Archives for the month of: May, 2015

Last weekend I have been working on a film for my crowdfunding campaign. Now that it is finished, I have second thoughts and won’t be using it for it’s intended purpose. When I was riding the bus this morning, I had a more suitable idea. Guess I will be making another film next weekend.

But since I’ve made this one, I might as well show it :)

corn chips

Wait, there is more! Last night Skeleton Edeltraut came into the kitchen. This is a very rare sight, as Edeltraut lives in the closet and doesn’t eat at all! Mouse wondered what brought her into the kitchen. It turns out Skeleton Edeltraut has a big problem. Bad Conscience has moved in with her. You may know that Bad Conscience latches on to other Dedes only to make them feel very, very uncomfortable. He will drag them down if they don’t manage to move him on quickly. Of course he never likes what the other Dedes do and currently he takes great pleasure in poking fun at the Artist’s Survival Cookbook. He informed Skeleton he was a celiac and couldn’t eat anything with gluten. This is why the book is total rubbish.

“The poor thing.” Mouse said empathetically. “I can understand why he thinks the book is no good. True, it is not for him. But it is very helpful for the 99 percent of the population that hasn’t got a problem with gluten.”

“What do you mean?” asked Skeleton. “I thought far more than just 1 in 100 people are affected.”

“Some have non-celiac gluten sensitivity” said Mouse, “and some just avoid gluten because it is fashionable at the moment.”

“But what shall I do? I have to feed Bad Conscience. I have some guests coming on the weekend and I don’t want him to be a party pooper. You know how he can be.”

“You’re right,” said Mouse. “No matter what the reason for his gluten-abstinence, he has to eat.” She didn’t have to think long and suggested that Skeleton Edeltraut try corn chips. They are easy to make, truly delicious and go well with any dip.  Mouse explained they are made from finely ground corn meal (the one you can use to make polenta) and water, then baked in the oven with no fat. She poured some of the corn meal on a plate for Edeltraut to show to Bad Conscience. He wasn’t too interested in what it was as long as it is gluten free.

“As there is no gluten in corn meal the dough doesn’t stick together well. It is more like making a dough from fine sand.” Mouse explained. “To make life easier, use baking paper. The dough falls apart when moved.”


1 cup of corn meal, 1/2 cup of water, 1 teaspoon of salt (chilli pepper and other spices to flavour)

Baking paper


Preheat the oven to 2000C

Pour corn meal in a bowl and add the spices you want to use. Mix well. Then add the water and knead for a few minutes. The dough should be wet and not too crumbly (it’s similar to the mixture you use to build sand castles at the beach). When formed into a ball, it should hold its shape. If it crumbles add more water.

Use two sheets of baking paper the size of the baking tray. Put the dough on one, cover with the other piece of paper and roll out with a rolling pin until it’s 1 millimeter thick. Remove the top baking paper. Cut the dough into triangles and place in the oven for 8 minutes. The thinner the dough, the easier they brown, so watch!

Remove the tray from the oven, flip the baking paper over (so that all the shapes are turned over) and remove the paper. At this stage the chips are quite soft, a little like leather, as they have only dried on one side. Put them back in the oven for another 8 minutes or until crisp. They are better overdone, than under.

corn chips done

push push and little ele

The recipes are all done. The Artist’s Survival cookbook is at the layout stage. Hang on, a dear Dede-follower might think, wasn’t the book at the layout stage a month ago? How can it take so long? Yeah, well, I’ve got my tax bill! It is not much, but it depends on the reference point. If you have nothing, not much is too much. Pretty sure plenty of readers can empathise with me here :) It is the equivalent to going to jail in Monopoly: don’t pass GO on your way. Well, not quite. Looking back on last year I have moved substantially, but I am not where I want to be. I moved a little sideways. I have a part-time teaching job that takes up more time than it is supposed to. I am teaching young creatives, and I thoroughly enjoy the contact with the students and their development. Sadly, a clash in teaching philosophies with a colleague results in a lot of friction and ultimately the job takes up more head space than it should. The Dedes suffer.

The tax bill made me do a reality check! No more fluffing around. I have to finish the book and get it out. It will happen, but to speed up the process I will I need a little cash. This will go towards roping in some professionals that can do jobs I can’t do. I would also like to have a small print run of hard cover books.

Therefore I have finally decided to go ahead with a crowd funding campaign. This is not much more than pre-selling the books and it gives me an indication whether people are prepared to buy it. Of course, like any artist I have my doubts at times. And of course I know some of you really enjoy the puppets and the idea. A particularly big THANK YOU goes to Tony and Jürgen for their invaluable support throughout the entire process.

