On Her Shoulders

Today I witnessed the emotional masterpiece that is On Her Shoulders by Alexandria Bombach. The film explores many crucial ideas about Yazidi culture, European culture, and identity. One concept that I really liked was the idea that documentary film can be therapeutic for the subject. Throughout the film, Bombach captures the raw emotion of Nadia and upon seeing how many places Nadia visited I noticed something remarkable. Nadia, while emotional at times, was for the most part very reserved and strong. When Nadia visited refugee camps in Greece and noticed other women crying, she immediately went to their aid and gave them hope. Although she is reminded constantly of what happened to her and her family, she is able to tell her story with such audacity that she has made the subject easier to talk about. Another theme that stuck out to me was this idea of community. Even though everything has been taken from the Yazidi people, they still persevere as a cultural entity. They hold their identity, their culture, and their faith to the utmost importance. They believe that without their religious or cultural identity, then they don’t have an identity. I am fascinated by this concept that our geographical identity is less important than our cultural identity. Essentially a community values its morals more than what they have access to. Whether it be freshwater, crops, strip malls, everyone in the community circles back to their cultural roots. Similarly, in Cynthia Hill’s A Chef’s Life, she explores southern identity through ingredients. But there is more to be said about Hill’s creative process. She shows that southern identity is not only shown by the food you eat, or where you live, or what you believe, but rather something deeper. She’s trying to show the amount of kindness they show for one another. She’s trying to show the relevance of each ingredient and where it comes from. She’s telling stories through food. What I believe sets these filmmakers apart from others is there use of showing and describing events, rather than doing formalized interviews with the main subjects. They are truly interested in developing legitimate relationships with the characters. And, I think that’s what makes their films so meaningful.

~ Sam Grant

Twenty Time Evaluation

 

  • What did you enjoy about the experience?

I really enjoyed that I was able to find a new passion and that I know that one day I will become a professional pastry chef and the other part of my project has made me much better at editing, which I also now love doing, but learning gymnastics on my own was very challenging but the most fun. I think my favorite part was coming up with the final video, because even though it took me a long time, it was so fun to make, and so worth it.

  • What was the most challenging aspect of your Twenty Time project?

I did my Twenty Time almost every day in some form, splits, or trampoline, prepping, editing, baking, looking for recipes.

  • What is one thing you learned about yourself by participating in your Twenty Time project?

I like a challenge and I am willing to sacrifice everything for what I love doing.

  • What are you most proud of? Why?

My final project video because it expresses my setbacks and accomplishments on the trampoline, as an editor, and a baker.

  • What lessons did you learn from your successes?

When you truly love something, you make time for it.

  • What lessons did you learn from your failures?

That in baking and tricking and editing you have to be willing to fail in order to gain experience. I never saw failures as failures, but as learning curves.

  • What is one thing about this project you believe you’ll remember for a long time to come?

That this is where my interest for baking, food photography, editing, and gymnastics began.

  • What is something the teacher could have done to make this project better?

There was not anything that Mrs. Wittman could have done to make this project better because I loved it so much.

Thanks for such an amazing year, my life has actually changed so much since Twenty Time!

 

Twenty Time #15

This week I began to look more into sugar crafting, which is an art in itself. Candy makers sure do know way more about tempering and coloring than anyone else in the pastry industry. I have done work with sugar before, but what I plan to do this weekend is do what this candy maker taught me how to do. I am going to go through all the sugar stages, now it’s true that with the addition of corn syrup you can make lollipops, which I did last weekend, but I have done what I am going to do this weekend before. Still I am working with 325 degrees of danger. Sugar stages are so much fun and very fascinating, essentially it’s double the sugar to one half of water, so if I used a cup of sugar, I would need a half cup of water. Essentially you stir these two ingredients over medium heat in a large saucepan until it boils, once it boils this is where most people mess things up, the sugar will re-crystallize forming rock candy once it reaches the caramel stage (320 degrees Fahrenheit). I have done this before on accident and it is tasty but in general letting the sugar re-crystallize is very bad for most projects with sugar and candy making. To prevent re-crystallization you must stop stirring once it boils and you can cover the saucepan with a lid and the natural condensation will wash down the sides of your saucepan which will in turn prevent re-crystallization. Or you can go the traditional method which is just taking a pastry brush dipped in cold water and washing down the sides of the pan. After your sugar boils and you have prevented re-crystallization multiple times at 234 degrees Fahrenheit your sugar will meet it’s first stage (keep in mind the beginning stages the water content is very high and in the higher stages the content is very low). The thread stage will occur first and you can’t make spun sugar or cotton candy with this but you can make gooey delicious sugar threads by simply spinning it. After thread stage comes soft ball, medium ball, hardball, soft crack, hard crack, and then finally the caramel stage. You can do all of these without a candy thermometer just by dropping a spoonful of the syrup into a bowl with cold water and then if necessary pinch the sugar to see if it is at softball stage, medium ball, or if it is slightly malleable in hardball and soft crack stage. Once your reach hard crack and caramel stage you can’t bend your sugar. I hope you try this fun and simple recipe, and I will be going through all the stages this weekend and maybe try my hand at cotton candy or sugar glass too! As far as agility goes I get to go on the trampoline this Sunday, I am really nervous to go on it because of my leg and the fact that I haven’t jumped on it in four months might mean I will have some brushing up on basic skills to do. My dive cartwheels (pre-side aerials) have been going well and I did execute a front-handspring last weekend but my legs were not straight at all and the landing wasn’t it’s best. I can nearly almost do a split which is exciting and after that I can work on walkovers which will probably have to happen at the end of June because I can’t hold a handstand for very long.

