Archive for April, 2006

Shannon’s Marvelous Mascarpone Polenta

April 28, 2006

Shannon O'DonnellI had so much fun detailing the makings of our annual Easter Brunch two weeks ago (who wants to write about the weather when you already talk about it all day?), that I’ve decided to include another delicious recipe for you. I love polenta, but I’m pretty particular about it. I’m not a big fan of those hard logs of pre-made polenta you can buy in the deli section of the grocery store… I like my polenta soft and creamy. So, here is a super-fast recipe for soft, luscious, easy-cheesy polenta. It’s great under grilled salmon with a side of roasted asparagus.

* 4 cups chicken broth (I love to use ‘Better Than Bouillon’…it’s a rich, concentrated broth-base that you add water to. Takes up very little space compared to a bunch of cans of broth in your cabinet!)
* 3 Tablespoons butter
* 1 cup dry polenta (coarse corn meal)
* 3-4 cloves chopped garlic (again, I use the chopped garlic out of the jar–way easier, way less messy)
* 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
* Olive oil–enough to lightly coat a baking dish
* 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more for more heat!)

1) Bring chicken broth and butter to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Turn down the heat and slowly add the polenta grains and stir with a wooden spoon for 5 to 10 minutes, or until creamy. Stir in the garlic and mascarpone. You COULD just serve it like this…

2) But I like it ‘grilled’ and a little spicy. So, I coat a 9×12 baking dish with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, and sprinkle red pepper flakes across the dish. Then I spread the above polenta in the dish and broil it in the oven for a few minutes. The top will get golden and bubbly–watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn! You can cut the polenta out of the dish and serve it under some grilled meat or fish with a side of veggies. Divine, simple and healthy–enjoy!

Shannon O’Donnell
NBC11 WeatherPlus Meteorologist

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Celebrating Our Schools

April 27, 2006

Scott McGrewMike says (below) “I’m betting that someday we’ll actually be able to pick computer generated outfits and the chromakey will make us appear fully dressed. Sort of an electronic paper doll thing.”

I’d like to remind Mike that computers sometimes fail. Hmm.

On a note completely unrelated to Mike’s trousers, I make public appearances at local schools several times a month, and I’d like to tell you about two of them. I think we often talk about how education is failing; here are two examples to the contrary.

At Leland High School in San Jose, they have a career day every two years. But what a career day it is! The entire school participates, inviting hundreds of professionals and assigning each profession a classroom. The students have the day to wander from classroom to classroom to talk to adults about their interests. So, you might go from the aviation careers classroom to the hotel management classroom to the broadcast media classroom. It’s like a career buffet. Very cool.

And then over at Willow Glen Elementary School they’re getting ready for the California STAR tests. All schools throughout the state take these tests, but Willow Glen prepares students with a big pep rally. They invited me to attend Wednesday and talk to the kids about how important the test is. I told them to eat a good breakfast, dress well (studies say well dressed students do better on tests) and try their very best. What the kids don’t know, of course, is that the school’s funding and reputation are on the line. California requires schools to increase their test scores, known as API, each year. While I’m sure the teachers there want the children to do well on the tests one way or the other, they’re smart to energize the students ahead of time, because high scores will help the school.

This Saturday, I’ll host the Tech Museum’s “Tech Challenge” where students try to design a machine that will fill sandbags to fight a hypothetical flood. The event Saturday is open to the public. It’s great fun to see the kids work on a solution. Stop by and say hello.

Scott McGrew
NBC11 Business & Tech Reporter

Why I Wear Pants

April 26, 2006

Mike InouyeOkay, let’s be honest. Many of you were wondering, and many have asked me…
“Do you wear pants?”

I’m sure this question arises from the classic comedy sketches in which you see the anchorman with a shirt, tie and blazer, well coifed, emerging sans pants from the anchor desk. Reference the DVD cover for the recent hit movie “Anchorman.”

Sorry to report that this anchorman does indeed wear pants whenever standing on set.

Why?

Over the course of an average morning, I’m seen standing at the chromakey (where you see the roads or maps behind me) ten or eleven times. This shot shows me from head to knees. It would be all too obvious (and all too unpleasant) if I were to be seen pantless during these shots.

