Somewhat Sketchy Sun, 18 Nov 2012 22:00:05 +0000 en hourly 1 Efficient lighting for the signage in a Museum for the End of the World? Sun, 18 Nov 2012 21:58:05 +0000 Sketch Editors Designer Barr Gilmore called on Micah Donovan, with whom he had previously worked on several exhibitions at TIFF,  including Grace Kelly, Fellini, and Tim Burton, to assist with the LED lighting component of the signage.  The LEDs are bright, modular, waterproof, as well as highly efficient: all factors one might want in preparation for a one night finale.

About the work:


Mounted in various locations around Nathan Phillips Square and City Hall (from Council Chambers to the underground parking garage), Museum for the End of the World is an exercise in creativity and crisis.

One of the greater ironies of human existence is the persistent anticipation of its end. Whether the result of monster waves, unstoppable pandemics, nuclear calamities or the sun ceasing to shine, the idea of Doomsday – that revelatory moment of the end of the world – can be at once the fire of speculative lamentation and the spark of insightful creativity.

Indeed, the link between creativity and the apocalypse has a long history, from Noah’s shipbuilding and organizational skills to the literal bean counters buried deep beneath the mountains of Norway, stockpiling all the seeds of globe for the post-apocalyptic garden. In this way, the very idea of the Wunderkammen, with its princely mission of amassing, cataloguing and displaying was fueled by a fear of the end of the world. Museum for the End of the World at Scotiabank Nuit Blanche 2012 is a provocative, critical rumination about end times and a world in transition.

Acclaimed Toronto-based designer and artist Barr Gilmore RCA MDes has created the environmental graphic design for Museum for the End of the World.”

— Janine Marchessault and Michael Prokopow

excerpt from Scotiabank Nuit Blanche website, 2012

]]> 0
Food Jammers Iron out Hamilton Doughnuts Fri, 21 Sep 2012 03:03:09 +0000 Sketch Editors Food Jammers Micah, Nobu, and Chris reunited this Fall 2012 to launch a signature pair of Hamilton Doughnuts at the Art Gallery of Hamilton.  The event, Localicious, benefits the Gallery’s Art Without Barriers program and features local chefs and flavours.

Living up to the challenge of a signature local doughnut, the Jammers crafted an Ontario light golden wheat sourdough doughnut, with all Niagara- Hamilton region fruit and pork.

Covered in caramel, maple sugar, and a reduction of Rosewood Estates’ Merlot grapes hand cut off the vine only days before, thanks to Karen Lavigne, the Niagara Concord-Merlot jelly filled doughnut was a huge hit.  Better still was the caramelizing of the doughnuts’ tops with the “Hamilton Steel,” a custom made iron heated in hardwood embers and placed just long enough to render the maple sugars and cream-caramel tops into hot, crispy maple-caramel brûlée.

The savoury side of the doughnight was satiated by a hard maple and local green applewood smoked pulled pork doughnut, absolutely next-level with a slightly sweet sour cream and chive frosting, topped, naturally, with naturally raised bacon bits.

]]> 0
Sourdoughnuts, Hamilton Style- the warm up Tue, 11 Sep 2012 02:08:34 +0000 Sketch Editors Jelly Donuts

Spiritual birthplace of the doughnut Hamilton, Ontario inspires this recipe all the way down to the provenance of the ingredients.  A cousin of these fried pastries will make its way to Localicious, the local food event September 18 at the AGO Hamilton.  Through and through local, the yeast was cultured within 150k of the Hammer and the filling is the sweetest end to summer the Niagara region can produce.

Dough made from locally milled flour is sometimes not as fluffy as ones made from highly processed and bleached flours, but this batch was surprisingly tender and has a great nutty flavour, (or we wouldn’t be sharing the recipe).  Doughnuts that please with a true chew and flavour of slowly fermented sourdough are a perfect match for jelly-fillings and mornings to remember.


The flour is Osprey Light, a hard winter white wheat from K2 in Tottenham, Ontario mixed with their Goldfinch, a soft wheat– some of the fields that supply K2 are in the Hamilton region, and it is all Ontario flour.

This recipe is in grams so buy or borrow a scale if you’re a cup and spoon user.  Doughnut aficionados will already have a scale.


