Friday, December 16, 2011

Merry Christmas.. why thank you!

I got myself a couple of great Christmas presents today. I seem to be buying a few of those lately!

The Edible Garden - Australian Women's Weekly cookbook - ACP Books.
This is a great book about growing and eating your own produce. I don't have the space to make a garden on the scale that is outlined in the book but it is still a great read and features great ideas on how to use and preserve each season's abundance.

DIY Delicious - Recipes and Ideas for Simple Food from Scratch by Vanessa Barrington is filled with recipes showing you how to make almost everything from scratch. Yogurt, cheese, sourdough bread and kimchi are just a few examples.
It also has some great sections just listing inspirational ideas for salads, sandwiches etc which really suit my spontaneous creative approach to cooking. I like to open up a book, get inspired and then work with what seasonal produce I have at hand.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tomatoes and corn

Both of these vegetables are at their juiciest and most flavoursome throughout summer. Their colours are so happy and sunny, I especially love the different shades and shapes of heirloom tomatoes.

Wanting to make the most of this delicious seasonal produce, I made a lovely fresh Corn and Tomato Soup, based on a recipe I found in A Diet for All Seasons, by Elson M Haas.

Fresh Corn and Tomato Soup
1/2 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
dash cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon oil
5 ears corn (4 cups off the cob)
4 good sized tomatoes, cut up coarsely
1/2 cup water
1/2-1tspn salt
fresh coriander leaves, lightly chopped

1. Saute onion, celery, cayenne and garlic in oil in a heavy saucepan until tender.
Add corn and tomatoes, water and salt to sauteed vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until corn is tender, about 1/2 hour.
2. Although the soup looks lovely and colourful, the next step is to puree it all.
3. Thin the puree out with a little more water if you wish, and season to taste.
3. Stir in coriander leaves and serve!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Newtown festival

I had the chance to sell my calendars at the Newtown festival this year, thanks to my wonderful friends at Sweets Workshop, who were having a stall there.
It was my first experience of being on the other side of the trestle table at the festival, and it was very enjoyable! We sat in the shade enjoying the cool breeze while the crowds bustled past, becoming progressively more red and sweaty as the day wore on.
I set up my calendars amongst a still life of a pumpkin, some gorgeous heirloom tomatoes and some sunflowers.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Calendars finished at last!

I am proud to announce that the 2011 Seasonal Produce Calendar is finished, printed and bound!
I'm very happy with the finished product and excited to be sharing it with the world.

Seasonal Produce Calendar 2011
A beautifully illustrated A4 calendar which lists which fruit and vegetables are in season each month. It also features recipe ideas to use that month's produce and inspiration for enjoying the season to the fullest.

All illustrations are hand-drawn from organic fruit and vegetables from my local farmers markets in Sydney, using a range of materials including pencil, pastel and charcoal.

The calendars are beautifully printed on thick gloss stock which can be written on. They are bound with a hanger so you can hang your calendar somewhere to inspire you every day!

Here's a preview of some of the pages:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

new drawings - autumn fruits

Here are some more drawings for my upcoming calendar - fennel, fig and plum. I needed to do some more for the autumn months so again some have been drawn from pictures. I just love the colours and flavours of autumn produce.. so rich and pungent.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

cumquat colours

Cumquats are a wonderful burst of sunshine in winter. Their flavour is like all of the citrus fruits condensed down into one intense little package. I always expect to find them too tart but the burst of sweetness is always there to balance it out.
I have been enjoying these finely sliced and stirred through semolina porridge while it is cooking.. mmm wintery comfort food goodness!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

pansy face is smiling at you

I have planted pansies in my window box and they are bringing me much joy this winter. Their beautiful pastel colours and velvety texture really complement a crisp winters day.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Radicchio rose

I was about to cut up this head of radicchio when I noticed it was like a beautiful big rose.. especially when placed onto my fluffy green shag-pile rug!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Recent drawings - summer fruits

I have been going back and drawing some summer fruits and vegetables to fill in some gaps in my organic produce calendar. As it is winter at the moment, I've had to draw some of them from images instead of from life, which isn't as enjoyable (or as yummy) but they turned out pretty well nonetheless.
Here are a rockmelon, peach and lychee.. the light, juicy flavours of summer seem like a lifetime away right now.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sprouts and me were meant to be

