Sunday, December 7, 2014

An Actor's Pantry - CRACK BROWNIES

After an extremely emotional break-up in 2004, I found myself once again searching for healing among the pages of self help books. This time it was It's Called A BreakUp Because It's Broken by Greg Bernhendt & Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt. What I didn't expect to find was a recipe that would soon become my favorite to prepare and the favorite of everyone who tasted this unique blend of flavors. I love to watched people try to figure out the ingredients and then they ask for the recipe.
By the way, despite the title no illegal substances are ever used in the preparation of this tasty treat! After your first bite, I'll let you tell me why they are called Crack Brownies.
Fresh out of the oven!

50 light caramels
1/3 cup skim evaporated milk                                                     
1 package German chocolate cake mix
3/4 cup melted butter (not margarine
1/3 cup skim evaporated milk (yes, another 1/3 cup)            
2 cups milk chocolate chips (or semisweet)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In heavy saucepan, combine caramels and 1/3 cup of evaporated milk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until caramels are melted. Grease and flour a 9" X 13" baking dish. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry cake mix, melted butter, and the other 1/3 cup evaporated milk. Stir by hand until the dough holds together. Divide dough in half and press (by hand) first half of dough into prepared baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 9 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over baked crust. Pour caramel mixture over the chocolate chips. Crumble the other half of the dough over caramel layer. Return to oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove and cool for 15 minutes, then cut into squares. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Return to refrigerator when not eating, as they get goopy at room temperature.

The purpose of this recipe in the book was to get you out of the house and stop boring your friends at parties with your break-up drama. Instead, bring this dessert and make a pact to talk about them, not you. What happens is, everyone wants to talk about these brownies and you end up on that host's guest list forever!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Among The Stars - CICELY TYSON

I have always admired the life and career of Cicely Tyson. Just this week I had the pleasure of seeing her brilliant performance in the play The Trip To Bountiful at the Ahmanson Theatre.  

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Ms. Tyson at one of my award show stand-in jobs. I watched her rehearse and when she was finished, I decided to introduce myself in the hopes of getting some words of wisdom from this legendary artist. I walked up to her, "Ms. Tyson?". She turned toward me very attentively and I continued, "I'm nobody important but I just wanted to say....." She instantly cut me off, "Baby, never ever say you're nobody. You ARE somebody important and don't you ever forget it." I tried to laugh it off and continue, "Oh I know but..." She turned her head and went on about her business. She was through with me. Words of wisdom is what I wanted and words of wisdom is what I got even though it wasn't in the way I had imagined. And I WILL never forget it. Lesson? Words have power, you are what you speak. Be A Star Where You Are.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

An Actor's Library - theWARofART

This book was recommended to me a couple of times and I finally got the title right and purchased it. I didn't really know what to expect so I was pleasantly surprised. There were many AHA moments contained in those pages. The author often speaks from a writer's point of view but the information applies to any type of creative artist. He first talks about Resistance and the many forms it takes to prevent us from getting the job done. By the end of the book as he discusses amateur vs professional and hierachy vs territorial, I am even more confident about what I was put on this earth to do. I always felt it was a spiritual connection and I will continue to wear my artist hat proudly.
This book is a keeper for my library. I'm sure I will be referring to it from time to time as I walk the creative path that is set before me.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ask A Stage Goddess - HOW WILL I FIT IN AFTER I GET MY M.F.A.?

Ask A Stage Goddess is a Q & A series for anyone pursuing a career in the entertainment industry as an actor, comic, writer or solo show performer.
In this episode, Stage Goddess gives advice to a USC drama major about being true to himself before and after graduation.

You can leave your comments or questions below the video on YouTube; here on the blog;
on Facebook at Carlease's Bits n Pieces;
on twitter @CarleaseBurke

Director/Editor: Bernie Espinosa 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

An Actor's Pantry - SHRIMP JAMBALAYA

This probably isn't the Shrimp Jambalaya you are used to. The recipe was created for a special weight loss eating program and was so delicious I had to share. Also, a couple of people asked for the recipe after I posted this picture on facebook.

