Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Baking Strategies, Close Ups and Updates

Dueling tree lots on either side of the street.
It's that time of year again. The neighborhood Christmas tree lots are gearing up for an epic stare down from across the street. Questionable covers of classic Christmas songs are playing in stores [Really? It used to be not too many years ago that the staff was spared that endless loop of cheer until after Thanksgiving. The clerks look hollow eyed and world weary already. I didn't used to took like that until December 20th]. I don't like being forced to think about Christmas shopping or decorating before it's time. I haven't even done my shopping for Thanksgiving [Though we may be accepting a kind invitation to dinner from a dear friend, I always cook at home as well].

The holiday baking season is nigh. Some things, like the fruit cake, must be baked before the end of the month. It has to ferment in brandy, you see. And don't wrinkle your nose. I make a non-traditional fruit cake inspired by my late Aunt Eleanor [She couldn't eat nuts and hated those bizarro candied things] by way of Alton Brown. It's more of a spiced cake with reconstituted dried fruits (raisins, craisins and dried apricots). The fruit is reconstituted in rum! I do make a version that reconstitutes the fruit in orange juice for non-drinkers and minors. And Jon and I have found through year long experimentation that we can freeze batches of dough and bake them very successfully a couple of weeks later. This means that we can ship the freshest cookies yet with far less stress. To do that, I must plan well in advance. Supplies and equipment must be purchased. That shopping must be timed to get the best deals. A lot of thought and planning goes into this. It is fun though. When I smell that fruit cooking with the cinnamon and all the other spices, it really starts feeling festive. And this year, I may add a new twist to the backing.

Ready for My Close Up

I've been learning how to shoot videos on my own for the cancer documentary. It's not that I won't have a crew when I do the shoots. I have a camera guy and perhaps a grip. I will not have Jon with me on many of the shoots that involve medical personnel. I have to see them when they are available. Jon's schedule isn't as flexible as it was when we shot the feature film. Thus, I have to learn how to shoot, so I can tell the crew I have what I want and especially what I don't want. To practice, I used what I had on hand – me and the kitchen one camera light, a web cam, a camcorder and a Skype mic. I shot and edited two videos this week in response to videos made by two chefs I follow on youtube. Chef Ochikeron wanted to know what products I was buying from Mitsuwa Market and how I was using them. So I sent her this RESPONSE. And I really enjoyed a pumpkin soup recipe made by Cooking with Dog  (it's not what you think). I responded to that video with THIS. The goal was to see if I could do basic lighting, sound and editing. Jon thought I did fairly well though I need to work on the sound. I agreed. It took me prowling around many of the Microsoft help forums to find out how to adjust the sound recording function. There is no help menu that I can access in the program itself. I have to find help online. Oy! I hasn't feeling great last week, so I'm less than pleased with how I look, but I am happy with a first solo effort. I have more complicated shoots planned for the next few weeks. I'll post links as they are uploaded. I'm also thinking of doing some video blogs as we do the holiday baking. When I lived away from home before, I used to bake while chatting on the phone with my Mom or other family. It could be like having everyone here to share the experience. I'm not making an absolute promise. But I am seriously considering it.

There is nothing new to report. I've developing some thoughts on the editing process. I've been doing a great deal of that lately. Beyond that, I'm writing some things and planning others.

Stay tuned.

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