Sprouts are an excellent way to get fresh food enzymes into your diet in the winter months, when we tend to eat more cooked meals, and starchier foods. I have been trying to grow my own sprouts recently, without much success. So imagine my delight when I found this little book sitting in the foyer of my building waiting to be picked up! The sprouts fairy must have been looking after me. Now I have no excuse not to have my own little sprouts farm happening in my kitchen.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Adzuki beans & pumpkins

Adzuki beans and pumpkins are a classic macrobiotic combination, and a wonderful winter comfort food. According to Chinese medicine, winter is the season to focus on our kidneys and bladder, and adzuki beans are known as a tonic for the kidneys. They have a very satisfying sweet flavour that blends very well with winter vegetables such as pumpkin, and reduces cravings for other less healthy sweet treats!
You can simply throw some chopped pumpkin into your beans about half an hour before the end of their cooking time, or make something more elaborate such as an adzuki and pumpkin pie.

I made this for the first time in ages over the weekend and was very pleased with the results, especially the pastry which I made from buckwheat flour, chickpea flour and wholemeal spelt flour.
I served it with a large leafy salad with tomato, avocado and sunflower seeds, topped with a creamy tahini dressing. But it would go well with steamed vegies too.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Brussels sprouts

I have been loving the nourishing green goodness of brussels sprouts lately.. they're definitely one of my favourite winter foods.
But just when I thought I had these little green bundles sussed, I was most surprised to see a branch of them at my favourite organic vegie supplier at Eveleigh markets, Kurrawong Organics (above).
I had no idea that they grew on branches.. I don't know how I thought they DID grow, but this alien looking structure was certainly nothing I could have imagined. It was yet another reminder of how far from nature the city way of life is.
I wanted to redraw them for my calendar, and here are some of the results.

One of my favourite ways to serve brussels sprouts is to parboil them briefly (halved if they are large), and then braise them in butter. Meanwhile, I toss some cauliflower florets in olive oil, cumin powder and fennel seeds and put them under the griller for about 15 minutes, or until they're turning brown and are mushy on the inside. Pop some walnuts under the griller towards the end.
When the brussels sprouts are cooked, I combine them with the cauliflower, walnuts, some fetta cheese and chickpeas. YUM-O!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mustard Greens

These are my latest favourite thing.. with a real mustardy kick to them, they make any salad into a refreshingly spicy taste sensation, and complement starchy winter vegetables perfectly. I love them with roasted winter vegies (pumpkin, turnip, parsnip and carrot), tossed with chickpeas and some tahini dressing.. mmmm :) They will definitely be featuring in the winter months of next year's calendar. People need to know!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sweets for you, sweets for me!

Early this month I was priveleged to be invited to the opening of Sweets Workshop, an exciting new venture in Summer Hill.

They are filling a real niche in the area, offering a retail art gallery exhibiting and stocking art, decorative objects and giftware produced by local and international designers and artists. So you can come in to be inspired by artwork, find some cool and unusual things for a gift or for yourself or even approach them about exhibiting or stocking your own work.

It's very exciting indeed to see some beautiful creative people fulfilling their vision and I wish them all the best!
They are still in the process of stocking their shelves at present, but will be open to the public very soon. In the meantime check out their blog for updates.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Life drawing

I went to Life Drawing at the Arthouse Hotel in Sydney, and I must say I was impressed! Expecting it to be a bit of a casual affair, with people treating the life drawing as a novelty or afterthought, I was pleased to find the atmosphere almost formal, and the crowd very focussed and attentive to the life models. I guess it's hard to find cheap life drawing in Sydney, so when it's available the artists flock around. It was the first life drawing I had done in quite a while, but found my contour drawing skills were lying not too far below the surface, especially when excavated with a glass of shiraz.
The beautiful structured interior of the Arthouse was the perfect surrounds for this activity, and very inspiring. I'm hoping to go back on a semi-regular basis.. it was a fabulous creative start to the week! Here are some of my scratchings..

Thursday, June 17, 2010

south african flowers

A friend of mine wanted some South African flower illustrations to decorate her wedding invitations so i was delighted to have the chance to create some for her. Their flowers are robust and colourful, and very satisfying to draw. We chose the following as they were important to her and worked well together as a border.

