Rhubarb Rediscovery

It still seems strange to me to pay for rhubarb. Don't get me wrong, I'll gladly do it. But I can't help remembering when we were kids and it grew wild and in our parents' gardens like a weed that couldn't be got rid of. We plucked it and ate it with nothing more than sugar, making our own home-make "Lik-A-Stix" (anyone out there remember those?), with ziplock bags of sugar which allowed us to roam free with this mobile dessert. The most exotic it got was a pie. But this most versatile ingredient really never got used to it's full potential in my world. And then one day on Instagram you see people making beautiful tarts with rhubarb arranged so perfectly and you say - I'm getting in on that. So you roast the rhubarb with some vanilla and orange juice and you almost forget about the rhubarb itself because the resulting syrup is so sweet and tart. So you make yourself a little cocktail and then you start arranging things over a rich vanilla custard in the shape of the flooring you will have one day when you live in Paris. 

Roasted Rhubarb
Rhubarb Tart Making
Checkered Rhubarb Tart
Rhubarb Marquetry Tart

And while you are proud of your work as a budding "rhubarchitect", what starts out as an obsession with geometry, changes quickly to an obsession with flavour and pairings. Would this roasted rhubarb be better with vanilla or ginger? Are pistachios a worthy addition to a tart? How can I mass produce this syrup to have it on demand for cocktails. Would it go better with gin or bourbon? And soon things are spiralling out of control and you are making rhubarb popsicles in the middle of day between photo editing sessions, (and photographing them of course because they are so darned pretty). 

But back to the cocktail because that's the real discovery on this rhubarb journey.

Rhubarb Whiskey Sour

Rhubarb Whiskey Sour

1.5 oz bourbon

1.5 oz lemon

1 oz rhubarb ginger syrup *

1/2 an egg white

Pour all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with generous portion of ice, shake together, strain and serve.

* For the rhubarb syrup, mix 4 cups rhubarb,  1 cup sugar , 1 cup water and some fresh sliced ginger sliced in a small saucepan.  Boil for 5 mins and strain reserving rhubarb for another use (like on top of yogurt or porridge).

Cheers to Rhubarb!

 


If you enjoyed that cocktail and want to be surrounded by rhubarb all year long you might be interested in having a look at my Limited Edition Photographic Prints featuring some of my other rhubarb creations.

The Nostalgia of Food

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I would be participating in the first public showing of my work as part of a group show called The Nostalgia of Food which opened on February 5th at Studio 126 in Vancouver's Chinatown. The show features a number of Vancouver food photographers, illustrators, and other artists all contemplating the theme of Nostalgia of Food. In total there are 15 artists showing more than 30 works, three of which I'm very pleased to say are by yours truly.

It was lovely to see such a great turnout for the opening night. I was truly overwhelmed by the great turnout  of Vancouverites that came out to support the show, on what was possibly one of the rainiest nights of the year. It was a night of  was good food, wine, conversation, friends, family and beautiful art from all the participants.

Naturally, the theme appealed to me. As readers of this blog will know, I do tend toward the nostalgic from time to time. It's sometimes said that nostalgia can hold us back and I'm very conscious of that but somehow I've found a way to make nostalgia drive me forward. Many of my own food memories are the subjects of this blog and they inspire both my writing and my photography work. In a way, I could say my own sense of nostalgia has opened up new avenues for me. I'm frequently surprised and delighted how often people respond to my posts with "my mum used to make that" or "that makes me remember".

I’m also interested by the cultural iconography of nostalgia as it relates to food. Does a home-made pickle made by a grandmother taste better than one made by a professional in a state-of-the art facility? Are we responding to the taste of the pickle or the experience or memory? How is that we can imagine these cues from experiences that may or may not have occurred. Are we being true to the real experience?  Or do we all attribute meaning to our memories that may not be there? No one in my family ever made pickles but I imagine them in an old-fashioned way. Why is that? 

One of my works on display, shown above, is called Rashers and Eggs. With this piece as with much of my photography, I'm exploring the simplicity of these ingredients which recalls a simpler time, when these items were the product of the farmhouse, not the factory. How many of us have actual memories of eating this way? Or are we responding to a collective imagined experience? Why do we long for that simpler time? Is it because it is just that? Simpler.