Yesterday I started to make a new flash drama film to support the upcoming campaign. As part of the campaign I will also offer four real Dedes as an incentive for a donation. As you may know, the Dedes are usually not for sale. Sometimes the lil’ Dedes are available. The real Dedes are bigger (between 12 and 15cm) and have a label on their neck to identify them as Dedes. They are the ones that go on exhibitions and star in stop motion films. The lil’Dedes are just puppets that try to be Dedes. They are smaller. You can see the difference in the photo. And while they are still handcrafted I don’t record where they go. The little elephant will go on sale at the Art in Action event at the Michael Park School (Steiner School) in Auckland on the 13 June, where I hold a puppet making and film making workshop.

So far I have sold four of the Dedes (my heart ached each time). I really don’t want to let them go. Two of the buyers allowed their puppets to stay with me. Push Push the elephant is one of them, Harvey the rabbit is the other. Ultimately the puppets become more valuable the more often they show up in films.  One, Lap Dog has gone to a collector I don’t know personally and Punch too aka Han de Vere has gone to a person I didn’t know, but know now. (Message for HanTop Dog is still waiting to join you! He is still muzzled, sitting in the corner.)

Still, the campaign might not work, as I am not very well connected. I work with puppets and reflect, I am not out there selling myself.  Another (not uncommon) trait a lot of people can empathise with :). However, the book will go ahead, one way or another. It is just a question of how and when. I have finally set a deadline. I will have it done and dusted in July! (this year).  And as I always say to my students. A deadline is a deadline, no expemptions!

bagels and boy

Boy is one of the Dedes who was in the Wallace Art Awards a few years back. For this event he had to spend two months in a gallery linked to Liar, Alien, Ms SM and Little Smug Devil. It seems that the experience made a deep impression on him, as he has worn his cap pulled down low over his face ever since and he hardly speaks. Mouse was very surprised to hear Boy had revealed to young Lou that he would like to make bagels. She was even more surprised to learn he didn’t need any help in the kitchen. He knew exactly what he was doing and he was obviously in love with the finished product. The others didn’t dare tell him that they are now so over things baked from flour and water. Mouse said it will definitely be the last recipe. It is another yeast dough recipe, but bagels are not just baked in the oven. They are boiled in a slight sugary solution first. They are soft and spongy and of course everybody was curious how he got the hole in the middle.


3 cups of flour, 1.5 teaspoons of dry yeast, 1 heaped teaspoon of sugar, 1 cup lukewarm water. Sesame or poppy seeds to sprinkle on top.

Water and 4 tablespoons of sugar for the boiling solution.


Pour flour in a bowl, make a well in the middle, add sugar and yeast and water. Let rest for 15 minutes until the yeast is sloshy. Then mix in everything and knead on a flat surface until it becomes a soft and elastic dough. Knead very well for 5 minutes. If the dough is still too sticky, add a little more flour and knead again. Put dough back into the bowl. Cover with a clean tea towel and let rest in a warm place for an hour.

Preheat oven to 2200C

Knead the dough again and divide it into eight equal balls. Flatten the balls into a disk shape. With the handle of a wooden spoon poke a hole in the middle of each disk. Stick your index finger through the hole and swing the dough around your finger, like you are exercising with a hoola hoop, until the hole has markedly increased. It should have a diameter of approximately 4 centimetres. Place on a floured baking tray.

Use a shallow pan in which you can place more than one bagel at the time. Add as much water as is needed to submerge about three quarters of the bagel. Add sugar and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, place the bagels in the solution and boil for two minutes on each side. Use a slotted spoon to take them out of the solution. Shake off excess water and place on the baking tray. Sprinkle the seeds over them.

Bake for 20 minutes.


lou cream puff

Lou was so excited he could finally make the cream puffs. He went straight into the kitchen and started working on them. It’s a rather strange process, but the result is worth it and it doesn’t take too long. The product is an airy, soft pastry that you often find on the dessert menu under the name profiterole. It’s usually filled with whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce. It goes equally well with icecream or custard, or even with cream cheese or a spicy dip. Lou really wanted to have the recipe in the book as it is so different from all the other recipes and it contains flour, water, butter and egg. To aid the puffing, a little baking soda doesn’t go amiss, but it’s not absolutely necessary. The pastry puffs up due to its high water content and the eggs. Don’t open the oven door during the first 15 minutes of baking as this will cause them to collapse.

Lou wasn’t keen on sharing the finished puffs with the others. If Mouse hadn’t caught him hiding in his kennel, quietly gulping down one pastry after another, the Dedes wouldn’t have found out what a skilled baker he is.