Her wedding theme was beach/indiginous/hippy.. I did my best to satisfy these criteria! Here's the final product:

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Recent calendar drawings

I've been redrawing some illustrations that I wasn't quite happy with in my first calendar. As I've been slack in updating them as I do them, here they are all together! This time round I'm using much more pencil and a lot less pastel, for a cleaner look. I gave myself some nice new prisma pencils for my birthday, and I'm very pleased with the results they are creating!

Bok choy and persimmon

Corn and pomegranate

I'm still not happy with the bok choy.. it's surprisingly hard to draw. I'll keep trying though!

Healing hyacinths

I received some beautiful hyacinths from work when I was off sick recently. They came with magnolia leaves and tiger lillies, and made my house smell amazing, soothing my foggy post-anaethestic brain. They urged me to draw them every day until i finally gave in! I made another attempt with watercolour pencils.. getting better each time.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

rotting peaches

As part of my project to find images that symbolically show the interconnectedness of life and death I have done a few studies of a rotting peach. I thought this would be a good way to show the over-ripeness of summer, abundance tipping over the edge into decay, which will decompose into the soil and begin another cycle of life.
To make a study of this, I let a peach gently rot on my windowsill for as long as I could bear it, cut it open and then quickly drew it. {I had to use creative license on the maggots!}
The drawing on the left is just a slightly bruised peach, but the one on the right is the full deal.

These were both done in pencil and pastel and chalk. I think the chalk works well to capture the dusty grey mould that formed on the peach's skin, but perhaps oil pastels would work better for the juicy, shiny inside flesh. Looks like I'll have to rot another one and find out!
Ultimately I'd like to try and combine this image with the roses to form a kind of victorian still life, if I can make it work.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sinister sunflower

I've become a little obsessed with this giant, decaying sunflower near my place. It's the largest one I've ever seen! So big, in fact, that it can no longer hold its own substantial head up. It inspired me to draw it, so I went and did a little photo shoot. Here's the first study I've done of it in pencil..

I really want to try and capture the sinister feel of it, so next I tried charcoal pencil and colour pencil. I was pretty happy with the result. It definitely has a much darker impact. My next step with this will be to try it on nice textured watercolour paper, and see if I can create some nice watercolour effects behind the charcoal. I'm not sure if this will work or not. Exciting!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

yellow roses

Yellow roses mean friendship.. but I'm still finding little cuts on my fingers from handling these! Not too friendly but definitely very beautiful to see and smell, with their golden colour and creamy scent. I've been trying to think of ways to illustrate the double edged sword of life.. the way that life rests on death and is always intertwined with it. I think the rose and its thorns may be a good subject for this concept. Here's a first sketch, which I then coloured in watercolours.

I polished it up a bit in photoshop and then put it on a dark background to give it a more symbolic, victorian feel..

Drawing in the new year

It's been a long break but I'm back to Trancing Pony for 2010! The end of last year was extremely busy with the Food for the Future Fair event in October, getting my calendars finished and also the usual festive season hoopla.
It was very satisfying to see my calendars through to the final product, and it made my christmas very special to be able to give them to all my family and loved ones! My project for this year is to polish them up to hopefully be able to sell 2010 ones towards the end of this year. I'm also developing a concept for another calendar, but it's still early days.
Currently I'm working towards developing some watercolour skills.. it's my new favourite technique! I was inspired by the Garden & Cosmos exhibition at the AGNSW (artwork shown above), which featured beautiful Indian watercolour artworks of the royal courts and gardens, and also artworks attempting to depict the cosmos, within and without.

My first watercolour attempt drew very much on the images shown in this exhibition. I drew an elephant (based on LukChai, Sydney's very own baby elephant!) in a (kind of) Indian landscape featuring flat areas of colour, with a detailed tree and bordered by a 'cosmic sea', a device used in several of the artworks to depict the constant flux of the universe.

I still have a long way to go in mastering watercolours, but am really enjoying discovering their unique abilities to create beautiful, ethereal effects.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Some more cool street art from the backstreets of Newtown.. I like this guy! What creative use of an old can and bottle tops. We can all only hope to be reincarnated with such style :)

Monday, October 5, 2009


I'm really in love with this vegetable at the moment. The lettuce-like leaves are surprisingly sturdy and so can be cooked. It has a strong, bitter taste that adds a lot of depth to any dish. I recently had it quickly stir fried with some chickpeas, cumin and garlic, as a side to some fish. I have also quickly grilled it, with some other vegetables such as asparagus, tomato and corn, and dressed with a simple yogurt and lemon dressing. It goes well with goats cheese and other rich creamy things too, as it's sharp flavour is a strong contrast to their richness.

