Steel Magnolias is the 1989 film about the bond a group of southern women from Louisiana share and how they deal with life and death. Daryl Hannah plays the part of Anelle, a recent beauty school graduate hired by Truvy Jones, played by Dolly Parton to work in her home-based beauty salon in northwestern Louisiana. Sally Field and Julia Roberts play mother, M’Lynn, and daughter, Shelby, who are regular customers, as well as Clairee, Olympia Dukakis, the cheerful widow of the late former mayor and disagreeable Ouiser, played by Shirley MacLaine.
In the opening scenes we learn of M’lynn’s concern for Shelby who is about to be married and has been told her body cannot withstand a pregancy. Months later when Shelby announces she is pregant, M’Lynn is too worried to share in the joy. Even when Shelby confesses that she hopes the arrival of a baby might make her marriage a little easier, M’Lynn is unable to rejoice. After she gives birth to a healthy baby boy, she begins showing signs of kidney failure. Her mother donates a kidney and Shelby rallies, but is later found unconscious on the porch of her house.. Her body has rejected the new kidney and sends her into a coma.
The doctors inform the family that Shelby is likely to remain comatose indefinitely, and her family decides to take her off life support. At the funeral, after the other mourners have left, M’Lynn breaks down in hysterics in front of Ouiser, Clairee, Truvy, and Annelle but is comforted by the other women. Eventually M’Lynn accepts her daughter’s death and focuses her energy on helping raise her grandson.
I remember watching this movie for the first time shortly before my daughter married. I was in an emotional state to begin with, but no more the five minutes into it, I found myself sobbing uncontrollably. Soon afterward I was laughing hysterically. During the course of the movie I went from one extreme to the other. My husband thought I was losing it. These women were typical Southern women. I’m from the south, so I know. The title says it all.Outside they appear to be fragile and delicate, but inside they are made of steel. It is one of my all-time favorite movies. Our recipe this time is Shrimp Gumbo. I can think of nothing that says Louisiana better.
- 1 pound sliced Andouille or smoked sausage
- 2 to 3 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 yellow or green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen thawed okra slices
- 1 teaspoon Creole or Cajun spices
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pound medium shrimp
- salt and pepper, to taste
- hot cooked rice
- chopped fresh parsley or sliced green onions for garnish
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 90 minutes
- Total Time: 120 minutes
- Yield: 6 Servings
- In a skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage in 2 to 3 teaspoons of vegetable oil; remove sausage to a plate and set aside.
- In a large kettle or dutch oven combine the chicken broth and tomatoes. Put over medium heat to bring to a simmer
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, combine the 1/2 cup of oil and the flour. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is brown. Don’t let the mixture burn.
- To the skillet, add the chopped onion, celery, and bell pepper; cook, stirring constantly with a spoon, until vegetables are softened. Stir the vegetable mixture into the simmering tomato and broth mixture.
- Put the skillet back on the heat and add 2 more teaspoons of oil; reduce to medium heat. Add the okra and cook, stirring, until lightly browned and not ropy/sticky.
- Add the okra to the simmering pot along with the Creole or Cajun seasoning, the bay leaf, and cooked sausage. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat for 1 hour.
- Add the shrimp and cook for 15 to 20 minutes longer, until shrimp is cooked through.
- Taste and add salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve the gumbo over a mound of hot boiled long-grain white rice. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley or green onions.