Of Political Shootouts and Countless Betrayals.

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I don’t often Netflix and chill, but when I do, I do it for five hours straight. Nah, not really. I kind of did it for the entire day. The whole of a Saturday of one particular weekend.

To be honest, I rarely watch anything on Netflix unless it well and truly catches my eye. I think the only series I remember watching was The Mentalist. Other than that, it was just a quick glance or two at what my husband’s watching. Like Person of Interest.

Until Shooter USA came along.

Shooter is USA Network’s new conspiracy thriller based on the best-selling novel Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter, and the 2007 Paramount film with Mark Wahlberg at the helm. The TV series stars Ryan Phillippe and follows the journey of Bob Lee Swagger, a highly-decorated veteran who was living in exile until he was coaxed back into action to prevent a plot to kill the President. However, when Swagger’s former commanding officer Isaac Johnson solicits his expertise in a clandestine operation, Swagger discovers that he has been framed and must do everything in his power to protect his family and clear his name. – IMDB.com.

I recognised some of the A-listers in the series, apart from Phillippe himself, like Omar Epps (Isaac Johnson), Tom Sizemore (Hugh Meachum), Jesse Bradford (Harris Downey), and Josh Stewart (Solotov).

You can catch Shooter USA on demand on Netflix. Although critics were not so kind with their reviews, saying that the story was flat. I think the story is flat because it is overloaded with politics and the skewed views that the United States of America has on how political wars are carried out. It seemed as though that more often than not, the wars often start with two nations hurling abuse at one another before throwing soldiers into the fray.

Also, many of the episodes have what you call ‘fluff’, which is added to make the series look longer than it should be. For all you know, the scripts in some of the episodes were not even necessary, especially when Swagger had to meet with so many different people just to find out who framed him. So that could be why the critics didn’t have a good word to put in for it.

I didn’t get to watch the entire series from Episode 1 in Season 1 but it’s probably just a few that I missed. Even then, it was more than enough to get me hooked. Despite the negative reviews, it only took me the whole of Saturday from morning to night to finish both Season 1 and Season 2 of the series. Despite the overwhelming truckload of politics and scheming villains, I still found the series rather exhilarating. It kept me at the edge of my seat, constantly wondering if he would finally get to have his cake and eat it. That’s all I did on that particular weekend. I stayed rooted to my seat, eyes glued to the TV and I stopped only to use the toilet and have my meals.

To me, Ryan Phillippe was a poker-faced marksman, moving about with a deadpanned look and hardly a crease on his forehead when things went crazy. Of course, there will be some viewers who preferred Mark Wahlberg in the movie as he was good at showing different emotions for different scenes, compared to the expressionless Ryan Phillippe. I quite liked Phillippe, with his brooding good looks that were just as sultry as it had been when he was in the movie, Cruel IntentionsShooter USA left me yearning for more after each episode ended. Until I reached Episode 8, the last one for Season 2.

Turned out that the series was halted halfway into Season 2 due to a leg injury that Ryan Phillippe encountered, but viewers are promised a renewed Season 3; bigger, better and longer (with three extra episodes) Season 3. It was their way of replacing the two missing episodes from Season 2. Well, I’m certainly and definitely looking forward to it when it comes back to Netflix!

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A Hot Bowl of Hale and Hearty Goodness.

Person riding a bicycle during a rainy day. Photo by Genaro Ledesma from Pexels.

There are the days when it rains and rains and rains. 

Nonstop. A torrential downpour of tears from the heavens above. It can go on for hours and hours. Sometimes, it stops as soon as it started. But most of the time, it carries on for hours on end.

When it rains, it gets cold out there. The rain water is cold. The strong and howling winds that blow across the rooftops, trees, grass and road make it even colder.

It chills you to your bones even though you’re safely inside your own home.

There is no better way to counter the chattering of teeth, the shivering of your body, and the goosebumps on your skin than to fuel up on a hot, steaming bowl of tastebud-teasing tomato soup.

Seafood and pasta tomato soup, to be exact.

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A steaming hot bowl of seafood and pasta tomato soup.

Which I went wild with preparing on Saturday for our dinner.

A decadent concoction of fresh prawns, half a packet of chewy fish balls, dory fish, two cups of fusili pasta, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of tomato puree, minced onions and garlic went into the pot for this. Complemented with additional seasoning like salt and pepper, mixed herbs, garlic and pepper powder, a few pinches of brown sugar, and a dash of Italian white wine vinegar.

My husband said he’s never had tomato soup before and since this was his first time, I wanted to make sure my soup left him with a good first impression.

The preparation was really quite simple. There wasn’t much to do, save for cutting the fish into slabs and rinsing the fish balls. Other than that, all I had to do was open the cans of diced tomatoes and tomato puree, measure the amount of water and Italian white wine vinegar and gradually add what was necessary, stage by stage.

Of course, as with all recipes, it’s possible to get ahead of ourselves and use too much or too little of something. So I improvised as I went along. I reduced the amount of water so I could have the soup thicker and with more taste. I reduced the amount of salt as well, since the base of the soup was made of chicken stock (or vegetable stock, it depends on your preference). The Italian white wine vinegar had a strong acidic taste so I only used one tablespoon.

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For the ingredients, you can add anything your heart desires. For me, I preferred using prawns and fish balls but you can always have crabs, squids, clams and mussels too. If you’re game, you can even have scallops and abalones! If your wallet is fine with you spending more than you should. Maybe the next time I make it, I may use squids and clams, in addition to the fish balls.

You can get the recipe from www.taste.com.au. Their recipe called for vegetable stock, thyme, oregano, jalapeno chillies, squids and coriander. The good thing about cooking is that you can do anything you want, as long as the meal’s edible. Here’s another recipe from www.tasteofhome.com that had crabs, clams and squids along with the prawns. Again, you can toss in anything you want as long as it’s edible, flavourful and so delicious you just want to dunk your face into the pot and do a facial.

vector-illustration-set-of-realistic-icons-of-dry-macaroni-pasta-of-various-kinds_1441-467The addition of pasta was an afterthought. I figured that if I was going to make dinner and I wanted it to be filling, I decided to have the pasta. Again, you can have any type of pasta. Bowties, shells, penne, rigatoni. Anything! The world is your oyster, so they say. However, if you don’t want to add the pasta, you can always have it carb-free.

Feel free to improvise and change things up. Spice it up with some smoked paprika. Tone it down and have it creamy by blending potatoes and sour cream. Because it’s cooking and like art, cooking is all about inspiration and creativity!