This is our *first* post. That’s right. The First! Welcome to Inside the Artist’s Kitchen. We hope you enjoy this introduction to our good friend, and talented artist, Edra Soto. I gave her vague directions about what to make that included the words “whatever you feel like,” and “surprise me.” I didn’t want to have any preconceived notions about her dish. More importantly, if it was something I’d never made before, I wanted to be able to resist the urge to Google it. I wanted to learn how to make it from Edra, not the Internet. But, as we all know, the Internet is a powerful force to resist. So, surprise it was.
When we arrived, we discovered that Edra had decided to give us a mini tour of her favorite foods before we began cooking. She presented a large tray full of tasty snack options, some I’d never seen before. English Cheddar with mustard and ale? Dalmatia Fig Spread? I know, I thought for a moment I might have been living under a rock too.
Once we were settled, Edra pulled out a cabbage to chop, and I thought, “Ah! Already something I’ve never cooked with!” She turned it into a simple curried cabbage dish by adding onion and curry. While it was cooking, we took a peek at her studio. Inside, I was drawn to a wall of shelves that were lined with white shells. The shells, crafted out of crayola model magic, are part of an ongoing project, and have been on display most recently at +Medicine Cabinet. She explained that she was going to experiment with adding color next.
Back in the kitchen, we sampled the curried cabbage and moved on to what I can only describe as a rustic ratatouille, but which Edra had no specific name for. She said that she likes to chop the eggplant into strips and use it as a pasta substitute with a diced tomatoes and onions. Despite the fact that her mother prefers Del Monte canned tomatoes, Edra uses cans of Hunts diced tomatoes, specifically the variety that has basil, garlic & oregano. She says they are a healthier option. All of these ingredients are tossed into the same pot and stewed.
It was right around this point that Edra asked if we had time to make cake. Who doesn’t have time for cake?! There really is no way to have a discussion about Edra and cooking without mentioning her infamous pineapple upside down cake. We were lucky that she wanted to make one with us.
The Pineapple Upside Down Cake is another ongoing project for Edra. Why so much cake, you might ask? Well, to quote her directly:
“I’ve been confectioning an idealistic representation of my wedding cake to alleviate distressing memories that the original cake brought to me during my wedding day. I bake this cake for public events and share it with friends and strangers. The effect of this action doesn’t fail in conjuring some sour memories, but manages to impose itself as a celebratory centerpiece.”
As Edra says on her website, she also traditionally bakes a cake for every opening at The Franklin, an outdoor gallery space created by both her and her husband Dan Sullivan at their home. In fact, The Franklin was open the day we visited. A good showing of people popped by throughout the day to see the GASPAR/HALL show on display, by Andy Hall & Maria Gaspar. Between the visitors, cooking, and doling out pets to Edra’s two friendly dogs, we were best possible sort of busy all day.