50 g butter, 1 scant cup of water, 1 cup of flour, 3 to 4 eggs, half a teaspoon of baking soda (optional).

If you have it, add 2 heaped teaspoons of cornflour to the flour.


Preheat the oven to 2100C

Put water and butter in a pot. Bring to the boil. Mix cornflour and flour and when the water boils, pour it all in at once. Move the pot off the element and stir vigourisly with a wooden spoon until it turns into a nice clump of dought that leaves the side of the pot and a white film forms at the base of the pot. Put back on the hot element for another minute while stirring continously. Remove from the heat and let cool for 2 minutes.

Stir in the eggs one after another. It doesn’t mix well to start with, but with continous stirring it turns once again into nice soft dough. Enough eggs have been added when the dough has a shiny surface. Be warned, it is a very gooey affair.

If you are using baking soda, stir it in last.

If you have one, use a piping bag to squirt the dough onto an oiled baking tray dusted with flour. Otherwise use two spoons to make little heaps. Allow enough space for them to triple their size.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until they are golden brown. Don’t open the door for the first 15 minutes while the balls are steaming up (hence puffs).

If you want to fill them, cut them immediately when you take them out of the oven. To cut the lid, use a sharp knife and cut through the middle three quarters of the way. So you won’t have to puzzle afterwards, which lid belong to which base. Then allow to cool.

They freeze very well and thaw quickly. So it is a good item to prepare for unexpected guests.

cream puff copy




mouse and lou

Lou, the young dog, went to Mouse with a complaint. He insisted the puffs should be included in the recipe book. If crumb cake and yorkshire pudding can be included, he argued, then puffs need to be in as well. The ingredient list is very similar and puffs really contain water, not milk, but their preparation is very different as it is a choux pastry. They can also be eaten with either a savoury or sweet filling, so they have everything going for them, he concluded. Mouse listened to him carefully and as she has the tendency to always agree with the last person she speaks with, the puffs are now back on the list. “But that’s it then” she said.

“There are still a few Dedes in the art cupboard who haven’t had a chance to hand in their recipes” Lou continued. “Boy for example is keen to do bagels. He is just too timid to come forward. You shouldn’t overlook the quiet ones.”

Mouse dropped her notepad and was close to tears. “Are we ever going to finish? You know we haven’t had any deep fried recipes or wafers yet either” she said, her voice quivering. “I deliberately excluded them because you need special equipment.”

Lou didn’t know how to handle the situation. “Puffs and bagels” he said in a concillatory voice. “And that’s it. Right!”

“Whatever,” Mouse said and picked up her notepad to write down the latest addition.


yorkshire pudding foreign corr copy

Foreign Correspondent has been waiting for this moment. From the beginning of the project he wanted to show off his Yorkshire pudding skills. He has very fond memories of the times he went tramping in Yorkshire. Usually they are eaten as a side dish to the Sunday roast. That is something the Dedes don’t have often, which is the reason why it took so long for the recipe to be published. Due to their spongy texture they also go very well with a nice thick vegetable sauce.

Foreign Correspondent found out Yorkshire pudding is not very photogenic and neither is he. He looked pretty grumpy. Obviously he was unhappy with the result. All the other Dedes thought he was too critical of himself, like he usually is. Honestly, the puddings tasted yummy and they were gone in a flash. If you have never had them, you have to try them. They’re as simple as pancakes to make. It is basically a thick pancake batter baked in the oven. During the baking they rise like a soufflé. However, you don’t have to beat the egg whites separately and therefore the result is not quite as airy as you would expect a soufflé to be. It’s best if you have a muffin tray or ramekins to bake them in but you can also bake them in a bigger dish and cut into squares after baking.


1 cup of flour, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of milk (or a mixture of milk and water). Pinch of salt. Oil for the tray.

You also need a muffin tray or a loaf tin. Because the dough rises you need a tin with high sides.


Pour flour into a bowl. Add one egg after another, stirring well in between. Add the liquid in little dashes, stirring well after each dash. Continue until all the liquid is gone. It is like a thick pancake batter. Make sure there are no lumps. Let rest in the fridge for half an hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 2100C.

Pour oil in the moulds of the tray and place in the oven to heat up. Once the oven and the tray are the right temperature, get the tray out, quickly half-fill the moulds with batter and place back in the oven.

