Sunday Evening Art Gallery — The Art of Food

The articleThe Fascination with Food in Art History” by Elena Martinique at Whitewalls states that, as a cornerstone of our very existence, food has always played a significant part in our social and cultural lifestyles. Thus, it is no wonder that the depiction of food in art spans across cultures and all of recorded human history.

Just as majestic as any portrait or landscape, the depiction of food through painting is an arduous and creative talent.

As we sit and enjoy our Sunday dinners, let us wander through the world of food artistry and enjoy some of the more famous interpretations of the sight and taste of food.

 

Apples and Oranges, Paul Cézanne, 1895

 

Vertumnus, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, 1590

 

Mound of Butter, Antoine Vollon, 1875-1885

 

Still Life with Apples, Vincent van Gogh, 1887

 

Viva la Vida, Watermelons, Frida Kahlo, 1954

 

Eucharistic Still Life, Salvador Dalí, 1952

 

Fruit and Vegetables with a Monkey, a Parrot, and a Squirrel, Frans Snyders, 1620

 

Still-Life with Cheeses, Almonds and Pretzels, Clara Peeters, 1615

 

Still Life with Cherries, Strawberries, and Gooseberries, Louise Moillon, 1630

 

Cauliflower And Pomegranates, Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1890

 

Still-Life with Ham, Lobster, and-Fruit, Jan-Davidsz de Heem, 1652

 

 

 

Make it Homemade!

One positive result of being cooped up inside during this Covid-19 barrage is that most of us are honing our cooking skills. Fewer — if any — restaurant  visits and over-salty and over-fatty fast food stops make cooking from scratch even more appealing.

I don’t have the flair of Gordon Ramsey or the talent of  Joël Robuchon, the French Chef of the Century, but I have been looking through cookbooks and Pinterest a lot more lately. My family and friends are watching a lot more Food Network and Master Chefs these days, which is a whole lot better than the nonsense that passes for television shows these days.

My mother wasn’t a very talented or diverse cook. Back then it was a lot of meat, a can of potatoes, and a can of vegetables. But there were times she “experimented” with recipes, and there were good times around the dinner table.

Raising my two boys, we had our fill of “experimental” meals, too. Some recipes made it through the years, others have been forgotten (to the betterment of mankind). But one thing I always insisted upon was having dinner together.

No matter how much homework there was, how many soccer and baseball games, or how much hanging with friends loomed in the distance, we always made a point of having dinner together. Sharing laughs and complaints and events of the day was essential to keeping our family a family. Dinner time was a time my kids and I could regroup. Refocus. Take a break from work and school and friends and just be ourselves. Even if we didn’t have much to share, we were there. Together.

I miss those times.

Maybe my re-interest in cooking and baking and experimentation during this isolation reconnects me with the days around the kitchen table with family and friends. Memories of my mom making golumpki or me making homemade lasagna for my own kids pop up in my kitchen these days when I’m making chocolate chip cookies or spaghetti and meatballs.

There is no restaurant, no diner, that can match the excitement and affection we put into our own creations. I find cooking real food in real time brings real love to my kitchen. 

And to the world.

Hoping you are adding love to your kitchen and to your world every day, too.

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery on Tuesday — Iven Kawi

Jakarta, Indonesia-based pastry chef Iven Kawi says she made her first honest attempt at baking in December of 2013 when she made a batch of Christmas cookies for her daughter’s school. 

Kawi now runs a bakery shop out of her home in Lippo Karawaci called Iven Oven where she creates elaborately decorated baked goods.Among her specialties are cakes adorned with terrarium environments where buttercream frosting is sculpted into an abundance of cacti and flower petals atop beds of crumbly sand or dirt.Much like her flower cakes, Kawi’s succulent-inspired sweets feature flora sculpted with frosting made from powdered sugar, butter, and food coloring.Once her desired consistency and colors are achieved, she uses a piping technique to create realistic leaves, spines, and needles.

Like real-life cacti and other water storing plants, each buttercream figure is unique in color, size, and shape.When grouped together in the bunch-like arrangements characteristic of Kawi’s aesthetic, the buttercream succulents bloom into verdant gardens and transform into cake-topping terrariums.

