I’m having an art show. DAS: Clothes Stories.
So, let’s talk about aprons. Art show, aprons… It will all make sense later. I personally adore aprons. I think they are fantastic. There are many reasons for my appreciation of these utilitarian accessories. First of all, they represent action. Like a superhero, I can put one on, and suddenly I have PURPOSE. Before, I was just standing around. Apron on? I have things to do. Watch out. And they have pockets. Pockets for instruments and tools – tools to be used for highly technical and important creative endeavors. I even love their cousins. Yes, their cousins: the lab coat and the mechanic suit. Aprons also add an interesting layer. I treat them like adding a top skirt to a pair of pants. Open in the back. So… surprising. While, the apron is a call to action, it is also a disguise. Like Banksy says, no one questions you when you have on a hard hat, a reflective vest, and are holding a clipboard. Witnesses think, “Ah, business as usual.” The apron is my reflective vest. I can be in almost any situation, and people think, “Right. She knows what she’s doing.”
I have so many aprons for painting in, that I am able to match them to my outfit. A denim apron even lives in my car for mobile action. I also have several vintage – 40’s, 50’s, and early 80’s for cooking in.
Even though I admire those cooking aprons, they haven’t been used as much as the painting ones. “But why, Laura?” you are now asking. I know! It’s so fascinating. The irony!
I think it’s time for a timeline about my history with cooking. Clearly.
1978. One of my favorite tv shows as a kid was I Love Lucy. I liked everything old when I was a kid. Well, I still do. And because I also loved clothes, I really loved Lucy’s housewife costumes. She made an apron look so glamorous. I had no dreams of being a housewife, but I did believe in elevating whatever I was doing through how I dressed for it. I remember days when I would come out of my room on a Saturday morning, “dressed” for cleaning. My mom would send me back to change. What? Immaculate white slacks and new Hawaiian shirt not appropriate right now?
1984. I’ve always been a feminist. When I was a teenager my dad teased me that no one would want to marry a woman who didn’t know how to cook — that was me. No worries, though. I was not deterred by this remark for the following four reasons:
- I, unlike him was a product of a 70’s education that taught me that I could do anything — that I did not have to conform to a gender role.
- I was his youngest child, only girl of five children. I assumed he didn’t know how to talk to a girl. Comment dismissed.
- Teasing is part of being raised Chicano. I don’t know why, but it just is. I’m sure there’s a dissertation on it somewhere if you search the internets. It’s why if I am ever teased I usually just think it’s funny.
- And lastly, like my dad, I am a Leo, so I was totally full of myself.
So, what was my response? Well, being the youngest, I had something to prove. I told him that the person I married would be an amazing cook. That of course, came true!
1987 I blame my lack of cooking experience at 18 years old on Mexican rules where by birth order, my mother was not taught to cook by her mother. She didn’t have a clue as to how to cook even a tortilla when she married my dad. She taught me how to keep house, iron, and make my own clothes which is pretty cool, though. When it came to cooking, she modeled how to see it as a burden. Thanks to my mother-in-law, the person I met in college (that I would eventually marry) knew how to cook and really enjoyed it. He was actually adventurous about it. So, it was then easy to say, “Oh, okay you’ve got it, then. Great.” It was an excuse to just kind of take a back seat and not try.
1990. I was going to the U.K. for a year of art study. For the first time, I asked my mom to show me how to make her staples. Sure, she wasn’t able to let me do the actual cooking, but she did let me ask questions and take notes. This is how I learned how to make Mexican rice, beans, guacamole and flour tortillas. What more did I need to know?
1991. Once back in the states, a wonderful friend we made in the UK came to stay with us for a while. I observed him teaching my boyfriend everything he knew about cooking. He is one of those people that can make a vegetarian feast out of whatever is in your fridge and cupboard. It’s all gourmet and everything, too. This approach definitely inspired me for the future.
1996. I remember the first time I cooked chicken – how my husband liked it so much that I thought, “Oh, no. Now I have no excuse now!”