The ingredients (substitutions in parentheses)

225g  K2 Osprey Light Flour (or all purpose)

200g K2 Goldfinch pastry flour (or all purpose)

100g sourdough starter, or about a cup (see Bringing Home the Baking)

200ml milk

50g unsalted butter, melted

1 egg

7g sea salt (non iodized)

1/2 tsp baking soda

75g maple sugar

1tbsp K2 malt (barley malt flour from brew store)

one packet commercial instant yeast, 8g

10 ml warm water


Mix the milk, egg, and butter, add the maple sugar and whisk till smooth

Moisten yeast with 10ml warm water, add malt

Blend the remaining dry ingredients, add starter, yeast mixture to wet, stirring in dry ingredients.  Mix til all moistened, no kneading.

Let rest (autolyze) 30 minutes, then knead or mix till smooth 3 to 5 minutes, let rest, rise til double (1.5 to 3 hours depending on temp)

pull out of bowl onto lightly floured surface, roll and pat to 1/3rd to 1/2 inch thick

cut with biscuit or donut cutter or piece of copper pipe, let rest 1 hour or until almost double again

deep fry in light oil at 375 for a minute or 2 each side (goes brown quickly)

dust with maple sugar when hot

poke holes in donut with chopstick

fill with pastry bag of desired custard, jam or jelly



Niagara Grape jelly

500g blue grapes (Merlot, Concord, etc)

100g sugar or 150g honey


1 Kilo blue grapes (Merlot, Concord, etc)

300g local honey


Yellow Plum Honey Jam

700g yellow plum

200g honey

wash and cut plums in half, pull pits out but leave skins on (buy organic)

pour honey over plums in copper or stainless pot, cover overnight

simmer for several hours, stirring til thick (ice water test gives you an idea of texture when cool)

Can jelly or fill doughnuts. Remember it will be runnier hot than cold so test a portion cooled down to check consistency.  Leaving the skins on imparts natural pectin, and you can strain the skins out later with a sieve or cheesecloth.

Quick maple butter frosting

3 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tbsp maple sugar, granulated

1/2 tsp cornstarch

whisk all together, spread on cool donuts


Chris’ classic donut recipe:

1 cup warm water
4 1/2 tps active dried yeast
1 cup AP flour

let the sponge rise up for about an hour

Separate bowl:

10 Tbsp butter 1 1/4 sticks
creamy mixer styles add the sugar gradually
1/2 cup sugar
Add 3 large eggs one at a time
Add Vanilla, Salt, Grated Lemon Zest you know about how much
Add the yeast sponge,
then add 3 1/2 cups AP flour, let rise 1-2 hours, punch down, refrigerate for 3 hours at least or over night
the rest you know what to do (roll out, cut, let rise second time, fry 355-375f)





]]> 0
Cape Brerton & Ontario Paella Sat, 30 Jun 2012 03:01:03 +0000 Sketch Editors Paella is one of those dishes that people debate what is real or authentic, like ramen and pizza (probably why it finds itself here, on somewhat sketchy in their company); it polarizes and often disappoints in tourist traps, as it truly takes the time to make it takes- no shortcuts.  But when it’s good, paella’s stellar.

La Paella is the large flat pan from the eastern coast of Spain and is such a satisfying way to prepare meal on a fire.  You may not use it every week but several times a year and it pays for itself in legendary camping or beach memories.  Got mine at the best kitchen supply place in Toronto, Sasmart in Kensington.

Atop a bed of coals, the paella pan (a large, thick steel pan you can simmer an inch or two in), beautifully combines the savoury flavours of rice, stock, rabbit, fowl, sausage, seafood and any other local ingredients; you have a communal feast with all the benefits of a one pot meal and no plates.  Best of all is the tender but crispy-bottomed, caramelized rice– infused with wood smoke and all the other simmered ingredients, combined.

There are few meals that can be easily cooked over a fire and where every flavour remains distinctly present in the final dish.

