The secrets of great cooking

Timing is the most essential element of successful cooking, according to my husband, Gordon, and I agree with him. But there’s another: ingredients. What to cook, what to combine, how to make something of seemingly nothing, what is best cooked fresh and when you can make do with frozen or canned ingredients are some of the necessary decisions.

I notice that famous TV chefs such as Jamie Oliver and that competitors in TV cooking competitions such as My Kitchen Rules all use packets of frozen peas in recipes, for example. Not that this would affect me, since frozen peas are one of the few foods I detest, and have done since, as a toddler, I stole a packet from the freezer and ate the lot.

I was reminded of how important ingredients are to cooking by today’s topic for the Daily Post At WordPress.com’s Daily Prompt, which is “Ingredients” (you can access the many interesting posts on this topic here). I’m fascinated by this subject, and since I took up painting three years ago, ingredients for recipes have featured in a number of my paintings. Some of them you’ve seen before, but I thought I’d gather my ingredients-based paintings together and present them on this one page.

My first painting, acrylics on treated board, in which I had to be brave, load the brush with paint and go! © Caron Eastgate Dann 2011

My first painting, acrylics on treated board, in which I had to be brave, load the brush with paint and go!
© Caron Eastgate Dann 2011

A quick pastel sketch on coloured paper. I don't have a fascination with knives, truly: they are just great subjects to try out new-found painting techniques. © Caron Eastgate Dann 2011

A quick pastel sketch on coloured paper. I don’t have a fascination with knives, truly: they are just great subjects to try out new-found painting techniques. This one has special sentimental value (explained in the last painting, below).                              © Caron Eastgate Dann 2011

"Pear-Shaped", watercolour. I bought these beautiful pears in season and couldn't resist painting them. This was my first attempt at a watercolour painting. © Caron Eastgate Dann 2011

“Pear-Shaped”, watercolour. I bought these beautiful pears in season and couldn’t resist painting them. This was my first attempt at a watercolour painting. © Caron Eastgate Dann 2011

"Only On His Day Off", acrylics on canvas board. © Caron Eastgate Dann 2011

“Only On His Day Off”, only the second painting I did, acrylics on canvas board. © Caron Eastgate Dann 2011

"Waiting For Thai Tonight", acrylics on canvas board  © Caron Eastgate Dann 2011

“Waiting For Thai Tonight”, acrylics on canvas board
© Caron Eastgate Dann 2011

"Making Sangria", Pan Pastels on treated paper © Caron Eastgate Dann 2012

“Making Sangria”, PanPastels on treated paper. For this painting, I sourced all the ingredients, including a bottle of Spanish wine that we went to a specialist shop to buy. The great thing: I got to drink it after, so it was an incentive to finish the painting!
© Caron Eastgate Dann 2012

"Making Salad Niçoise", acrylics on treated board. This picture includes my favourite salad servers, plastic tiki-decorated souvenirs from New Zealand.  ©Caron Eastgate Dann, 2012 ©Caron Eastgate Dann, 2012

“Making Salad Niçoise”, acrylics on treated board. This picture includes my favourite salad servers, plastic tiki-decorated souvenirs from New Zealand.
©Caron Eastgate Dann, 2012

"Fruity Still Life", watercolours on paper. This was just a quick sketch, and I'm not very experienced in watercolours, so it's rather wonky: but I don't mind that! ©Caron Eastgate Dann, 2012

“Fruity Still Life”, watercolours on paper. This was just a quick sketch, and I’m not very experienced in watercolours, so it’s rather wonky: but I don’t mind that! ©Caron Eastgate Dann, 2012

"Apple Day", PanPastels on treated paper. The apples were three different varieties I bought for this picture. The willow-pattern china was given to me by my late grandmother.  ©Caron Eastgate Dann, 2013

“Apple Day”, PanPastels on treated paper. The apples were three different varieties I bought for this picture. The willow-pattern china was given to me by my late grandmother. The knife in this picture is very special, as it was given to me decades ago by my late father. It has a permanent place in my kitchen.
©Caron Eastgate Dann, 2013

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12 thoughts on “The secrets of great cooking

  1. Oh, Caron, those are lovely paintings! I’m glad you shared them with us. You have real talent. And I know exactly what you mean by ingredients. Even with something as simple as garlic, it matters whether or not it’s fresh or not. You can tell the difference in the finished product. Your post is a good reminder of that.

    • Thanks, Margot! I love looking at still lifes of food. The only trouble with using them is that perishables have to be painted before they wilt! Yes, I agree that even the simplest of ingredients matter. I always used to use dried garlic, until in my mid-20s, I met my dear Italian friend, who was horrified that I didn’t use fresh garlic. I had moved to Australia, where the food variety was much wider than in NZ. I don’t even remember seeing fresh garlic in the supermarkets in Auckland in those days, though I suppose it was there. These days, it is a different story in NZ, at least in the big cities.

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  5. I like your compositions with the flattened perspectives. Though I think on “Apple Day” I would have placed the apple sizes the other way around, small on left to large on right, for balance with the large plate. Beautiful colours Caron.

    • Thanks, Denis! Interesting re the apple placement—yes, I can see your point. Sometimes I don’t spend enough time on composition which I know is very important. I should do more preliminary sketches and photos.

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