Back in May, a college friend called and asked if I had any free time to work on a side project. “I was grabbing drinks with the guys,” he said, “and we were just complaining about how we needed to take a break from all the corporate stuff and get our hands dirty with something more CREATIVE. Decided to throw together a crew and shoot this short on Monday. So what do you think? No pay, a couple days of long hours…but I can guarantee it will be a fun time.”

Without hesitation, I said, “I’m in. Do you need me to draft the call sheets?” He laughed.

It was just like college…but this time around we had fancier equipment, a few more years of experience, and little more cash for craft services.

And speaking of craft services—after a long pre-light, I rushed home and baked some salted chocolate chip cookies for the crew. I knew the next day was going to be a long one, I had lunch in the works, but since a few of us were basically donating the money for gear, craft, etc…I knew we needed some decent (homemade) snacks on set to keep the crew happy. So with only about 6 hours until our Monday morning call time, I decided to stick with a classic that I knew would be a set pleaser.

CLASSIC CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES FOR THE CREW

From Brown Eyed Baker, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Recipe makes about 2 dozen cookies.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8¾ ounces)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons (7 ounces) unsalted butter, divided
  • ¾ cup (5¼ ounces) dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 large (18x12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside.
  3. Heat 10 tablespoons of the butter in a 10-inch stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling the pan constantly until the butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and transfer the browned butter to a large heatproof bowl. Stir the remaining 4 tablespoons butter into the hot browned butter until completely melted. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
  4. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to the bowl with the butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add the egg and egg yolk and whisk until the mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let the mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat the process of resting and whisking 2 more times until the mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in the chocolate chips and give the dough a final stir to ensure there are no hidden flour pockets.
  5. Scoop the dough into 16 even portions, each about 3 tablespoons, and arrange them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet.
  6. Bake the cookies 1 tray at a time until the cookies are golden brown but still puffy, and the edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer the baking sheet to wire rack and allow cookies to cool completely before serving. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

For the crew…for your friends…for yourself—I don’t think you will regret making these. And that’s the thing about MAKING STUFF…getting your hands dirty…sometimes you just need to drop everything and MAKE SOMETHING. Put your hands to work and create something that you can be proud of. Doesn’t mean you have to take time off of work to make a short film by any means, but perhaps you can start with taking an hour to whip up these delicious cookies. Everyone you share them with will thank you. YOU will thank yourself.

And if your up for some “fancy” language to go with your ridiculous cookies…check out the funny short we made and entered in the My RØDE Reel international short film competition.

The Winning Ticket

It’s time for you to CREATE something awesome.

I moustache you how you garnish your sangria these days? I can’t seem to keep up with your fancy ways. High-res

I moustache you how you garnish your sangria these days? I can’t seem to keep up with your fancy ways.

Pizza Cassia Nanza

themodernhostblog:

This is a James Beard recipe that my mom has been making for years. The smell of freshly baked bread is unmatched! So delicious and inviting. We served this as a light appetizer with cocktails before going out to dinner on Saturday night. If you have a delicious specialty olive oil, like this…

I’ve always wanted to make homemade focaccia. Is that day finally upon us?

Dudes.

I made a pie. My awesome friend filmed it. Then we ate it. And then we edited it. 

This video is the special slice we saved for you.

You should probably just come over next time though.

Recipe: Peace, Love & Strawberry-Rhubarb-Hap-PIE-ness.

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Music: “Lucky” by Kat Edmonson
Shot by: Patrick Fischer
Edited by: Patrick Fischer & Kristin Young

PEACE, LOVE & HAP-PIE-NESS

Well it’s been quite the post-production process, but we’ve finally wrapped my first Young & Always Hungry food video! It was a fun and mouth-watering project to work on…and hopefully this is just the beginning to many more. 

That said, what I really hope though is that this post doesn’t come too late in the strawberry and rhubarb season because this pie was seriously ridiculous. If you’re looking for the perfect summer party dessert—this pie is what dreams are made of.

