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Blog posts by Dina
Ahhh, sweet, delicious, decadent birthday books. Not a year has turned without one or two to take my mind somewhere new. My latest treat is part bio part cookbook part chemistry. â€śJeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Homeâ€ť tells the story of Ohio entrepreneur Jeni Britton Bauer. Her originality and artistic vision mixed with recipes for some seriously out-of-this-realm ice cream makes for a light summer read. A passionate devotee for a couple of years, I visited her store in Columbusâ€™s Short North for a scoop of â€śSalty Caramelâ€ť and then, of course, one more scoop featuring a local stout, and a small spoon of cherry lambic sorbet. What? I didn’t know when I’d be in Columbus again!
â€śThe exquisite cream flavor is lifted up and exulted by vanillaâ€™s subtle hints of honey, jasmine, leather, and smoke,â€ť describes her Ugandan Vanilla Bean recipe.Â Jeni is not just making ice cream. Sheâ€™s serving up real-life, honest-to-goodness, sensory moments. And I am eating it up.
On a side note, when writing this I took a peek inside my well-worn copy of James and Ray Salterâ€™s â€śLife is Mealsâ€ť to read what they had to say about ice cream. Coincidentally, July 25, today, coincides with their July 25 entry,Â Ice-Cream Types. Howâ€™s that for a scoop of serendipity? Check outÂ Luke Polingâ€™s review of Â â€śLife is Mealsâ€ť on Eat Boutique.
At the recent Snap! Orlando photography event, I enjoyed so much of the photography and talent, but it was the unassuming collection of Indie Photobook Library books that most captured my attention. The Indie Photobook Library (iPL), founded in 2010 by Larissa Leclair, is an archive that strives to preserve and showcase self-published books (primarily photography) that can be viewed via traveling exhibitions and as a non-circulating public library.
Picking up and peering through the pages of these lovingly crafted works inspired me as a viewer and an artist. What led me to linger among the display table?Â I canâ€™t quite describe it,Â but its curious force also arrives when I goÂ to old libraries, natural history museums, and other intimate spaces that speak to my sensibilities.
Iâ€™ve ordered the photobook Study featuring Chrissy Designer’s photography and Onna Solomanâ€™s writing. Now I eagerly await this month’s next big event; a trip to the mailbox.
herÂ solitary scent:
Base notes from the north.
We’ll all be home for Easter.
Top notes from the south.
We’ll all stay home for Easter.
Layering on the pulse points:
and the incense
So when did cookbooks start looking so lovely and sounding so sensuous? Are you salivating over these seemingly endless pantries-full of hot stuff volumes? Oh, some are sirens indeedâ€“jaw-dropping pages frosted with Getty-worthy photos and tantalizing tales of distant voyages, exotic locales, and palette-pounding spices. Others are working their way into our hearts more subtly. Weaving stories of family, or knitting circles, leading us to hot loaves-of-bread places where the pumpkin-butter jar is never very far.
This one is for my brother, David and my sister, Denise. Â They could both be chefs. Denny, sorry, I think you and I got the non-chef genes. What we do share in common is a cookbook : Good Appetite-The Romanian way of Cooking. My grandmother was an excellent cookâ€“whipping out dishes for families of five or five-hundred. My mother had her specialtiesâ€“stews and things with seriously hot peppersâ€“but sometimes succumbed to casino spiele the ways of Mrs. Paul”s fish sticks and that green bean casserole with the mushroom soup and weird crunchy onions on top.
The Good Appetite cookbook states:
â€śThe Romanians are an artistic people. Their art is manifested in many and diverse forms, among the foremost being the art of cooking. The Romanian mother has developed cooking as a fine art without the benefits of modern equipment and gadgets found in the American kitchen.
The Romanian immigrant brought this art to America and it would indeed be a great loss to let it die out. Aside from the one other publication in English, no attempt has been made to pass this knowledge on to the American housewife.â€ť Copyright 1957, The Reverand Vasile Hategan
Like Dracula, this cookbook induces some fear. Recipes for Aspic of Pigs Feet, Veal Heart and Lung Soup, Kidneys in White Sauce, Tongue with Olives, things involving wilted lettuce, should have caused me to pause. But, IÂ forged ahead testing out the simple Cherry Pudding Squares. Big mistake. I made the recipe for 10 squaresâ€“and why isnâ€™t the sauce thickening?â€“ and later looked at the recipe for 50 squaresâ€”oh, there are more ingredients in this version, and whatâ€™s with the measurements, huh?
These recipes were passed down from generation to generation, and the grandmas who put this book together pulled the babushkas over our eyes. They didnâ€™t measure anything. Â Who could read their writing anyway? Holy squirrely cursive and funky grease patterns covering tsp!Â Thank goodness the end results aren”t typically the bestÂ parts of whatÂ we share with others.
I think cookbooks appeal to our desire for delicious and savory moments. Moments that taste so good, even if we didn”tÂ prepare them just right.
P.S. Whatâ€™s the last cookbook that satisfied myÂ appetite for beauty? Â Falling Cloudberries.
Steve Martinâ€™s novel An Object of Beauty â€śexamines the glamour and the subterfuge of the fine art world in New York city,â€ť as summarized by the publisher. But why did I buy the book? Why the cover, of course. There, I said it. I regularly judge books by their covers. I have since taking my first steps and wearing my first pair of glasses.
Now, letâ€™s get back to this book. First, itâ€™s a lovely white color. The jacket paper has a bit of tooth, gives it that canvas vibe. The title and authorâ€™s name popâ€“colorful and glossyâ€“that gloss on matte feel is working for me. Hmmm â€¦ seems as though it could have been painted on. Perfect, the novel is about art. The title and author lettering are in beautiful proportion and offset with handwritten words â€śa novel.â€ť 3B pencil for those words? Iâ€™m not as drawn toÂ the book look once IÂ strip off its cover. Also it doesnâ€™t have deckled edges, which I do gravitate toward. But, one could say that the bookâ€™s characters reside within a contemporary setting, so the deckles may feel a bit old fashioned in jogar casino this context.
Am I over thinking things? Perhaps. But, this is the way Iâ€™m wired. I appreciate objects of beauty. Books notwithstanding. Ok, books are pretty much up there on the top tier. So thank you Anne Twomey for your art direction and Darren Booth for the hand lettering and papers. Â Also, thank you Steve Martin for a pretty good read. While Iâ€™m at it, thanks for â€śThe Jerk,â€ť Â â€śWild and crazy guy,â€ť and â€śItâ€™s impossible. To put a Cadillac up your nose. Itâ€™s just impossible.â€ť
I value my senses, so Iâ€™ll continue to consider the virtues of my book fetish and know/no Iâ€™m not alone. Iâ€™m exploring the fit and fate of the book in our current culture within my own artwork.Â And now it seems that I fit squarely within one of Ann Mackâ€™s 2011 trend predictions: â€śTo balance our increasing immersion in the digital world, people will embrace face-to-face gatherings and digital downtime, and come to fetishize physical objects once considered humdrum.â€ť You may say, â€śDuh, obvious,â€ť or â€śWho cares. I predicted that years ago,â€ť and not admit to seeing a smidgen of your â€śselfâ€ť lumped in with the masses, but I predict you will. In the meantime, if you”re suffering from the weight of any hardbacks while you”re “clearing out” to “downsize your life” or to “go green,” I”m your go-to girl.