Monthly Archives: July 2015

Photo Friday: Deep Dish Pizza CONQUERED!

deepdish 2 completeI don’t know whether I ever thought about how deep dish pizza got made. I lived in Chicago for the better part of 10 years and I never thought about it. I was just content to order from the local Giordano’s or Lou Malnati’s and wait 45 minutes while wondrous and mysterious things happened behind the kitchen door. Then I would gluttonously gorge myself on the mountain of cheesy goodness that is this Chicago staple.

But now we live in Nashville. I hear rumors that there are places to get deep dish pizza about, but we haven’t tried them yet. But apparently, now, we don’t need to because we CONQUERED DEEP DISH AT HOME!

And it actually wasn’t hard at all.

We have become quite skilled at making thin crust artisan style pizzas at home, so we knew the drill: make the dough, let it rise, roll it out, add the toppings, bake, devour. The difference with deep dish was the recipe, particularly notable for the use of cornmeal (and/or semolina flour) and butter (to make it flakey and golden!), the deep pan, and the painfully guilt-inducing quantity of cheese. And, of course never forgetting, the sauce goes on top. We found a great recipe I can recommend here from Sally’s Baking Addiction. Note: we added semolina flour in deference to Lou Malnati’s.

Here are some photos of the assembly and baking. Enjoy!


My favorite innards: crumbled and browned Italian sausage, diced mushrooms, and spinach. Next time I will try kale!

deepdish pizza cheese

Seriously, the amount of cheese is staggering. There is a layer on top and on the bottom. And this is in addition to the 1/2 cup butter folded into the crust. MMMmmm calories!

deep dish pizza assembly

The sauce had a little bit of sugar and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes to give it just the right amount of sweet and spice. Also a whole bunch of garlic. My fingers still smell of it. Yum.

deep dish pizza oven

Into the oven we go for about 25 minutes.

deepdish 3 complete  copy

Victory is mine!


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Latest Video: Leaven Bread by Rain for Roots

How would you like to film people baking bread, making art, and playing with adorable children?

Um, Heck YES!

You know, this freelance thing might be hard, but sometimes a super fun project falls right in your lap, and you find yourself suppressing your giggles because you are shaking the camera.

A few months ago I was asked to do this video for a music group called Rain for Roots featuring Sandra McCracken, Flo Paris, Ellie Holcomb, Katy Bowser and Alice Smith. They produced an album called, “The Kingdom of Heaven is Like This,” which musically illustrates biblical parables for kids. They have been producing videos in different styles to give visuals as the kids follow along with the music. I had the privilege to produce the video for the song, “Leaven Bread,” and film two families baking bread together. Here is the final project:

For the sake of this creativity blog, here a few comments about the storyboards I did for this project:

1) Storyboards give confidence. Normally for my video projects, I create an outline with the shots I want to get, but I also leave a good bit open to day-of serendipity. This time around I did complete storyboards. Once these were approved by the client, I not only had a complete list of shots I needed to collect, but I also had more confidence that I was on the right track in terms of the client’s vision for the project. The storyboards created a mid-point check in so that both the client and I could feel comfortable about the filming plan.

2) Storyboards give context to the “Talent.” I brought the storyboards to the shoot and, boy, was I glad I did. Not only did we have six young kids who all wanted to know what was going on, but one of the mothers had limited English, so communication could have been very difficult. The pictures proved invaluable in explaining to this mother what I was going to be doing in her house. It also got the kids really excited to see the story they were about to act out.

3) Storyboards keep you on track. So, Kids move. A lot. It’s distracting. Another reason I was happy I did the storyboards was because there were six kids running around a tiny kitchen during the shoot. I could only catch so much in the moment, and I had a linear story to tell. Having the complete storyboards with me helped me film nonlinearly while making sure I didn’t forget anything.


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How we celebrate in my family , Part II

This is the second part of “How we celebrate in my family.” Learn about Peking Duck Quesadillas in Part I

Happy Friday! Here is some food inspiration for your weekend.

roast pork pastaOn my sister’s birthday two weeks ago, we knew we wanted to cook something epic, something delicious, something memorable. The challenge was choosing what to try. Between the internet and our giant pile of cookbooks we had a hard time deciding which dish, or even which cuisine, would be worthy of her birthday dinner. As we talked through options, Meg mentioned that one of the best things she ate in Italy was a wild boar ragu on fresh pasta. At this point, I remembered I had a pork loin in the freezer; it wasn’t a wild boar, but it was pretty close. I thought through what we could do to it, consulted a few recipes, then made a plan. The result truly was worthy of a birthday.