Spring for us in Ontario means getting out of doors as much as possible, and eating what is coming out of the ground after surviving 6 months of trucked-in California produce.  Wild leaks, a delicate onion-like plant, are one of the first plants to come up in the woodlands.  Becoming rarer in Ontario and Quebec due to professional pickers and over harvesting, wild leaks or ramps as they’re also called, can be respectfully harvested from larger patches if only a few are taken.  And only a few are needed.

Ontario Paella

The stunning rabbit, chorizo, chicken wild leak paella was cooked in the woods right at the place and time of harvest.  Browning the rabbit, chicken and chorizo, with the leak bulbs first was key.  Next the stock was added, the fire ramped up (no pun intended), and when a rolling boil was achieved then the rice was added.  Ideally, it’s La Bomba rice, which keeps its texture absorbing the chicken stock, olive oil, browned meat at.   Of course the freshness of the leaks, open sky and wood fire made for an unmatched meal.  Except, perhaps, for a Paella in Cape Breton..

Lobster and crab season sometimes overlap in Cape Breton, a culinary opportunity not to be missed.   Paella makes it possible, right on the beach.  A washing machine drum is pretty much the perfect height for cooking a paella.


Here, the chicken, chorizo, fresh trout and crab paella cooked on the beach is an altogether different experience with a flavour that can hardly be rivaled, except for a paella in Ontario..


]]> 0
Bench Test: Exotic Chocolates Fri, 24 Feb 2012 04:38:22 +0000 Sketch Editors Mast Brothers Papua New Guinea vs Asahikawa Ajigen Miso Ramen Chocolate.  Could two more wildly different chocolates exist?

Not often do we revue products, other than for Shelf Life Taste Test, giving grocery granola, instant risotto, licorice wheels, or British Colombian Balsamic a pat on the back or scrape off the plate– but something rather unusual happened.

Two bars of chocolate arrived by mail, each from a different sender. Both deeply underscore the latitude in taste of our planetary snack-scape.

The first bar of chocolate hails from Hokkaido via Tokyo.  Asahikawa Ajigen Chocolate.  Or the chocolate pays homage to Hokkaido.  My understanding of Kanji or Hiragana are nonexistent.  What you see on the bar in English is about as much as I can decipher.  The second largest island in northern Japan, Hokkaido is famous for sake, beer, seafood, and for its type of ramen, the fresh noodle soup (not the instant one) with as devout a following as those of camera lenses,  sports cars, and other religious artifacts.  The chocolate at hand is labelled Miso Ramen Chocolate.  What’s not to love about two of the best things on the planet making a simple convergence into a single packaged food?

The other tablet arrived by way of generous Katie O’ from Brooklyn who’s friends work in the Mast Brothers Chocolate facility in Brooklyn, NY.  The Papua New Guinea chocolate boasts a unique smokey flavour from the roasting and fermenting of the cacao beans, or nibs, prior to processing.  Handmade in small batches, Mast Brothers have, like us, had to reinvent the means to make their product on a small scale.  The foods we consume globally are, more often than not, accessible as the result of large-scale buyers, producers, and distributors.   This concentrates wealth, but also knowledge, and ultimately flavour.  Might we bear witness to the clashing chocolates of focus groups, committees, and two brothers, mega vs micro?

The two ingredients in the Mast Brothers chocolate are Cacao and Sugar, a differentiation from the Miso Ramen Chocolate.  A quick glance at the ingredients of any chocolate reveals all;  generally the lower quality (or character) of the cacao, the more emulsifiers, vanillins, fats, and so forth make up the bar.  Pleasantly here is a reprieve from the barrage of over-california-oaked wines where provenance is lost in packaging.  No vanilla perfume masks the pheromones in the Mast tablet.

Down to the test: First the Mast Brothers.   I expect something smokey, over the top, but upon opening it smells rested.  It could be the packaging that was smoked, or the envelope- it is not dominating the nose in approach to the tablet.  Instead, imagine wet bark, nearby campfire, raisins, a mellow and intriguing low-lying olfactory grazing chocolate inhale.  then the bite.

