Updated: Oct 9
This week in ART YARD Advanced Studio Teaching Artist Iviva Olenick presented a session called Pandemic Food Sketchbook, or Breaking A Fast.
Iviva explains: “This year, September 28th is both the end of Yom Kippur, a Jewish observance in which one fasts for a full day, and a full 6+ months of quarantine, during which time our food and eating habits have likely changed. This lesson is an opportunity to consider foods we love and miss from pre-quarantine days, new foods we’ve rotated into our diets, and/or new habits or rituals around cooking, preparing, shopping for, ordering or experiencing meals. It is also a moment to consider the “pandemic sketchbook,” or reflective practice of journaling through drawing to process the experiences of this unique time. Sketching, like eating, can be a form of self-nurturance. This class looks at the connection between the two, and the way the two activities mark time, record human experience and reflect cultural shifts and norms (or lack of norms).”
As artistic inspiration we looked at Artist Gayle Kabaker’s Washington Post updates on her pandemic experience and pandemic sketchbook have been inspiring. She includes finished paintings as well as personal journal-like entries. Topics range from love of her dog to her deepest fears. Iviva points out “I noticed that even when the main theme isn’t about food, food finds its way into her drawings. A particularly moving story focused on her neighbor, Manfred, who offered flowers and home-baked bread outdoor giveaways to get neighbors face-to-face during an isolating time.”
As usual the art made during the session was eclectic and deeply thoughtful. Iviva and Marilyn share recipes along with their work.
Marilyn recounts: “I enjoy making tarts and crustless quiches with all kinds of vegetables. It’s easy to be creative with a basic recipe. The recipe for the leek tart did not call for the tomatoes, but I thought it needed some color. Red pepper slices also look good. Puff pastry or other pastry dough work well. When I don’t have leeks, I’ve made this recipe with red and white onions; and it is also delicious.”
Savory Leek & Cheese Tart
5 medium leeks
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt (fin sea, plus more to taste)
1/2 to 3/4 cup half and half (or cream)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground)
1 tart crust (see notes above)
1/2 to 3/4 cup cheese (freshly grated and highly flavorful like Gruyère or Parmesan, cook's choice)
Steps to Make It
Preheat oven 375°F. Clean the leeks, remove the root end and dark green leaves, halve them lengthwise, and cut them into thin slices. Rinse any grit off the sliced leeks, if necessary.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan or saute pan over medium heat. Add the sliced leeks and sprinkle them with the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are very tender, about 10 minutes.
Add the half-and-half or cream. Reduce the heat to low and let cook to blend the flavors and reduce the liquid, about 5 minutes. Take the mixture off the heat and stir in the pepper. Taste the mixture and add more salt and pepper to taste, if you like.
Lay the crust in a 9-inch round tart pan (or similar). Let the crust fall into place, gently moving it into the edges without stretching the dough (stretching now will cause it to shrink as it bakes).
Add the leek mixture to the crust, and spread it in an even layer. Sprinkle it with the cheese. Set the tart pan on a baking sheet, just to be safe and keep you from having to clean your oven in case of a boil-over. Bake the tart until it's bubbly and golden, about 35 minutes.
Let the tart sit at least 10 minutes before cutting. Serve it hot, warm, or at room temperature. This flexibility is part of the magic of this tart: it works for a simple dinner or luncheon, as well as a buffet table or a potluck party.
Marilyn’s recipe sounded so good, I plan to try it myself soon!
Iviva’s frittata recipe: Pick vegetables you like, and steam them in a thin coating of water, avocado oil and crushed tomatoes. Cook on medium heat with seasonings of choice - salt, pepper, maybe even some cumin. Once the vegetables have softened, beat 2-3 eggs and pour them over the vegetables. Cover the pot and turn the heat to low. Cook until the eggs are firm with a thin brown film on the edges. Cool and serve. Add avocado slices, cheese, etc. as you like.
Eden and I thought about people in our life and how food is linked to the pandemic enforced isolation. Ed and his cat Frederick, on the other hand, are enjoying their solitude.
Wayne and Akash are spreading their wings in the kitchen learning to shop for and cook new foods and are enjoying the creativity of food preparation.
Jacob, already an expert in the kitchen, links his recipes to strong emotional responses to the current state of affairs.
“On May 30, 2020 I made chocolate chip cookies. My housemate Lucy and I ate them while painting our nails and watching Kim's Convenience. We needed to comfort ourselves that night, since we were told that if we went outside after 8 pm white supremacists or the U.S. Army would shoot at us.”
“I made lots of sauerkraut in April and May. My favorite was made with purple cabbage and a lot of garlic. I enjoyed making sauerkraut because it requires you to wait ten days to eat it. It requires having hope for the future.”
Vera who has been reading Roxanne Gay's Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body thought about the emotional and psychological ties we have with food and how the pandemic has changed the access many people have to healthy food.
Likewise Zeke thought about a psychological aspect of food -- the desire for "junk food". He pointed out that the compulsion to subside on frozen fish fingers and chips in fact makes one feel awful. We all were very moved by his strong work steeped in symbolic detail!
Sarah amazed us all by working on this stunning embroidery inspired by thinking about her family in Saudi Arabia. Sarah explains: “Every time I cook or eat, I remember my family and friends and how beautiful it was to gather with others around food before the pandemic. Food is always one of the main reasons people gather, cook, and have a perfect time with their loved once. To elaborate on this idea I embroidered a bunch of grapes as a symbol of community over a small bag. To further express my ideas I added the word Together in gold thread.”
We are hard at work gearing up for virtual programing at our Jersey City partnership at PS6. We love working in Jersey City and have had the pleasure of meeting and working with many city officials.
Our afterschool programs at our newest partnership school The Brooklyn New School are scheduled to start next week! We are really looking forward to the program which will introduce students to contemporary artists and the work we have been doing during the pandemic. Students will be making art inspired by the work they learn about in this virtual art program. Our first session will be inspired by the work of Flávia Berindoague.
Reminder you can still get tickets for 100 works on paper benefit for Kentler International Drawing Space home base to ART YARD BKLYN. Your ticket will get you an original art work and will help support all of Kentler’s great work!
What have you been cooking and eating these days?