Over the past several months I have become sooo inspired by desserts! As a result I have re-familiarized myself with the old european standbys (battenburgs, macaroons, decadent cookies, etc.) and in the process I have also officially become aquainted with the strange world of Japanese and middle eastern desserts among other treasures. By nature desserts are small objects, but even in spite of their smallness these intricate masterpieces pack a strangely impactful punch in terms of their innate ability to leave an immediate and lasting impact upon the human imagination — at once diagnosing every last one of us with some stripe of synesthesia accompanied by an insatiable lust for the unmistakable combination of flour, sugar, and fat as they become arranged in countless delectable configurations and forms.
But their edible nature aside — how do we become seduced by desserts as mere objects?
While it seems rather obvious that much of the aesthetic appeal of desserts has to do with their frequently complex repetitious patterns and decorative motifs on a diminutive scale combined with their dynamic textural variance I think there is also something to be said about how the packaging of said objects affects their visual charge. I find it fascinating that the means by which a thing is contained can become such a direct generator for narrative backstory. Invariably, it seems, the bonbon, truffle, baklava, or marzipan figurine finds itself shrouded in an air of especially regal uprightness and dignity when individually wrapped and carefully compartmentalized under glass cabinetry or encased within a box wherein each counterpart can be found neatly nestled in it’s very own special dwelling place.
If indeed these were live specimens I think it would not be inaccurate to say that the general sentiments of say, an eclair, would be akin to that of Catherine I on her way to some unspeakably glamorous affair in a gratuitously gilded horse drawn carriage embellised at every angle with filigree and tufted velvet. (Traditional pâtisserie shops are, afterall, perhaps one of the only palpable remnants of the overthetop decadence we generally associate with 18th century Europe and Russia). This all to say that there is something inherently betwitching about decadent desserts that is (I think) altogether due to the fact that they are generally contained in an utterly rigorous and thoughtful capacity that perhaps belies the fleeting lifespan of a given confection during the momentary act inwhich it is gleefully consumed.
In my new body of work I am very excited to explore the myriad of methods by which small objects or series of modular objects may be contained and arranged and even packaged and how these varying approaches to containment suggest a range of divergent narratives from preciousness to preservation out of sheer obligation. In anycase, the stringent regard for the aesthetic consistancy which precedes the formation and distribution of the most esteemed desserts of any culture seems to me an undeniably remarkable and fascinating thing.
In my ordinary perception of objects I often derive imaginary hierarchies wherein specific objects are assigned the role of guardian, overseer, or outright menace over their surrounding object fellows.
I’ve always been drawn to the imaginary dual-motif of the object as ‘patroller’ as it implies both tyrrany and a humorous futility. A military tank is an overtly literal example of a tyranical object. Yet curiously, it seems to me that ornately decorated wedding cakes, grandfather clocks, rotating fans, mall escalators, hospital wheelchairs, faberge eggs and mic stands (among other things) also seem to perform in this capacity in spite of their more reticent nature. . .
Which begs the question: What are the qualities that imbue an object not only with a sense of autonomoy, but with a sort of domineering presence over their environment? Is it an object’s scale, it’s form, or it’s proximity to other objects that makes it seem imperious?
This is the question that has been driving my experimentation in the studio over the past year.
I am continually fascinated and bewitched by my observances of objects native to my own everyday experience as well as those discovered via my research into lesser known territories and environments. More on that to come..
1947 – cake for Queen Elizabeth II
My friend Lina passed me this fab recipe and I love how it turned out! Just what I was hoping for. A simple and classic piece of shortbread. Admittedly, a kitchenaid or other standing mixer is definitely the trick for this one despite how simple the recipe is. *enjoy*
1 cup butter (room temp)
1/2 cup icing sugar
11/2 cups of flour
1. Whip the butter and icing sugar together well — a standing mixer is ideal.
2. Once the mixture is creamy get your flour ready!
3. Set your mixer on a slow-medium speed and slowly add in the flour.
4. Whip in mixer for 5 to 6 minutes.
5. Form balls out of the dough somewhere around a tablespoon in size. Press down slightly with a fork to create thick circles.
6. Place the dough portions on parchment-lined cookie sheet (9-12 per sheet)
7. Place in a 250 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes!
*And voila* ready to serve!
Some people like to add a maraschino cherry on top, but I actually quite like these classic cookies as they are. Great with a cup of tea or hot cocoa !
So I haven’t gotten a chance this year to do any baking. But…I have had a chance to do a lot fantasizing about decorating cookies. Yes. I admit, I have an obsession with the decadence of ornately painted Christmas cookies. Especially the ones with complex Scandinavian and Ukrainian motifs. (If you think these are pretty, just wait till I start posting about Easter cookies in a few months!!!!)
My grandma is a pro of this stature. A true cookie-decorator extraordinaire. Each Christmas growing up she would create these incredible master-piece cookies. Trees, candy canes, snow flakes, and ones with her grand children’s names carefully written in cursive. How lovely! The thoughtfulness of her individual designs and intricate patterning always mesmerized and charmed me.
Alas…I’m afraid my present schedule will not permit this level of indulgence into the world of cookie decorating. But this season I endeavor to get my icing on in a big way. In the mean time, I gotta admit that these also just really inspire me as a drawer and lover of design, and color.
Wow. Why have I never made these crazy easy rolls before?
Rice paper rounds (available at most markets)
Vermicelli noodles (either white or brown rice)
Veggies of your choosing (peppers, snap peas, carrots, etc.)
Hoisin sauce or fish sauce with diced hot chillies
*protein too, if you like! — shrimp or chicken.
*Boil vermicelli noodles and strain in cold water. Set aside.
*Place individual rice paper rounds in a shallow plate of warm water, leaving in the water for about 30 seconds — (they become pliable after soaking)
*Lay the rice paper rounds on a plate after soaking and place desired ingredients in a row in the middle of the paper (I like to put the cilantro down first, then vermicelli, then vegg)
*Fold and roll into shape! (Rice paper will adhere to itself easily)
Simple. Healthy. D-lish.
2 diced onions
3-4 beets (peeled and diced into one-inch chunks)
2-3 yams (peeled and diced into one-inch chunks)
2 -3 table spoons coconut oil
10 small radishes, trimmed and quartered (6 ounces)
4 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons minced fresh green onions
1 cup of quinoa
thyme leaves to season
Salt & pepper to taste
fresh parsley sprigs for garnish
*Once yams, beets, and onions are chopped up, mix them with thyme, salt and coconut oil. Stick them on a baking sheet and roast at 385 degrees for 45 mins.
*Bring 1 cup of quinoa to a boil in two cups of water in a medium saucepan. Once boiling, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until quinoa is tender — about 15 minutes. (Remain covered until veggies are finished cooking).
*While the veggies are cooking, pulse radishes in a food processor (or grate / finely dice), and transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in goat cheese and green onions. After mixing these items together – stick in the fridge.
*Once veggies are done cooking, top them with goat cheese and garnish with parsley!
My birthday is coming up. Here are some ideas if anyone wants to make me a cake.
‘the art fund has kicked off a fundraising initiative that encourages art lovers and creatives to make edible masterpieces, with all money raised going towards the support of hundreds of UK museums and galleries.’ (via Designboom)
Check out all the cute little baked Pollocks, Hirsts, van Goghs, and Mondrians!
Full article via Designboom
We are so happy to have these two back in the same city !
G & C relocated from Calgary to Victoria this October and recently had us over for this fabulous dinner. What a treat! Thanks you two..