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july 1, 2010
Mary's aunt, Carolyn, who's enjoyed the Video Latelys we've been creating, suggested we do a video of Mary and me cooking a meal.
So we decided that for the July Video Lately, we'd film us making one of our favorite dishes, Hot Cheese Chicken.
Hot Cheese Chicken is a dish we came up with as a variation on Paul Prudhomme's recipe Cheese and Hot Pepper Chicken from his first and best cookbook, Louisiana Cooking. (Nearly all chef's first cookbooks are their best, because these are the recipes they've worked with for years, fine-tuning them, plus recipes handed down over the decades through their family. Later cookbooks tend to consist of recipes created specifically for those cookbooks, which aren't as good. They haven't been tried out on the road long enough.)
We've made the dish a hundred times over the years, so I knew it would be easy to prepare even with my attention distracted between cooking the meal and filming the cooking.
Even so, it did turn out to be a challenge. For one thing, most of the Video Latelys up to now have been pretty easy to do. The first, back in February, was the easiest of all. I just sat in front of the camcorder, and started talking.
With this month's video though, in order to capture the food preparation and cooking process, I had to use twenty-one different camera set-ups (the camcorder had to repositioned twenty-one times to capture the action.)
What I also didn't think through enough is that Hot Cheese Chicken, although it isn't a particularly difficult dish to make, from the point of cooking technique, involves so many different ingredients and cooking stages that it takes about three hours to prepare. And that's three hours if you're just cooking the dish, rather than cooking and filming each stage of that cooking process.
We started filming the video about one in the afternoon on Tuesday, June 22, and finished around seven in the evening. By that time I was rather tired, as you'll hear in my voice near the end.
I use YouTube for the Video Latelys, because it's the easiest way to deliver the videos to visitors to this site. You don't have to download a file, and the video starts streaming almost at once.
A disadvantage to YouTube is that your video cannot exceed ten minutes. Of course, that restriction also requires you to be more creative, to fit what you want to say into a ten minute window, much like the rule of rhyme forced poets years ago to be more creative.
So I do like the ten minute box, but with something as extensive as the filming of us making Hot Cheese Chicken, obviously a lot has to be left out.
Our final footage of making the dish came to thirty minutes. And very little of that footage was extraneous. I had to edit all those tiny rectangles down to a third of its length. I lost track of how many edits I made, but by the end I wound up with a little over forty clips that I put together for the final version.
In the process, I had to cut a lot of footage I liked-personal moments, jokes, information about the ingredients or techniques we were using-in order to fit everything within ten minutes. Obviously, for this video, which is essentially a cooking video, the most important storyline was showing how the dish got made, from start to finish. Since the dish itself was the star, that also means you'll see far more hands, stirring a wooden spoon in a pot, than you'll see faces.
And of course another disadvantage is that you can't reshoot a scene, like you can with just about any other type of video. You can't "uncook" a chicken breast to cook it again from a different angle, or with different lighting.
But it was a great learning experience. And we had a lot of fun. In the future, I think we'll continue to do the occasional "making a meal" video, but using much simpler recipes.
As far as I know, I'm the only person on the Internet doing regular video diaries (as opposed to people who upload the occasional video that doesn't directly relate to their everyday life.) If there are other people you know of who do periodic video diaries, I'd love to hear about them, just to be able to compare notes.
So here's the Video Lately for July 1, 2010: Mary and me preparing Hot Cheese Chicken.