More of Iven Kawi‘s amazing cakes can be found at http://ivenoven.blogspot.com and https://mymodernmet.com/ivenoven-succulent-cakes.

 

 

What’s Your Favorite Food?

Sitting at work, eating a lunch of cottage cheese and sunflower seeds, is not the right condition for a funny, deeply inspiring blog. So in researching something else deep in my posting past, I came across this post. It’s much more fun. And foody.

From 9/16/14 (and please pass the butter…)

breadBread and Butter Badlands

A funny thing happened this evening. I was all pumped up to write a blog about scheduling things in your life, when I read a fellow blogger’s (David Kanigan) blog called “Don’t Eye the Basket of Bread: Just Take It Off the Table” ( http://davidkanigan.com/2014/09/16/dont-eye-the-basket-of-bread-just-take-it-off-the-table/). It really is an article about how to exert self-control. Which, in that sense, makes sense. If it’s not in front of you you’re not tempted to eat the whole basket.

But I almost missed the point of the blog because I was thinking about fresh baked bread dripping with sweet, creamy butter.  Crispy crust, fluffy inside.  Which led me to daydream about my homemade spaghetti sauce, full of fresh tomatoes and veggies with a smattering of ground beef and/or Italian Sausage, dripping over vermicelli or linguine, fresh Parmesan cheese sprinkled delicately over the top, a small glass of merlot within reach, sitting quietly next to that basket of freshly-baked bread that I’m suppose to have taken off the table.

And suddenly I’m daydreaming about the wonderful world of food.

I’ve been on a diet — no — food behavior modification — for as long as I’ve been out of puberty. I have always had a love/hate relationship with anything that has more than 2 carbs and 35 calories per serving. It’s that homo sapiens thing…anything that is fattening is worth tasting. Of course, tasting, and indulging, are two different things.

They say one can survive on indulging in one tablespoon of anything. Buffet? No problem. One tablespoon macaroni salad, one tablespoon chocolate mousse, one tablespoon mashed potatoes along with one tablespoon gravy. Just think of what a decorative plate you would bring back to the table! One tablespoon from 50 different dishes!

But let’s face it. Living on one tablespoon of cheese souffle is like smiling at only one child at Christmas. Or having one cashew. Or hugging only one grandkid. Satisfying as a bath in ice cubes. We know we should be sticking to the one-tablespoon-rule for our health, for our diabetes and our cholesterol. And most times we do alright.

But sometimes our libido cries for liberation. It just cannot be satisfied with the one-teaspoon-rule. We try to tame it. We hide the food. We buy celery and apples and lean chicken and fish. We succeed where others fail. We lose weight, lower our cholesterol, add some years to our life.

But then something as innocent as a whiff of freshly baked bread or bacon frying and we’re whipped up into a frenzy of biblical proportions. Why is that?

I do believe in moderation. Fortunately for me, the older I get, the fewer things I can digest properly. A couple of cream cheese canapes is not worth the agony of hours in the bathroom later. Spinach Dip, Ice Cream Sundaes, Hot Cheese Spread, all no-nos with the digestive tract from Hell. Yet I have to admit, I cannot pass a chance to try a scoop or two. Just to check it out, you see.

I try to avoid get-togethers where rich foods are the center of attention. Most times I can say “no thanks.” But just as often I hear myself saying, “Just one bite.” Then my big-mouth libido takes over and bread and pasta and Ceasar’s Salads are the order of the day. And as I hang my head in shame, I still enjoy the crumbs at the corner of my mouth or the sweet slide of butter still on my tongue.

I guess I’ve lost the thread of this whole blog to the whims of the wonderful world of food. So let me ask you — what foods weaken your will power? Which sumptuous feasts make you moan with delight? Which part of the banquet table can you not pass by without sampling?

Think I will go bake a loaf of bread while I wait for your answer…

Singing Cats

tumblr_lmndk2YwcA1qfoh4tI think of myself as an (pretty much) independent person; loving, kind, funny, quirky, smart (in different ways). Self confidence was a long time in coming, but now that I’m a wee bit older, it is finally beginning to be a way of life.