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PEACE, LOVE & STRAWBERRY RHUBARB HAP-PIE-NESS

ALL BUTTER, REALLY FLAKY PIE DOUGH

Source: Smitten Kitchen via Cooks Illustrated, November 2007

Makes enough for one 9-inch double-crust pie

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of ice cold water

STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE FILLING

Source: Joy the Baker

  • 2 Cups 1/2-inch thick sliced rhubarb (about 1 pound)
  • 3  Cups hulled and sliced strawberries
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • large pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
DIRECTIONS
Crust
  1. Fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water, and drop in a few ice cubes; set it aside. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Dice two sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) of very cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces.
  2. Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them into the flour. I prefer using my hands because the heat does help if your butter is ice cold, but you can also use a pastry blender or a food processor if you don’t want to get your hands dirty. But where’s the fun in that? Carefully work the butter into the flour, until the butter pieces are about the size of tiny peas. (Deb warns against over working the flour. I don’t question her.)
  3. Next, drizzle 1/2 cup of the ice-cold water (but not the ice cubes) over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gather the dough together. You will probably need an additional 1/4 cup of cold water to bring it together, but drizzle it one tablespoon as a time. Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and get your hands in there. Gather the disparate damp clumps together into one mound, kneading them gently together.
  4. Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Let the dough chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours before rolling it out. You can also do this ahead and leave it in the fridge overnight or in the freezer if you are making it farther in advance. Just be sure to pull it out with enough time so that it because soft enough, but still cold and firm, to roll out. Dough will keep in the fridge for about a week, and in the freezer for much longer. To defrost your dough, move it to the fridge for one day before using it.

Strawberry Rhubarb Filling

  1. In a medium bowl, toss together rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, cornstarch, flour, salt, and lemon juice. Toss until all of the fruit is covered in a coating of sugar and cornstarch. The cornstarch will disappear and the sugars will begin to make juice with the fruit.
  2. Allow to rest while you roll out your dough and cut your lattice.

To Assemble the Pie

  1. Remember: Depending on how long your dough has been in the fridge, you may need to let it rest at room temperature for about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Set aside.
  3. On a well-floured surface (or if you’re a neat freak :D you and use two pieces of wax paper to sandwich your dough ball), begin to roll out the first dough ball for the lattice. Once your dough is about 1/8 inch thick and about 12 inches in diameter, carefully cut 1-inch wide strips. Transfer to a cookie sheet and place in your fridge to stay cold.
  4. Roll your second ball of dough out to a similar 1/8 inch thick and about 12 inches in diameter wide circle. Fold the circle in half, and then in a quarter.
  5. Butter your pie dish. When I use up a stick of butter, I like to save them in a plastic bag and place in my freezer. These are perfect for buttering dishes or pans at a later time. Lightly flour the dish.
  6. Transfer your folded crust to your pie pan, lining up the point of your triangle with the center of your dish. Carefully unfold it and reposition as necessary.
  7. Using a fork, poke holes in the crust so that if it expands while baking, your crust won’t break.
  8. Fill your crust with the fruit filling, being careful to drain as much liquid as possible. If you’re worried, you can also add a sprinkle of cornstarch to the bottom of the crust before adding your fruit mixture to help absorb some of the fresh fruit juices.
  9. Remove your lattice strips from the fridge and begin to lay out pattern. If you want to see a diagram, Smitten Kitchen posts an easy step-by-step look…but sometimes it’s more fun to try it out on your own. Trial and error is the best way to learn! :)
  10. Curl up the excess dough around the rim of the pie to secure. Use any extra pieces from the lattice to lay on the edges if you need more.
  11. Using your forefinger, middle finger, and thumb, crimp the edges to give your pie a more finished look.
  12. Paint your masterpiece with a little egg wash and then lightly dust with white sugar.
  13. Delicately, wrap foil around the edge of your pie to prevent it from burning.

Time to bake!

