Two from artist-couple Greg Lindquist and Suzanne Stroebe, and a snatch of conversation
Shaved Brussel sprout and toasted walnut salad
Half pound brussel sprouts shaved finely on mandoline slicer
Half cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
One cup olive oil, zest and juice of one lemon) whisked in bowl
One quarter cup grated parmesan cheese
Pan seared sweet potato gnocchi with pecans and sage
Sweet potato gnocchi (home made if possible, enough for two portions)
Fresh sage (about 10 leaves, to taste)
¼ cup pecans
2 cups fresh spinach
2 teaspoons truffle oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Boil gnocchi in plenty of salted boiling water until they rise to the surface (about 3 minutes for fresh gnocchi, 5 for frozen)
Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a pan on medium high heat. As the oil is heating up, add the whole fresh sage leaves.
Drain gnocchi and add to a hot pan with the olive oil and sage. Allow them to sit in the pan until slightly crisp on one side (3-5 minutes) Turn them, and add pecans, crushing them just slightly with your hand as you drop them into the pan. Add salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste.
Turn heat down and sauté for a few more minutes, until pecans begin to toast. Add fresh spinach and toss until just wilted.
Serve on plates and sprinkle each portion with a teaspoon of truffle oil (or to taste, but a little goes a long way)
Greg Lindquist: How does your interest in cooking relate to your sculpting and installation?
Suzanne Stroebe: In my studio, I’ve been working with live plants and food in my installations, sculptures, drawings and performances, both as objects and through photographs. Art is an extension of life, right?
GL: Or is art an extension of life, in the sense that your practice is informed by such rituals as eating or growth in the natural world?
SS: I believe artists experience the world through the lens of their creativity, which extends to cooking, gardening, writing, etc. The best cooks are creative in that they experiment freely with new ingredients and methods, and allow for “happy accidents.” The work I make in my studio is the purest form of my creativity, because art is non- functional. However inspiration for my work often comes when I’m engaged in another creative practice, outside of the studio.
GL: And what about our rooftop garden, which really started in my studio, amongst my art making practices?
SS: In retrospect, we began gardening in your studio around the same time when you became more experimental in your practice (i.e. last summer right before you made your first outdoor sculptural installation at Art Omi). More recently, you have become interested in earth art and as the garden as become part of our daily lives, you have begun incorporating potting soil into your sculptures.
GL: Very true. We were talking earlier about whether entertaining was part of our interactions with other artists and the art world. When I suggested that it had little to do with the art world, you reminded me the majority of our visitors were people connected through our profession. Why do you think that is? For me, it creates an intimate setting, but also it’s that idea illustrated by Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, that you can learn something about a person by his or her preferences, by how a living space is arranged and activities are performed: Does cooking reveal sociological, economic and politic preferences?
SS: Cooking can certainly reveal political and social preferences, but more importantly I think there can be an instant bond with other people we meet who are vegetarians, locavores, etc., or those who are also passionate about cooking. Social interactions with those in the art world can become more casual and friendly when we discover other mutual interests. It is also a natural way to invite someone into your home, which is automatically more intimate. After spending an evening over good food and drink with someone in their home or in ours, there is a feeling of real friendship—not so after an evening at an opening, or other professional social setting. People tend to relax and become more themselves while eating a good, home cooked meal.
SS: Do you consider cooking/mixology/gardening to be an expression of creativity?
GL: Sure and it’s an expression of creativity that I think is largely driven by curiosity, experimentation and tastes. I think I’ve gotten a lot better at identifying the tastes of specific herbs in foods and perhaps that’s a little like developing an eye for color mixing.
SS: Do you see a connection between cooking and other culinary experiments and your studio practice? Have they ever overlapped or influenced each other?
GL: I think there’s a sense of alchemy in making herbal infusions in liquors. There is an excitement too for how it’s going to turn out. For example, I was amazed by watching the coffee beans float in the vodka and then, as they became saturated, sink to the bottom of the container and release their dark oils into the clear liquid. Maybe it’s something like in the studio when you have an assortment of objects and materials and even though you can imagine what happens when you put them together, it’s always different when you do it. Cooking or infusing/mixology can be a kind of experimental outlet for art making, perhaps being a place to play when I’m feeling stuck in the studio.