Toothy, slightly, and becomingly, gritty, like a hand made product would be.  What is remarkable as the Papua New Guinea melts over the tongue, not until it has washed over the sides, is that the pleasantly astringent-edged, earthy flavour kicks in  This takes four to six seconds.  It unfolds.  What is awesome in any single origin food with interesting complexity, is to have the time and space to let the taste evolve without being crowded by other flavours.  Good call skipping the vanilla.  There’s enough to satisfy, here.  Black tea, molasses, with the bitter and sweet– too easy to say bacon, but maybe a smoked pork chop, some resin-y tobacco.

Then the Asahikawa Ajigen Miso-Ramen Chocolate.  First, let us acknowledge this chocolate was likely sent as a joke.  An affectionate nod to two, separate, loves– but few would hope to have miso-ramen combined with chocolate.   I have my hopes up, you can pretty much convince me to try anything.  Opened, it is not unlike a roll of film wrapped in Mylar.  Then the symbolic images  of a cow, a plane, concede a potential conceit.  It looks fun, maybe it tastes less fun… The smell is nothing less than department store stuffed with Easter chocolates– waxy, vanilla scented chocolate rabbits an chicks, smells more associated with a mother’s purse than a bowl of noodles.  The bite: Sweet, condensed milk, smooth, more like a Kit Kat minus the kat.  Where’s the miso?  Staring at the wrapper begins the search something savoury.  Maybe there’s something- no, it’s the placebo of the image before me.  It’s ordinary milk chocolate.  Undeniable, promising less is more.  The Mast Brothers wins it, the Ajigen barely crosses the finish line.  Not in the least disappointed, though, each has much to say about the other, hardly could have paired more of a contrast.

First thought through my mind is what an amazing sauce the Mast Brothers chocolate would make on roast chicken.  Holy Mole.


-Micah Donovan

]]> 0
Going Public, The Paris Way Tue, 08 Nov 2011 03:07:22 +0000 Sketch Editors

Going Public, The Paris Way from Spafax Universe on Vimeo.

]]> 0
Rocket stove Ice Fish and Chips Sun, 30 Oct 2011 03:21:24 +0000 Sketch Editors Nothing beats catching your food and cooking it up right then and there but this recipe will work as well in the backyard as the backwoods.  Excellent crunchy golden batter, crispy two-stage french fries, and a very effective homemade rocket-stove makes it all portable.  The taste is well worth the effort.   Plan your dessert ahead– frying a couple apple fritters to have with ice cream, fried before the fish hits the oil, tops a night to remember.

The rocket stove has a couple advantages over a home stove or camp fire: it heats very quickly, burns cleanly with little smoke, and is responsive: the temperature adjusts easily by adding fuel or covering the air inlet. It can be made from recycled cans in about an hour or two.  It’s one of the most exciting cooking tools and virtually free to make.

We learned about the stove from Aprovecho, an NGO that teaches people to make them in the developing world where air quality and fuel availability are significant concerns. The best part is the stove is portable and great for cooking while camping.  Since it uses metered amounts of small wood you can find fuel almost anywhere and you don’t need tools to prepare the wood.  The basic idea is throwing a log on a fire can consume as much as 60% of the energy just to get it to the point of combustion, a giant heat sink on the embers, whereas small amounts of kindling continuously fed burns quickly with less smoldering and less smoke.

Ice Fish and Chips

for 3

Fish:1 and ½ lbs fresh fish fillets cut into 1½ inch by 4 to 6 inch long strips
1 liter bottle good quality frying oil
500g duck fat
½ cup organic gluten free flour
½ cup organic all purpose flour
1/8 cup rice flour
¼ cup organic cornmeal
1 tsp sea salt
1 pinch of fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp corn or potato starch
½ cup organic milk
1 open bottle of beer

Slotted spoon
Fry thermometer
paper towels

Rocket Stove
2 large juice or coffee can
3 small soup cans
12 self tapping 3/4 inch sheet metal screws
tin snips


kiln wool for insulating between large and small cans,

Or light gravel such as perlite or vermiculite

drill and bit for starting holes

The design is simple: small cans stacked two high make the chimney (3), plus one at the bottom at a right angle makes the stove mouth and combustion chamber.  A lid folded and inserted in the mouth makes the shelf that allows fuel to be added with out obstructing the air flow (5).  Then, two large cans serve as a cover: one vertical to house the chimney, one horizontal to house the mouth or inlet (6).  You can improvise the stove or follow the steps here.

1 Open all cans with a can opener, except the bottom of one small can- that will be the bottom of the stove combustion chamber. Use the can you are fitting to the second as a guide for cutting
the holes, trace with a marker. Cut with snips, top and bottom such that the can end ‘saddles’ the other (1). Join them at right angles, toward the bottom of the vertical can, resulting in the ‘boot’ shape, a 90 degree or elbow tube.
2 Cut a fringe of tabs around the parts you wish to join, bend them out at right angles to the can.
3 Join the cans with self tapping screws.
4 Cut a hole in the bottom of a cheap pot and screw that to the stove. Throw in a metal ‘x’ to lift your fry pot of the burner, and to allow airflow. The whole top acts as a wind guard.
5 Fold down the 2 edges of the scrap lids down at a  width equal to the opening of the stove mouth.  Insert in mouth and screw in. This is a fuel/air shelf. Leave 1/3 space below for air.
6 Finally attach the second layer-can on the mouth. The second layer can be stuffed with kiln wool for extra efficiency.
7 Use small pieces of hardwood and feed the stove slowly and continuously, once it heats up. (see inset photo). Burn it out with no food to lose the plastic liners inside the cans.


The stove heats quickly so use a thermometer to be safe.  Overheated oil is potentially explosive, especially around an open flame.  Be certain your pot is deep enough it wont overflow into the fire.

Throw a burner top from a gas stove or a metal ‘x’ into the top pot to make a stand off between the shield and the cooking pot.


Make the fries first since you’ll cook them twice. The cooked fish can wait the 4 minutes you have to re-fry the potatoes.

Tweaking the mix

Fish: We went fresh water ice-fishing for perch but lake trout, whitefish, and saltwater haddock and halibut are all good. Light flesh fish will all work.  Check OceanWise and SeaChoice for good seafood selecting tips.   Go local when you can.

Batter: Gluten makes for tougher and soggier batter once fried. Starch crisps up but pure starch is dangerous in a fryer, popping hot oil into the air. Get the best of both using high starch, low gluten flours. Milk in batter browns faster than water or beer, so use more for small pieces, less for large as they spend more time in the fryer. Playing around with the ratios will lead you to your favourite batter.

Oil: A bottle of high temperature oil like canola, sunflower, grape seed mixed with 500g of duck fat makes for killer flavour and crispy outside, steamy insides.  Frying: Ride it high for fish and chips, from 375f to 400f but watch for smoke.  Tools: Use a deep pot as to lessen risk of deep fryer fire, lay your filets in the oil calmly and you’ll have less hot splashes. A deep fry thermometer is handy or drop batter bits in to test.

Getting Started


Chop potatoes into fries of your favourite size. Pat dry. Fry in several batches at lower temperature of 350f for about 4 minutes or until light gold and starting to get limp.

Remove, drain, and set aside.

Just before ready to eat, heat oil hotter to 375-400f and fry again for several minutes until your favourite colour of fry.


Mix the dry ingredients, set aside Beat egg white to soft peak.

Set aside Mix the yolk, milk with dry batter, not over stirring.

Add a little beer, till right coating consistency – not too runny.

Fold in egg whites carefully so as to not pop the bubbles.

Dip and fry your freshly caught filets, 4 to 6 minutes or until golden brown.

Drain on paper towels.  Finish cooking the fries and serve!


]]> 0
Portable Candelabra Thu, 06 Oct 2011 11:44:00 +0000 Sketch Editors Parisians now only take 22 minutes for lunch compared to an hour and a half 20 years ago according to a recent Daily Telegraph article.  Lunch, and sometimes dinner, have become sustenance-only necessities interrupting an otherwise steady day of work.  Priorities are changing quickly; banking hours on Wall Street are dictating how people socialize in Barcelona.

Whereas new communication technologies introduce the office and work demands into our private time, reclaiming the lunch hour (or two) might be possible with more traditional technologies: the Candleabra Necklace.

Twist two set screws and the dangling candlesticks lock in position.  Open a door and find everything you need for a romantic centerpiece; strike anywhere matches and beeswax candles are at your fingertips.  The side of the necklace box is sandblasted so you might light a match easily without scratching the surface of your dining room table, or melamine snack bar counter-top. Redefining space around your lunch can help reduce the commodity-lunch effect and add warmth to the simpler things in life, like a cold sandwich.

