The Proposal: Cedar Plank Salmon

Year Released: 2009
Directed by: Anne Fletcher
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Betty White, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Oscar Nunez
(PG-13, 108 min.)

"Love is like war: easy to begin but very hard to stop." H.L. Mencken

It begins clever and clichéd, almost as faux as the marriage a controlling boss foists on her subservient assistant to save herself from deportation. But her Manhattan machinations are no match for the light of truth up in his native Alaska, especially when the summer sun is out there 24 hours a day.

Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is the hard as nails New York editor who sweeps into her office like a general on the parade grounds. She fires a long term employee without missing a beat, has him ejected from the building and his antique cabinet moved into her office with the flick of her well-manicured hand.

No wonder the “respect” she inspires is really a mixture of fear and loathing -- her assistant even orders his morning latte (cinnamon, no sugar) to match hers in case he ever spills one on his morning run across town to be there at her beck and call. Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds) does manage to squeeze in just that widget of time to forewarn the troops, however, typing, “The witch is on her broom” on the inner office email just seconds before she whisks through.

But even Ms. Tate is momentarily flummoxed when she learns her visa has been revoked, and she is about to be deported to her native Canada. Then she suddenly “remembers” her engagement to said loyal assistant standing beside her like a retriever waiting for the gun to go off. Like a good dog, he follows the lead of his handler and goes off to salvage the Canada goose as called for.

But Andrew is not the obedient cur we might have thought, since he uses the situation thrust upon him to his swift advantage, telling the company CEOs that his relationship with Ms. Tate has been undisclosed since “his pending promotion to editor” might have appeared unseemly otherwise.

And that is just the beginning of the reversal of fortune for Ms. Tate and her heretofore underling as the two embark on a visit to his family in Sitka, Alaska. They have to keep up appearances, since the immigration authorities rightly suspect this is a fixed up, or more accurately, fraudulent marriage, which is punishable for both parties.

It slowly begins to dawn on Margaret that her assistant is not the penniless, spineless creature she had assumed when they land in Sitka and she sees the name Paxton inscribed on almost every business in town. And the family home is no rustic retreat, but a sprawling mansion inhabited by a family as warm as it is eccentric. It seems Andrew has left behind the family fortune to pursue his dreams of becoming an editor without ever mentioning his wealth or position to his New York colleagues. And the “spineless” assistant has shown a backbone of iron in resisting his father’s desire for him to take over the family business, insisting on making it on his own in New York.

Suddenly control freak Margaret is out of her comfort zone, where she has to contend with the outrageous “Gammie,” the irrepressible 87-year-old Betty White playing Andrew’s Grandma, escorting her to see the local male stripper, initiating her in a Native American sunrise ceremony in the woods, but wounding her most with the gift of a treasured family locket.

Somewhere in between rescuing the family puppy from an eagle’s talons, then regretting it when the huge bird snatches her cell phone instead, and realizing stiletto heels don’t make it on gravel walkways or harbor ladders, Margaret lets down her defenses a bit, too -- not as much as we might wish, just a few glimpses to explain her assumed armor.

It’s about time you let down your defenses, too, and go see this ice cream sundae of a film. Sure, you’ve had a sundae before, you already know what it tastes like, but that doesn’t mean you should resist this cool creamy-hot fudge sensation of a film.

—Kathy Borich

Film-Loving Foodie

Andrew’s whole family welcomes Kate to Alaska with a sumptuous buffet. And of course, what Alaska buffet would be complete without some delicious salmon.

Right now is a great time to buy the real deal – wild salmon – at great prices. I got some this week for $5.99 a pound and bought some for the freezer as well.

Our recipe smokes the salmon by cooking it on a cedar plank. Just make sure to soak the plank beforehand for at least an hour. You can use plain untreated planks, or buy cooking planks at a food specialty store, if you want. This recipe goes well with an “Asian inspired rice and roasted asparagus” according to its author. My tip is not to overcook.

Enjoy.

Cedar Plank Salmon

Ingredients

  • 3 (12 inch) untreated cedar planks
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 (2 pound) salmon fillets, skin removed

Directions

Soak the cedar planks for at least 1 hour in warm water. Soak longer if you have time.

In a shallow dish, stir together the vegetable oil, rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, green onions, ginger, and garlic. Place the salmon fillets in the marinade and turn to coat. Cover and marinate for at least 15 minutes, or up to one hour.

Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat. Place the planks on the grate. The boards are ready when they start to smoke and crackle just a little.

Place the salmon fillets onto the planks and discard the marinade. Cover, and grill for about 20 minutes. Fish is done when you can flake it with a fork. It will continue to cook after you remove it from the grill.

Recipe Source: All Recipes.com