1998-2006. There is no noteworthy cooking to speak of for these years. Why? It’s called BABIES, and while I thought that would mean more cooking, it actually meant less. Less for both of us. I mean, who has energy to cook when you are running baths, changing diapers, and not sleeping? Those were the years we became best friends with the frozen aisle at Trader Joe’s. I do remember making a good Aztlan casserole one time, dropping a just cooked salmon on the floor of the kitchen when we had GUESTS, and letting my mother-in-law believe I made the apple pie crust. I didn’t lie! I just didn’t offer more information when she liked it so much.
2007. See, now the littlest one was finishing preschool, and I was teaching full-time again. One day something just opened up. I decided to make pancakes. I started with the pancakes of my youth, so first I tried mixes. I grew up with Bizquick. Yes, my childhood was where born-on-the-ranch tradition meets the conveniences born in the 50’s. Bizquick was cool, but now I was kinda leaning toward a gluten free diet, so I tried half Bizquick and half gluten free mix. I know. It doesn’t really make sense, and I can’t explain the logic. Artists experiment. Eventually, I got really into spelt. Yum. I got to know the flour sifter, the importance of a seasoned skillet, different kinds of milks (from raw cow’s milk to rice milk and everything in between), and the awesome qualities of clarified butter. We had pancake parties and crepe parties with all kinds of toppings and fillings. Everyone loved it.
2015. Now there were teenagers and one of them decided to go for a gluten/dairy/SUGAR free diet that lasted until he went off to college. Before that, I was just messing around because I felt better with less gluten, but this was a little more serious. There was a lot more experimenting with different kinds of lower glycemic sugars like agave, maple syrup, honey and coconut. One recipe I figured out and that all of their friends loved was waffles. It’s based on a recipe from my mother-in-law’s 1950’s Joy of Cooking cookbook but that I updated for a mostly dairy/gluten/processed sugar-free diet. My advice is to just make the waffles and then tell the eaters about the ingredients. They’ll be so impressed and surprised!
Joy of Cooking Waffles Remix (Gluten, Sugar, Mostly Dairy Free) Scroll down for just the recipe.
See, I got basically everything at Trader Joe’s but you can find everything at most healthy markets. It’s just way cheaper at T.J.’s! Sifting is so fun! People think it’s added work, but to me it is like playing with a toy. Melting the butter in the lovely iron skillet. Got that going right away. So efficient. Look, you can use three bowls just like me! Dry ingredients in one. Yolks in one. Whites in one. I didn’t show using the electric hand mixer to mix the whites or the egg yolks with the milk and butter because it was just me and the iphone which I didn’t want to drop in the egg. But here, you can see having made the hole in the dry ingredients. Mixing in the yolk, milk, butter. And finally, flopping in the egg whites which are so fluffy.Okay, this is the MOST fun part and when I often think of The Coffee Prince. Loved that Korean drama where the beautiful Japanese boy with the intriguing back story had a waffle stand that all the girls would flock to.And every time I think, “Why didn’t I put a nice big cookie sheet under that waffle iron. Why? I think my dad found this iron in the alley. Don’t worry. It’s clean. Total decadence. I don’t usually do this. This is actually really good ice cream from Trader Joe’s, of course.
And now, here is my adorable handy, dandy apron I sewed by copying an apron I already had and using whatever I could find in the magical closet under the stairs. Some of these trimmings are from ancient, ancient times I tell you! Yes, another apron for my collection, and the first one I sewed myself. This one is just for cooking, though.
Which brings me back to my art show. DAS: Clothes Stories is up through December, 2017. If you follow this link, you can get all the 411. The show includes the drawing you see at the beginning of this post, other drawings, paintings, an apron I wore in the first DAS (Double Agent Sirvienta) short film, and a t shirt from my new collection. If you’re in Los Angeles, check it out! It’s where my art meets Clothes Stories. Bringing it all together. A dream come true!
Check out more of my art at World of DAS.