However, technology is constantly advancing. You’ve seen leaps forward in the amount and types of information I’m able to give you over the course of a morning utilizing my live robotic cameras, maps, charts, 3D and Skyview maps, as well as our state of the art news chopper. I’m betting that someday we’ll actually be able to pick computer generated outfits and the chromakey will make us appear fully dressed. Sort of an electronic paper doll thing.

Until that day, though, I still have to wear pants whenever I’m standing on set.

I’ll see you Monday thru Friday mornings, starting at 5:01 sitting behind the anchor desk…

I don’t stand until 5:21. 😉

Mike Inouye
NBC11 Traffic Anchor

Easter Brunch with Shannon

April 15, 2006

Shannon O'DonnellWith Easter approaching, we’ve been busy in our household getting ready for our annual Easter brunch. I always make the same ‘spring-themed’ dishes–I love having traditions like that to look forward to year ever year. And now that we have a little toddler running around, we’ll be adding a little ‘egg-hunt’ for our son and a few of his (very) little friends. Since they’re all around the 1-year-old mark, I don’t think it will be too competitive! But it should be a riot.

Now back to the food. Here’s what’s on the menu:

* Roasted Carrot Soup: Great for Peter Rabbit and your family alike. It’s super-healthy and really tasty. Recipe to follow.

* Baked Egg Nests: using layers of phyllo dough and butter (a real pain, but the result is worth it… nothing turns out quite as ‘nest-like’), I mold little ‘nests’ into a muffin tin. I fill the bottoms with slivers of spinach and prosciutto, crack an egg over each, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. When out of the oven, they are adorable, and delicious too! I serve them with ‘hollandaise sauce,’ but since I’ve often curdled my real-deal hollandaise into scrambled eggs, I cheat and make my sauce with some mayo, sour cream, dijon mustard, salt & pepper, lime juice, and a pinch of cayenne. It’s delicious and since you can make it ahead of time, it won’t curdle on you when you’re multi-tasking and trying to talk to your guests!

* Easter Egg Potatoes: Kind of like twice-baked potatoes, but standing upright. Take big (already baked) baking potatoes and cut them in half. Then take a small slice out of the round bottom part of each so they’ll stand upright. Scoop out the middle and make your potato salad of choice, then fill back into the hollowed half-potatoes, making them look like ‘eggs.’ Super cute!

* Bunny Breads: I used to make my own bread dough–ugh! Now that I’m a busy working Mom, I just buy that famous-brand breadstick dough. Take a long slice (they’re about 10″ out of the can!) of that dough, loop it into a figure eight, but with the two ends extending above the top loop of your eight so as to be the ‘ears’ (pinch them narrower at the end there so they look like bunny ears). Take an extra little ball of dough and press onto the bottom loop or your eight to be the ‘tail.’ Bake according to the package and serve with raspberry butter. Adorable!

* Rum cake: Very pretty on a glass pedestal stand in the middle of the brunch, and an alternative to all of the chocolate you’re sure to have around.

* Rounding it off: A seasonal fruit plate and Mimosas to drink. To make them really pretty, add a splash of grenadine or pomegranate juice… it will settle to the bottom beneath the orange juice and create a ‘sunset’ effect in your glass.

Now here’s that recipe for Roasted Carrot Soup:

5 pound bag of baby carrots
2T of olive oil
Some salt & pepper
2-3 Tbs. unsalted butter
4 shallots, chopped up
6-8 cups chicken (or vegetable or vegetarian version) stock
1 tsp. minced ginger (I buy that jar of ready-minced ginger)
Some ‘pumpkin-pie’ spices to taste: you can use some cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or allspice… probably about 1T total.
Sour cream and fresh parsley or chives for garnish

1) Pour the carrots into a big roasting pan. Douse with 2 or 3 tablespoons (a few rounds around the pan) of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste. Roast to 400 degrees for at least an hour, maybe 75 minutes. You want the carrots nice and soft.