Imagine my chagrin, then, when my husband told me that my cats are training ME!

For all you cat lovers out there (and I know there’s alot), cats are independent, affectionate, and vocal. Vocal to the point of nagging, sometimes.

Such is the case of my two darlings…Tom and Mysty.

Mysty is one of those squirrel-furred types who is as big as Dick Butkus. Tom is a gray and white tuxedo with a smaller girth but solid as a punching bag.

My hubby feeds them when he comes home from work (4 a.m.) and before I get home from work (4 p.m.) It obviously is not often enough, though, according to my dears, because they follow me and meow and scream and needle me from the time hubby leaves the house until I go to bed.

I once suggested hubby didn’t feed them enough at mealtime. His response was an incredulous eyeball popper. He, indeed, fed them plenty at both meals.

Well, not according to Tom and Mysty.

That’s when he told me that the cats are conditioning me. Training me to give them tidbits all night long.

Not me, I assured him. He MUST not be feeding them enough!

Hubby showed me how much food each should be getting each day, and how he slips a tad bit more into their bowls. It’s their eating habits that are out of hand when I’m around.

Well, when you are home alone evening after evening, putzing with laundry and dishes and working on your computer, and every time you stand up, they come meowing, and follow you into the kitchen and bathroom still meowing, well, it sounds like they are starving to me.

So I give them itsy bitsy extras just to shut them up.

I suppose it’s my fault that Mysty is Tanky and Tom is Wide Buff. They chase each other around the house at night all the time, so I figured they were burning off some of those calories.

Tom gets kidney problems now and then, so the vet has me change to canned food now and then. This change turns him into a cannibal and Mysty into a scavenger. Tom’s habit is eating three or four bites, then play, sleep, then come back for the rest.

Mysty’s habit is devour everything in sight.

Hubby says I should ignore them when they meow at me. That they know what gets to me and are controlling me.

I say pfffish…no one controls me. I am my own person.

Of course, it’s always easy to boast my bravado when I’m sitting at a computer miles away from the choir…and I hear n.u.t.i.n…..

Vending Machines

jackpot-is-growinge280a6-jackpotI did it.

I must say I’m not proud, but I did it.

Our work lunchroom is a dim place filled with bright people. It holds one long table and 3 round ones. For a lunchtime of 200 people.

But I digress.

Some time ago our company decided to do away with the one push-the-button-and-watch-the-food-go-round-and-round vending machine, and swept in with the newest in small company vending machines — the gas station concept.  You know — big refrigerated cases all with full length clear glass doors. Two of them are full of beverages, everything from frappucinos to soda to power drinks. One is full of frozen delights like ice cream and Lean Cuisines, and the other with sandwiches, chocolate milk, and wraps.

I swore I would never feed the new cooler monster. It is commercialism at its best…you can even put money in the system and it keeps track of all your purchases for you. So after the first painful deposit, you can scan away, not feeling like you’re getting robbed at every purchase. I usually bring leftovers, but this morning I was late and sleepy and trying to get out before more snow came.

Well, today I ate my lunch sandwich for breakfast and my accompanying crackers for morning break. So it was either skip lunch (never!), drive to McD’s (way too cold out), or try the cooler monsters. I looked around, vowing to be conservative if I did buy anything.

Eyeballing delights more imagined than real (I know what vending machine food tastes like), I put my little debit card in and came away with a burrito wrap for $3.50.

AAHHHH!!

Don’t tell me this old bird is changing!

The burrito was too spicy, so I couldn’t eat it all.

But did you hear that? The burrito was too spicy! Most vending oddities are bland and dry and you have to squint to see the lunchmeat.

I still believe it’s just another corporation making off with three of my hard-earned dollars. The youngsters of the department seem to hang around the vending coolers a lot around lunch time…the graphic artists and coordinators and even directors seem to return again and again, feeling the few dollars missing from their wallet are worth far more than eating Beef and Rice-a-Roni again. And again. And they seem to be okay with it. So why not me?

There has to be something to glass door refrigerated food. I mean, there’s cameras all over, so it’s not like you can slip out a box of Lean Cuisine under your sweater. And there will be times that I’ll be shaking for a bottle of Coke and not have a penny in my wallet.

