Mixed Media Artist Shelley Hakonson Mixes Up Lemon Pound Cake

Mixed Media Artist Shelley Hakonson Mixes Up Lemon Pound Cake

I never gave pound cake the respect it deserves until the day we met with artist Shelley Hakonson from Dawson City, Yukon. Perhaps it was the word “pound” that I had a problem with. It doesn’t really sound like something I should be eating. Of all the people, Shelley would be the one to make me see pound cake in a whole new light. Shelley is an artist who thrives on words, phrases and stories. Her visual art is created from this fascination. I am sure she could have extolled all the virtues of the word pound in the context of cake and I wouldn’t even have had to eat a piece to become a fan. Nevertheless I wasn’t about to pass up the whole tasty experience.


Here are some of Shelley’s latest pieces.



RavenWife is based on an Irish creation myth about ancient Fomorians, a semi-divine race coming from beneath the sea to settle Ireland. One of the Chieftains, Tethra, married a Shape-changer, a raven woman. Shelley created this piece using her own face as the template for the sculpture. She says that ravens fascinate her with their intelligence and the comic relief they add to her life in Dawson City. The beak was created with paper-clay over mesh with plaster wrap, and acrylics. The face was made with paper-clay over rigid wrap, and acrylics.

Only A Bird

Only A Bird

Only A Bird is a comment on the hidden women of patriarchal misogynist religions and age-old traditions that hold women in contempt. The following six words and the corresponding points are part of the title and are Shelley’s view about the male dominated religions of the world that deny women freedoms within their cultures.

1. Modesty. A reflection of restrictions on freedom for women. No right to choose.
2. Honour. Women’s bodies are possessions and women are seen as weak, unable to reason and are morally inferior. Men make their decisions for them.
3. Chastity. Effaces personality and physical suggestion, women need to be hidden to prove their “worth”.
Depersonalized and segregated from the rest of the world.
4. Purity. Women are a source of temptation, leading to bad deeds.
5. Duty. The Qu’ran does not call for women to wear the Niqab, or remain secluded from public life, but generations of cultural tradition in some areas of the world do.
6. Faith. Patriarchal Sanctioned Authoritative Supremacy.

Only A Bird was created with fabric, paper-clay, acrylics, embroidery, and bead work.

To see more of Shelley’s work and her story please go to her full ArtsQuest interview by clicking HERE.


Luscious Lemon Pound Cake

2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
3 cups of sugar
5 eggs
3 cups of flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup of milk
3 tbsp lemon extract

1 cup of icing sugar
4 tbsp of lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
1. Cream the butter and sugar well, until fluffy then add eggs one by one, beating each time.
2. Combine milk and lemon extract in a separate bowl.
3. Alternate adding the flour and milk mixture to the butter mixture ending with the flour.
4. Pour into a buttered and floured 10 inch Bundt pan and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
5. Let sit for 10 minutes and then remove from Bundt pan onto a rack that is sitting over a cookie sheet.
6. Combine glaze ingredients (double the recipe for a real lemony taste).
7. Pour it over the still warm cake.
8. Squeeze 1/2 lemon or more over the cake for even more tartness. Yummy!


Textile Artist Terry Phillips Breaks Bread with ArtsQuest

Textile Artist Terry Phillips Breaks Bread with ArtsQuest

Hopespring Hearty Bread

Just over a year ago Gary and I were traveling on the ferry toward Quadra Island, B.C. on our way to interview Terry Phillips at her studio. Terry is a textile artist who incorporates mixed media in her work to bring out the colours and texture of a diverse group of subjects. Her other interests include gardening and baking. She took us on a tour of her vegetable and fruit garden which was enough to make me drift off dreaming of the garden I will tend to one day. When the garden tour and the interview were done Terry invited us to stay for some lunch. She had prepared a homemade split pea soup with fresh out of the oven homemade bread. I have been waiting all my life to find a bread recipe like Terry’s as I have tried many but have never been completely satisfied with the results. Needless to say I requested the recipe and asked if I could feature it in a Culinary ArtsQuest blog. Luckily for me and you the answer was yes!

Terry Phillips

Terry Phillips

Click the thumbnail to see the larger image.


If you haven’t had the opportunity to see our interview with Terry Phillips you can find it by clicking here.


