“Cake Off!”

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I apologize for the post delay. Senior year has been extremely busy. Not only am I a full-time student, but I also have two internships. It’s been a great experience and I am learning so much. Needless to say, free time is certainly lacking. However, I do want to share with my readers a video I produced last semester for my “Introduction to Production” class. I’m very proud of the final product, a video that took a full semester of careful thought and planning to produce. My love of baking and film combine to form my video titled “Cake Off!”

I hope you enjoy and feel free to leave me comments (it is actually the preferred method)!

Let’s Bake! Samoas Bars.

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Well, it is finals time here at Duke University and we all know that means stress, lack of sleep and insane amounts of caffeine. Various students handle their workload stress through exercise, relaxation breaks and hanging out with friends. As we all know, based on my previous post B.A.A., I bake to help alleviate stress. This week was no different! I found this delicious recipe for Samoa Bars on “Love Veggies and Yoga,” just one of the many food and culture blogs I read (credit for this recipe here.) I love experimenting with cookies, adding different ingredients here and there to develop bold tastes. Though it’s not the girl scouts cookie season yet, why should we have to wait? These samoas bars combine a simple chocolate chip cookie with coconut and butterscotch chips to give them a little twist. They come out of the oven gooey, chocolaty and savory. This is a perfect study break snack. I documented the experience with photographs to accompany the recipe instructions so even novice bakers won’t be intimidated! Just follow this step by step process and I promise you will experience these baked goods extreme deliciousness! WARNING: salvation may ensue.

Step 1. Mix together 1 stick of melted butter, 1 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup white sugar until blended.

  Step 2.  Add 1 egg, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 cup shredded cocunut and ¾ cup all-purpose flour and stir.

Step 3. Fold in 3/4 cup butterscotch chips and 1 cup chocolate chips.

Step 4. Scoop mixture into a sprayed 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 pan.

Step 5. Sprinkle additional chips and coconut to your liking (which in my case is a lot!).

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Step 6. Remove from oven. Let cool for at least 30 minutes. Cut and enjoy!

B.A.A?

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I may have an addiction and I may need to enroll in B.A.A. What’s my addiction and what does that stand for? Well, I know the first stage of recovery is admittance. B.A.A. stands for Baking Addicts Anonymous. Yes, I made this up (I think). However, I think I show all the signs. This weekend I spent over 5 hours baking in my free time. This is what happens when it’s a slow news week! I create occasions in order to justify the need to try a new recipe. I’m also known to be the first to offer baked goods in exchange for help with work and projects (such as if someone volunteers to be in one of my films or helps me edit a piece). Can baking really cure my problems or do I turn to baking and ignore my problems? Before we delve into my feelings (even though I am a Psychology major this blog is not intended for self reflection), I managed to put the baked goods to good use this weekend. My dad’s 56th birthday was on Saturday so I made him White Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie Supreme. He loved them, I was satisfied. On Sunday I baked Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies to sell for a fundraiser to support the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Baking for fundraisers are my favorite hobby. Baking serves so many different occasions no wonder I love it so much. I figured why not document the experience and blog about my baking endeavors over the weekend.

There is no denying the fact that the basic Chocolate Chip Cookie is divine. Oozing chocolate chips, chewy soft dough and the heavenly smell is usually enough to keep me satisfied for life. However, sometimes the same chocolate chip cookie can become a bit of a bore. The thing I enjoy most about baking is modifying the ingredients. Baking is like sculpting– adding and subtracting different elements (ingredients) to make the most beautiful (and tasty) creation. It’s always fun to take recipes found online and modify them to one’s own liking. I took this recipe and created my own modified version:

“White Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies”

Ingredients:

4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup white chocolate chips

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, stir together flours, baking powder, and baking soda. In a large bowl, cream together butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Beat eggs and vanilla extract into butter mixture. Stir wet ingredients into flour mixture. Stir in semi-sweet chocolate chips and white chocolate chips. Use an ice cream scooper to scoop a heap onto ungreased baking sheets. Press down lightly on the dough to flatten. Leave about an inch space between each cookie. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until light golden brown. Serves about two dozen.

Enjoy!

The Making of a Cooking Show!

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I’ll be the first to admit I was hesitant when Matt Straus pitched a cooking show to my partner Jasmin Aldridge and I in early September. He told us he wanted to write and star in a cooking show revolving around a spice of the month. Though I am known to watch the Food Network in any spare moment I may have, I was nervous to actually film a show that revolved around the preparation and cooking of a meal. How is a cooking show filmed? What b-roll should we shoot? What should the set look like? There are many technical issues that could occur which became the root of my anxiety. However, after meeting with Matt and realizing how enthusiastic he was about this project, my fears instantly dissolved. A few days later I printed out a hard copy of the show’s script and knew that the show would turn out okay.

I left the script and meal preparation for Matt’s own development and I worked on all the other logistics. I found a location for the shoot in the kitchen of a friend’s house. After receiving the script, I went through it and looked for any continuity problems and made sure Matt’s show would be entertaining and never dull. I set up the shoot and was the main shooter. I was very happy when Jasmin showed up with a second camera.

In my opinion, though production elements are important in a show, the storyline is the driving force behind a show’s success. I felt Matt brought a good idea to the table and implemented his cooking skills properly into the show. Viewers are actually able to learn cooking techniques just by watching the segment. This show has the potential to help teach undergraduate students the cooking skills they will need once they are out in the “real world.” He also presents his meals in a fun and classy way, so even students who are looking for ways to entertain their friends while in college can do that as well. The show has the potential to appeal to all ages and to people at all cooking levels.

Episode 1 of “Matt Straus is…The Spice Smuggler” was a learning process for us all. I now know I need to use stable shots and more b-roll would enhance the show. For example, when shooting the food in its finished form I will aim to have a zoom on the image and a solid background so that it can be used anywhere in the show. I also want to show all the ingredients at the start of the show, if possible. I found little editing errors in the final product which I will learn from as well. However, overall I am satisfied with Episode 1 and I look forward to producing the next episode.

What’s next? I plan to promote his show through Facebook events, twitter postings and premiere episode parties. Matt hosted the first episode premiere party and I plan on hosting the next. At these events Matt will make sample dishes for attendees to try and to hopefully be inspired to make their own meals after watching the show! I also hope to have Matt try some vegetarian dishes for the growing population of vegetarians that are making their way on Duke’s campus. We are aiming to shoot at least one episode per month and will feature a new spice on each show! The next spice is a secret so keep checking back here and on Facebook to see what Matt smuggles next!

Want to watch the first episode? Check it out BELOW: