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 !
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!):
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?