Lumberjack Mickey:

For the non-Canadians among us, the red and white jagged-thingy’s along the base of the figurine are stylized Maple leaves, which are on the Canadian flag and a symbol of Canada itself.

You can see several Canadian symbols within this figurine. The tuque (a close-fitting knitted stocking cap) is pulled down firmly on Mickey’s noggin, and a smiling beaver (a large, semiaquatic rodent, Castor Canadensis, known for their long chisel-like incisors) is peeking out from behind Mickey’s left leg.

Disney Traditions is a line of merchandise by Jim Shore. They have a unique patchwork pattern with other stylized flourishes. This figurine is part of the Walt Disney Showcase Collection. It’s made in China for Enesco.

What else can I tell you about the Canadian Lumberjack? Well, let me break into song:

He cuts down trees, he eats his lunch,

He goes to the lavatory.

On Wednesdays he goes shopping,

And has buttered scones for tea.

No one ever said the Lumberjack was the most manly of men! For two other characters who may not exactly claim that title either, check out two more figurines I have from the Walt Disney Showcase Collection starring Lumiere and Cogsworth.

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Disney Store Minnie’s Box Lunches Snow Globe

Building a Building is a Mickey Mouse Short produced in 1933 by Walt Disney Productions and released by United Artists.

The Short depicts Mickey working at a construction site under the supervision of Peg-Leg Pete while Minnie Mouse is selling box lunches to the workers. Of course, poor Mickey gets into a fight with Pete and the usual mayhem ensues! The collectible I’m featuring in this post is from the Disney Store and shows the conclusion of the story:

Wow! Lunch and a Smooch!

Why are Mickey and Minnie getting so cozy on the cart? Because in the Short, Mickey is fired from the construction site, and then immediately goes into business with Minnie selling box lunches. So in one day Mickey scores a best gal and a lucrative business!

Promotional Poster

As we see in the poster above, at least Mickey did get to eat some lunch!

In the Short, Minnie’s wagon is pulled by none other than Pluto. When Pluto first appeared, he was Minnie’s dog and not Mickey’s. So to recap: Mickey gets the girl, a business, and a dog.

Disney Store Exclusive

We purchased this from the Disney Store many years ago for $14.50 CAN. If you read the ‘warning’ sticker, it sums up my philosophy about toys in general: Keep away from children! I know, I should learn to share.

Shake it Up

Mickey’s heart goes all aflutter when he gets a kiss from Minnie. So aflutter that it appears to burst out of his chest, multiply, and swirl around them! Weird.

I thought this was a nice twist on the traditional snow globe, having the floating particles be red hearts.

FUN FACTS: Building a Building was the 51st Mickey Mouse short film, and the first of 1933 and the second Mickey Mouse cartoon nominated for an Oscar. And it was pretty funny too!

Posted in Animation, Characters, Collectibles, Disney Store, Exclusive, Food, Merchandise, Shorts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Disney Mickey Mouse 2 Pack Silicone Trivets

What is a ‘trivet’? In olden times, it was an iron tripod placed over a fire for a cooking pot or kettle to stand on. Later, it became a small metal plate with short legs, especially one put under a hot platter or dish to protect a table. These would also be placed on a counter. But in modern times, metal is so passé! And legs on my trivet? No thank you! Give me a slab of silicone shaped like a piece of a mouse and I’m cooking with style.

Or better yet, make it two pieces of a mouse:

After all, I have more than one pot. Before we unpack our modern trivets, let’s have a look at the vintage versions:

TRI-vet = Three Legs
Still three legs, but now shorter

So later trivets were more portable and didn’t require any set-up. There were even fruit, plant, and animal-themed trivets:

Old School Owl versus New School Mouse

Okay, we live in the here-and-now, so let’s get our trivets unpacked and have a look at the modern way to protect our surfaces:

The Hidden Mickey head trivet provides about 8″ of surface area with the pants providing only about 6″. In my opinion I think these are not the best for their intended purpose. They have a raised ridge along the edges and are not solid rubber, but a pliable silicone. Maybe a heavy pot might heat and bend the trivet. Perhaps it would be better to use these for placing dirty spoons on between stirrings?