Twenty Time #14

Today I did some essential editing to my progression video. It is now two minutes and 30 seconds, which is going to make my presentation easier, so then I can talk for half of the time about what my project is instead of letting the video show the entire thing. This weekend was packed with baking, I made coconut brittle, and learned that brittle is really just caramel stage sugar with butter mixed in. I also made Challah, a well-known Jewish bread, and I attempted the hardest knotting version. Challah is one of the nicest looking breads around, and their are four other versions to braid, pack, and fold this bread. I also made seventy mini peanut butter cookies for the middle school bake sale and Young Life Club, but the Young Life club ate all of my cookies, and my friends and I polished off the coconut l brittle and the Challah. So all in all an exciting weekend. I have made some final plans, since my leg is still a problem, meaning I can’t jump on the trampoline still, or do any compact jumps. I did do some side aerial and webster flip training this weekend, and put in a solid 2 hours on that. After that I knew that my leg wasn’t ready to do anything like that for at least three weeks. The last main thing that I will make for my project is going to be at the beginning of May, I am going to plan it out and take multiple steps and breaks to ensure nothing major goes wrong like last time I made a cake. My cake is most likely going to be a peanut butter chocolate and pretzel layer cake with recess cups and chocolate frosting and peanut butter buttercream bi-colored swirls with peanuts and pretzels to garnish. I have decided to just do what I can as far as agility goes, and if I don’t get my split by the end of the project, I will still keep stretching because the bigger you are the harder it is for all of your leg and thigh muscles to stretch.

Twenty Time #14

Today I brought in chocolate cookies that my grandmother used to make me into my class. I topped them off with seven-minute frosting hats, which I just figured out how to make. Essentially it is combining ingredients to a stage that when they whip together at that heat that they form a sweet, sticky, fluffy cloud of deliciousness. I think I have found the quickest vanilla frosting or frosting to add extracts too. Still there is much to be experimented with, like chocolate ganache frosting and other stuff. Still, I was very proud that I made such an enjoyable treat for everyone. On that note, today I worked on editing more on my trampoline progress video. Sadly I am unable to continue my agility part of the project because I have a leg injury that won’t allow me to do any flips or compact jumps. Although there is a slight chance that I can continue doing less difficult tricks on the trampoline. So basically know I have changed from “Culinary Ninja” to “Just another Foodie” or something along that lines. Jumping on the trampoline and ground tricks were really fun but I need to let my leg heal in order to do it later, but I will continue tricking and trampoline jumping one day. Still, I can do a dive roll, which a diving somersault used in vaulting, and I can do a dive roll into a flip. Essentially I run and execute the dive roll, then I am on the ground with my knee up and I push up off my back leg, which brings my body over into a front flip, even though I land on my butt, it still amazes me that I can even do it with my leg injury and be totally fine. For now the last main unit I have to do is cake, most likely it will be my birthday cake: most likely chocolate with ganache frosting and seven minute frosting. I will also do a mousse unit which will most likely be a mousse tart or tartlets, probably blueberry mousse with lemon curd whipped cream. Onto flexibility: I am still really really close to getting my right front split but I need at least until my birthday to get it, so the end of April. I can sit in an “almost” split, but I can’t just push my hips down, sadly splits don’t work like that. Once I do, I can move onto backbend from a stand and left leg splits. As far as the deadline of the project, I have made progression videos for some of my videos, but they are really long, so I can mash them together into a shorter video or I can just bring in food and do a split or something like that. The point is I always have something to fall back  on when I go to present my project. Which is food.