I don’t know when I’ll hit the vending machine complex again — it still seems a little high priced for my working woman budget. But this shows me that every now and then I can be fooled, and good things can come out of vending machines.

Now, if I could find a vending machine that dispensed Bloody Mary’s…

Read (ick!) At Your Own Risk

bigstockphotoStickingOutTongue27088I have been working very hard on getting my “new” Sunday Evening Art Gallery website up and running so that you can see even MORE of the unusual, unique, amazing art these artists come up with. There are times when I don’t want to read a thing — looking at pictures will do just fine. So hopefully by a week from Sunday I will have a visual gallery for your perusal as well.

In the meantime… Why not fill your head with a bit of food nonsense? Works wonders for me!

 

An average ear of corn has an even number of rows, usually 16.

Most wasabi consumed is not real wasabi, but colored horseradish.

Oklahoma’s state vegetable is the watermelon.

The winner of the 2013 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest consumed 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes.

The  Dunkin’ Donuts in South Korea offer doughnut flavors such as Kimchi Croquette and Glazed Garlic.

(It’s getting worse…)

There is an amusement park in Tokyo that offers Raw Horse Flesh-flavored ice cream.

(And worse…)

Castoreum, which is used as vanilla flavoring in candies, baked goods, etc., is actually a secretion from the anal glands of beavers.

TMI…TMI..

Coconut water can be used as blood plasma.

McDonald’s sells 75 hamburgers every second of every day.

One fast food hamburger may contain meat from 100 different cows.

Arachibutylrophobia is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth.

When taken in large doses nutmeg works as a hallucinogen.

The red food-coloring carmine — used in Skittles and other candies — is made from boiled cochineal bugs, a type of beetle.

To make jelly beans shiny, shellac is used, which is made from Kerra lacca insect excretions.

 

Thank you Buzz Feed http://www.buzzfeed.com/justinabarca/food-facts-that-will-blow-your-mind. 

Makes me never want to eat again.

 

See you Sunday!

Point Me Towards the Kingdom

wavinggifThere is an eerie sense of calm around the Goddess’s home realm these last few days leading up to my vacation at the world’s most expensive playground: Disneyworld. It’s that ethereal world one slips into right before something BIG is about to happen: a wedding, Christmas, or, in my case, vacation.

It’s like I have all the time in the world to do laundry, shop for food for my house sitter, change the kitty litter — you know what I mean. Seeing as I have a mere 35 hours, 42 minutes, and 56 seconds (minus 8 hours for work and 45 minutes travel time) before I’m up in the air heading to sun and sweat  and overpriced everything, I’d better get back into my reality pronto.

Since I won’t be able to hang with you all for a week or so, I thought I’d leave you all with some funny stories about — food.

Who doesn’t like food?

So this week, when you’re bored or hungry (or both), come and check out the following oldies but goodies:

Bread and Butter Badlands  http://wp.me/p1pIBL-CK   bread

A decadent descent into pushing away or towards the table, depending on your end goal.

 

Incredible Edibles  http://wp.me/p1pIBL-MKdog-cooking

What better business to start than opening a Culinary School of Leftovers?

 

When Is A Cherry Not A Cherry  http://wp.me/p1pIBL-AT  cherry

Not so much about food as it is about my sophomoric sense of humor with words.

 

Until then, just keep in mind — I’ll be singing “It’s a Small World After All” for the next three months after this trip…

Inedible Edibles

dog-cookingThis evening my bff and I were having quite a time lamenting/marveling/pondering our lack of drive and motivation during these sub-zero temperatures. Not only am I guilty of non-motivation, non-creativity, and non-energy, but I alternate between sweating and freezing, all within minutes of each other.  Eventually our lamenting/marveling/pondering conversation meandered towards cooking, scattered schedules, and trying to scale down from cooking for 20 (so to speak) to cooking for two. Or one. Or 2-1/2, depending on who visits. And we decided what we needed was to go to cooking school. Not to Le Cordon Bleu or the Culinary Institute of America – what we needed was something a little down-homey. A little more working-woman-centric.