Candelabra Necklace

Portable candelabra with matchbox and beeswax candles, made from brass. ©1996, 2011 Micah Donovan

Portable candelabra, closed and lit, with matchbox and beeswax candles, made from brass. ©1996, 2011 by Micah Donovan
]]> 0
Contact Somewhat Sketchy Mon, 03 Oct 2011 02:10:12 +0000 Sketch Editors Contact the writers of by sending an email to info at micah donovan dot com.  Thanks.

]]> 0
Catsup Ketchup and Fire Roasted Salsa Sun, 18 Sep 2011 04:43:11 +0000 Sketch Editors Getting ready for winter means stock-piling summer tomatoes in various forms.  Three essential condiments that are closely related:

Home Made Catsup

Makes about 4 or 5 litres, or 1 gallon of catsup.

1/3 bushel (11 liters) tomatoes

500 ml organic raw cidre vinegar

400g organic sugar

50 g sea salt

1 tbsp molasses

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp mustard

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground black pepper

1/8 tsp ground coriander seed

1/2 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp celery seed

1 tbsp allspice

1 onion

1 head of organic garlic

2 tbsp olive oil

Boil the vinegar, then add the sugar and molasses, boil vigorously for 5 minutes, stirring.

Blanch, peel, drain off excess liquid and crush tomatoes to smooth (blend if need be), add to sugar/vinegar in large pot.

Grind spices in mortar and pestle or use powdered spices,

add rest of ingredients– reduce to almost half and thick (several hours),

can and process.

Fire Roasted Red Pepper Salsa

Makes about 11 litres, or 3  gallons of salsa.  Mildly smokey with a nice kick

250 ml fresh squeezed lemon juice

50 ml organic raw cidre vinegar

50 g sea salt

1 tbsp oregano

4 dried ancho chiles

2 bunches fresh coriander stemmed and chopped

2 onions, chopped

1 shallot

2 heads of organic garlic

3 jalapenos

1 green pepper

6 large long red peppers

1/3 bushel (11 liters) tomatoes

Start the barbecue/ pizza oven/ fire place.  Place red peppers whole on a rack/grill to cook slowly over the fire for 30 to 40 minutes, turning to a controlled-char.  when soft and almost falling apart, put peppers in covered pot to rest in their own steam.  wait 15 minutes and peel and discard skins.

Blanch, peel,  and crush tomatoes to smooth.

Grind spices in mortar and pestle or use powdered spices,

Cube half red peppers, blend other half with anchos, cidre vinegar and 1 head of garlic

seed jalapenos carefully

chop and add rest of ingredients– heat just to simmer,

can and process.

BBQ Sauce

Somewhere between North Carolina, Kansas City, and St John’s.  Makes a thick, mildly sweet, rich sauce with subtle flavours.  The raisins add thickness and depth.

Makes about 7 litres, or 2 gallons of sauce.

800 ml organic raw cidre vinegar

350g organic sugar

400g organic Thompson raisins

50 g sea salt

100 ml molasses

100 ml maple syrup

5 tsp smoked sweet Spanish paprika

1 tsp thyme

2 Ancho chiles

1 tsp chili powder (Hatch chiles)

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tsp allspice

1 tbsp cocoa powder (pure dark)

2 tsp mustard

1 tsp ground black pepper

1/8 tsp ground coriander seed

1/8 tsp cloves

1 tsp coriander seed, ground

1 shallot

4 cloves  organic garlic

1/2 bushel (16 liters) tomatoes

Reduce the vinegar down to 2/3rds, then add the sugar and molasses, boil vigorously for 5 minutes, stirring.

Blanch, peel,  and crush tomatoes to smooth (blend if need be), add to sugar/vinegar in large pot.

Remove 1 liter tomato sauce to blend with raisins, garlic, shallot, ancho chiles, then return mix to pot

add rest of ingredients– reduce to almost two thirds and thick (several hours),

can and process.

Ready for winter.  Just add nachos, wings, and fries…


]]> 0