Here is what we did…

Birthday Roast Pork Ragu 

1 pork loin
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 onion, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1/4 cup flour
1 cup red wine
1.5 cups chicken stock
2 14 oz can of tomatoes or 2-3 cups diced fresh tomatoes
1 bay leaf

Fresh Pappardelle, homemade or store-bought
Fresh cherry tomatoes, diced
Fresh basil, minced
Grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

1) Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

2) Trim excess fat and membrane off the pork loin. It is easier when you pull on the membrane using a paper towel to pinch the slippery sinew (wow, I never realized how unappetizing a word that is; oh well). Cut the meat into 1-2 inch rounds. Dry the rounds and rub with spices. Heat 1-2 tbs olive oil in a Dutch oven until just about smoking. Brown all sides of the meat rounds until you have a toasty brown crust. Remove meat and drain on a paper towel.

3) Add a little more oil to the pan and saute carrots and onion until the onion is translucent. Toss flour in the veggies and cook for 30 seconds, then deglaze with wine. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, and bay leaf. Return meat to the pot, cover, and roast in the oven for about 3 hours. The dish is done when the meat pulls apart easily with a fork. Shred all of the meat and stir sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

4) Cook Pappardelle, being careful to remove from the water before overcooking. You want a nice al dente bite. If your ragu is looking a little thick, add some of the pasta water to your sauce before you drain it.

5) I have read that the “correct” way to serve pasta is to mix the pasta into the sauce to ensure that every noodle is properly coated and the flavors infuse into the pasta thoroughly. Thing is, I usually make way more sauce than pasta and even if I did make extra pasta, I HATE soggy leftover pasta, so I didn’t worry about doing it “correctly.” People can stir their own pasta on their own plates. In any case, I topped each pile of glorious ragu with the fresh tomatoes, basil, and parmesan and served it with red wine.

Devour, but slowly. Enjoy!

roast pork pasta 2

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How we celebrate in my family, Part I

pecking duck quesadilla closeLast weekend we celebrated my sister’s 22nd birthday. I can’t believe she is that old. Anyway, she came up from Atlanta with cookbooks and farm-fresh ingredients in tow. In a 36 hour period, we managed to pull off the following menu:

Friday Dinner
Chicken Diable, a french dish with a divine sauce of shallots, dijon mustard, wine, and cream, with an arugula salad and toasts topped with sliced heirloom tomato, drizzled olive oil, and sea salt.

Saturday (the birthday) Breakfast
Crepes with nutella and fresh berries (A Capo Family Tradition)

Saturday Lunch 
Peking Duck Quesadillas (I will explain below)

Saturday Dinner 
Homemade Pappardelle with Roast Pork Tomato Ragu and Fresh Basil, paired with Pimm’s Cups (lemonade, Pimms, garden cucumber slices and fresh basil)

Birthday Dessert
Almond Tartlets with mascarpone cheese and fresh berries for dessert (with a candle for Meg!)

Exhausting? Yes. Drool-worthy? Definitely. Worth it? Absolutely. This is how we celebrate in our family, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Remember last Christmas with the Feast of Seven Fishes?

I want to call your attention to these Peking Duck Quesadillas. When we were growing up my friend worked at a restaurant called Umami. They had a wonderful fusion menu there, and the champion dish was this “quesadilla” full of shredded peking duck and topped with drizzled hoisin sauce, creme fraiche, and scallions. The harmony of the flakey crust–almost a pastry–and the sweet shredded meat makes me salivate to this day. I put “quesadilla” in quotes because it wasn’t actually a tortilla; there wasn’t really anything Mexican about the dish. But until this past weekend I couldn’t tell you what it was that housed the duck. Then, when Meg and I pondered what to have for lunch on Saturday, and I remembered the leftover restaurant Peking Duck I had in my fridge, I had a brainwave and realized that the “tortilla” of the “quesadilla” was actually a scallion pancake, a Chinese appetizer I recently learned to make. So we set to work and whipped up some pancakes, heated the duck meat and coated it in hoisin. We assembled the quesadillas and used a little greek yogurt in place of creme fraiche. I pressed each side of the quesadillas on the hot pan panini style, then sliced it into wedges and sprinkled more scallions on top. By George, we did it. And it was glorious.

pecking duck quesadilla

Stay tuned. On Friday, I will tell you the story of the Roast Pork Ragu. Scrumptious!

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Photo Friday: Crown Point Gets Artsy!

crown point courthouseFun fact: My husband was the seventh generation Sauerman to grow up on his family’s farm in Crown Point, IN. It’s fun, and sometimes heart-wrenching, to see how the town changes over time. Fortunately, it seems lately that Crown Point is bursting with fun new additions from coffee shops on the town square to an enormous and beautiful new library.

One of the treats of our Independence Day weekend visit was to see the new public art exhibit on display around the center of town. With the help of several local sponsors, Crown Point welcomed 11 sculptures by the famed Seward Johnson II to the town square. These realistic, life-size bronze statues definitely catch the eye, and it’s fun to watch the passerby do a double-take, pause, and then cautiously approach the statues for a closer appreciation of the extraordinary detail. One of the statues caused such a stir that the police received multiple calls from concerned citizens wondering why no one was helping the poor woman cross the street.