My wife noticed the care instructions: Spot clean only. So no putting them in the dishwasher or even submerging them in a sink full of soapy water to clean. A damp wipe only? Best not to get them too dirty, so my spoon idea may not be the best!

I’m amused by simple things and so found the pattern used on the back of the packaging to be a highlight of this product. Can you imagine this as wallpaper? Trippy!

Need a Disney-themed pot holder to lift that heavy pot from the stove to the trivet? No problem! Just check out my earlier post for a few suggestions.

Posted in Characters, Food, Home Decor, Kitchen, Merchandise | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pixar’s Little Green Men (LGM) Candle

Little green men, or LGMs, is the stereotypical terminology for extraterrestrials who appear as little humanoid-like creatures with green skin. According to Pixar, they also say “Ooooooooooh” a lot! It was actually in the 1950’s that little green men came into popular usage in reference to aliens as reports of flying saucers exploded across North America. But again, Pixar kicked it into high gear when, in 1995, they released the CGI masterpiece Toy Story. And the rest is little green history!

Merchandising has always loved LGMs. Marry an LGM to a Disney / Pixar project, and you get a merchandising storm! And out of the calm of that storm came an unusual… candle?

To Ignition… and Beyond!

Light it up! Our LGM seems quite chuffed with his flashy red and white rocket. However, in the movie, the LGM’s seem to ascend by means of another way. Namely: The Claw! I found a video that explains their fascination with this device. Perhaps you will find it illuminating:

Yeah, I have no idea what that was either.

Is he standing too close?

I understand that he needs to be up close and personal with the rocket to light the ignition fuse, but… isn’t that a little too close? I mean, LGMs aren’t known for fast running!

A damaged rocket… what could go wrong?

This candle stands at about 4″ tall and is made entirely of wax. So if I were to light it, I wouldn’t have it in my collection for very much longer.

Released in December of 2009, this could have been to promote the original Toy Story movie or Toy Story 2 (1999) but not Toy Story 3 (2010) or any later installment of the franchise.

Not into candles? How about LGMs pretending to be other Disney/Pixar characters? It’s worth a click to check out the link!

Posted in Animation, Characters, Collectibles, Decor, Pixar, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vintage Cowboy Mickey Mouse Plush

The ‘Cowboy’ has been elevated to the status of the hero of heroes. Rugged and industrious, he rides the plains and herds of America. But what does a ‘Cowpoke’ do?

Before we answer that question, let’s meet one of the roughest, toughest, rootin’-tootinist ‘Cowpersons’ of them all:

Cowboy Mickey Wants a Hug

Well, maybe he’s one of them there New Age Cow Folk?

Now it’s time to answer the question: What is a Cowpoke? Please enjoy the following video as the one-and-only Eddy Arnold yodels us the answer:

I’ll never be branded
And never be broke
I’m a carefree range ridin’
Driftin’ cowpoke… 

Pretty sure that about sums it up! But to belabor the point, them that we is jawin’ about are hired hands who tend cattle and perform other duties on horseback. They can be called a cowboy, cowpoke, cowhand, cowherd, cowman, cowpuncher, puncher, cattleman buckaroo, just plain old buckeroo if you’re in California, or a vaquero if you’re in southwestern and central Texas.

Mickey is all duded up with a hat, bandana, gloves, chaps, and cowboy boots. And check out that monogrammed belt buckle!

Is this Cowboy from the East or the West?

Well, if he was rounded up in Disneyland, he’d be from the West. If he was corralled in Walt Disney World, he’d be from the East. But if he was shanghaied to China, he’d be from the Far East. Oh Mickey, how far you may have travelled! Your horse must be tired.