What we need is a Culinary School of Leftovers.

We both agreed it would be great to take a course or two on what to do with those wilty veggies that somehow get pushed to the side of the veggie drawer. Or the leftover meatballs that have already seen Swedish and Italian and aren’t in the mood for sub sandwiches. With the right training, I’m sure we could find uses for overripe tomatoes, brown avocados, and cold fried chicken.

I come from a family of cooking big. Although there were only four of us, I often pictured my boys as underfed. What I lacked in culinary expertise I made up for in quantity. Pots of stew and spaghetti sauce filled the stove, table, and freezer. I didn’t have the where-for-all to use saffron or arugula,  but carrots and potatoes and pork chops – oh my!

Now that my kids have moved out, it’s only hubby and me. He works the night shift, I slave away during the day. So without teenagers to wolf down meatloaf and steak and stir fry, I find my meals lack any real creativity. Never mind the fact that hubby and I only have about a half hour to share gourmet delights between shifts; never mind that between domestic chores and full-time jobs there is little or no time to whip up soufflés and pot-de-feus.

I own plenty of cookbooks – any food dilemma you can think of, I’m prepared for. Crockpot cooking. Meals-on-a-budget. Italian cooking. Chinese cooking.  What the cookbooks lack, though, is the human element. The voice that needles you and makes you feel bad every time you leave leftovers in the frig for over a week. Just because you made Chinese for 10 and 9 people didn’t show up doesn’t mean you should push the container back behind the juice and forget about it for a few weeks.

What my friend and I need is a cooking school that will fit into our budget, time frame, and leftover habits. Wilted celery? No problem! Cheese with blue spots on the edge? Don’t worry about it! The right Leftover Cooking School would not only teach us to cook for two (again), but would specialize in the following subjects:

  1. Impulse buying. Why I don’t need to buy baby corns and an eggplant and a head of lettuce and six ears of corn and a head of cabbage and portabella mushrooms and leeks all in one week.
  2. Portion control. A plateful of spaghetti and Italian Sausage doesn’t mean a platter-sized plate.
  3. Freezing leftovers. How making a stockpot of soup can be turned into six different meals instead of one meal and five science experiments.
  4. That there is life for ground chuck beyond meatballs and sloppy joes.

Just think! I could take courses in “10 Uses for Leftover Tuna Casserole,” “Jelly’s Not Just for Peanut Butter Anymore,” or “Spices Beyond Garlic Powder.”  I could find new uses for the half-bottles of ranch dressing, capers, and horseradish that hang out in my refrigerator door.  I could learn how to throw leftover parties, combining the delights of fried rice, polish sausage and sauerkraut, and expired refrigerator biscuits into something revolutionary and nourishing!

I must admit, the thought of a Culinary School of Leftovers is something worth pondering. With the number of Tupperware containers taking up space in my refrigerator, there would be endless possibilities for lectures and discussions.

And not all in the realm of edible.

Bread and Butter Badlands

breadA funny thing happened this evening. I was all pumped up to write a blog about scheduling things in your life, when I read a fellow blogger’s (David Kanigan) blog called “Don’t Eye the Basket of Bread: Just Take It Off the Table” ( http://davidkanigan.com/2014/09/16/dont-eye-the-basket-of-bread-just-take-it-off-the-table/). It really is an article about how to exert self-control. Which, in that sense, makes sense. If it’s not in front of you you’re not tempted to eat the whole basket.

But I almost missed the point of the blog because I was thinking about fresh baked bread dripping with sweet, creamy butter.  Crispy crust, fluffy inside.  Which led me to daydream about my homemade spaghetti sauce, full of fresh tomatoes and veggies with a smattering of ground beef and/or Italian Sausage, dripping over vermicelli or linguine, fresh Parmesan cheese sprinkled delicately over the top, a small glass of merlot within reach, sitting quietly next to that basket of freshly-baked bread that I’m suppose to have taken off the table.

And suddenly I’m daydreaming about the wonderful world of food.

