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Let’s Cook: The Best of Both

By Chuck Repnow - | Oct 2, 2021

Their residence was in large drawer in a chest of drawers that had been painted various colors, including bright red and navy blue, to once suit my fancy. The five-drawer chest eventually succumbed to feature two shades of beige that went very nicely in the extra bedroom of my parents’ home. All five drawers were dedicated to images that my mother felt worth of saving–three of them for photographs and the other two were for gathered images that she had saved from calendars, magazines, cards and so forth.

Mom and I would spend time looking through every drawer. It was this first introduction to photographs that in time would create the desire for me to attend professional photography school. Seeing family images and hearing her tell about individuals featured, simply fascinated me. Looking at the images she had saved from various magazines, calendars and cards provided a connection to greater North Dakota and the world.

To this day, when I see an image on the front of a magazine that causes me to halt and intensely look, I am reminded of the sense of solidarity that she and I shared. Her taking the time to describe many of the images has shaped the way I see our social world. She adored images that connected to daily life, and this explained why she was a lifelong fan of Norman Rockwell’s work. He was the master at capturing ordinary events and making them look not only extraordinary, but so inviting.

This shared purpose had her explaining to me the joy of new baby, and the next minute we were looking at the weathered hands of man praying. As I look back on it now, it was one of her ways of telling me that images such as these help to build a better world. There were numerous times in high school and in college when she would send or share an illustration. It was a door that was always open between the two of us, and our walk inside was one of enjoyment.

Connecting and reaching a teenager can be challenging. While in high school, my mom invited me to be part of her painting group, and this step certainly bridged our gap. Each art lesson was a boundless experience, and in addition to this, I had the honor of seeing how these fellow artists connect to humanity. Their kindness, work ethic, sense of humor and consideration for others remains with me to this day. Thus, proving that group identity can define how one lives.

With my current employment of working with the elderly, I often use art to spark a response. It always amazing to see how this bridge brings forth engaging conversation. Most of the images shown relate to everyday experiences, and the “Greatest Generation” know these so well. For example, a recent image of milking a cow brought this response–” I can still feel that frozen tail on my face!”

For many years, I have been a fan of covers from The New Yorker Magazine. I often purchase them at thrift stores. Lately my favorite artist is Ilonka Karasz. Karasz lived from 1896-1981 and was a Hungarian-American designer and illustrator known for her avant-garde industrial design.

A look at her wonderful career makes me pause and wonder “how did she do all of this?”

She began painting covers for The New Yorker in 1924 and continued until 1973. She had completed 186 covers when all was said and done. She didn’t limit her talent to only painting covers, she went on to create wallpaper, rugs, furniture and lovely silver tea sets and so much more. She emigrated to the United States in 1913 and in time settled in Brewster, NY with her family. By 1918 she was noted as “one of the best designers of modern textiles.” She was hired by the Dupont-Rayon Company to help improve the texture and feel of rayon.

Her illustrations for books were numerous! What a brilliant idea to market herself in so many ways. Plus, she did this without the Internet! Is it any wonder that she had a long and prolific career? I had the delight of seeing a collection of her impressive work at the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York.

I was blessed to be introduced to art early in life, and to this day it continues to take me high into the sky with enthusiasm to share with others. After mom and I had looked at art images, our next favorite viewing was often cookbooks. Recently I purchased “The Cook with Hope” cookbook which was compiled by the Hope Circle of the Trinity United Methodist Women from Cavalier, ND. I turned to the section marked “Baked Bars” and upon seeing Sally William’s recipe for Cherry Pineapple Bars that features maraschino cherries, I knew it was time to do some baking.

Featured along with the delicious bars is Ilonka Karasz image which was done for the cover of The New Yorker on September 17, 1938. It shows mothers taking their children shopping for back to school shoes. The mothers are dazed, shoeboxes and children are everywhere, but with a little imagination you can almost smell the leather. This image offers the best of both art and sweets.

Cherry Pineapple Bars

By Sally Williams

2 cup sifted all-purpose flour

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter

1/2 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 – 8 ounce can crushed pineapple

2 beaten egg yolks

1 cup chopped maraschino cherries

In a small bowl combine flour, brown sugar and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. Set aside 1 cup crumbs. Press remaining on bottom of 13x9x2 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Cool slightly white preparing topping.

Topping: In saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Stir in undrained pineapple and egg yolks. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Remove from heat, stir in cherries. Spread evenly over baked layer. Sprinkle on reserved crumbs. Bake 350 degrees 30 minutes more. Cool.

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