4 oz. shrimp
2 oz. chopped red bell pepper
1 oz. chopped celery
1 oz. chopped onion
2 cups water*
1 tsp. garlic
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. thyme

In a fat-free pan (whatever that means) with water, heat bell pepper, onion, garlic, celery and thyme. Add boiled shrimp. 

Yup, it's just that simple.

*I actually used just a little bit of water to soften the vegetables. I didn't want it to be soupy and I like my celery to have a little crunch.

This is one single serving
Recipe courtesy of the Dr. Flaks Eating Program

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Two words. Russell Simmons. We grew up in the same neighborhood (Hollis, Queens), went to the same college and rode the same train to CCNY up in Harlem. It was on one of those old rickety E trains that I remember sitting with him and my friend Carmen Bell and he said something I will never forget as long as I live.
Russell has risen above his seemingly dismal circumstances to become one of the richest men in show business. He parties with the rich and famous in the Hamptons, always has a beautiful woman on his arm and gives money away to help others. Yet he still wears a baseball cap. If you saw him in the street and didn't know who he was, you probably wouldn't even look twice.
We hung out big time in Finley Hall on the campus of CCNY, basically just partying. He's always been a nice guy. I've only seen him a couple of times out here on the west coast and never mentioned his comment to me. But I can't let it go. I need to have a meeting with him.
This is what he said to me on that rickety E train back in the day: "Stick with me Carlease, I'll make you a star." Carmen and I looked at each other and chuckled and thought, "Yeah, right." Damn. What did I learn from that? Words are powerful. So are intentions and when a person believes in themselves they can make anything happen. Russell knew what he wanted and was not afraid to go after his dreams. He fearlessly connected with the people he wanted to emulate and learned from them. And they helped make him a star. He now helps people all over the world with his philanthropy which is one of the things I admire about him the most. That is definitely a goal of mine as well. But first, I need someone to get me Russell Simmons on the line so that I can find out if the statue of limitations is still open on that comment he made to me on that old rickety E train back in the day.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


History suddenly got interesting thanks to author Lt. Col. James C. Warren, one of heroes of this fascinating yet disturbing event.

I was introduced to this book by my cousin Leonard E. Williams Jr. His father, 2nd Lt. Leonard E. Williams Sr. was one the officers arrested in 1945 for attempting to enter an officer’s club at Freeman Field that was designated for white officers only.

So what happens when you try to oppress “articulate blacks with advanced black consciousness”? It seems the United States Army Air Forces (as it was called back then) would label it a mutiny.

The 162 black officers were arrested for refusing to sign a statement that they had read Base Regulation 85-2 restricting these men from access to certain areas on the base. It just so happens that this would exclude black officers from clubs that white officers had access to. First of all, segregation in the armed forces was supposed to be illegal therefore “if a person disobeyed an illegal order, that person could not be punished.” Nevertheless, these officers were held on house arrest for about 20 days while the powers that be went around & around trying to figure out how to deal with this situation. “The incredible amount of time and effort that these high-ranking officers of the Army Air Forces were taking in the middle of a general war to ensure the continued segregation of black officers was amazing.”

These black officers were highly qualified as pilots, co-pilots, navigators, bombardiers, engineer-gunners, radio-gunners, officer instructors and test flight engineers. It’s a shame that they were victims of racial bias from the very country they were willing to fight and die for.

On a positive note, President Truman ended segregation in the military with Executive Order 9981 in 1948. 50 years after the mutiny on Aug. 12, 1995 the US Air Force vindicated the arrested Tuskegee Airmen by removing the letter of reprimand from their permanent military records. 50 years? Really? Better late, than never I guess.

The reason this story means so much to me is because I just met my birth family about a year ago. My birth mother was 95 years old at the time and her brother would be my Uncle Leonard mentioned in this book. He passed away shortly before I would have had the honor to meet him. However, I am now building a relationship with his children Kimberly and Leonard Jr. & his wife, Ariemean. It warms my heart to finally know my family & my heritage and to understand the important role this event has in American History. I thank you Uncle Leonard for your impressive courage in this giant step for equality. It fuels that fight in me to do the same.