Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014: Create

That's my word for the new year. I used to do this every year, but I think it's been more internal over the past years, as there always seemed to be too many things to keep up with to focus on just one word. Without dwelling on the 'looking back', which has its place and benefits that I know are often lauded at the end of the year, I choose to stay looking forward. Although I will say that the past year was one that really felt like it had movement, and I'm grateful for every moment, and for every person with whom I had the privilege to share any moment. All so good.

Onward, and for 2014 I choose Create. When I think about all my intentions for the new year, I see this word in many facets. It's not just an idea to make more work, although that's definitely on the list. I can create more work, but I will also create better work. I will create deeper relationships. I will create new opportunities. I will create a great balance in work and life. I will create good new habits. See what I mean? I invite any and all to pick a word and join me. Once you do, you'll be amazed at how you start to see things in terms of that word, and what kind of domino-effect it can have on your thinking.

"Create" print by Kelly Rae Roberts. I found it in a gallery downtown the day I picked my word. I actually saw it in many forms that day, and finally chose this piece to celebrate my intentions.
Lovely enameled flowers my friend Anne gave me because she thought they'd go nicely with my 'create' sign. Looking at them in different arrangements is already giving me ideas to create new designs.
"cheer" banner by Holly deSaillan. I love these so much - she also made me a studio banner in clay, and this picture doesn't do justice to the collage layers of each piece. I love it so much, I'm having her make me one for my word, and while it's unlike anything I make, it's already been an inspiration. And to create cheer is a good goal any day!
'nuff said.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving in my home, from many hands...

 I make my pots for good food to be shared with good people, so it's easy to understand why Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. This year did not disappoint, with many hands (and chairs, and ovens) coming together to create a delicious meal, and many people coming together as new and old friends to create a beautiful day. I admit I had a few fleeting doubts, as I was also spending Thanksgiving week glazing for a kiln that I fired on Wednesday. But thanks to some great make-ahead tips I found on thekitchn.com, and the many good hands and good hearts of all who came to sit at the table, it was just all good!

Special props go to Michael & Jan, for all the last minute borrowed ingredients, plastic wrap, chairs, napkins, and oven space - not to mention the squash dish, the pie, the cranberries, and the appetizer (the very model of good neighbors)! And to house-mate Eric for jumping in to help with the prep all week: making his first pie, brining the turkey, making the gravy, cutting, chopping,stirring, and cleaning and more, which made Thanksgiving Day itself so very relaxing. And to Patricia for the incredible Apple Pie (her grandmother's recipe), and Michael & Julie for the Green Beans, the Salad, and an incredible Chocolate-Garbanzo (gluten free) cake. And to Kristin for fabulous Brussel Sprouts, for bringing her wonderful son, and their own chairs, and for taking gorgeous pictures! Recipes will follow, but here are some images from the day. The first is from my phone, and the rest (that look so very good!) are from the skilled eye of Kristin Fellows (who also makes a mean Brussel Sprout dish!).

Early afternoon Apps, clockwise from bottom left corner:
Coconut Shrimp on Wonton with Roots' Lima Bean Hummus,
Turkey Liver Pate, Challah Toasts (and olives, carrots, & cornichons).  
Lace-imprinted porcelain ornaments for each guest. 
It was a visual feast as well, with the colors of the food and the pottery dancing
around the beautiful table runner by artist Susan Webb Lee.
Eric did a masterful job on the carving. 
I knew this platter would be perfect for serving our Hickory Nut Gap Farm turkey. 
Two of my own offerings in the back in pieces from my 'signature servers' series:
 mashed sweet potatoes and the Chestnut/Apple/Leek dressing, done with Challah to celebrate
Hannukah. Green Beans in the foreground from Michael & Julie.

I love mixing up plates and bowls and cups, which somehow all seem to come
together as one design when the table is set. 

Thank goodness the sweet potato rolls match the table runner! Julie & Michael
brought their vibrant salad in a beautiful bowl by Angelique Tassistro, which seems to
find a complimentary pattern in the table runner as well.

