Recipes By tinctureillustration
I had some time (given recent events) to think on the topic of edible flowers...and as a lover of retro fashion....where my mind went was vintage, posie covered bathing caps!! Ah!!!!! I love them. I don't often spend a lot of time drawing people and I think I may do it more. Honestly, so exciting to draw faces and see who is waiting there somewhere between the pen and paper (stylus and screen?).
After taking a semester of courses in multimodal communication a few years ago, I remained fairly confused about the concept....or at least a concrete definition of the term. At long last I think I have a solid example! This sketch (visual mode) was completely inspired by sound (auditory mode). The ear informing the eye....all in the name of food imagery. I feel like Newton, except I'm eating the apple.
So, what inspired this pepper jungle parrot habitat you ask? An episode of my fave podcast, The Splendid Table titled, Peppers, Onions & Butter (you had me at Peppers, Onions & Butter, legit).
The episode opens with host Francis Lam welcoming the listener into a room brought alive with teetering piles of French copper cookware, colourful macaws, a jungle of lush pepper plants. The visual achieved through sound with this episode transported me to an enchanted kitchen somewhere in New Jersey. I was driving when I first heard this description of Latin food scholar and chef Maricel Presilla’s cooking space (also the author of seminal cookbook on Latin cooking, Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America - if you don't have one, I highly recommend!). I pulled over, scribbled down some ideas in lip liner on a paper lunch bag that was (thankfully) in the passenger seat and peeled away, fervently inspired to sketch this rich, warm, beautifully described scene. Give the episode (#636) a listen, well worth it.
I drew this terrine a while back and wasn’t quite happy with the result.....outside of the lovely tie dye that can only come from the saturated colour of beets bleeding into something light. Here it’s beets and goat cheese compressed into a terrine....just a sultry deep amethyst and golden amber veining into delicate, lily white goat cheese. I added a sprinkle of edible pansies full and lush on either side and some cute critters that might frequent such a succulent scene. Now, I feel it’s more complete.
Similar to my last entry, this one is central to one of my absolute favourite things: the appetizer. A little nosh, a small nibble, a tiny palate tease before things really get started at a meal.....however, appetizers are often my go to and the stand out. Why? Because you can have small bites of a bunch of different things! Just like tapas, variety is the spice of life ;) And edible pansies? Well, they just add to the fun. Xx
Goodness. Truly, I mean actual goodness is what I think of when I look at these pure, white as snow goat cheese pats. Simple, clean recipe too: soft, tangtastic goat cheese; chopped arugula; lots of fresh cracked pepper; drip, drop of clover honey; sprinkle of chili flake. Mix, mix. Form into palm-sized orbs and then scatter with beautiful edible flowers...whichever make you happiest. Serve with some nice toasties or crackers. Oh, and crisp white wine. Make for springtime parties always...or just to celebrate the first robin redbreast sighting, whiff of lilacs, or feeling of warm sunlight. Xx
So, my grandma on my mum’s side was not - nor did she ever care to be - all that into cooking. My mum recalls a boiled ground beef dish from her childhood that turns her green almost every time she talks about it. Also she gags on the memory of tinned, mushed peas and tongue. Then there was the rutabaga casserole....I digress....it was post war times and it’s totally understandable. Anyhow.
My grandma was a great lover of the outdoors and a woman who paused to watch and help her grandkids (myself included) to notice things like poplar leaves applauding the wind. She was a pediatrician, a darn good one, and had such a special way with little kiddos. Enter nasturtium tea sandwiches (or rollers, as she called them).
Combining her love of nature with something she knew we would find fascinating, I’ll never forget her showing my sister and I how to carefully select and pick leaves off of one of her overflowing nasturtium pots that happily grew on her back porch. We followed her into the kitchen where she took some generic brown bread and rolled it over a few times with a glass bottle until it was good and flat. Then, she spread it generously with butter. My sister and I washed the leaves and tore them up into little strips. We mixed the leaves with cream cheese, salt and pepper and covered the bread with the mixture. Then we rolled them up into little pinwheels while grandma made some strong Earl Grey tea. We all sat at the kitchen table and ate these perfect little bundles - made o so peppery with the nasturtium and o so rich with the butter and cream cheese. Washed down with the hot tea. It was perfection in my memory. And then we each got a orangey nasturtium flower to wear in our hair the rest of the afternoon.