  1. Bake the pie for 25 minutes at 400 degrees F, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 35 to 45 minutes, or until the pie is juicy, bubbling, and golden brown. You will want to remove the foil around the edges about 20 minutes before your pie is done. This allows it to brown like the rest of the crust.
  2. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 2 hours before serving. This is the last step to follow, and DEFINITELY the toughest, but it really is key to let the pie cool for at least 2 hours. This will help the juices mellow and thicken a bit…or else you’re serving runny pie. Still tastes delicious, so I won’t judge :) but it won’t look as good on Instagram! Haha.
  3. If you’ve prepared your pie a day or hours ahead and you’d like to reheat it (perhaps while your guests are finishing up dinner), you can leave the pie at room temperature, then warm at 350 degrees Fahrenheit  for 10 minutes. Or, even better, if you’ve already baked something in the oven, put the pie in and turn the oven off. 

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I hope you have as much fun baking this pie as I did—I made it 3 times in one week for the video! :) At one point I needed help eating it so that I could use my dish to make another one, so I went downstairs to my neighbors and knocked on their door.

"Hi! I’m sorry to interrupt if you’re working from home today too, but I’m actually making a pie video right now and I need help eating this one so that I can reuse my dish. Would you guys be interested in helping me?"

He just laughed. “Wait, are you serious?” He leaned back and said something to his (I’m assuming) colleagues inside. “She’s offering us pie.”

"I’m very serious," I replied with a smile.

He looked back at me and laughed again, “Uhm—YES. That’s amazing. How could we say no to someone knocking on our door and asking us to help them eat freshly baked pie?”

I’m pretty sure they will gladly lend me some sugar when I need to borrow it in the future. I’m hoping this sealed the deal.

Peace, Love & Strawberry-Rhubarb-PIEness.

My Father’s Eyes.

I am my father’s daughter. We have similar dimples when we smile, a passion in the kitchen, a love for USA Network television, the same short, chubby hands, and the same eyes. Out of all the similarities between my father and I though, I am most proud to have my father’s eyes.

My Pops is a realist, but he sees more than just what is physically in front of him. A man of few words, he patiently takes it all in, listening with his ears and his eyes, providing perspective and wisdom when you need it most. And sometimes…even when you don’t need it…or when you don’t want to be seen at all…he’s there.

When I was in high school, I had a boyfriend who cheated on me. I walked away tall and strong, keeping busy and extra social. I listened to Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Miss Independent” every morning on my drive to school. (Cliche, I know—but hey, I was 16.) Each day I walked the halls with confidence (in a few more short skirts ;D) and wanted to show everyone that we may have broken up, but I was not broken—that I refused to be hurt by some guy. But the truth is—it did hurt. Being busy and strong hurt like hell…especially when your 16. And every day after school, practice, or being out with friends, I would walk into my house, waiting for the front door to shut behind me. When I thought no one was around, I would let out a deep, quivering breath. A breath that I had been holding in all day—a breath that somehow gave me strength and courage…but a breath that hurt and shook me to my core. No one saw this—except for my Pops. He saw it everyday for probably a month. And everyday, for probably a month, he waited for that door to close behind me. “You ok?” he would ask. I would hesitate and begin nodding my head up and down. His arms would open. Everyday, for probably a month, I would say,”I’m ok”…but in that broken exhale, he saw me and every broken piece of my young heart.

His eyes. My eyes. With no words—he saw me.

I don’t think we ever really talked about those days…and I’m not sure we ever really need to. But someday, I hope my Pops can see what I see. I hope he can see how I’ve watched and learned from his work ethic, his dedication to providing for his family, his loyalty to his very best friends, his respect and love for my mother, his resourcefulness and creativity—in the kitchen and in life(!), his independence. I hope he can see how I love him for his quiet, yet perceptive demeanor, his thirst for knowledge (and ability to tell you random facts or life hacks that you will never forget), how he listens, and how he laughs.

They used to tell me that I was just a “twinkle in my father’s eye.” And as years passed, I then became “the apple of [his] eye.”…but the truth is, I am the one who cherishes him…and these special eyes he’s passed onto me.

Happy Father’s Day, Pops!

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