Hopespring Hearty Bread

Use organic ingredients when possible.

6 Cups of cold water
3 tsp of salt
4 tsp of yeast
1/4 cup of ‘Fancy” molasses (the others have sulphites in them)
1 cup of uncooked 7 grain cereal (adds seeds and bits)
1 cup of fine ground oats (grind in food processor as it adds a nice moist and chewy texture)
1 cup of sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of flax seeds
1/2 cup of sesame seeds
1 cup of olive oil (don’t skimp here or use some other type of oil)
4 eggs (adds lecithin which aids in texture and shelf life)
Optional: juice of one lemon or 2 Tbsp of cider vinegar (these have enzymes which aid in destroying the phytic acid in the wheat)

Stir the above ingredients with a hand mixer and then add 10 – 12 cups of organic whole wheat flour, mixing after every cup. I never count the cups of flour going in. When it starts getting too thick for the mixer, then I stop adding whole wheat flour. Cover and let sit in the fridge for 20 – 40 minutes. This is called the sponge stage and is to help soak the wheat bran which helps destroy the phytic acid. Phytic acid causes discomfort in some people when they eat whole wheat bread.

After 20 – 40 minutes remove from the fridge and stir in 4 cups of unbleached flour. You will likely need to turn the dough onto a heavily floured surface and incorporate the rest of the unbleached flour by hand. The dough is still quite sticky at this point. A common mistake is to add too much flour; wetter dough means a moister loaf. Forget the heavy kneading. When the flour is incorporated you are done. Put some olive oil into your bowl and turn the dough into it and then turn it over once. Cover with a clean towel and put in the fridge for several hours, all day, or overnight. If you are in a rush you can use warm water and leave it in a warm spot until doubled (about 1 hour). However the best, most digestible bread comes from a cold, slow rise. If doing a cold rise I will turn the dough over half way through to keep the top from drying out and the dough from invading the rest of the fridge.

Take the dough out of the fridge to warm up. You can cut it into 4 pieces to help this. Usually after an hour it’s warm enough to proceed. Sprinkle some unbleached flour on your surface and knead each piece to shape into your loaf. Place into a greased loaf pan and cover for 35 – 60 minutes depending how warm or cool your kitchen is. When risen turn your oven to 375 F. Paint some beaten egg whites over the top of the loaves. Make a cut in the top of each loaf and sprinkle some unhulled seasame seeds on top.

Bake for 20 minutes at 375 F. Rotate the pans in the oven and drop the temperature to 325 F for another 20 minutes.

This recipes makes 4 large loaves or 8 large pizza doughs, cinnamon buns or cheese sticks.


Painter Ann Holtby-Jones Shows Us Anything Goes in the Kitchen

Painter Ann Holtby-Jones Shows Us Anything Goes in the Kitchen

November 2011, we found ourselves on the door step of Ann Holtby-Jones from Parksville, B.C. “What is that smell?!”, I said to Gary as we stood there. As far as we could tell it was coming from Ann’s kitchen. The sweet aroma of fresh baked goodies! I never want to be presumptuous so I said, “Perhaps she is expecting company later”.


Ann and her welcoming pooch, Daisy, opened the door with a warm smile and a wag of the tail. We stepped inside following close behind our noses. Ann is a lovely lady who had many adventures to share with us about her years as a painter. Since the last time we met, she has been painting but perhaps not as much as she would like. Her attention has been elsewhere with a new awesome man in her life and some travel. The good news is her new beau is very supportive and encourages Ann to get in her studio or out in the fresh air and paint. Sounds like a wonderful guy! She is looking forward to a studio tour coming up this October on Vancouver Island.


I have included five of Ann’s post ArtsQuest interview works but for the full scoop and to see more of her paintings be sure to check out her interview by clicking here.


Besides Ann’s creative talents she also has a wonderful sense of humour. When I asked her if she would mind if I shared her cookie recipe for the Culinary ArtsQuest series her quip was, “Yes, make my cookies famous! Who knows, people may get to know my art as, oh you know, the lady who makes the cookies.”

As you probably already guessed the cookies were for us to enjoy with a cup of tea after the interview. Ann didn’t have a name for her recipe but I decided to call them the Anything Goes Cookies. I love this recipe because I can pretty much toss in anything I have available, they are delicious and they are…(me whispering) healthy.