Here in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada we are teetering on the edge of early spring. We’re almost, alllllmmmost making the much easier descent down the other side of the perilous mountain that challenges us every prairie winter. For me, a crocus poking its brave head out of the snow is THE sign that winter is officially a memory. So in this vein (though a different varietal), I’m going to talk saffron.
For me, this spice has a purple-blue mist swirling around it. Romantic. I’ve always been low key obsessed with the notion of flavour derived from flowers. The top producers are Iran, Spain, India and Greece. But it wasn’t until I learned more about the saffron harvest in Afghanistan recently (thank you TSP!) that I gained a whole new appreciation and respect for the meticulous, diligent and brave work required to harvest the thousands upon thousands of amber-hued stamens from these croci. The most delicate work achieved in a punishing atmosphere. Incredible.
Beets are truly magnificent. Not only can they grow in pretty much any climate, they are a chameleon in how they enmesh themselves into savoury and sweet recipes with equal aplomb. Oh! And they make wicked good tie dye, as their jewel toned stain is so deeply hued it is otherworldly in its vividness. So this beet hummus is freaking delish, AND it's good for you AND it will sustain you throughout the day. On crackers or toasted pita with veggies for lunch, snack or whatever, it fills you right up and gives you tonneau of plant based energy to burn. Can we also mention their earthy, sweet, mineral flavour profile? Beets, beets, magical beets✨
Well. I’ve been told that I should steer clear of these delicious veg from the Solanaceae famjam. I guess these beloveds have in fact been betraying my bod while enticing my palate as they can trigger inflammation in people prone to it. Ugh. Here’s an homage to these mysterious veggies who have had my heart for a great many years. I’m sure I’ll still enjoy them from time to time, but like anything, moderation needs to be top of mind. Goodnight, my sweet night garden. Goodnight 🌙 💫
This savoury number is a dynamo fave in my house, especially on chilly winter nights. The subtle, soft, nutty, humbly distinguished notes of the Great Northern are enhanced by the wham bam (!) flavours of zesty, bright lemon juice; sweet, deep roasted garlic; strong, piney rosemary; peppery paprika; and the slickness that can only be imparted by a good olive oil. Blended together and then spread generously on a cracker or a hot out of the oven pita toastie (preferred!) is sublime experience...one that can make a meal or a snack with a glass of good wine just heaven.
Broccoli flowers, carrot flowers, zucchini flowers, potato flowers....BEAN FLOWERS!! The beauty abounds my goodness. Black bean flowers in my garden grow a bold scarlet red, but they are as fragile as tissue paper. The beans within are earthy and a bit nutty (I can relate) and so delicious in salsa, chili, salads, soups, hummus (my fave), casseroles, this list goes on and on for these shiny, onyx black beauties. Here’s an homage to these hearty beans and their delicate flowers.
So, in my investigation of all things bean-related (within US dry bean varietals, of course!) I have found my obsessions to be two fold....so far: 1) in what I like to call ‘the bean sheen’, which is the lovely way dry beans pick up light in such a beautiful way....after an overnight soak, they have this polished stone-like glimmer, and their natural colours start popping just like a pebble’s hidden colour comes out when you see it shining away in a little pool of water, as opposed to when dry and muted on the beach; 2) BEAN POTS!! This curvaceous earthenware is so satisfyingly plump and happy looking, especially when brimming full of beans simmering in savoury, sweet, sticky sauce.....not to mention their history in North America and all over the world.....every nation has their own version and they cook everything in the most perfect way, as the clay works to moisten the contents, whether beans, rice or otherwise to a softness and luxurious state - never too dry, never to wet. This illo is a salute to beans (I’ve got a real bean party in every pot here with navy, baby Lima, cranberry, black, adzuki, kidney and great Northern all enjoying each other’s company) and these incredibly functional, not to mention aesthetically-pleasing cooking vessels.
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 Lewis. 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. Lewis 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!