I was really looking forward to drawing it too, as it has such beautiful colours and lines. It will be a nice flash of colour for my calendar, amongst the large amount of orange and green that is more common in fruit and vegies.
Even though I've drawn it in October, it's in season in May, so I'll put it in that month in the calendar.

miso easy!

My brother went to Japan recently, and brought me back a cool new contraption.. a sieve for making miso soup!

Simply place the miso paste in the sieve and then lower it down into the soup. Paddle around with the little spatula and the miso is dissolved and distributed evenly. It's so much easier and effective than just trying to stir the paste around into the soup. I always end up with one big salty spoonful at the end.
Thanks bro!

Friday, October 2, 2009


Avocadoes are beautiful at the moment, and pretty much go with everything in my opinion.
Some favourite combinations are:
- avocado with corn and blackbeans
- avocado mashed with miso! (try it.. it's great)
- avocado in a salad with tahini dressing.. incredibly creamy and indulgent
- avocado on sourdough with lemon and salt.. it's nature's butter!
- avodado with tomato and cheese

They seem to have been around for most of the year but at the moment they're extra creamy and don't seem to bruise or go off as easily. I have been mainly buying the black hass variety but saw the big round green variety in the supermarket the other day. I've had one of those off a friend's tree which was great.. but somehow don't trust those from the supermarket. They seem just a bit too big and too green!


Recently I set up a compost bin for my block of units. I was unsure of how to go about it but I did a workshop with the Watershed, which was really helpful and I came away with a free compost bin as well! It's great to see the Sydney City Council encouraging people to live sustainably with intiatives like this.
Here's how I set up my bin:

1. I put the bin on a patch of dirt so that it will attract worms, slaters and other little creatures that will help to break down the food waste. Ideally, it should be in the sun as heat helps the composting process. But if you don't have a spot in the sun (as I didn't) it's OK, the process will just take a bit longer.
2. Put down a layer of green, or carbon matter. This includes hay, paper, dried leaves, hair etc.
3. Put down a layer of brown, or nitrogen matter such as food scraps.
4. Put down another layer of carbon matter and sprinkle with water, then cover with a hessian sack, also sprinkled with water.

I've been maintaining the bin by aerating it twice a week, much easier now I have obtained a compost corkscrew! I can already see some good compost soil forming in the bin, so it must be working! Hopefully more and more people in my building will start using it. Since I've been putting my food scraps and peelings in there I've dramatically reduced my waste. I barely fill one plastic bag of garbage now. Well on my way to zero waste!
The Watershed have some other interesting workshops on that I'm keen to check out, such as Natural Cleaning, and Eating Sustainably.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Kiwi fruit

These are absolutely beautiful at the moment.. not too sour or floury or sweet or watery! Just the right creamy sweet/tart goodness that we expect from a chinese goosebery. My preferred method of consumption is just digging straight in with a spoon, or they also make a luxurious addition to any fruit salad. But I recently tried juicing one with some celery and ginger and it was surprisingly good.
It was really interesting drawing all the different shades of green in the flesh of the kiwifruit, and the striations coming out from the centre. I'm pretty pleased with the result!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Corella pear

I picked up some of these for the first time last weekend. I couldn't resist their beautiful colours, and they are the perfect snacking size. They seem to have a more subtle taste than a regular green pear.. but I need to give them a chance to get soft before I form an official opinion on the taste. But it was a delight to draw their beautiful gradation of colours.. it reminded me of a sunrise, or a peachface bird for some reason..

Food for the Future Fair

I've become involved in doing the design work for the 2nd Annual Chippendale Food for the Future Fair, to be held on Saturday 24th October on Kensington street in Chippendale. It's an event that I'm very excited about, and am enjoying working on something that I really believe in.
The fair promotes buying produce from growers in the local Sydney and Hawkesbury region, and will have lots of information and workshops about living sustainably. Make a note in your diary.. and watch this space!