Anything Goes Cookies

1 cup of butter
1 cup of sugar (I use organic cane sugar or coconut sugar is nice as well. You can also use honey, maple syrup, agave, pretty much anything goes.)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 tsp each of baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon if you want
1/2 tsp of salt
1/4 cup of uncooked quinoa
1/4 cup of ground flax
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/4 sesame seeds
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup sunflower seeds
Throw in some ground almonds or other nuts if you like.

Mix together the first 4 ingredients with a hand blender.
Mix the rest of the ingredients together and then add to the wet.
Roll into balls and press with a fork to flatten slightly on a cookie sheet.
In a standard size oven preheat to 350 degrees and bake for 15 – 20 minutes.
In a toaster oven preheat to 300 degrees and bake for 9 minutes.
Makes approximately 4+ dozen depending on how big you like them.

Note: I would say stick to the first 7 ingredients but after that Anything Goes so experiment and have fun being creative in the kitchen!

If you want a copy of this recipe, instead of writing it all out, copy and paste it into a Word document.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies from Linda Chiasson

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies from Linda Chiasson

What do cookies have to do with ArtsQuest? Quite a lot actually. While Gary and I traveled across Canada our senses were aroused as we met so many incredible artists who took the time to share with us their creative passions. On some occasions our sense of smell and taste were treated to the culinary arts of some of the artists. I thought it would be fun to reintroduce these artists, show you what art they have created since we interviewed them, and pass on the recipes of the wonderful goodies they shared with us. I am an avid recipe collector but also discerning; no recipe finds its way to the pages of my book unless it is something I would make over and over again.

Our first recipe takes us to Dieppe, New Brunswick where Gary and I met a wonderfully enthusiastic lady named Linda Chiasson. Linda handcrafts Teddy Bears from recycled fur coats. More recently she has designed and crafted other furry critters such as Hannah the bunny and Kito the puppy. You can see Linda’s full interview by clicking this link.
Click on the thumbnail images below to see a larger aspect.

When we first arrived at Linda’s home she ran out to the van to greet us with camera in tow, snapping pictures like we were the ones being interviewed. Talk about a warm welcome! That morning she had baked a batch of Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies. Now, I have tried a few gluten-free baked goods and honestly, I haven’t been that excited about them. These cookies are fantastic! Soft and deliciously tantalizing. They were definitely a candidate for the pages of my book. I was flabbergasted when I heard what the main ingredient was. The idea would never have occurred to me to make cookies out of Chickpeas. I guess I can be grateful for all the pioneers out there who said to themselves one day, “I bet Chickpeas would make great cookies!”. Then there has to be people like Linda who decide to test the recipe first hand and discover that it is wonderful enough to share, and hence that is how it ended up in the pages of my book.

I made a batch of these cookies the other day so I could include a couple of photos. Oops! I forgot to use parchment paper and burned the bottom of them. Funny thing was the smoke detector didn’t go off so I didn’t notice they were burnt until after I took them out of the oven. I refuse to waste food, much to Gary’s chagrin at times, so I decided to taste one. If you burn them don’t throw them out because they don’t taste burnt at all. They were kind of caramelized on the bottom which gave them an added chewy part. One other piece of advice; if you have people in your life who are not open minded, I would suggest you let them eat a couple first before you reveal the ingredients.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies


1 1/4 cup of canned Chickpeas, well rinsed and patted dry
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp baking powder (if you want 100% gluten-free sub the baking powder for 1/2 tsp cream of tartar + 1/2 tsp baking soda + 1 tsp arrowroot powder)
1 pinch of salt if the peanut butter is unsalted
1/2 cup of chocolate chips (don’t leave these out as the cookies are not quite the same otherwise)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor except for the chocolate chips.
3. Process until very smooth.
4. Stir in chocolate chips.
5. Mix will be very thick and sticky.
6. With wet hands, roll 1 1/2 inch balls and flatten slightly with a fork.
7. Place onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes in a standard size oven and about 5 -6 minutes in a toaster oven.

Yields approximately 14 cookies.

If you would like this recipe for the pages of your own recipe book, I suggest copying and pasting the text into a Word Document and then printing it off. Unless, of course, you prefer the old fashioned pen and paper method like I do.