Twenty Time #14

Today I worked on my trampoline progression video, and I am really excited to get out of my boot. Hopefully on Monday night I get to start my tricking again, after about 2 months without the trampoline. I still want to to make a trampoline aerial tutorial, and a double back full video. The aerial video should be very easy to do, but doing the double back full is going to be really hard to make a video on. Twisting backflips in general have always been hard for me because they  take so much concentration and form. When I accidentally do them, I am not flat, I’m curled up. Once I master a double back full that consists of two rotations and a layout, then I will be ready to make a video. My plan to do this is to practice layouts for a long time, then move on to jumping backwards while twisting. I think when I am ready that I can put these prerequisites together and complete at least one flat rotation. Other than that, I want to learn how to do double back flips and double front flips and maybe double side flips. Out of these three, I want to do double backflips the most, but they are so hard and terrifying to attempt. As always some goals besides the ones above: backbend from a stand, standing back tuck, side aerial, and front  handspring. I have decided to not pursue back walkovers and front walkovers because they require a lot of core strength and I might need to improve this. I know this because I attempted both at the beach which has soft sand and my mom spotted me. When I go into a handstand, I need to hold the handstand and slowly slide into a split and start leaning one leg onto the ground. To do this I need to learn a split handstand, a backbend, and I also need to be able to hold a handstand for at least 30 seconds. Since I don’t have a flexible back, it will be physically impossible to do any walkover. I think by the time I get my backbend, the project will be over, but I can do it on my own time. As far as my baking, I still truly haven’t mastered any recipes, but one of my goals of the project was to make different types of food, so it doesn’t really matter if I have mastered it, as long as I know what to do and what not to do the next time I make it. I still need to make a cake and a mousse. I am making a vanilla chiffon sponge cake this weekend and I am really excited to re unite with my kitchen after two weeks. My cake will be easter themed, so I am going to try not to do anything like buttercream roses, but I would like to be able to make flowers before I finish this project. My cake will have royal icing (new recipe) that will be dyed orange to look like a carrot and green to look like the carrot’s head, to do this I will learn a new skill called stenciling, in short I print out a picture of a carrot and outline it in royal icing. My cake will also consist of pastry cream, vanilla buttercream dyed pink, yellow, and grass green, and a few smaller decorations made out of buttercream and sugar glass. I am going to try to make each element of the cake on separate days so I can have it all ready for Easter this Sunday. Moving into my flexibility unit, I am now realizing that splits are easier, I am not lying when I say I am inches from touching the floor. I hope to be able to do a right front split by the end of March. Lastly I just wanted to say that even though not all videos have been posted, I bake about once a week or once every two weeks.

Twenty Time #13

Today I worked on editing my progress videos for my Twenty Time. Currently, each video is about five minutes long. I have a bloopers video, a tricking and trampoline video, and I’m working on a baking video. I should be done with all three by Friday because I am mostly experimenting with fast motion and different music for the background noise. Some goals for the end of the year are: getting out of my boot because I haven’t been on the trampoline in over month, back tuck on the ground, a back handspring on the ground, 10 back tucks in a row on the trampoline, one more subscriber to my YouTube channel, a side aerial (not mastered, but at least one decent one), backbend from stand, back walkover, front walkover, front handspring, and right leg front split. I have been able to still do some flexibility training, because two of them are my goals. I have worked on my right leg front split, middle split, and a walking backbend. A walking backbend is when someone is too afraid to fall backwards and catch yourself with your hands, making a bridge/wheel stretch, essentially the person stands in front of a wall and walks their hands down the wall and onto the ground. Since my back is not flexible I try to go a little further into my backbend every day to avoid injury. As far as my splits go, my front splits help me with my middle splits, but I think if I improve my straddle also, then I will be able to be better at all of the splits. Recently I have found a good video on YouTube that helps me with middle and straddle splits, which can also help with my front splits. All in all, I think not all these goals will be met, but I will try to have better splits and a back tuck and a side aerial at least.