Mickey has played a cowboy / cowpoke many times over the years. Check out another post featuring Mickey in spurs by clicking the link. To conclude, I’ll leave you with a Cowpoke’s lament:

I ain’t got a dime
In these old worn out jeans
So I’ll stop eatin’ steak
And go back to beans.

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Sesame Street BERT Big Fig Statuette

Bert and Ernie are two Muppets who aren’t part of the Muppet cast of characters currently owned by Disney. They actually appear together in numerous skits on the long-running PBS/HBO children’s television show, Sesame Street. Jim Henson made sure to separate the Sesame Street characters from his other interests to ensure that they would always be available for use in children’s programming. Originally performed by Frank Oz and Jim Henson, the characters are currently brought to life by puppeteers Eric Jacobson and Peter Linz.

The original concept for the characters was to show that even though two people may have totally different personalities, they can still be the best of friends. Even live together!

A Face Only an Ernie Could Love

Bert is usually angry or frustrated with his buddy Ernie so it’s unusual to see him with such a big smile on his face. A typical sketch involves Ernie coming up with some far out idea or activity that Bert tries to talk him out of. This rarely works, usually getting Bert all frustrated, leaving Ernie dumbfounded by his reactions. Why can’t they just get along? Of course, this also describes most of the interactions between me and my wife, so who am I to judge?

Just Chillin’

Bert is a “hand rod puppet”, which means that while the puppeteer’s right arm is inserted into the head to control the mouth, the puppeteer’s left hand uses rods to control the arms of the puppet. However, it seems that the Big Fig version is able to stand all by himself, without any help.

Bert is about 18″ tall and skinny as a rail. He is quite heavy as he is a solid casting, and not hollow, as some statuettes are. Don’t let the hole in the base fool you!

This Big Fig was produced for the Sesame Workshop in 2007. I picked him up at a local charity shop for under $20.00 CAN.

FUN FACTS: Sesame Street premiered on November 10, 1969, with Bert and Ernie being two of only a select few Muppets to appear. Their sketch tested so well with audiences that it was decided to make Muppet characters a bigger part of the show. The rest, as they say, is history! And now we know who to thank for all those cherished childhood memories.

I have one other statue from this set: Super Grover! And unlike Bert, he’s cute!

Posted in Big Figs, Ceramics, Characters, Merchandise, Muppets | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hidden Mickey Hallmark Kitchen Spoon Rest

Sometimes the smallest things can be special. And so can the simply practical. Our kitchen has a few Disney-themed utensils and a small appliance or two. But we’re always open to adding a little more Disney Magic!

A recent trip to an IDA Pharmacy introduced us to a new line of Disney / Hallmark merchandise. Among it all was this porcelain spoon rest:

Who Said That?

The full quote which goes “If we can dream it, we can do it!” has often been attributed to Walt Disney himself. But did you know that he never said that? It was actually coined by Disney Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald for the Horizons attraction in EPCOT Center. The Quotable Walt Disney (published by Disney Editions in 2001) omits the quote altogether. Odd, if it was a famous quote from Walt. And the book Disney Trivia from the Vault by Dave Smith (published by Disney Editions in 2012. See page 243) tells us the truth in Tom’s own words: “I am very familiar with that line, because I wrote it!” He confirms that it was created for Horizons and concludes that it was “used in numerous ways, from dialogue in the ride to graphics.”

And now you know! So get out there and dream it. And then do it. Just don’t misquote it.

No-So Hidden Mickey Shape

The iconic shape has been called a Hidden Mickey, even though it is quite obvious and easy to recognize. But the original intention was for it to be a more subtle representation of Mickey Mouse inserted into the design of a ride, attraction, or a location in a Disney theme park. Now when we see the three familiar circles arranged just so, we call it a hidden Mickey, even though it’s no-so hidden!

Disney Store versus Hallmark

I’ve said this before but it bears repeating if you are an avid Disney collector: Hallmark has better merchandise than the Disney Store. There, I said it. And I’m not sorry! Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true, but it is safe to say that Hallmark is in it to win it. You can judge for yourself by checking out more Hallmark merchandise, two themed mugs and a platter, by clicking the link.

