Cooking runs in the family

Senior Hannah Johnson recently partnered with Tracy Briggs, host of “The Great Indoors,” for a cooking show on the InForum website.

Johnson’s interest in cooking and baking began as a way to spend time with her grandma Sonja. This interest has turned into a passion that was the inspiration for creating the “Cobber Cooking Show” on Concordia On Air.

Each summer, Johnson, from Alexander, Minn., spent time in Battle Lake, Minn., with her grandmother. Her grandma always had bars in the freezer for her visit.

“She was always prepared…even weeks in advance,” Johnson said. “She’s the master at baking.”

Grandma Johnson’s love for baking inspired Johnson. In 2011, the idea originated when Johnson wanted to connect her love of cooking to Concordia On Air. Johnson wanted to be more involved with On Air but wasn’t able to because choir rehearsal occurs during the same timeframe. However, Johnson proposed the idea to Executive Director Annie Pattison to get feedback. Pattison thought it would be a nice addition to the show.

When Johnson approached Pattison, there was a five-minute segment consistently open on the show, Pattison said.

“I told Hannah if she was responsible to get it done, I told her it would work perfectly,” Pattison said.

Johnson, a mass media communication studies major, talked to senior Paul Flessland, who agreed to help. Johnson’s had her first cooking segment in the fall of her junior year. In the show’s beginning, Flessland and Johnson got together every few weeks to tape the show. Flessland filmed and then edited the cooking show segments.

“At first, we had no idea what we were doing…but luckily it turned out pretty good,” Flessland said.

The show is taped in segments. Flessland and Johnson figure out what to say before each section is taped.

During each show, Johnson tries to make recipes that would work for college students. She sticks with easy recipes that are simple and affordable, she said.

“I don’t make elaborate recipes,” she said.

Johnson has made banana bread, cake cookies, beer bread and tortilla bites.

For Johnson, making recipes that relate to a wide range of students is the hardest part.

“Something I might really enjoy, others might hate,” she said.

Last fall, Johnson had a class with Tracy Briggs, a local reporter who now has a show called “The Great Indoors.” Briggs invited Johnson to do a few cooking shows on her video blog. Johnson was invited to choose recipes that had some significance to her or to others.

For the show, Johnson has made her personal favorite, grandma Sonja’s recipe called, “Peanut Butter Oat Bars.” She also made her grandpa’s recipe called, “Woody’s Spaghetti Sauce.”

“He is 88 or 89-years-old, so it meant a lot to him,” she said.

Johnson has enjoyed working with and getting to know Briggs.

“Tracy is a joy to work with and encourages me to have fun on camera. I hope to continue working with her,” she said.

When the show aired on the Forum website, Flessland saw it.

“I was surprised to see it,” he said. “It was a pleasant surprise.”

Although Johnson has focused her show on cooking, she says prefers baking.

“Sometimes, I have to bake every night,” she said. “It’s a stress reliever.”

Junior Sarah Raeker is one of Johnson’s roommates. To celebrate Raeker’s birthday last September, Johnson covered their apartment with streamers, strings and balloons. Raeker woke up to a half a dozen giant cupcakes, just for her.

Sometimes, Johnson feels the urge to bake. It usually happens when Johnson’s schedule begins to get full with commitments.

“Then I just start baking. I put everything else on hold. After I bake, the week always goes smoother. It helps me be more productive,” she said.

When Raeker comes home to an apartment full of baked goods, she’s not surprised any more.

“Then Hannah said, ‘I’m just in a baking mood,’” Raeker said.

Johnson has learned some lessons from doing the cooking show.

“Try something new and see if you can succeed. More importantly to use your talents and put yourself out there,” she said.

As the year comes to an end and her workload increases, Johnson says she regrets not being able to produce more shows.

Flessland and Johnson could see the “Cobber Cooking Show” turning into a career option. Johnson’s plans for next year are undetermined, but when she was younger she dreamed of having a cooking show on the Food Channel. Flessland would like to someday work in the video department of the Fargo Forum.

“It’s given us, both Hannah and I, future job experience,” Flessland said.

Career experience aside, Flessland said his favorite part is eating the food that Johnson has made.

The article was submitted by Kaia Lunde, a contributing writer. She can be contacted at

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