From the bottom up: my Pomegranite-Citrus-Walnut salad, Kristin's Brussel Sprouts
 (in a bowl of mine that she bought several years ago), and an improvised gravy teapot (by Steve Prieto) 

Michael, who really IS Santa Claus, brings over the sides that he and Jan
graciously warmed up in their oven across the street.
By the time the candles burned down for the second night of Hannukah, we were ready for pie.
Patricia's incredible Apple Pie, and Pumpkin Pie by Eric - his first pie and a winner!
Jan's Mincemeat Pie - no doubt this is hand-made!  
Many times, when I'm at the wheel making pottery, I'm thinking of moments just
like this when my pots are filled with exquisite food at a table filled with good friends.
tucking into a true bounty of nourishment and friendship.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fall and Holiday Shows

The crisp chill of fall with a few hints of winter are in the air, and I've been in a flurry in the studio getting ready for a series of seasonal shows. Come see me at one or more of the following events, and not only can you satisfy your need to support American-made artist entrepreneurs, you'll also find some darn nice pottery!

Saturday-Sunday, November 2-3, 2013:
crazy green studios, weaverville art safari, studio tour, gifts, potteryA most gorgeous time of year to drive through scenic views in Weaverville and Barnardsville, and see beautifully hand crafted works in stunning home studios. I'm thrilled to return as a Guest Artist at the lovely home studio of textile artist Susan Webb Lee. We're at ##26 and #27 on the map.

Sunday, December 1, 2013:
crazy green studios, the big crafty, holly desaillan, pottery, giftsJoin me and my favorite Booth-Partner-In-Craft, Holly de Saillan (of holly de saillan clay & mosaic) as we deck out our table with holiday spirit and piles of our lovely clay creations!

Friday - Sunday, December 13-15, 2013:

crazy green studios, cool craft market, handmade in americaAn intimate indoor holiday market in downtown Asheville that will feature 44 vendors with fabulous handmade craft, food, and natural products. Not-So-Secret-Discount: show me your ticket stub to any of the Christmas Jam events, and you'll get 10% off your purchase!

Saturday, December 14, 2013:
crazy green studios, the village potters, pottery, gifts, second saturday  Of course you can always find my work in the Gallery at The Village Potters, but you might also like to know about our Holiday Sale on Saturday, December 14! 

Monday, December 16, 2013:
Lori takes a day off!! 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Gumbo Delight

No recipe here, just a picture of some of the most fantastic Chicken/Andouille Gumbo that I received in trade for a bowl. You can read about the whole story at my Crazy Green Studios blog. The bowl is made by me, and in this case it may not be that the homemade tasted better in handmade, but that the handmade was worthy of the homemade! Thanks, Emile!!

The Big Gumbo Trade

Rabbit Bowl

A few months back, in the heat of the summer, a lovely gentleman from Louisiana and his daughter visited us at The Village Potters. The gent, Emile, had a mission: he wanted a ceramic bowl to feed the rabbits that lived inside his chicken pen. He had been "all over, lookin' for a good rabbit bowl"! His daughter was sure we would have beautiful work, but that he wouldn't want to pay our prices. So I asked him how much he wanted to pay, and he said, without hesitation: $3.

Pictured above is one of my bakers, and he liked it a lot, in spite of the fact that it had superfluous decoration (my coneflowers) inside the bowl. In our conversations, we also learned that it was his birthday that day, so I offered him the baker for his rabbits as a gift. He kept asking me how much it would cost in the gallery, but I didn't see any point telling him as it was definitely more than $3 (it's a funny thing, isn't it ... I'd rather give it away than take less than what I deem it to be worth!).

He said he wished he had something he could give me in return, and talk got around to the wonderful gumbo that he makes with those chickens, and how you just can't get good Andouille outside of Louisiana, or good file, so I told him he could send me some gumbo! He has family who live in the area, so I said the next time he or any of them come near, he could send up some gumbo. After he left, several of my studio mates commented that I was not likely to see any gumbo.

Flash forward: I arrive at the studio today, to this lovely delivery of his Chicken/Andouille with File Gumbo:

I was so sorry that I wasn't there to greet his daughter and send my thanks back personally, and unfortunately, she left before anyone could get any contact information from her or for Emile. So if anyone knows Emile Kugler in Louisiana, please send him my sincere thanks from Asheville, along with a message that he was indeed correct: this is the most delicious gumbo I have ever had, and I feel like I came out way on top in this trade!

Gumbo Bowl

Monday, August 19, 2013

Book Club Empanadas

A sure sign that you have a food-related blog (even if you're less than regular about your posting), is that you chronicle meals and meal-making, in the event that it turns out to be blog-worthy. I believe the empanadas that I made today for my book club are indeed blog worthy.

homemade tastes better on handmade, handmade pottery, crazy green studios
Book Club Empanadas, on one of my favorite plates by DC potter Jill Hinckley.

That being said ... I've been so good about transcribing amounts and directions for our guest blog series, I bet you thought it would translate into my own posts. Think again.

The evolution of the Book Club Empanada:

Time: not a lot of time for prep or even shopping (a couple of hours in the morning, then home in time to toss something in the oven), so a look to the larder and off we go:

homemade tastes better on handmade, handmade pottery, crazy green studios
this was the recipe I wrote .. I'll expand on it below.
Ingredients (what I had on hand):

Leftover beef/sausage marinara that the roommate made for dinner last night
sweet potatoes
chick peas
spicy olive mix
pecorino romano cheese
pizza dough
various curry seasonings

Pizza dough would not be my first choice for an empanada shell, as after I thawed it, it did a very nice rise as it wants to do, but for my empanadas I needed it to be beaten into submission to make it thin enough, which will result in a slightly tougher dough when cooked. But if you get it thin enough, it's still quite tasty. You can try this empanada dough recipe if you want (I have a similar with a mix of whole wheat and unbleached flours).

homemade tastes better on handmade, handmade pottery, crazy green studios
Note to self: the SMALLER the number, the WIDER the gap, not the other way as you
might have thought when you tried to squeeze the very yeasty dough through a wafer thin space!

To aid me in thinning out the dough, I called upon my trusty pasta machine, and added a mix of whole wheat flour and corn meal when kneading it and folding it between presses (for you pasta machine enthusiasts: several passes at #1, then once through #2, then finish rolling it out with a rolling pin).

The FIlling:

Last night my roommate made a wonderful meat marinara for some pasta, nicely simmered and with a slight chipotle kick. Knowing I had sweet potatoes and chick peas on hand, that combo came first to mind. Finding the pizza dough settled me onto the empanadas, although, wouldn't that have made an equally interesting pizza?

homemade tastes better on handmade, handmade pottery, crazy green studios
This smelled and tasted incredible. Definitely a base for a good chili.

Since everything was already cooked/leftover/canned, a stovetop simmer was in order to try and meld some flavors. So everything went into a pot, along with some cumin, curry powder, turmeric, and ... well I'm not entirely sure, but I think there was something else. :) The flavors were coming together nicely, and I decided a nice grate of pecorino romano on top of the filling before closing the empanada would add the extra 'something' needed.

homemade tastes better on handmade, handmade pottery, crazy green studios
bowl by Asheville potter Paul Frehe, for Empty Bowls. Perfect size for empanadas!

While the flavors on the stove were mingling, I set to pounding out the dough. Once through the pasta machine and evened out under a rolling pin, it was time to cut my rounds. I knew the size I wanted, so I found a bowl that fit the bill and cut up my rounds.

homemade tastes better on handmade, handmade pottery, crazy green studios
Resist the urge to over-fill your empanadas!

Approximately 3 TBSP of the filling went into the center of each round, which had an egg wash lightly brushed around the edges. Fold over the top of the round, and compress the edges to seal, then follow with your favorite pie crust pinching technique (don't be jealous of my skills! ;)

homemade tastes better on handmade, handmade pottery, crazy green studios
At this point, the empanadas can be frozen for later use.