The only problem with buying a spoon rest for the kitchen is that you have to use it by cooking something. I knew there was a catch.

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EPCOT Center Eastman Kodak Information Wheel

There really is no end to the interesting pieces of ephemera that focus on the Disney properties. These little pieces of paper and card, meant to be viewed and then thrown away, endure in the hands of Disneyana collectors. Like me!

I got this particular oddity from a fellow collector who had received it during one of her visits to Walt Disney World in 1982. Let’s have a look:

Size – 6″ x 6″

This is made of a hard cardboard stock for the outer covers with a few gloss paper pages inside. It opens up like a flipbook. But the main feature that stands out is the wheel embedded into the back cover that can be viewed from two sides to reveal information about EPCOT Center and the full range of Kodak film products.

The next image gives us a glimpse at this feature:

Map Information Wheel

Note the reddish tab to the right that says ‘Spaceship Earth’. Now look left to read a tid bit of information about that attraction: “Trace man’s progress in communication from the dawn of civilization.” Now look to the bottom of the card and you’ll see an artistic rendering of the attraction itself with a number, in this case, the number ‘1’.

As we turn the dial, this is what we find:

2 – Communicore: Experience tomorrow’s ideas and inventions today

3 – Universe of Energy: Follow the energy story from the dinosaur to energy forms of the future

4 – Horizons: Determine your own future as you choose from four lifestyles of tomorrow

5 – World of Motion: Enjoy a moving presentation on the marvel of mobility

6 – Journey Into Imagination: Get a child’s-eye view of imagination and test your own creativity

7 – The Land: Discover the harvests of the future

8 – The American Adventure: The American spirit “brought to life” through dazzling special effects

9 – Mexico – Join in a fiesta of colorful crafts, food and fun

10 – China – See never-before-filmed views of China’s past and present

11 – Germany – It’s always Oktoberfest! The best of German fare and finery

12 – Italy – Re-discover the Renaissance in the elegant shops of Doge’s Palace

13 – Japan – Sample exotic taste treats. Take a fresh, new look at an ancient culture

14 – France – Enjoy French cuisine, crafts and culture

15 – United Kingdom – Gabled rooftops and a traditional pub in a typically British setting

16 – Canada – Discover the rugged spirit of the vast Canadian wilderness

Morocco (1984) and Norway (1988) are missing, of course, as neither of these pavilions were part of the World Showcase of Nations in 1982. As you turn the wheel you can match the numbers of the various attractions to the map attached above.

World Showcase

The next spread of the information guide gives a more detailed listing of stand-out features from each Land. It’s fun to read through the list and see which ones are now defunct!

Future World

Flip up the page and now we are treated to a similar spread about Future World. It’s filled with details about what one can expect while exploring the various sections of this futuristic landscape.

Information

Flip again and find a spread about the various pieces of information you may need to make your visit a fun and safe one.

Turn the Wheel of Film

The back cover has the other side of the Wheel of Information (as I’ve come to call it). This time you go from A to H on a journey of discovery into the amazing products offered by our sponsor, Eastman Kodak. Each and every one of these fine offerings can still be found today… at your local Antique Mall.

One thing that stands out is that you could borrow a new camera absolutely free from the folks at Kodak! Yes, just walk up and a Kodak disc camera or Kodamatic instant camera would be placed into your sweaty little hands. But you had to buy your own film. But the advice was free and available from the experts hanging out at the Journey Into Imagination pavilion.

This information guide was compliments of the Eastman Kodak Company. This post is compliments of Dis-Lee and the blog. For more offerings from Kodak, check out this 1987 Souvenir Guide from Disneyland. Our guest contributor, Nick, shared it with us from his personal collection.

Posted in Advertising, Ephemera, Photography, Theme Parks, Travel, Walt Disney World | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments