Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Frankie Martin: Baker Interview

Here is the interview Frankie Martin and I did as part of her Residency at the bake sale. For info on the bake sale (2/13 at Secret Project Robot in Brooklyn), see the post below this one.
TRACY: Hi, Frankie! Tell me some stuff about BIKE USA (the project you raised funds for via the bake sale table) and how it relates to your ongoing body of work.

FRANKIE: Bike USA is a project beginning late May 2009 which involves me biking from Virginia to California (with company and alone, for different stretches) . In addition to adventure reasons, I will also gather data for a new body of artwork, in the forms of digital video and photography. I will do a few performances along the way, and hopefully collaborate with strangers on FVC, a larger video project. I have started writing a book, which I will also be able to work on during periods of rest during the bike trip.

T: How does sugar affect your life on a daily basis and how does sugar make you feel inside when you eat it?

F: I usually eat sugar is between the hours of 2 and 9 pm. If I eat too much sugar, I get a headache. Peter Pan is my favorite place to go for donuts. Lately I have had root beer floats. There have been times when I have had a problem with sugar (eating too much of it) and forced myself to consume it only on the weekends. This is probably due to the fact that when I eat it my taste buds are so happy.

T: What makes you want to be a baker and how did you learn?

F: There are many aspects of baking that I enjoy.
1. The potential of failure, and the eventual relief of making something well. I enjoy the science of it, and experimenting within that science to test the limits.
2. Being able to share edible delights with family, friends and strangers.
3. Being able to decorate the baked good later. The visual element.
4. It relaxes me.

Although I believe I baked cookies with my Mom growing up once in awhile, I taught myself how to bake. She was not really into the idea of being in the kitchen as a family activity. But I really enjoy baking with children, and teaching them.

T: What kinds of stuff do you bake?

F: I bake cookies, cupcakes, quiches, pies, muffins, breads (in order of most frequent to least frequent). Lately I have been really into baking things that have an element of surprise. Sometimes the surprise is good, sometimes its not good, but always edible. I have included surprises in cupcakes, cakes and brownies. Citrus surprise cupcakes yielded mixed reviews, but this could be due to the fact that some surprises were sour and some were sweet.

T: You like biking, yet you also like to eat butter and oil and sugar combined together. What sort of conclusion can you make about liking to be fit but also liking to have greasy sugary fingers and mouth?

F: I do not actually like having greasy fingers or mouth. I prefer to brush my teeth after eating sugary foods, I am extremely dentally conscious. There are many dichotomies within my personality, and I think this has something to do with my desire to be well rounded. ? I'm not sure, I'm still figuring myself out. I do enjoy being physically fit/strong/healthy, but I also enjoy desserts. I don't think the two are mutually exclusive.

T : How was your experience as a resident baker for Sweet Tooth of the Tiger? What was your favorite part? What was funny? What did you find to be weird?

F: My experience as a resident baker for Sweet Tooth of the Tiger was more fun than I expected. I was afraid it would be like sitting at a craft fair table (which i did once only), but in fact it is much easier and more pleasant to tempt people with delicious treats. It was nice to be able to explain that the baked goods were going to benefit BIKE USA. It was great to watch people try the treats, and hear back that they liked them. I also enjoyed chatting with Tracy and people watching.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I Heart Art at WORK gallery

The bake sale at WORK gallery was radder than rad. I was supporting a benefit event for WORK gallery and The Wassaic Project (organized by Eve Biddle, Bowie Zunio and Elan Bogarin) which hosted a silent auction where donated artworks were being sold/auctioned below $60. The place was packed like a can of sardines, but they kept the hot toddies flowin', the art sparklin', and the conversation roarin'. Hopefully the sugar I was providing for the crowd helped with all of that also.

I was really proud of this bake sale and the goodies I laid out on the table. The menu included Southern Lovers' Hummingbird Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (this is traditionally a southern confection, but somehow we have a family recipe for this cake even though the northern European side of my fam has roots in the Pennsylvania Dutch country- it was probably out of my Gram's "Women's Cookbook" or passed around by friends), my Spicy Dark Chocolate Ginger Brownies that are slowly becoming famous (I adapted this recipe from a family brownie recipe), Homemade Cinnamon-Sugar and Powdered Sugar Glazed Donut Holes (my family never made donuts- this was from a recipe I found online), and Smores Kits- there was a hobo fire outside of the gallery, so guests could grab graham crackers, Ghirardelli
Chocolate (Milk or Dark), and Campfire Marshmallows on skewers and go freak out with a taste sensation by the fire.

It was really a lot of fun, and didn't even notice that I had been standing for four hours straight until I sat down to my (very special) Valentines Day Dinner that night. Apparently the yoga I have been practicing is helping my mal-aligned back (hopefully it will also take off the extra poundage I have put on in the past year from sitting behind a bake sale table every week?).

I can't wait to do more bake sales with the girls from Wassaic, especially in the summer at their rad weekend-long multi-disciplinary arts festival in Wassaic (duh), upstate NY.

Ladies and Gents, the real Frankie Martin: Bake Sale Residency Artist #1

This past Friday marked the first ever Bake Sale Residency for Artists, a new program for Sweet Tooth of the Tiger. Artists who love to bake sweet treats apply to take over the bake sale table to sell their goodies in order to raise money for a creative project. I tag along on the bake sale and help out, as well as interview the artist/baker and then publish the interview here, on the blog.

The Bake Sale was at Secret Project Robot, my favorite space for art experiments. Frankie's bake sale went off without a hitch, almost selling out! Her arsenal included Vanilla Peanut Butter Surprise cupcakes (decorated with gel icing, Fruitloops and Kashi Heart to Heart cereal), Berry Brownies (made with raspberry extract and dried cherries), and Molasses Chocolate Chunk Ginger cookies. They were all dairy free except for the cookies (butter). They were so tasty and peeps were coming back to the table to tell her how much their tummy enjoyed her confections.

She had her moments of trying to answer strange questions from the crowd: the image below illustrates Frankie talking to a dude who makes pickles (I think his company is called Endless Pickles or whatever), and she's pointing to the brownies saying, no, I make brownies. I like pickles but I make brownies.

And then they become friends and she takes his money (she reaches for her fanny pack full of cash, still slightly confused).

It was too loud in there to conduct a video interview, so I emailed Frankie some questions the next day, and I'll post them here when she's done answering them. More on Frankie's interview in a later post.

While you're waiting, check out her website, Frankie Fever Forever and check out her dance moves.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Time OUT! New York

Photo credit: Suzanne Lindgren

I think the magazine should be called Time In, because it's encouraging you to never sleep and do everything you possibly can in NYC to be able to wear the proud badge of "real new yorker."  My badge is like, at cadette ranking, because I'm from Long Island.  Before you make fun of me, I don't have long scary nails, I don't use aqua net, and I don't have a scary accent.  I did, however, used to say "draw" and "mirra" when trying to say "drawer" and "mirror," and sometimes still have to concentrate really hard when I say those words as to not slip.  My parents have the accents, as do my brothers, and my little niece is really picking it up, which is funny because her mom is from the mid west so she's got a little bit of both in there.  Alas, I am very proud of my STRONG ISLAND roots, because of the diy music scene (even if emo gets a bad rap now) I grew up with, and the kind of brotherhood-i-ness that exists only when you're a teenager.  When you're an adult, long islanders tend to not give a crap about anyone but themselves.  There's a saying that is specific to the region that exemplifies this, and that is: (spoken in a loud, threatening tone) "Get Off My Propity!!" (supposed to be pronounced "property.")  They do not say, "get off my lawn," or "keep off the grass, please," but yell at you to have it be known that you are violating something that is theirs.  They are tough, hence the name Strong Island.

Now to my point: I was listed in Time Out NY this week, which is exciting, because of all the things mentioned above.  Check it out, and stay off my propity.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Just sharin': Pucker Up!

These are the sweet and tangy lemon buttermilk cupcakes (that are not vegan) that I made last night for the Japanther show at the Bell House.  I had a few left over so I decided to make good use of the sunny day shining through my Brooklyn apartment and take some proper photographs.  I was a photography minor in college but haven't really gotten back into feeling much like photographing anything, until now.  I'm planning on taking more photos of food and blogging after each bake sale, since I'm hoping to be even more inventive and creative with the bake sale events than in the past.  

I also just received an amazing book I had ordered from Amazon titled "Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History" by Sindey Mintz.  I'm using it for my thesis (which will complete my graduate degree at NYU in Visual Culture Theory), which is about participatory art projects that use food as a medium and eating as a social practice.  I'm only one chapter in, so I can't say much for the whole book, but it's really good.  If you're really interested in food but just slightly interested in reading social theory, pick up this book- it's actually an easy read.

Can't wait to share more with you!

xo Tracy 

Friday, February 6, 2009

V-Day cookie tins at Fred Flare

Ahoy! I just got home from the Japanther show at the Bell House in Gowanus (Bklyn) where I was wheelin' and deelin' cookies and cupcakes. There were a lot of young folks there (like teenagers) who were vegan (I know because they would drool over the chocolate chip pecan toffee cookies and lemon buttermilk cupcakes and say, "are these vegan?"). I was a vegetarian when I was thirteen, and until my pediatrician made my mom force feed me some chicken soup, it felt like the right thing to do. I was disciplining myself, testing my boundaries, and even being a little rebellious. But now, 15 years later (I'm dating myself), I look at these young kids who won't eat a cookie because it has eggs in it and I feel weird. Just eat the damn cookie and get on with it, lad!  Youth: 'tis an awkward and glorious thing. [p.s. totally not dissing veganism or vetetarianism here- I just have a fascination with teenage rebellion.)

Now onto the reason I'm actually blogging. In my last post I mentioned that my buds over at will have specially designed Valentines Day cookie tins available on their website for the week leading up to the big day of LOVE. They put the tin on their site today, and I just love the cute little photos they took of the tins and each of the goodies inside of them. Now that I've become much more interested in food photography, I'm wondering what I can do to take better pictures of my goodies without spending a ton of cash on a digi SLR camera and a proper flash. I have a really nice film camera, but alas, all analog signals have gone digital in my world. Unless my boyfriend gives me a mix tape on Valentines Day.  I don't post images of my goodies that often because I usually bake in the afternoon and/or evening, which is not the best kind of lighting for making sweets look yummy.  They just look like they're having their mug shot taken. 

But look at these beauties!


You can find the tins and purchase them here. They're $20 and the shipping is expedited at no additional cost (you still have to pay ground though I think.)  The tins include yummy ginger brownies, sweet and sour chocolate cherry cookies, and really delicious heart-shaped sugar cookies with royal icing (it's my boyfriend's mom's recipe- we make christmas cookies every year and I eat two of them for every one I frost.)  

Yum!  Take a look!

xo Tracy