Happy Monday! After a brief vacation, which then turned into a bit of a hiatus, I am back, and ready for plenty of sweet treats and sweeter art this fall! Is it just me, or has this summer been the summer of Jeff Koons? In May, his works were the highlights of Christie’s and Sotheby’s Post-War and Contemporary Art sales, and achieved $33 million and $28 million respectively. Then in June, his Split-Rocker installation arrived at Rockefeller Plaza to coincide with his retrospective at the Whitney, which opened around the same time. Now, Split-Rocker is closing, and his exhibit at the Whitney is winding down as the museum prepares to move to a new building in Chelsea.
Since I work at Rockefeller Plaza, Split-Rocker was hard to avoid, and after I got over the initial shock of seeing an approximately 37- foot half-pony and half-dinosaur rocker outside my building, I actually started to appreciate the approximately 50,000 flowering plants installed where the Rockefeller Christmas tree is every year. I wasn’t expecting to like Split-Rocker so much—while I generally appreciate Koon’s kookiness, I was a bit underwhelmed by his Whitney retrospective. The museum did a beautiful job of displaying his work, dating from the 1970s to as recently as last year, but I just wasn’t able to connect with the group as a whole. The exhibition featured everything I expected to see—balloon dog, inflatables, porcelain Michael Jackson and Bubbles, gazing balls and his pornographic Made in Heaven series—but the collection as a whole seemed a little too commercial and unnatural.
With Split-Rocker, Koons takes inspiration from familiar childhood and cultural creatures in his construction of a toy rocker, the halves of which are made up of the heads of his son’s toy pony rocker and toy dinosaur rocker. The pieces don’t fit perfectly together, clearly defining unnatural, and yet they open up into a visible sprinkler system inside, providing life for the thousands of flowers. Split-Rocker was up for 3 prime flower-growing months, so the work changed over the course of the installation, which seems so different than the sterile, manufactured presence of the Whitney show.
Just because fall has begun and Split-Rocker is coming down at Rockefeller Plaza, doesn’t mean that ice cream sandwich season is over quite yet. This spicy ice cream is to die for, and goes perfectly with these chunky oatmeal cookies, which are perfect on their own all year long! I may not have a workshop of artists around to help me achieve the ideal cookie, but I think these came out pretty perfectly!
Slice and Bake Oatmeal Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 cup oats (not instant)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup whole wheat flour
½ t. baking soda
pinch of salt
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup chocolate chips
In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugars for a couple of minutes, until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla, beating well, and scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Add in the flours, baking soda and salt, and beat just until combined. Stir in the almonds and chocolate chips with a large spoon. Turn the bowl over onto a lightly floured workspace, and roll the dough into a large log, about 3 inches in diameter and 14 inches long. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and place in a freezer-safe bag. You will want to chill the dough for at least a day before you bake with it, and you can even chill it for up to 2 months—perfect if you only want to slice a couple of cookies to bake here and there!
When you are ready to bake the cookies, let the dough sit out for about 5 minutes while you pre-heat your oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, and slice the dough log into cookies, 1 inch thick. Arrange the cookie slices on the baking sheet, 2 inches apart from each other, and bake for about 18 minutes, watching carefully after about the 15-minute mark. Since the slices of dough are so thick, it takes a while to bake, but you want to remove them when they are starting to brown, so that they firm up while they cool. Let the cookies cool completely as you make the ice cream.
Banana Cinnamon (Bananamon) Ice Cream
1 ½ cup whole milk
¾ cup skim milk powder
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound ripe, peeled bananas
2 cups half and half
In a blender, combine the milk, skim milk powder, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and bananas, and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a bowl, and stir in the half and half. Transfer to an ice cream maker and churn according to the specific brand’s directions. When the ice cream is ready, scoop a large scoop out onto a cookie, and add another cookie on top, creating a sandwich. Continue with as many cookies as you have (or do a few at a time, and save the rest of the cookies and ice cream to put together later). Enjoy!
Cookie recipe adapted from Averie Cooks, ice cream recipe slightly adapted from Ample Farms Creamery
Jeff Koons, Split-Rocker, 2000, stainless steel, soil, geotextile fabric, internal irrigation system, live flowering plants