So that was my morning, but book club wasn't coming till 4pm. So I packed the empanadas (after making some light slits across the tops) in a bin, making sure to keep them separate and between layers of parchment paper, so I might put them in the freezer. As I turned to grab the cover of the freezer bin, I saw the unused pecorino romano. Plan B: before putting them in the oven, egg wash the empanadas and grate the cheese on top. Onward...

I got home at 3:30, turned the oven to 400 to preheat while I put the empanadas on a parchment-lined baking sheet, egg-washed them and grated the pecorino on top of each. They baked about 18-20 minutes. The tops just started to brown, and the bottoms were nicely golden. They rested on a baking rack while I greeted my guests.

homemade tastes better on handmade, handmade pottery, crazy green studios
Book Club Empanadas

We had a lightly gingered iced-yerba mate with almond milk, and I had some lovely candied ginger and a bar of chocolate from French Broad Chocolates for a sweet follow up. But I'm sure you spy a bit more in the top left corner...

homemade tastes better on handmade
a shmata of sweets

The lovely and talented Deanna brought a generous hunk of her fresh berry pie (the berries, we learned, were hand picked by herself on a mountain hike) that was divine. The equally lovely and talented Lisa brought an array of offerings from City Bakery that satisfied just about every sweet tooth craving. 

We learned early in our book club that it took all of three minutes to determine how far we each had read since our last meeting, and another three minutes to discuss the common areas of the book. So it's always been more about the getting together, which in addition to the reading is why I look forward to it every time. Reading is fundamental ... to good friends and good eating at book club!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summer Abundance with Rosetta: Basil Slaw and Summer Ratatouille-ish

Ah, the best laid plans ... our seasonal guest series has been subjected to schedule anomalies, but we're rewarded on the re-start by a most lovely day with the most lovely Rosetta!

Rosetta, with a bounty of the season

A little about our guest chef o' the day: Rosetta is the chief-everything (with her husband Jack, of Jack's Boxes) of Starshine Industries, and to paraphrase her own words, she 'helps guide a restaurant to greatness, manifests retail health food deliciousness, raises food from the magic of the earth, and children from her own heart and spirit, and she knits together people to create beautiful nets to catch a functional future." 

The restaurant is Rosetta's Kitchen, Asheville's Whole-Food Kitchen-Cafe, where she's been 'feeding the family right' since 2002, serving the extended family, friends, and wander-throughers creative vegetarian and vegan soul foods. And that's not all by a long-shot. She has (also paraphrasing her own words) "swum in the Ganges, and didn't die...bore four children at home (two unassisted), drove all the way from Nicaragua to Asheville alone with four kids, have managed to keep the doors of a small business open post-2008 crash, scored the best husband on the planet, and can get birds to fly our of a tree to land on me". 

And in addition to Rosetta's Kitchen, she has opened a second location, Rosetta's Kitchenette, at UNC Asheville, has launched Starshine Foods, instituted the "Everyone Eats" Plate, sat on the board of the Asheville-Buncombe Food Policy Council, and is on the organizing board for the creation of Sauté  A Community Cafe. And there's more - we could (and someone should) write a book on just what her life has been thus far, but I'm happier to be in a living chapter with her in the here and now, and share just a little of the love that flows from her as naturally as the sun rises each morning.

Now to our day... First I had to pack up the pots we would use. I knew we'd have a variety of seasonal colors, so I chose pieces from my "starry night" line of glazes to showcase them in their natural glory:

Rich, deep colors offer a much better canvas for
beautiful foods than anemic 'restaurant white'!

Rosetta's only stipulation on our day was that the kids be able to come, and with her beautiful children (and sometimes some extras!) that's always a bonus. So we packed into her car and headed out on our adventure!

loaded up and ready to go!

