Circling Circles

One load of washing done, another in. Shopping done and packed away. With these essentials sorted, I must turn to the dilemma that materialised yesterday.

The milk in the fridge needs to be cooked or thrown out, but there is a competing need to start an art piece.

A new idea for an art piece is very tantilising.

“What’s a little bit of milk”, I hear someone say. Alas, I’ve thrown out too much milk; a line must be drawn.

There is a further problem, and it’s also in the kitchen. No protein left in the freezer.

(There’s this lovely pattern in my life: when the plastic container cupboard is full and looking pleasantly tidy, the freezer is empty. I have a ridiculous number of containers.)

During this morning’s shop, I stocked up on meat. More things to cook today.

Must the art project wait?

I can’t find my ricotta hotcakes recipe.

My recent foray into my grandmother’s recipe book left me feeling a little “less than”. There is a social pattern of which I wasn’t a member. A cook would own the most popular recipe book of the day. A cook would be adding all the helpful tips, tricks and new recipes being shared around the community.

I don’t think of myself as a cook. It’s just one of life’s essentials. But, and it’s an important ‘but’, there are many things I enjoy cooking. Perhaps the cookbook comes first. Membership, so to speak.

Cookbooks have grown in size since my grandmother’s day, and I couldn’t afford to buy the latest some years ago when I decided to give this essential a bit of focus.

So, rather than buying a bound volume, I assembled recipes and ideas from magazines and newspapers and stuck them in a folder. I can’t complain because that active engagement of collecting, sorting and categorising helped with the learning process.

Now I can afford the latest popular recipe book. And I did splash out on it.

It’s a welcomed new journey.

Mmm. There are no hotcakes in the index. Stephanie Alexander’s The Cooks Companion is an Australian recipe book, and I think hotcakes are rather American. Of course, Australia’s cuisine is now infused with world flavours and dishes, but why waste space on hotcakes when there are already entries for pancakes, pikelets AND crepes.

The chapters are topic based. Peas. Quail and other game birds. Tamarillos. Turnips and swedes. And so on.

I discover the recipe for pancakes in the front section, in the chapter called Basics. This recipe is a little fancier than the one I’ve previously used. Whisking in the egg whites last? More Mmm-ing on my part.

The last load of washing has finished. Time to get cooking.

My new Cooks Companion has space for margin notes. My gran’s didn’t; it was from a time when allowing unprinted space on the page was unconscionable.

My margin notes: Ricotta cheese instead of butter, same amount; 600 on the induction cooktop; crepe frying pan; makes 5 big pancakes (one to eat, four to freeze).

The circles of the pancakes draw me out to that art project, waiting so patiently in the wings.

Many years ago, I cut circles out of magazines. I used to buy a lot of magazines. That was before YouTube and even the internet. Those particular circles were going to be the starting point for colour pencil drawings, a medium I fell in love with during my brief attempt to “study” art at a tertiary college in the 80s.

I’d long ago abandoned the pencils, except for a brief stint during the adult colouring book craze a few years before the pandemic. It felt like pencils took up a lot of time for little value, but re-reading my post on the colouring books reminds me how much I enjoyed them. A pencil re-think might be required.

Did I keep the circles? I think I kept them. Can I find them?

Found them.

The latest idea is to randomly spread them on a canvas, let them overlap lots, glue them down and create a wonderful colourful chaos that isn’t really as random as first intended because I would inevitably rearrange a few.

My problem is that overlapping them will destroy the integrity of each one. The cutting wasn’t random. I’d slide the template over the page and select a combination of colours and lines that appealed to me, a combination that made me feel comfortable. Life within the circle felt balanced.

I will let the circles swirl upon the surface of the canvas, back and forth, clockwise and anti-clockwise, and only stop when the cacophony whispers Done, and the larger image feels balanced.

But not yet. There is more cooking to do.

Cooking meat is boring.

What do you think? Is art about creativity or problem solving? I’m leaning towards the latter.

Because, on my return to the coloured circles, I find them shifting into piles of likeminded images. Colour themes are emerging. And that’s also feeling comfortable. Of course it would; that’s another of those social patterns that can leave us feeling drawn in or pushed out.

To solve my problem, I will do both. Therein will lie a juxtaposition.

Having reached this point, it’s clear it won’t be a small project. I must leave it for another day. The washing up is insistent.


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