Jean Croker Petke

Unexpected Art

Unexpected Art

I’ve been hungry for chicken pot pie for several weeks. It’s the perfect winter dish. I just needed someone to share it.

When my friend came for the weekend, I already had chicken pot pie on the menu. In my freezer I had leftover cooked chicken, puff pastry, and peas. In my fridge I had leftover broccoli and carrots, and on the counter were a few small red potatoes. I had hoped for a few mushrooms but alas, there were none in the pantry.

I made a basic cream sauce, stirred in the other ingredients and poured it into a white rectangular casserole. The puff pastry was nearly the right size. I laid it carefully on top and folded under the edges.

Everything in the dish was already cooked and hot. It only needed to bake long enough to brown the top crust. I checked after 30 minutes — the crust was gorgeous golden brown. Some of the sauce had bubbled out and cooked on the bottom of the oven. That’s always the mark of a good casserole — bubbling over deliciousness.

I’m sorry you weren’t here to enjoy its flaky crust and interior yumminess and to join in the conversation. We lingered, not wanting dinner to end.

During our lingering I saw the side of the casserole with its stripes of boiled over cream sauce that dripped and burned on the bottom of the oven.

“Look,” I said to my friend, “it’s like a work of art!”

Pale yellow graduated to dark brown, each stripe different than the one next to it. Who would have thought to create such a pattern — and how could I have done it anyway? Had it been painted on canvas it could hang in an art gallery and someone would pay big bucks for it. Title: Cream Sauce on Casserole.

I hadn’t expected art on my dinner table, though I can create a meal to satisfy one’s eyes and taste buds. This art showed up unexpectedly and without announcement. We welcomed the addition to our dining landscape.

I’ve been pondering since then. How often is art present in our moments, yet for we fail to see it? Perhaps we don’t linger long enough to recognize the art on our table, or the exquisiteness of an object on our desk, or the shadow patterns formed by sunlight falling across the floor, or bubbles clinging to the straw in our drink.

Art is everywhere. Pause and look around. Delight in the small things.

Until next Tuesday . . .



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