... stopping briefly to help a box turtle on its own journey...

this lucky guy would soon be re-located to a blueberry patch

With turtle in tow, we were off to the farmstand at Flying Cloud Farm, managed by Annie & Isaiah Perkinson. Rosetta and Annie first met when both were students at Warren Wilson College, where they started the campus vegetable co-op that continues today. Both continue to feed the masses individually too - Flying Cloud Farm, located in Fairview, NC, produces fruits, vegetables, and flowers for local markets and sells directly via their CSA, local tailgates, and at their self-serve roadside stand.

perusing the many offerings

our basket of farm goodness

Basket and water bottles filled, the day was too gorgeous to skip the chance to stop off for a quick swim and admire the creative diving styles of the kids. Then it was off to the kitchen to cook!

First the Ratatouille. The 'ish' is added because it's a variation (glad I'm not the only one who loves those!), and because, as Rosetta points out, "everything I know about Ratatouille I learned from a cartoon rat." Recommendation enough for me to put it on the rental list! But also a good reminder to let recipes be guides and inspirations (ok, maybe not all baking recipes...), and when the bounty of the season is all around, don't let them be restrictions. I was also very happy to find that, like me, Rosetta's recipes are filled with 'a dash', 'a shake', 'a handful' and other measurements that may make some cooks nervous, but we hope you will embrace it.

Rosetta's Roasted Summer Ratatouille-ish

3 young, Asian eggplants, cubed
3 yellow squash, cubed
Olive Oil
Dried thyme leaves
1 onion, diced
2 pints cherry tomatoes, whole
2 handfuls purple beans, cut into 1” pieces
1 head garlic, cut into large chunks
1 mild jalapeno*, small dice
Salt/Pepper to taste
Small bunch of parsley, chopped
Handful fresh basil leaves, chopped

A note on the size of the cuts: the goal is to have a nice forkful, so not too small.

*all the veg came from Flying Cloud Farm, but for the jalapeno, which came via Rosetta's sister Juniper Odell who grew it at the Wezeltown Terraced Gardens.

Heat oven to 450.

Wash the tomatoes, then toss them into a heavy pan. Toss with olive oil, pepper, and dry thyme. Roast in the oven until they’re fragrant and nicely roasted.

Rosetta's favorite roasting pan, ready to Ratatouille!

As  you prepare each of the rest of the vegetables, toss them into a large bowl (all but the basil and parsley). Toss with olive oil and salt, then transfer to a heavy pan and roast until the veg has roasted edges (do not stir), and eggplant is tender.

Remove from the oven, add tomatoes, parsley, and basil and toss. Taste for seasoning and salt as needed.

free-range onlooker and happy recipient of scraps

Basil-Inspired Slaw

While the vegetables were roasting, Rosetta moved on to the slaw, which was created as a vehicle for the basil.

Rosetta and the main players for the Slaw
(although we opted for coconut oil over the olive oil,
as noted below)

2 small heads of cabbage, thinly sliced*
3 fat and short carrots, grated
Handful of basil, julienned, then cross cut roughly
2 TBSP Coconut oil
2 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar
1 TBSP honey
Grated garlic
1 TSP salt
Dash of cayenne pepper
Shot of Cholula hot sauce
Salt to taste

Rosetta slices the cabbage on a
handmade mandolin she bought at the
market place in Masaya, Nicaragua

As you prepare each vegetable, put them in a bowl large enough to hold it all. Add the dressing ingredients on top, and mix thoroughly.

A perfect summer meal!

Our meal was complimented by another offering from Rosetta's sister Juniper (in the bowl on the left, and at the front of the plate): Pickled Japanese Salad Turnips, also from Wezeltown Terraced Gardens. The turnips had stayed too long in the ground, and had become spicy, very much like daikon, and pickled with ginger they were the perfect extra bite!

Bonus offering for those who have read through to the finish:

Rosetta's Summer Cocktail

Ginger, Basil, Apple Cider Vinegar, Water, Stevia & Whiskey, on ice.

I didn't take measurements here, you'll just have to try it yourself!