My kitchen sketchbook methods

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What’s for dinner? I began keeping a kitchen sketchbook years ago so I could answer that question with a reliably pleasing meal. In a blog post recently I talked of how my kitchen sketchbook, a sketchbook solely devoted to the topic of food, is “feeding” my current fine art series to be exhibited later this year. After posting someone said they’d be interested in my process of ‘kitchen sketchbook keeping’ as they’d like to create such a keepsake for their family. So my process goes like this …

I see a recipe, in a library book, a cookbook I own or online ( I follow some food blogs and Instagram accounts: Food In Books, In Diane’s Kitchen, TikiChefKim ) and I decide to try the recipe. Here’s a cookbook I found in my local library. I looked through it identifying several recipes that look possible.

Often in reading the recipe I realize that it includes an item someone at my table is allergic to, or strongly likes/dislikes, or the recipe includes an ingredient I don’t have in my cabinets. Some adaptions, adjustments, are made. In this case, pictured below, I don’t have Borlotti beans so I substitute Cranberry beans (another Italian dry bean) which I do have. I write my adjustments on my scrap of paper.

And here’s a close up of my writing on the scrap of paper.

Things I’m looking for in a recipe are: easy to make, variable when served as leftovers and yummy for the people at my table. Sometimes it can be a day or two between reading a recipe and doing the actual cooking. Whenever I do start cooking I tweek my notes on my scrap of paper.

The first meal of my Cranberry Beans and Cabbage with Rosemary Breadcrumbs was served alongside sauteed Brussels Sprouts for a vegetarian dinner. It was an easy meal for me, the cook, to prepare: I didn’t have to spend lots of time in the kitchen fussing and could work in my art studio while the beans cooked. The meal, as served, tasted yummy to both me and my spouse. So I saved my scrap of paper with my recipe notes. (If the recipe had been too fussy, or not yummy, the paper scrap would be discarded)

The next day was a busy one so just before lunch I hurridly scooped some leftover Cranberry Beans, Cabbage and Breadcrumbs into individual portion size oven safe dishes, threw a few frozen Itallian meatballs onto the beans, covered each dish with aluminum foil, put them into the oven for 30 mins and returned to my art project. When the timer went off lunch was ready.

Lunch was quite quick, yummy and got high mark’s for its ease and versatility! So the scrap of paper with the recipe got slipped in to its potential spot in my kitchen sketchbook. The next day was similarly hectic so the third re-heat of leftover Cranberry Beans and Cabbage was similar except I put an Itallian sausage in place of the meatballs.

The result was so yummy that this recipe, as adapted, earned “keeper” status, meaning it goes into my kitchen sketchbook.

During the next available 10 minutes I did a short-burst and, all at once, wrote my adapted recipe in pencil in my kitchen sketchbook.

A few days later I spent 5 minutes or so using a Micron ink pen to write over the pencil, tweeking the lettering spacing as I inked.

On still another day during another spare 5 minutes I did more inking, tweeking wording and letter spacing as I went. In the pic below you can see how different the ink work is from the original pencil.

On still another day I snuck in a moment and I erased all of the pencil marks.

Then on successive days as I worked on other art projects whenever I had a bit of color that’d also fit with something on my recipe page I’d take a minute dab the color into my kitchen sketchbook, leave the sketchbook open to dry, then I’d wash out my brush and return to my main art project.

I used color and boldness of ink to indicate ingredients and order of instructions. So in the future I’ll be able to glance through my sketchbook and easily plan dinner!

My kitchen sketchbook is 3.5 x 5 inches when closed and a half inch thick. It’s pages are a lightweight watercolor paper that takes ink and gouache fairly well if I don’t get too vigorous with it.

For my upcoming art exhibits this year, as part of my, ahem, bibliography, I’ve made artistbook copies of my kitchen sketchbook titled “Favorites So Far”. You can get a copy in advance via this link. As published the book is 8 x 10 inches, a bit larger than the original sketchbook.

And now you know how my busy, we don’t want to starve, art studio solves the “what’s for dinner” question.

pumpkin biscuits on the wall and in the mail

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I’ve now taken the finished artwork I did for Chef Mahan’s Pumpkin Biscuit recipe and done the hocus pocus necessary to make art-prints and greeting cards from it.

If you hover over the above photos or click on them you’ll see a link that takes you to the site where you can read more about them and order some.

The tea towels take a bit more slight-of-hand trickery to create a digital file for production – as it’s intended for printing on cloth and not paper. So as I have time – using my method of working in short spurts that I’ve blogged about before – I’ll work that magic and a tea towel with this artwork will quietly appear on the “Kim Cooks Sue Draws” page here https://sueclancy.com/artist-books/kim-cooks-sue-draws/

I’ve been pleasantly amused that the tea towels have been popular in Europe whereas the greeting cards and prints are more popular in the United States. Personally I giggle when I wipe my hands on a recipe-tea-towel. It’s been fun to see my art-prints on the Chef’s cooking school walls. And it’s a treat to mail a recipe as a card with a handwritten note inside. It’s all fun but mostly I’m delighted that my artwork is helping the Chef share her easy-to-cook recipes in a wider way.

As followers of my blog know: I think that knowing how to cook is an essential survive-thrive-as-an-artist skill and I’m lucky to get to learn more about cooking by working with the Chef on this art project! What fun!

Now what’s for lunch?

p.s. if you have trouble seeing the links under the photos here they are:

https://society6.com/product/pumpkin-biscuits_framed-print?#s6-7884502p21a12v52a13v54

https://society6.com/product/pumpkin-biscuits_cards?#s6-7884502p22a16v71