Twenty Time #12

Today I edited my Italian Meringue Buttercream video and I am still working on it finishing and uploading it. I feel like my viewers on YouTube should know how I make buttercream, being that I use it very often. I also need to upload my Orange Chocolate Cupcake video to YouTube and I will be uploading some sort of baking video this weekend. I have still been working on my right front leg split and once I get, I will move onto middle splits, straddles, and left leg front splits; which should be easier because I will be more flexible. Honestly, I feel as if splits and training flexibility have taken over what I am trying to do on the agile part about my project; that’s why I need my splits soon, so I can move on. This is really evident in my tricking, I can still do a front flip, but I haven’t worked on since October; which is really bad. I also haven’t been on the trampoline in over two weeks, which is even worse. Some future goals that I will work on or at least attempt are: croissants because I feel it’s important to work with puff pastry and make it on my own, cake because I want to make roses out of buttercream for it and I need to know how to make cake to be called a baker, my final video that will demonstrate skills I have developed and learned, some kind of bar with a shortbread crust, a mousse which could be inside the cake, brownies with chocolate ganache and buttercream, bread, and an ice cream that is Spring related. My agility goals have changed because reality always catches up to me after I realize I am over-extending myself: standing back tuck on ground but without combinations, an improved front tuck on ground, front layout on trampoline, developing combos on trampoline, front and middle splits or close to middle split because they are extremely difficult, a side aerial, and a front handspring. Various drills like handstands, donkey kicks, hurdles, tuck jumps, and splits have helped me a lot with my agility part, but the baking part is hard to say. Due to the limited amount of ingredients and time I have, I never really master making all of these desserts, so most of these I only make once. My undecided final goal for baking is going to probably be a cake or something like that. Some quick things that I can do in between all of these are some recipes my mom used to make when she was little with her mom. Things like popcorn balls with caramel, caramel apples, and stuff like that. I also want to get colorful, so next time I make a cupcake I am going to make a bi-color swirl frosting, in addition I will color sugar with food coloring and place the sugar in the cupcake and add pockets in the batter and fold it different food colorings. I also will make sugar glass for the second time, and color it by coloring the sugar first. Therefore, once this project ends I hope that I can continue on learning new skills, after all my frosting skills still need a lot of work, and I am eager to learn new skills with the balance of my mentors: my mom, and Wilton Cakes on YouTube.

Twenty Time #11

Today I worked on editing a video that shows at least half of my progress in Twenty Time. I have been editing this video for about a week now and I plan to put it on the title page of my YouTube channel. My progress and goals for my project have changed a little, mostly because of the addition of sports and gobs of homework I need a plan that will fit my chaotic life. My revised ground trick goals are: front handspring, front limber, backbend, back handspring, back tuck, back step out, a webster flip, a better front tuck and middle split/straddle, more  iMovie use. My trampoline goals are just better and longer combos, stronger endurance while jumping and being efficient with the amount of energy I use in each jump, and a parallel back full. My baking goals are a cake, a mousse (probably a blueberry mousse with lemon coulis inside a tart), a bread, an ice cream, a bar with crust, and puff pastry–which I woulds use to to make croissants. Although it’s true that I haven’t made a lot of recipes more than twice, it’s okay because the main goal was to be able to have a functional YouTube channel and be able to do two of my favorite things and combine them. Which so far I have been able to do, also I have gotten a lot better with iMovie, recently I learned that I can still be entertaining and concise by adding in voice and music after I make the video. Anyway, right now I have to edit and upload all my old videos, then make new tutorials on stuff that I have already been able to do, then I can learn the new stuff.

Twenty Time #10

Today was the mid-marking time interval for our and I feel a lot better about all, in my opinion, and over the top effort in my project. I am a lot deeper in my front split with my right leg, when everyone in my class found my Instagram with progress in my splits, baking, and trampoline skills they were really impressed. I am trying to keep a level head when uploading videos because there is a lot of deconstructive criticism from my peers. I learned from one one of my classmates that I can still get my thoughts and tips in if I don’t talk, except at the intro when making the video. They said that I should add in voice after making the video so I can never misspeak, and more importantly so my videos are less than 20 minutes, and more like 10 minutes. They said that this will help with how much time and energy I spend on the video.

Currently my main goals are to get my side aerial by the end of April, my back tuck, front handspring and right leg front split by the end of February. Then I would like to have my left leg spilt, backbend, front limber, whipster flip, back step out and back handspring by the end of April. Lastly, I just need at least a cookie bar or brownie, perhaps a truffle because I have to temper chocolate to make truffles, a cake, puff pastry, mousse, ice cream, and other stuff like tartlets with coulis and gastric. I really feel like I have come a long way with this project, I know I want a professional high speed recap of what I’ve done when I finished. I also think that it would be cool if I displayed all the words that I learned about and their meaning to my class when the time comes.