I’ve been on a diet — no — food behavior modification — for as long as I’ve been out of puberty. I have always had a love/hate relationship with anything that has more than 2 carbs and 35 calories per serving. It’s that homo sapiens thing…anything that is fattening is worth tasting. Of course, tasting, and indulging, are two different things.

They say one can survive on indulging in one tablespoon of anything. Buffet? No problem. One tablespoon macaroni salad, one tablespoon chocolate mousse, one tablespoon mashed potatoes along with one tablespoon gravy. Just think of what a decorative plate you would bring back to the table! One tablespoon from 50 different dishes!

But let’s face it. Living on one tablespoon of cheese souffle is like smiling at only one child at Christmas. Or having one cashew. Or hugging only one grandkid. Satisfying as a bath in ice cubes. We know we should be sticking to the one-tablespoon-rule for our health, for our diabetes and our cholesterol. And most times we do alright.

But sometimes our libido cries for liberation. It just cannot be satisfied with the one-teaspoon-rule. We try to tame it. We hide the food. We buy celery and apples and lean chicken and fish. We succeed where others fail. We lose weight, lower our cholesterol, add some years to our life.

But then something as innocent as a whiff of freshly baked bread or bacon frying and we’re whipped up into a frenzy of biblical proportions. Why is that?

I do believe in moderation. Fortunately for me, the older I get, the fewer things I can digest properly. A couple of cream cheese canapes is not worth the agony of hours in the bathroom later. Spinach Dip, Ice Cream Sundaes, Hot Cheese Spread, all no-nos with the digestive tract from Hell. Yet I have to admit, I cannot pass a chance to try a scoop or two. Just to check it out, you see.

I try to avoid get-togethers where rich foods are the center of attention. Most times I can say “no thanks.” But just as often I hear myself saying, “Just one bite.” Then my big-mouth libido takes over and bread and pasta and Ceasar’s Salads are the order of the day. And as I hang my head in shame, I still enjoy the crumbs at the corner of my mouth or the sweet slide of butter still on my tongue.

I guess I’ve lost the thread of this whole blog to the whims of the wonderful world of food. So let me ask you — what foods weaken your will power? Which sumptuous feasts make you moan with delight? Which part of the banquet table can you not pass by without sampling?

Think I will go bake a loaf of bread while I wait for your answer…

 

It’s such a Trifling Experience

Raspberry-AmarettoTrifleBeing stuck inside a Wisconsin winter, even the easiest-going person can find themselves absorbed in the business of escape. Some plan summer vacations. Some make ice sculptures. Some bury themselves under layers of blankets and wait for the first ray of sun to melt a snow mound or ten.  Me? I watch cooking shows. Now, I watch the Food Network year-round. No biggie. But the it becomes a problem when I think I can actually COOK like the Iron Chef or the Master Chef.  Like, if I only took a few hours and paid attention and bought all the right food and wrote down every little detail, that my dish might look (and taste) like Iron Chef Michael Simon’s or Gordon Ramsey’s.

I imagine I could just as well try to paint like Monet or sing like Beyoncé.

I watched Master Chef Junior recently and was humbled by what 9- and 10- and 12-year-olds could do with a basket or a piece of fish.  I have seen what Rachel Ray and Guy Fieri’s kids did during a cook off. Then there’s always what the contestants on Chopped make out of pickled pigs feet and reindeer pate. Amazing. And, of course, there’s always Rachel and Robert and Guy and Alton who make gourmet out of kitchen scraps. I look at my jar of garlic powder and pound of lean ground beef and feel overwhelmed.

Don’t get me wrong. I love cooking. I have whipped up many a gourmet dish in my time. My homemade spaghetti sauce is to die for (or at least good enough to have third helpings). I have tried trifles, coq au vin, and shrimp scampi. But with working full time and a few personal bumps and my anti-cancer meds making me tired and sunset before I get home and below zero temperatures — let’s just say my cooking aspirations have turned into mounds of grey slush. Kinda flat and uninspiring.

I know it will come full circle — that with spring flinging in a few months I will whip out the cookbooks or surf the Food Network website and I’ll be wowing my dinner guests and myself.

Until then, I think I’ll let my husband cook.

How bout you? Are you cooking away a storm these freezy days?