Recipes By tinctureillustration
For ages and ages there was this very satisfyingly plump pottery pot on my grandma’s kitchen shelf at our family cottage. I had no idea what the purpose for it was, but as a wee kiddo, I sure loved staring at its glossy surface....I remember it reflecting any light in the room brilliantly. Just a cool beans sheen this chubbo pot had. It was yellow, but had definitely been well used into more of a deep mustard hue on its hot spots. The only thing I’d ever seen prepared in it was my other grandma’s wild rice casserole, which though very healthy, I didn’t like too much (note: I’m sure there are some beautiful, toothsome wild rice casseroles out there, seasoned and delicious but this one was BLAND). Anyhow, I didn’t realize until just today (legit) that this lovely pot’s sole reason for being was to cook....wait for it....beans!!!!!!!! And I’m sure they’d be delicious. Maybe next summer on a rainy, coolish night, I’ll try baking up some sweet, sticky, mustardy, boozy baked beans. Oh, it’s a must. Hail the beautiful bean pot! Curvaceous and so enticing ;) this - albeit quick - sketch is just an ode to the happiness that this lovely kitchenware brings me, in both nostalgia and potential. I’m also really trying to just let myself loose a bit more with illustrating. I loved the quote Salli posted the other day....“I’d rather have no style than any style” (Ed Ruscha, via Salli Swindell). Trying to get out of the headspace of comparison and pressing too hard (literally and figuratively) and instead just letting the ideas flow. Definitely a work in progress to be mindful in this practice.
Years ago, I had my first taste of slow cooked, French Canadian-style baked beans. It was what I’ll call a time stopping gustatory experience. It was mid February, cold as heck and I was on a journalism school assignment to report on the sights and sounds and all to be savoured at Festival du Voyageur....for those of you not familiar.....this annual festival is unique to my hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It all happens in our fantastic French Quarter, Saint-Boniface and is the largest winter event of its kind in Western Canada. Voyageurs worked for fur companies transporting goods by boat between trading posts. Voyageur, Métis and First Nations histories are celebrated amid happy fiddles playing, people jigging, hearty laughter, twinkle lights, bonfires, evergreens and delicious, traditional food (split pea soup, sugar pie|tarte a sucre, maple candy hardened in snow, tourtiere|meat pie, and that’s just the start!). Back to the beans. They had been cooked for hours in an old school clay bean pot by a man with a waxed moustache wearing a humongous fur hat. The navy beans were warm, tender and delicately starchy. The hunks of salt pork adding just enough unctuous, meaty flavour. But the crowning achievement of the dish was its beautifully sweet and savoury sauce. Glorious in its simplicity, it stuck fast to every bean creating an amber-hued sheen over every morsel. It’s February next month, right? My tum is rumbling.
Something about the bold name of this lil white bean whisks up images of campfires and pine trees and the Brawny paper towel guy and buffalo plaid and Paul Bunion and blue oxen and cozy log cabins with plumes of smoke rising from stone chimneys and cast iron pots bubbling on wood stoves and cool, dark cupboards full of onions, potatoes, garlic and plump glass jars full of that summer’s preserves....and tins of BEANS! I think I’ll pull on some woolly socks and settle in to do another sketch of the Great Northern today and perhaps try a recipe as it is minus 38 Celsius today here in my Great Northern town!
This vision of sweet, soft green loveliness comes from reading one of my absolute favourite all time American cookbooks: The Taste of Country Cooking, by the prolific Edna Green. What strikes me again and again when I leaf through the evocative gustatory scenes and recipes described in this book is the incredible ability of Ms. Green to not only provide the reader a recipe, but a vivid depiction of the seasons of life and food and community in Freetown, Virginia (founded after the Civil War by freed slaves, including her grandfather). If you haven’t read or tried the recipes from this incredible cookbook in the Virginia region of the American south, I strongly encourage you to get your hands on this as soon as possible. It is full of the most beautiful prose and recipes. A masterpiece. I understand the importance of beans (including the baby Lima!) to the history of food and diaspora in American, and Canadian history. We owe a lot to these wonderfully filling protein bundles, from filling our tummies whether in refried, smothered, baked, buttered, raw, creamed, in brownies, in cakes, in muffins.....and in other ways as the weight in our prebaked pie crusted to the subject of many elementary science or counting activities.....the list goes on.....! This recipe is just one part of the amazing Christmas Dinner section of my copy of The Taste of Country Cooking on page 217. Try it today! My god, Lima beans are taken to a whole new, rich and heavenly place. Delicious.
My favourite things to nibble at Christmastime, you ask? Abundant cheese boards|cheese balls|cheese cookies; spicy, bold chutneys|mustards|dips; crisp, salty crackers; garlicky, herbalicious mashed potatoes|Brussels sprouts|stuffing; any classic casserole laden with canned soup and crusted in crunchy breakfast cereal.....I LOVE SAVOURY, you dig? So, when it comes to my go-to snack for Christmas cocktail hour, nuts and bolts mix rules supreme. Toasty, crunchy, buttery....alive with the dark, mysterious Worcestershire flavour bomb and hot pepper twang of Tabasco.....and nostalgic with old school spices (garlic/onion powder, celery salt), typically sourced from jars that have been in the cupboard since the 1980s. Sit me in front of a fire, put a glass of wine in my hand and give me a bowl of this, you may never get rid of me.
