Amber Lynn BentonCharlotte, NORTH CAROLINA, US
Amber grew up in the heart of Appalachia where most everything was cooked in a cast iron pan.
In her graphic design work Amber focuses on establishing new brands, products and custom packaging.
In her illustration work, as in life, Amber prefers to work in a less restrained style. She loves working with sepia ink and watercolor; collaging and layering; going back and forth between paint and paper and pixels.
Recipes By Amber Lynn Benton
When I peruse the aisles of my local antique malls I find myself attracted to two things. Artfully displayed kitchenware and linens draw me into booths with their colors, their repetition, and their textures.
I wanted to recreate that feeling in a pattern that could be used in the kitchen. My goal was to create a pattern that would feel equally at home as a dish towel, a kitchen tablecloth, an apron, or endpapers of a cookbook.
Before WWII the humble sardine was an American dietary staple. Canneries lined the coastal regions of the states and even served as the locale of a great American novel.
Somewhere along the way the lowly pilchard fell out of favor - replaced by the sleek tuna and a more glamorous American diet. When I was growing up densely packed canned of sardines in several flavors were still available in the grocery aisles. They were easily packed into our saddle bags or our pockets for long days at the lake.
Now as many of us are living with the effects of the high carbohydrate American diet these tiny fish are suddenly more interesting - unfortunately just a decade or so after most of our American canneries have closed.
I haven't purchased a can of sardines in years, but they are on my most current grocery list. They are high in vitamins, omega 3s, calcium and environmentally friendly. Maybe they should be on your list, too?
I have a lot of treasured family recipes that have been passed down to me from Mom and my Nannie. My recipe box is filled with photocopied versions, typed versions, email versions, and my own notepad versions from those quick dinnertime phone calls. But I have very few original copies of their recipes - ones that they wrote out by hand. The little blue piece of paper in this illustration is one of those treasures.
On the reverse side - in pencil almost too faint to see - is Mom’s copy of a One Egg Cake recipe. Nannie made this versatile cake every Sunday using it as a base for many cake variations - coffee cake, spice cake, raisin cake, chocolate cake - they all started with this recipe. I loved when it was pineapple upside down cake Sunday. Nannie memorized the recipe from the old Searchlight Recipe Book and never had a recipe card.
One Sunday soon after she was married, Mom stood in Nannie's brown utilitarian kitchen and copied it down from the old cookbook onto this blue piece of paper. She and I used it for years in her blue and white handcrafted kitchen. We didn’t make it as often as Nannie and so never committed it to memory always relying on the paper version.
Not long ago, on one of my visits home, Mom gave this recipe to me and I carried it home like a treasure to my brightly painted kitchen with lazy Susan cabinets. In my kitchen I have changed the recipe in small ways. I like to use fresh eggs when I have them, I choose butter over shortening, and use unbleached flour and a less refined sugar all stored in a dedicated pantry and not just under the cabinet or in a jar on the counter.
I sometimes think about how different each of our kitchens are yet we still make the same cake.