Bake for 25 minutes or until well risen and crisp at the edges.

yorkshire pudding

crumb cake clown

It’s true. The Dedes are slowly getting over flour and water and are dreaming of mashed potatoes and dumplings and croquettes. Mouse has already allocated a corner of the garden for the potato patch. But she also has a list of recipes she wants to include in the Artist Survival Cookbook, and there are only three more recipes left to try. Today they decided they will forgo the puff for cream puffs as they are mainly made from egg, with only a little flour and water. So that brings it down to two recipes still to go. Yorkshire pudding and crumb cake. But then they got a recipe from Tony last night for Challah bread and that sounds interesting. So the final count puts it back on three again. That’s how it goes, a never-ending story :).

The weekend is the right time to bake a cake, but when Clown handed his recipe to Mouse they had to discuss whether crumb cake is actually an eligible recipe as it doesn’t contain water but milk. In the end they decided that yes, it could go in the book as it is a very cheap cake to satisfy a sweet tooth. Clown has a lot of experience making it and the crumbs are so delicious that he often picks them off the cake to eat and feeds the base to the chickens. Psst, please don’t tell Mouse as it isn’t the right way to eat the cake. It is very dry though. Clown often adds moisture by chopping a few apples to put on the base under the crumbs. It also goes well with a dollop of ice cream, or just simply cream, and it certainly fills you up.


2.5 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of dry yeast, 200ml of lukewarm milk, 3 tablespoons of sugar and 50 grams of butter.

Crumbs: 1 cup of flour, 3/4 cup of sugar and 100 to 150 grams of butter. Cinnamon (optional)


Pour flour in a bowl. Make a well in the middle, pour in the lukewarm milk and add the yeast and sugar. Let rest until the yeast is foamy. Melt the butter and let cool. When the yeast has developed a foam add the butter and knead everything to a soft dough. Knead well on a flat surface and then put back in the bowl to rest until the dough has doubled in size.

To make the crumbs mix all the ingredients for the crumbs together and knead until they form little balls.

Preheat the oven to 2100C

Once the dough has risen, knead again and roll out to the thickness of a finger. Place on a greased baking tray and sprinkle the crumbs on top. Allow to rise again.

Bake for 15 minutes.

crumb cake small

artist survival cookbook cover

Milky Bar Devil looked so cute with his hamburger bun the other day, that the Dedes decided they are making him the poster boy for the cover and L’Artiste played around with the arrangement today. Having arrived at this stage, the little light at the end of the tunnel is definitely in sight. I have three more recipes to add, and a couple other changes, the proof-reader is lined-up too…. So can’t be too long now.

In case you haven’t had dinner yet, here is a picture of the finished hamburger.




hamburger bun

How could we have missed this. All those flour and water recipes and no hamburger buns. We have pizza and pasta and some more obscure things, but no hamburger buns. Mouse and Devil’s Advocate are currently editing the book, while L’Artiste does the layout. It is strange how you often only see inconsistencies once everything is formatted. Anyway, last night they realised they have no hamburger buns. Milky Bar Devil laughed as this is what he wanted to contribute. “Why didn’t you say so?” Mouse asked a bit annoyed. “Ah well, I thought that everything has to be crunchy, the buns, the pizza base, the grissini… I thought you aren’t interested in a soft bun.” He gave Mouse a big elfish smile and it was immediately clear why he prefers the soft buns. He has a big gap in his teeth.

“No, you got the wrong impression there” said Mouse. “We always point out that tastes are different. Some people like a soft pizza base, others a crunchy one. It’s simply that I like it crunchy, but for the completeness of the book we definitely need hamburger buns. So would you please give me your recipe!”

Milky Bar Devil handed over his piece of paper and Mouse was surprised how quick they could be made. Despite it being a yeast dough, they only need to rise once. She shook her head in disbelieve. “Does this really work?” she asked. “Yes,” Milky Bar Devil said and grabbed the recipe back. “Give me half an hour and I’ll quickly throw them together for you.”


3 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of dry yeast, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 cup of lukewarm water. 6 tablespoons of vegetable oil, 1 egg, 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Baking paper or silicon mat for the tray.


Put flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour in water and add the yeast and sugar and sprinkle a little of the flour over the water (the sugar and flour will help the yeast to become active). Let stand for 10 minutes until the yeast is foamy.

Preheat the oven to 2200C

In a separate bowl whisk together egg, salt and oil with a fork. Then add the yeast and flour. Work everything into a soft dough and knead for about 5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. To start with the dough is very sticky and will want to stick to the work surface and your hands. Do not add more flour, just knead until it is an elastic, non-sticky dough. Divide into 8 balls and place on tray lined with a silicon mat or baking paper. Flatten the balls lightly to form a disc.

Cover with a clean tea towel and let rest for at least 10 minutes or until the oven is heated to the right temperature.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack.