SPOTS were everywhere! A leopard! I couldn't wait to transform this perfectly ripe pineapple into the spotted cat I imagined. When I cut the sides off the pineapple it looked just right, but by the look on my son's face, I knew food art would have to wait. My boy was hungry and I could do it on my next round of shopping because most pineapples look this way inside.
Now, if something magical happens inside a fruit or vegetable that is extraordinary when I cut it open, I make a plan. I have become the queen of distraction with my kids. The bait and switch. I am always ready! My husband knows me all too well, and now accepts that dinner will have to wait sometimes. I think he actually looks forward to what I am going to make now. He appreciates how I see things. Sometimes I don't plan on it, but it happens when I unveil the vegetables of the night. "An Elephant! A sexy lady. Oh, it's a giraffe!" It's no wonder the produce guy thought I was nuts.
Sometimes I say, "Oh no." because I am hungry too. It has gotten to the point where I have to put on blinders when I go shopping. I see too many things. People ask how I get my ideas. I don't try. They JUMP at me.
I don't know how many people appreciate the beauty in the produce isle. The loveliness in the colors, textures, flavors that surround us at a vegetable stand or in a garden. I could tell you I have a whole new appreciation for the never ending varieties we could choose from. Try going to an Asian market! A whole new world! What is really fantastic is now if you buy something that you aren't familiar with, you could look for a recipe online and you will get hundreds of ways to prepare it. Food art makes our family try new things that we probably never would have. I could have framed up a picture of these beautiful blackberries I bought with the pineapple! The insides were a deep purple. Gorgeous! I had to use them. Check out the ears. I only was allowed to use four. The rest the kids ate while they watched me put him together like a puzzle.
You should try it! Buy a vegetable you have never tried. Get it home and look up how to prepare it. It is fun and exciting for kids to choose as well. It is like a new adventure! Let me know what you chose!
I was going through old photos when I came across one of my kids looking at the adorable baby orangutan at the Phoenix Zoo. The next day when I saw the coconuts at the market, it just naturally came to me that I would create this sweet baby. Coconuts are delicious and now they even make 'quick crack' ones. They score a line around them so they are easy to open. They are a source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Coconuts have tons of magnesium, potassium, calcium, as well as electrolytes. The ones I bough were particularly perfect and sweet. We drained the milk first, then I took the kids outside and we tossed each one into the air and they cracked easily on the ground. It makes it fun, but be careful not to be too close if you do this! They broke right into the perfect pieces for this little guy! He was hard to eat I must say. Those eyes! Those wet grape eyes! They get me every time! I took the pics of him with my kids and closed my eyes. We eat everything we make. The peaches were still delicious in October! Yay! Wait until you see what I have lined up for dinner!
Next week is the week when I pick up my first completed book One Hot Night at the Veggie Bar from my publisher. I am so grateful Vesuvius Press signed me on this year as one of their authors, and my stomach flips with joy knowing my first book is almost here. It is a feeling kind of like when you are about to have a child. Something that has built inside, and it is about to come alive. When I first began my journey in food art it was just something I did with my family. To me, playing with my food made cooking more fun. A walk down the produce isle is something I don't take for granted. The beautiful colors of the fruits and vegetables that come from nature are a gift to all of us. Those colors are so pure, it is hard to even achieve them with paint colors on canvas. I feel like it makes me come alive. I see those shapes and colors and I want to make a hundred different types of food art. I see cute babies in melons, little animals in cauliflower, flowers in peppers, and creatures with vegetables I have never tried. I have to refrain from buying all those shapes and colors at once, because I only buy what we will eat for dinner. Sometimes I need to work really quickly. Not only because my family is telling me they are hungry, and they don't care if I see a bird or a plane, but because many fruits and vegetables, don't hold up very long once they are carved. I have had my nine year old boy grab a melon from me and say, "No way Mom, not today!" He sees me eyeing it and knows the phrase all too well. "Dinner will be late again." I just can't help myself! One night I pulled out a vegetable to begin making soup, and I thought, "Oh no!" My husband half smiled and said, "What could you possibly see in THAT?" "A hippie. He's a hippie for sure!" It was so clear to me what it would become. My husband just smiled and told me to 'Go for it' because he could not see how that vegetable could become such a thing. Take a look at the photo above. This was what I saw. He was simple and fast and his story is now in this book.
I can't wait to share these adventures with you all. Many of you are the reason this book has come to fruition. I would post our dinners to our friends and family on Facebook, and over and over I would hear the same thing. 'YOU NEED TO PUBLISH THIS!' Children were asking each day if I posted a new dinner yet and they couldn't wait to hear the story. Kids would come up to me at school and while shopping, and would say, "Miss Sandy, what is for dinner? I can't wait!" Knowing families were looking forward to these postings would make me smile and want to create more. I was also told that I had kids trying new vegetables and fruits that they would never have touched before. Thank You!
I hope you join me on this adventure of food art and stories in this adult version. The kids version is on it's way next!
Sandra Marshall is a professional artist. Currently she is the proud owner of Be...An Artist/ Be...A Chef Studios which combine all types of arts under one roof. Be...An Artist/Be...A Chef combines fine art painting, with performance classes, comedy nights, yoga, health classes for the mind, body and spirit, as well as the the art of cooking. Please check out Be...An Artists website.