medium. beans on Pyrex
by. Katie Stephens
location. Richmond, VA
Welcome to Ice Cream Social, the summer's socially distant group art show, featuring creators and makers from all walks of life, coming together to share their love of the greatest treat known to man. Each week through Labor Day, come chill with new artists as they discuss a wide range of topics spanning their personal journeys, art, pop culture, and, of course, ice cream!
Visit the gallery to see these and all the tremendous efforts that stayed cool in the spotlight since July 3rd.
I had my moments with quality nerd stuff... just didn't buy their toy stoves.
Katie! Let me officially welcome you to the freezer, and the first-ever Ice Cream Social. I'm so excited you're a part of this socially distant group art show.
Me too! My very first anything as an artist, haha.
It's funny you say that, because there has been a lot of terrific art here this summer, and I have a special place in my heart for the offbeat media, like crochet, embroidery, wood burning, and wood sculpture. Then there's bean dip. In my opinion, you've got the most art-for-art's sake street cred of anyone.
Haha, well, thank you.
How did you get into the bean dip-as-art game?
My friends were having an Empire Strikes Back–BQ and wanted everyone to bring a Star Wars themed food. I didn't want to just have a punny name, so I googled "Star Wars food" and came across a Toda pizza made out of green peppers and olives, etc. I had been on a homemade hummus quick, so thought I would use the pizza as inspiration for a dip, and Yoda was my very first one.
And you've bean doing this ever since?
It snowballed when folks started to ask me to bring a dip to whatever social event we had. That was over 8 years ago. It's slowed down in last few years, but I manage to get a few out every year.
When you bring these to parties, is there any hesitance for people to dig in and enjoy your work by "destroying" it?
Absolutely. I’m usually the one that has to make take the first scoop so other folks follow. Sometimes, they also stare at it, not sure what it is – like a cake.
Hahaha, I could absolutely see the cakiness of some of these.
Do you have ingredients that are particular faves to use, or any you avoid, for either for stylistic or taste purposes?
I pretty much have the same set up every time: refried beans, seasoning, sour cream, cheese – the bare minimum. Based on the design, there can be olives, black beans, peppers, guac, etc. I have no beans loyalty (unless they wanna sponsor me!).
(Goya will throw in with absolutely anyone.)
I generally use veggie refried beans so those who aren’t fans of lard can dig in. I always have food coloring on hand to blend into the sour cream, which gives me most of the color on my dips.
I assumed food-colored sour cream was what you did with "Summer Unwrapped". It came out great, and is the best ice pop made of bean dip I've ever seen. Speaking of, the actual ice pop this dip depicts has a few different names. What do you call it?
It’s a Firecracker.
So is there any personal memory associated with these that made you think, "Ooh, that's what I want to rep for ICS" or was it more a matter of finding something that would work well with your food ingredients?
Generally, how it works is there is a theme that I am prompted with (theme party, request) and start to brainstorm ideas from there. But given I have limited art supplies – and at times skill – I can’t do every cool thing that comes to mind. So it’s a combo of both – inspiration and reality.
This (bean dips!) is the most artistic thing I have even done in my life – and I'm learning as I go.
After I finish one I usually end up surprised and – how the hell did I just do that?
You say it's the most artistic thing you've done in your life, but the reality is, this is a super artistic thing to do in anyone's life. You've also had a little viral post a few years back, "The Birth Control & Booze Pairing Guide". Care to elaborate?
I did have a little 15 minutes of online fame from a post on instagram. I just doodled birth control methods and different alcoholic drinks – and paired them – during a work meeting, and whoops.
Got lots of reposts on Facebook and landed me an article in People Online, and a random one on the Daily Mail Australia. I wasn’t Chewbacca Mom popular, but it was cool.
I guess I consider that being more clever than artistic.
I had to Google "Chewbacca Mom" and I made a promise to myself I wouldn't even crack a smile. But this lady's laugh is the definition of infectious. Between this and the few Star Wars dips I've seen of yours... are you a Star Wars nerd?
I’m actually not. I mean, I like Star Wars – seen all the movies – but just never got the bug where I can quote lines or attend a Star Wars trivia. But I love the fandom, so if you want a Star Wars dip (and heck, Star Trek, too - which inspired my Instagram page name ) I’m so down.
I think everyone has at least one nerdy fandom they're hardcore about. What's yours?
Gosh. Honesty, I think the last thing i went really hardcore on, as in clothes, merchandise, etc., was Rainbow Brite from the 80s – bed sheets, dolls, clothes, toy stove. But, of course, I had my moments with quality nerd stuff like X-Men and Star Trek (original and Next Generation) – just didn’t buy their toy stoves.
So no Khanbread muffins or Beam Me Up, Biscottie cookies?
Haha, not yet, but I’ve been doing more baking during the pandemic. So never say never!
Ooh, what's in the oven?
Lately, it’s just been bread. I need a few more episodes of The Great British Baking Show to take the leap to something harder.
Baked goods to include as ice cream toppings is never a bad idea. So that reminds me, do you have a staple when you visit an ice cream parlor?
Definitely Oreo cookie crumbles. Love a little crunch.
What are you salt-baeing those crumbles on top of?
Definitely something vanilla based. I’m pretty simple when it comes to ice cream and toppings. I'd rather have a few good toppings than the entire kitchen sink, but doesn’t mean I wouldn’t eat it.
It reminds me of the Ziggy Piggy/Napoleon scene from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Wow. What a legendary reference!
So, sprinkles or jimmies?
Sprinkles. What’s a jimmy?
Chocolate or rainbow?
Cup or cone?
"Sherbert" or "sherbet"?
Ugh. How is everyone getting this wrong? Everyone! Oh well. Before we part, the ice cream truck is ringing down the street. What are you rushing to grab from him before he passes your house?
This is really making me miss New Jersey in the summer. Mister Softee, and I would get a twist soft serve with rainbow sprinkles on a cone.
Thanks, Katie! I'm all out of puns, so I'll wrap this up with a simple thank you.
The Musical Fruit
Refried brans are only fried once. The correct translation of frijoles refritos is "well-fried beans."
Pinto beans are the most commonly used for refried beans, and replacing these with meat 2-3 times a week "can reduce the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet."
"Beans make us fart because they contain sugars and fibre that our bodies have a hard time digesting. When these sugars meet up with the bacteria in our large intestines, it produces gas and so we fart." – Jamie Oliver, The Guardian
"Beans, beans, the musical fruit.
The more you eat, the more you toot.
The more you toot, the better you feel,
so eat your beans at every meal."
Why does this have a Wikipedia entry?
A mushroom walks into a bar and the bartender refuses to serve them. The mushroom asks, "Why not? I’m a fungi."
I may be out of puns, but the affable Katie Stephens is not. Follow her at BeanMeUpKatie on Instagram for more art dip madness. She's got nothing else to plug, and I've got nothing else to say! Oh wait, I do. The Birth Control and Booze Pairing Guide is a good time.