2) Melt your butter in a BIG soup pan (this recipe makes a ton of soup!). Saute the chopped shallots for a few minutes, until they’re soft. Add your roasted carrots, 6 cups of your stock, the ginger, and your spices. Let simmer all together on medium-low for about 20-25 minutes. Then, you have to blend it. An immersion blender works great, but if you don’t have one, you can puree the soup in a regular (drink) blender, a few cups at a time.

3) Serve with a dollop of sour cream and fresh parsley or chives on top. Yum!

Have a fabulous Easter weekend!

Shannon O’Donnell
NBC11 WeatherPlus Meteorologist

My 15 Minutes

April 13, 2006

Michelle HechtYou may not know me – well, I’m certain you don’t unless you’re one of my family members, to which I’d say “Hello, see you on Easter!” So, I figure introductions are in order.

I’m Michelle, I scroll for the anchors. That’s how I’ve often described my job here as a production assistant (PA) and teleprompter operator. My duties also include preparing scripts for the anchors and director.

It’s a rewarding job and a great source of pride these past five years. Seeing the news as it happens and learning first-hand how an actual newsroom ticks is a fantastic experience. I also get to work with a wonderful group of people.

A recent addition to my position is floor directing the morning cut-ins, those news briefs that happen every half hour. I communicate the director’s cues to the anchors and make sure things run smoothly out on the studio floor – that’s the best way to describe it. A few of us PAs alternate flooring throughout the week. It’s a nice opportunity for us.

Oh, and I get to be on TV!

Next time you watch a cut-in, take note of the last shot, most likely it’ll be a view of the studio from above. If you see a girl in a bright pink shirt or a purple jacket, that’s me. I’m not at the anchor desk or doing a live shot from the field, but it’s still exciting.

Now, you can say you know an actual production assistant.

Michelle Hecht
NBC11 Production Assistant

Working in the Rain

April 13, 2006

Lisa BernardThe rain is certainly tough on the spirit. It’s tough on those who have to wait at a bus stop, or unload groceries from the shopping cart to the car, or walk the dog. But consider construction crews, mail carriers, and morning tv news reporters. We work in it. My NBC11 jacket has become a second skin. I don’t really bother straightening my hair with the hair dryer anymore, and I’ve learned to ignore the strange looks I get when I run my errands immediately after work still wearing my lovely rain paints. (I’m so glad I bought a new pair in February despite believing the rainy season was almost over.) Almost everything about our job is more challenging in the rain: persuading people to stand outside and chat with us about whatever news we’re covering that day, keeping the camera and microphone dry, keeping my notepad dry so the ink won’t run (zip lock bag), not to mention trying to look presentable to those watching. Of course the very hardest part of reporting in the rain is learning of the heartache of people I meet who are losing their homes and belongings to moving hillsides and flood waters—they are the ones really suffering. I don’t mind enduring some discomfort so I can share their stories with the Bay Area.

Lisa Bernard
NBC11 Reporter

The San Francisco Gray Area

April 11, 2006

Bob RedellI understand why we need rain but this is a little much. Will it ever END!!!!???? So, help me prepare for the inevitable and join me tomorrow when we start collecting two of every animal. (Random people’s pets first: cats, dogs, parakeets, two toed sloths, etc…)

Oh, I was in Chicago this weekend. Amazingly, the sun actually shines there. I got to see it just before hypothermia set in. (The wind off the lake felt like 20 degrees.) I’ve gotta tell ya: I love the Windy City. I was born there and raised on the Southside. It’s a terrific place with great people. That said, in spite of all this wet weather, I’d much rather swim than freeze.

Today, during the 10 am newscast, I’ll be doing a live shot from the clock tower at the San Jose Museum of Art. They’re trying to rebuild the top part that was destroyed during the 1906 quake. Look for me: I’ll be standing on the tiny ledge way up there outside the face of the clock. It should be a good time.

Bob Redell
NBC11 Reporter

What Happened to Spring?

April 11, 2006

Laura Garcia Cannon “What happened to spring?” A viewer asked me the other day as I was running some errands inside a Bay Area mall on an outdoor rainy day. It made me think of the change of the seasons – literally, that we’ve all been experiencing here in the Bay Area. Our WeatherPlus Meteorologist Shannon O’Donnell has told us we’ve broken rain records in the past month of March, and right now, April is looking about the same. Where did spring go? Will it make an appearance, or will we go barreling into the foggy summers of San Francisco or heat in the East and South Bay?

