A nice Sting to Hood River cook’s national TV experience

There was taste of sweetness, and a touch of Sting in one woman's holiday travels.

Lauren Brennan, who writes a blog about her home cooking, shared a favorite dessert on national television and met the singer Sting in a two-day visit to New York City.

Brennan, of Hood River, prepared her brownie cream cheese peppermint bars on "Good Morning America" for its "12 Recipes of Christmas" segment. The recipe was chosen as part of a GMA contest.

"It was a blast," Brennan said of the live television experience. "I was nervous at first because I'd never been on TV but then the adrenalin kicked in and it all happened really fast," she said.

"It was cool to be on live TV and see how it all happens."

GMA flew Brennan to New York on Dec. 12, and she appeared on the program Dec. 13 and flew home the same day.

Brennan got to bed early because she needed to be at the studio at 6 a.m. At 12:30 a.m. an alarm went off in the hotel and guests were asked to remain in their rooms.

"Pretty freaky, right?" Brennan wrote on her blog. She said nerves had settled in, and she was unable to go back to sleep.

"At this point I was too nervous to feel tired," she wrote.

Her ABC driver arrived at 5:45 and she was on set by 6. She met host Sam Champion and Food Network's Sandra Lee and the GMA food staff who had made one version of the recipe ahead of time for Brennan to assemble on air in three live shots.

Brennan writes on her blog that between the first and second live shots, "we were going over a few things about the segment. Somewhere in there Sandra told me to watch out for these thick cords taped to the floor. It was maybe 30 second later when I trip on the cords and fall into Sandra's arms. We both crack up and try to compose ourselves and then continue prepping. Then, 30 seconds after that, she trips on the cords and I catch her."

During a break, she saw Sting and went over and introduced herself.

"He was polite, but kind of quiet," she said of the former front man of The Police.

Champion told her "great job" and praised her recipe - which Brennan never got a chance to sample on set.

"Once I was done, I was so relieved! I didn't actually get to watch the tape of myself until I got home that night at 1:30 a.m. And to be honest, I was so nervous that I forgot what I had said or what had even happened!"

Later, Brennan said she was told her peppermint bars recipe is the most-downloaded in the December series.

www.laurenslatest.com, now has 7,000 monthly hits, and climbing (compared to about a 100 when she started two years ago) and Brennan said her appearance on "GMA" is a key ingredient.

"Good Morning America gives me a lot more credibility," said Brennan. "That's what I need. People tend to trust bloggers who have a lot of experience, as well as photos of good recipes."

The feedback has been positive from her blog readers and Facebook friends.

"I've heard from a lot of people saying they tried the recipe and liked it," Brennan said.

She would love to develop a large enough following to give her a contract to write a cookbook. She enjoys writing her near-daily blog, which emphasizes practical recipes with ingredients most kitchens have on hand.

The brownie bars recipe, she said, "was a simple recipe, but I can make it look like I worked on it all day," Brennan said.

For Brennan’s brownie bars recipe, her full blog on the GMA appearance and many more recipes, go to www.laurenslatest.com

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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