I was lucky enough to grow up with a family cottage by a lake. And equally as lucky, about 20 minutes north of our cottage there’s a small town called Gimli, Manitoba. And this little lakeside town has an incredible history as an Icelandic settlement....the culture still thrives there today. It was here that I tried my first piece of Vinaterta: a delicately layered Icelandic celebration cake (hey, holidays!). It is a striking confection with its multiple light on dark lines of alternating almond or cardamom cookies stuckfast on deep, rich plum preserves (or jammy prunes if you’re feeling adventurous!). Whatever fruit you choose, this layer is typically flavoured with warm notes of vanilla, cardamom and cinnamon. Give me a slice of Vinaterta with a strong cup of coffee on a cool summer morning or a festive winter night and I’ll give you a big ol’ hug - and maybe invite you out to the lake!
I was lucky enough to visit my sister for a summer when she lived in Rome. It was the hottest summer in 80 years. Forty-five degrees in the shade hot. It was also the summer I fell in love. In love with food. The temperatures soared and our dinners became late, late, like 10 or 11pm late. It wasn’t until the sun had been gone a spell that you could even fathom eating anything. So, we’re at a restaurant near her place and the waiter is cute....really cute. He is flirty and lovely and sparkling eyes and all that. He comes to the table after we’ve ordered our drinks with what he calls, “fiore de Roma!” Quite proudly, quite loudly and sets down a platter of the most perfect posey-shaped pinwheels: layers of fresh basil; that day’s sun dried Roma tomatoes; creamy, delicate buffala mozzarella; and a tissue paper thin ribbon of salty prosciutto. A little dish of olive oil and a little dish of balsamic and a sprinkle of chilli oil on the side. My god. The best bouquet I ever received. Flowers of Rome. Just heaven.
I went to India for a month and a bit a few years ago.... and I wrote a research paper about how food can be a springboard for relationship building, despite language and cultural difference. A shared meal is a way to build a third identity between two individuals. I met a lot of people and cooked a lot of food and ate the most flavourful flavours. One of my favourite memories (outside of the spice markets OMG) was coming across the brilliance of the tiffin lunch delivery and return system in Mumbai: not only a wonderful word, but an ingenious vessel for transporting delicious dal; rice; fresh veg; rich curries; squeaky, toothsome palak paneer; boldly spicy channa masala.....pakora.....ah, the list goes on. And beautiful ghee-glazed flatbread....never forget the flatbread. These little silvery buckets sway and jingle, strung off the back of a well-loved bicycle, dodging and weaving through heavy tuk tuk traffic. Dabbawallas ride their bikes with smooth urgency to successfully deliver hot lunches from homes and restaurants to people at work :) Magic. Magic. Magic.
We had this beautifully rich cake every Christmas morning at my grandma’s house on the Canadian prairies. While she and my grandpa made a cozy life here in Winnipeg, Manitoba, she always longed for her hometown of Truro, Nova Scotia. This pound cake brims with ruby red glacé cherries and (a whole lotta) butter, giving it a delightful sunny yellow colour. From my research, it seems than in many places on the east coast of Canada, this type of white cherry cake often replaces the spicier, darker traditional fruitcake around Christmas time. Funnily enough, even though the recipe was from my grandma’s side of the family, every year my grandpa dutifully rolled up his sleeves and made it for us. Not sure if that was his love of baking or his love of her and wanting her to feel at home, though she was so far away from Truro. Maybe a bit of both ;)
I respect the artichoke - they make you earn their love as they take such prep work, but they sure are delicious! And fun the paint. I’m starting to get excited about the holiday season so I’ve done them here within the festive palette :) these are hand drawn and detailed in Procreate with gouache. Background is niko cruel brush - love it!
“The secret is to cook the heck out of it!” This was how my my mum’s advice began when I asked her to share one of my favourite childhood recipes. At the time, I was hoping to find meals that were well-suited to batch cooking and cost effective as I was hugely pregnant and freezing mark ahead meals for when I had my baby. “And don’t use a pan you like too much....the burnt bits give it flavour,” she continued. My mum doesn’t love cooking, or food particularly, and I’m still not sure how I became so fascinated with all things gustatory. However, this recipe has stood the test of time from when I was first introduced to it in the (probably) 1980s. The recipe itself may seem a wee bit rudimentary, but there is a certain type of magic that takes place when the sweetness of the ketchup mingles with the bite of the onion and the briny, saltiness of the olives. And as per my mum’s advice: cook it as long as possible to almost caramelize the sugary aspects of the sauce, and to soften the meat or veggie balls and let them soak up the flavours. A perfect combo of sweet, salt and, for me, nostalgia. Delicious over rice :)
Special note: the cooking clips book in the lower left corner and the recipe card were drawn true to form from my mum’s recipe drawer. For me, the cookbooks and recipe cards/clippings are just as memory stirring as the meal!