Gary had us create podcasts this week which was exciting because that is the next big project we are going to be doing in Tech Club and I needed some experience. I had ordered Jessica Abel and Ira Glass’ Radio: An Illustrated Guide, which proved to be invaluable in my planning for my podcast. A big fan of NPR and This American Life, the book was a fascinating look (via Jessica Abel’s awesome illustrations) of how This American Life is made and how to make good radio in general. The book is full of good suggestions about how to interview somebody, how to edit “tape” and make the dialogue flow, and contained most of the guidance I needed to get started.
I started by brainstorming a topic. Dieting came to mind, as I’ve been working on losing weight and learning to eat differently with great results. Then I made a rough outline of what I wanted to talk about, laying out the major points and figuring I will fill it out with the narrative. I also asked my wife, Meg, to participate in part of the exercise, asking her to help cook a dinner with me while I recorded it. She agreed, so I shared with her the main talking points so she would be able to think about them beforehand. We also had to figure out a good day to record our cooking, as we knew it would take some time and did not want to feel rushed in our cooking or the assignment.
I borrowed a Samson C01U USB Studio Condensor microphone from work and hooked it up to my PowerBook. I used GarageBand 3.0.4 to record my broadcast. There was some fighting at times to get it to use the external microphone; I think much of the cooking segment was actually recorded on the built-in mic which does not give optimum audio. Once I had it working I sat down and recorded the first segment. I was amazed at how easy it was, and I used the editing guidance from _Radio_ to guide me in taking out the extra ‘ums’ and ‘uhs,’ which made the recording sound much tighter. I also selected some short interlude music clips that would transition the listener between clips and which were all about food in some way.
The night we recorded ourselves making dinner I moved the PowerBook into the kitchen, along with the microphone, which you can see propped up on the window pane by Meg in the photo below.
With that we started recording, knowing that there would be much to edit from the final piece. We were making a vegetable “lasagne” that used eggplant in place of pasta. Meg made up the recipe by cobbling together a couple of different recipes.
Meg’s Eggplant Lasagne
1 medium eggplant
2 medium-large zucchini, grated
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow pepper, evenly diced
3 medium button mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced into slivers
1 cup low-fat ricotta
1/4 cup egg replacement
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup shredded cheese blend
1. Cut the top and bottom from the eggplant, then slice the eggplant vertically into thin lasagne noodle-shaped slices. Lay the slices on a lightly oiled foil-lined pan and roast, turning once, in a 400 degree oven until lightly browned and most of the water has evaporated, about fifteen minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to cutting board to cool.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium pan over medium high heat saute onion and pepper in olive oil until they begin to soften. Add the mushrooms, saute until slightly softened and browned. Push ingredients to the side of the pan and add grated zucchini, drizzling with a little olive oil and salt. Cook until the zucchini is slightly browned and most of the water has evaporated, about ten minutes. Remove from heat, add garlic and stir to combine. Allow to cool slightly.
3. In a medium bowl combine ricotta and egg replacement, stirring well. Add grated nutmeg, ground pepper, and red pepper flakes.
4. In a glass bread baking pan, add tomato sauce and olive oil to cover bottom. Layer three slices of eggplant diagonally across the bottom of the pan to cover. Add half of vegetable mixture, spreading to cover. Top with 1/3 of ricotta mixture and shredded cheese mixture. Repeat, covering the cheese layers with sauce, eggplant, the remaining vegetable mixture, ricotta, and shredded cheese. The final layer should be sauce, eggplant, the remaining ricotta and shredded cheese. Any remaining tomato sauce can be spread over the top.
5. Place pan in a 350 degree oven and bake until bubbling and hot, about 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Slice and remove from pan.
The recording went from about 45 minutes of footage to about fifteen finished, edited minutes of audio. In addition I used Garageband to add “artwork” to the podcast and generate an xml.rss file, which I then went back and edited by hand.
This assignment provided me with a great opportunity to learn the fundamentals of podcasting before I try it out with the Tech Club. Proper planning, an understanding of how to edit audio, and selecting an interesting topic are all important when trying to make your first podcast.