Archive for November, 2014

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

SecretIngred

Baking relaxes me. At this point in my baking life, the things I make are largely those I’ve made so many times that I have a guaranteed system of getting it just right.

Although I make a wide range of baked goods throughout the year, homemade chocolate chip cookies have become my signature treat since I make them nearly every week.

Everyone loves cookies, and I only slightly modify the recipe on the back of the Nestle package, so they are uncomplicated.

I bring these cookies primarily to my local bar, my extended living room, The Whirlaway for potlucks. Much to the delight of the bar patrons, I live close enough that oftentimes the cookies are still warm from the oven when I arrive.

I also bring cookies to work, sharing them with my colleagues and my students when I can. During Fall term I taught two “Creativity” classes, so for the final project (due today), I asked the students to create something, and thought I’d better do the same; I made cookies.

I asked my students to describe their projects in a short essay of four sections addressing the inspiration, theme, execution, and result of their creative intentions. I feel perfectly comfortable abiding by my own rules, so I shall do the same.

Inspiration

My inspiration to bake is always to make people feel appreciated. I make treats to help people feel loved; to do something simple and nice and, thereby, contribute to the event. There must always be an event to celebrate; if there is not, I invent one.

And, I confess that I have inherited my mother’s trait of “baking arrogance,” which drives me to bake regularly. I simply love when people ask whether or not I made something before they decide to partake. If I made it, they’ll eat it.

Themes

Baking comprises many themes, but indulgence seems the most apt. My friend Richard frequently needs to be encouraged to enjoy a few cookies. I told him just yesterday, “Life is full of things that aren’t healthy, but they are still good.”sweet-indulgence-logo

Bakery is not good for you, at least not nutritionally. In every other way, bakery is extraordinarily good. It embodies tradition; it evokes memories; it creates opportunities to savor something sweet.

Execution

Though my mother disagrees, I’m extremely orderly, especially at home. I clean as I cook, and have little mess after. The key to my cookie execution is thorough preparation, and shelving ingredients immediately after use, and my just-a-bit-too-large measuring teaspoon for salt (shaped like a fish and a gift from the always thoughtful Leah Allen). I bake them at a lower temperature than recommended and take them out before they are quite done, allowing them to cook a smidge on the pan before letting them cool. Small deviations from the recipe, and extensive mixing of the ingredients, create a cookie decidedly mine in both appearance and taste.

For added flavor, I sing love songs to the batter (usually The Beatles “All You Need Is Love” among others), ensuring that my cookies grow ever-more delicious; you can taste the love.

Results

Chocolate chip cookies are wonderful. The ones I make are chewy, and a bit salty, both aspects garnering rave reviews and repeated entreaties to make more.

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By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

I like my morning news ridiculous, a preference fulfilled in Chicago by WGN Morning News.

I grew up watching Cleveland, Ohio’s local news celebrities, realizing only later that people on the local news aren’t exactly celebrities elsewhere. When I went “away” to Ohio State University, just two hours south of Cleveland, my Dick Goddard jokes fell flat. No one in Columbus had ever heard of Cleveland’s seasoned weatherman, an early lesson in the vagaries of fame.

Everyone in Chicago knows weather expert Tom Skilling. Oftentimes we learn too much from Skilling.

WGN offers an abundance of delights specific to local news—meaningful camaraderie, reckless goofery, and constant complaints about the hours.local_news

While I typically only watch for a short window, from 5:45-6:15 each morning, the unfortunate anchors are on air from 4:00am-10:00am, the early shift 4:00-6:00am is staffed by those with less experience. Much like a high school lunchroom cafeteria, the WGN Seniors rule.

The second shift belongs to the true stars, the A Team, the Dream Team: reporters Robin Baumgarten and Larry Potash, accompanied by Paul Konrad with weather and Pat Tomasulo on the sports desk. When any one of these four players is missing, a bit of the mojo is absent, too.

For everyone up at 6:00am (or before), morning news is the start of a long day. The fast-and-loose nature of local news makes for a good beginning. Low-level hijinks include Robin’s unparalleled and unpracticed curiosity about human interest stories. Regular favorites include Paul Konrad’s surreal Courtesy Desk and the unruly ire underscoring Tomasulo’s Pat-Down. Most often, WGN bubbles over with merriment.

Nothing beats a good audio guy to set the tone. Once, an “Alligator in the sewer” news item was transitioned by the musical bumper “Crocodile Rock,” the talent responsible for that inspired segue is known as “Audio Bob.” I’m amazed by the flair of the audio department, which clearly subscribes to the Fred Norris school of audio journalism. I consider this exceedingly good news.

Naturally, significant news items are covered. In fact, the political and cultural interviews with local professors and scientists from DePaul, Loyola, and University of Chicago are downright hard-hitting, but the gravity is concluded as soon as may be, the mood steadily rising like a hot air balloon.

Local news doesn’t take itself too seriously, and neither do I.