The whole experience of showing was an interesting one, from selecting the works to be included, to determining how I wanted them to be framed or even if I wanted to frame them. In the end, I decided that as they were to be offered for sale, I wanted to offer them as I envisioned them being hung on the wall. Because my photographs are printed on a fine art paper with a lot of texture, I wanted the edge of the piece to be visible and so I decided to float them on a back matt. I really like this effect because it feels natural and in keeping with my work.

One of the best  parts  in this whole process was being introduced to Anna and Ryan at Studio 126. Not only do they promote local artists and artisans but they are also artisans themselves, making the most stunning furniture out of reclaimed wood and welded metal, which is also for sale in their shop. They have created a beautiful space to sell and show not only their own work but the work of others. Being in their space is a nostalgic experience in itself. The room is stripped to the bare bones highlighting the old exposed brick and steel beams and it makes me think of the secrets of history that live within those walls. It's a lovely place to stop in, say hi and just enjoy a quiet moment looking at beautiful things. 

So all in all, the experience has been a lovely one which in years to come I know I'll look back on with a new sense of nostalgia for that time when I put up work for my first art show.

The Nostalgia of Food runs until March 1st at Studio 126, 126 Pender Street, Vancouver

Opening Times: Wednesday - Saturday 12-6pm

There's also a series of workshops associated with the event involving pattern making with food and preserving. More details are available on the Studio 126 website.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear from you with your thoughts on nostalgia. Are there any foods or eating experiences that spark particular memories for you? Does nostalgia hold you back or drive you forward?

 

UPDATE: The show has concluded. If you are interested in purchasing one of my fine art prints, you can contact me helena@myendlesspicnic.com.

 

You've Come to the Right Place

Welcome! Yes, you may have noticed Endless Picnic has a new look. Yes it was time. When I started this blog more than 3 years ago, it was simply because I wanted to record a trip to Spain and share it with my friends and family. Three years on, I've been on lots of interesting journeys through this blog and because of it had the opportunity to work and collaborate with some great people. What started out as a desire for a better presentation of my food photos has led to the launch of my "official' photography site a few weeks ago.  I'm so grateful for the following of my readers and for the encouragement and advice of good friends and teachers during this journey. The time seemed right to give my Endless Picnic a bit of a revamp too, to better reflect where I am now and all that has happened.

The stories will continue and I hope you'll be here with me.

Show a little love

 Cut out Heart Shape Cookies

Do you follow a bunch of different blogs? Up until very recently I found it difficult to keep track of the many blogs and feeds I  follow. I had a sort of haphazard system but never really committed to one reader. Well I just discovered Bloglovin' and yep I'm in love. This reader just seems to get me. It is a really easy way to see all the blogs you love (including this one) and is easily installed on all your devices including iPhone and iPad. You can download the app here. You just add the blogs you want to see and they are right there for you once you open the app. And of course - you can follow myendlesspicnic by clicking the Bloglovin' button in the sidebar.  Check it out and let me know what you think. Are there other readers that you use? Which do you like best?

Calm Before the Storm?

HalifaxWaterfront

I just returned from an amazing 13 days in the Maritimes.  As I watch the current pictures on TV about the remnants of Hurricane Irene, it is hard for me to reconcile the images  I'm seeing with what I experienced while we were there. Blue skies and beautiful days.

The reason for the trip was to attend my sister's wedding on Prince Edward Island and we were truly blessed with wonderful weather in a beautiful location in a wonderful part of the world.

NorthLakeHarbour

It looks like the worst of Irene is over and that the Maritimes have escaped most of the major damage of Irene, but to anyone who has been affected, either in Canada or along the eastern seaboard of the United States,  I wish them speedy recovery.  I'm reminded how quickly lives can change.

SunsetRustico1

mmmhhh...uh...hello there..

I really am wondering about all this blogging stuff...I mean is this a path I really want to go down?  Spilling my guts all over the internet. Does anyone care? What will I write about? But here's the thing, I'm in this world and it's kind of hypocritical of me not to at least experience this - especially when clients are asking me what to do with their blogs. Crazy eh?

So as I set off on my upcoming trip to Spain with 'Super G' (not his real name), I thought, 'well, what the hey! let's give it a shot!'

A few years back, some of my friends gave me the name of 'pique-nique planner' on a trip to France.  It kind of stuck and really does sum me up, always planning my next meal, usually in an idyllic setting.  So now you know where the name comes from, you  can expect some culinary adventures and a glass or two of wine.