My kitchen sketchbook methods

A Creative Life, art exhibit, art techniques, Art Word Combinations, artist book, artistic inspirations, author illustrator, Books In Art, food in art, functional art, illustrated recipe, kitchen art, published art, recipe illustration, sketchbook, sketchbook suppers, Sustainable creativity, visual story

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.

the art of nachos

A Creative Life, comfort food, food for thought, Not-So-Sketchy-Food, sketchbook

Being a busy professional artist I’m fond of “quick fix” meals that are both yummy and fairly healthy – I’m feeding my creative-mental-beast after all! So, by special request (Thanks Laura!) here in this post is my favorite nacho’s recipe.

I like to make my nachos as artistically colorful as possible so as I’m piling the ingredients on – sometimes (in addition to the ingredients below) I’ll include spinach leaves, and chopped red bell pepper chunks to make it have a colorful contrast.  I like the dark olives against the white mozzarella too. The “ready to use beans” mentioned in the recipe are described in this blog post here: https://sueclancy.com/2016/10/17/best-artistic-life-trick/    and make a nice background color along with the yellow corn chips and the light green onion and the dark green jalapeno…

And yes, this recipe is written like you see here in ink and color pencil in one of my sketchbooks.

Oh, and the cast-iron griddle technique really is the “secret sauce” for my nachos!  Enjoy!!

nachos

Sue Clancy’s “busy artist Nachos” recipe

best artistic life trick

A Creative Life, art techniques, artistic inspirations, Not-So-Sketchy-Food

When I went to art school I didn’t know how to cook. Art school was expensive and the rough average materials costs to do my “homework” were about $30. (in late 1980’s dollars in Oklahoma) for each homework assignment in each class. There was major homework each week, for at least one class – usually more – so costs added up. After spending money on art supplies there wasn’t much left over for food. I ate a lot of baloney and cheese sandwiches on white bread.

In my freshman year I had been approved to have a studio space in the art studio building. One had to submit a portfolio and be approved by a panel of professors. Competition was fierce. Consequently most of the students approved for studio space were juniors and seniors. Some of them were also “returning students” aka “old people” in their late 20’s or 30’s

And then there was me. I was known as “The Kid”.

In the studio building there was a communal kitchen, with a refrigerator, small stove, a coffee pot and a large table and a number of chairs.

One day I was in the kitchen at the table eating my baloney and cheese. Two of the older female students (both from California) entered, rummaged in the fridge, heated something on the stove, then sat to eat a veritable feast of black bean soft tacos with sauteed chilies, onions, spinach and cheese.

I stared. And probably drooled.

One of them looked over at me “Hey kid, what are you eating?”

I told them.

“Oh, gross!” said the other California girl “That’s disgusting!”

I asked what they were eating, they told me, and offered bites …. one thing led to another and pretty soon I was meeting regularly with them and about 6 of their friends for pot-luck dinners.

Before each pot-luck one of the members would demonstrate how to cook the dish they were sharing that evening. I went to almost every cooking lesson. (And I contributed to the events by doing a lot of the clean-up.)

Almost every one of the pot-luck club members were artist’s of one sort or another. Many dinner discussions were about “the business of being an artist” including how important it was for artists to be able to cook (and mix your own alcoholic drinks) because it fed creative brains more nutritionally – and helped an artist be able to afford to do creative work and live well.

I soaked it up like a sponge, learned how to cook and have probably survived as a professional artist because of what I’ve learned about cooking and business from those California girls.

The “how to cook dry beans” was a regular cook-lesson topic as dry beans (available in a bag dry or from bulk bins) are much cheaper than canned.  Once you’ve a big pot of cooked beans ready-to-eat they can be stored in a fridge and quickly used over the coming days for soft taco’s, burrito’s, soups and salads – and more. All cheap fairly quick eats that are yummy!

Of all the lessons I learned “The Beans” was the best and the most useful trick to living the artistic/creative life well!  I’m even using the “bean cooking” technique this very day !

beans72

Sue’s “how to cook dry beans” sketchbook page

These days I use a fancy bean pot – made from iMusa – and it is an improvement on the old large stock pot method I used back then. My bean pot uses 8 cups of water – and can hold 3 cups of dry beans…. But the large-stock-pot method described in my sketchbook page above still works great too.  Anyway here’s a picture of my bean pot in action right now (I started the pot at 10:52… and it’s starting to smell good about now!):

magicbeanpot

Sue’s Magic Bean cooking pot at work.

When my art-studio work day is done later today I’m looking forward either to some bean+chili+cheese burritos…or else some nachos. Hard to choose… Anyway, do you want my recipe for “artist” burrito’s or nachos too?

 

knowing beans

A Creative Life, art exhibit, commonplace book, food for thought, sketchbook, words and pictures

Knowing how to cook dry beans, and having a pot of formerly-dry beans ready to use in any quick-recipe, is a good thing to know when you’re a busy artist getting ready for a major art exhibit…. Here’s a page from an old sketchbook drawn some years back when, after a time of struggle, I’d finally attained The Knowledge of Beans.

Beans72