Here is a collection of photos I took of the exhibit. Enjoy!









Archie got a little handsy.



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Friday Rehash: Live from An Abandoned Church

I just found out yesterday that the church where I was baptized closed as a center of worship. I don’t know the details, but I gather it was a long time in coming. I remember well the stone building on its tree-filled property that abutted the very fancy Sleepy Hollow Country Club. We used to hop the church’s fence to go see the Country Club’s 4th of July Fireworks. I remember the smell of the church; some sort of lemon cleanser that didn’t quite mask the lingering mustiness. I remember that time with the youth group playing Sardines in the darkened church when one kid hid under the organ and almost set off a mouse trap. I can play back our family’s home videos in my head, images of my mom performing goofy skits, or of my brother, age 3, bedecked in a cotton-ball-covered tunic and looking straight into the camera to announce, “I’m a sheep!”

It’s funny how much I remember. I haven’t had any affiliation with the place in probably fifteen years.

I assume the property will go on to a new purpose, and perhaps even serve again as a place of worship for new people. I pray this is the case. Even so, as many memories as those walls held for so many families, I can’t help but feel like maybe there is something good to gather from this. It’s just a building. We need to keep that perspective. It is an earthly thing. This is not to say that God does not consecrate spaces or bless material things; He cares about the physical. But He cares a lot–oh so much more–for us. He wants a relationship with us. He wants us to pursue Truth (yes, that is a capital T). He does not want us to go through the motions. He wants a church of vibrant, faith-filled people, and this body, this church, can meet anywhere, whether it is in a hut, or a cathedral, or on a dusty road where Christ once said, “The son of man has nowhere to lay his head,” then bid us to follow him.

In honor of these sentiments, I want to share with you again a project I did with a musician friend a few months back. It is a song called, “We Are Dead,” performed live in an abandoned church. Peter McKeown of Woodferd astounds listeners with his musical prowess and thoughtful poetry. This song touches on the juxtaposition of the temporal and eternal, and so when Peter came to me saying he wanted to do a video in an empty church, it couldn’t have been more appropriate. In some ways, the lyrics and the song are a little shocking, but I hope you hear, as I do, the underlying hope: some things do last forever. We just have to make sure we know what those are.

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My Latest Video Project!

And now presenting….drumroll… latest video work!

Kate Whitley of Little Things Studio is an artist here in Nashville. Her delightful and wildly popular work flies off the tables at art fairs as well as off the virtual Esty shelves. It was a pleasure just to hear about her latest project and an even greater joy to help her with this video to fund it. Kate put the video up on the new Etsy fundraiser page and she is already 158% funded! Even so, be sure to check out the project and order an advance copy of her new, beautiful 30 Days of Hymns reusable desk calendar.

A bit about my process in making this video…

1) Grasping the Why
As often happens when we work on projects that excite us, we sometimes forget why other people might not be as excited. My first job as storyteller then was to get at WHY Kate’s audience should be excited. After all, Kate is not stating facts; she is making an argument and an invitation. They are not going to buy it because it’s a great deal or even because it is pretty. They are going to buy it because they will believe, along with Kate, that hymns are special and the poetry impacts us deeply. Therefore, the video needed to communicate this in what Kate said, in how she said it, and through the visual media. This WHY factor provided the framework as I wrote the script, planned shots, and directed Kate’s delivery.

2) Choosing a Look and Feel
I once went to a workshop put on by Stillmotion studios. One of the critical elements in their filming process is finding five keywords that guide practically every decision from lighting to interview question choices to soundtrack. This is a great discipline which I admittedly and regrettably COMPLETELY forgot to do this time around. Even so, I asked Kate enough questions up front that I felt confident we were on the same page. If I had to choose words retrospectively, they might be whimsey, light, heritage, sharing, and revival. Please note that these words could have been completely different, like mission, preservation, duty, beauty, and ancient; these words would have yielded a more solemn atmosphere in which Kate would be on a quest, rallying troops, etc. In the video we made, by contrast, Kate invited viewers into a community of lighthearted people who see the past, present, and future value of these meaningful words. In addition to this atmospheric distinction, I also made sure Kate and I agreed on some reference material. Kate’s enthusiasm immediately made me think of Kid President, with its peppy music, warm lighting, quick cuts, and whimsical illustrated text, so that is what I copied.

3) Lighting takes practice. Sigh. 
I’ve been on a quest for all the DIY lighting info I can find. I am pleased overall with how the final project looked in terms of color and exposure, but I lack some consistency. At one point I turned on another lamp in the middle of filming like a fool. It changed everything. Ah well. You live and you learn. Even so, if you know of any good resources on inexpensive lighting equipment or techniques, I’m on the hunt!

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