I’m a believer that life is what you make of it, have lemons? Make lemonade! The hillsides are green and lush, my garden is finally taking shape thanks to a few breaks of sun when I can run outside, till the soil, doing a little digging and planting just in time to let Mother Nature do the watering! I’d be remiss however, not to mention all the people in the Bay Area who’ve become victims of the storms; countless accidents, roads closed, homes left teetering on hillsides. We had a story in our newscast about a San Anselmo man who had to sit back and watch the demolition of his childhood home because it’s too dangerous to let it stand anymore. It’s teetering on a hillside, threatening to come crashing down because of lack of support from the sliding land below. Lifelong memories gone in an instant. I guess it’s a lesson for all of us to be prepared, be thankful for what we have when we have it, because in an instant everything can change. I wish those well who’ve had to really deal with the effects of the storms… it’s a little reminder to those of us who complain about ‘another rainy day’ that maybe life isn’t that bad.

Laura Garcia Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

Echoes From The Past

April 9, 2006

John Peck
“History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.”
– David C. McCullough

A quick note of introduction – I am a morning show producer here at NBC11; one of the many people behind the scenes who work to bring you the news you need to know as you start your day.

We’re gearing up for next week’s 100th anniversary of the Great Quake. At 5:12am on April 18th, 1906 the Bay Area was forever transformed. As we look back at this profound moment in history, we have an opportunity and responsibility to look at the lessons learned and whether we’re prepared for the next Great Quake.

It’s hard to grasp the immense power of the 1906 earthquake. Scientists at USGS estimate it registered a magnitude of around 7.7 to 7.9. They say it was like 30 Loma Prieta earthquakes striking simultaneously from north of Santa Rosa to south of San Jose.

Are we ready for the next one? We’ll probably never be able to say we’re completely ready. But, there’s a lot we can do to prepare. Today, our reporter Christie Smith showed us the challenges facing hospitals as they gear up for the next big one. Many are struggling to meet a 2008 deadline to prove they are seismically safe, and there is serious concern about whether they will be able to function after a quake.

In the next week, we’ll take you around the bay for a look at how other services you count on could be impacted by a quake. We’ll look back at what we’ve learned since 1906 and how you can protect your family.

All our coverage will culminate with a very special broadcast next Tuesday morning, April 18th. Please join us as we bring you live coverage of the commemoration of the Great Quake of 1906. We are planning a morning newscast with features and coverage that you won’t see anywhere else.

And that night at 7pm, don’t miss the special broadcast of NBC11’s “Echoes From The Past: The 1906 Earthquake.” The hour long documentary will provide a unique look back at that day in history 100 years ago. If you can’t wait to see it, you can find out how to download a podcast of the broadcast before it airs… plus, find an entire interactive experience about the quake by clicking here.

John Peck
NBC11 Producer

How Lucky Are WE?!

April 7, 2006

Mike InouyeThe other day we told you about a young man named Wayne Hester from Georgia. He is battling Osteosarcoma (a form of bone cancer) and is in the Bay Area thanks to the “Make a Wish Foundation.”

For those of you who’ve not heard of this organization, their mission is stated as:

“We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy.”

Wayne’s wish?

…to see the Golden Gate Bridge.

Over the course of any given morning, I may show our live camera on that bridge four or five times. Weather permitting, Chopper 11 may show us the bridge from a few other angles. Thousands of commuters grudgingly pass over it en route to or from work every day.

We complain about the delays over that bridge, the fog around that bridge, the rain and snow on and near that bridge. We’ve probably even complained about them all on the same day. (Remember last month?)

Wayne’s wish is simply to see this bridge.

How lucky are WE?!

We can see this bridge every day. It’s not just the Golden Gate Bridge, though.

It’s the breathtaking beauty of the Marin Headlands from southbound 101.

It’s the other-worldly windmill farms thru the Altamont Pass.

It’s the view of the traditionally eclectic San Francisco skyline from the Eastshore Freeway.

Just something to think about the next time you’re grumbling about being stuck in traffic.

Mike Inouye
NBC11 Traffic Anchor