Monday, December 1, 2014

Riverview Station Holiday Market

The Village Potters will be taking part in the First Annual Riverview Station Holiday Market, and we hope you'll come kick off the holiday season with us! Our Feature Gallery will feature wonderful holiday gift ideas, and we'll have our festive best out for you, along with some light refreshments and holiday cheer. And Santa himself will be there too! Join us at The Village Potters and wander throughout Riverview Station on Friday, December 5, from 4-8PM!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Beautiful Reward

I mentioned a while back that I had not been able to get out to enjoy the Tailgate Markets as much as I'd like this year. The upside is that I was happily busy in the studio and/or with fun clay-related events, the downside is that shopping local/seasonal fare from the Farmers and Makers is one of my favorite things to do. I think I also mentioned that I would be rewarded, and my reward came in the form of a dear friend needing someone to cook a special dinner for her wedding night. I might mention here that she runs one of our town's Tailgate Markets, and that almost the entire meal would be shopped from that Market. My Beautiful Reward: a dream shop at the Tailgate, and a dream cook for a dear friend at a love-filled event. Even better, my side-kick and co-conspirator in kitchen fun was another good friend, so it could only be wonderful. And it was wonderful.

I'm already off on another adventure, but I wanted to share some of the highlights of this very special experience. And maybe even a recipe (or something like that) or two. The photos are sparse, as we were just a little busy, but you'll get the idea...

Me and my main cohort, Julia (one should always have Julia in the kitchen!)
We were greatly assisted as well by Elizabeth, Shay's Market Manager. Rockin' trio!
Bounty of the Season!! All from the wonderful vendors at the North Asheville Tailgate Market.
We had planned the meal of course, but it was SO wonderful to wander through the Market and make adjustments based on a delicious find in any given stall. The charcuterie board served immediately after the ceremony carried cheeses from Three Graces Dairy, along with hard salami and soprasetta from Hickory Nut Gap Farm. Crackers from Roots & Branches, apples and grapes from McConnell Farms added a sweet touch.

Spicy Candied Duck Bacon with Mango Sriracha Hummus:
sweet, salty, crunchy, chewy, spicy, smooth, and cool.

A few things came from outside the Market, and one that was a huge hit was a passed nibble of Spicy Candied Duck Bacon (from Katuah Market) served with a dollop of Roots Mango Sriracha Hummus.

Salad greens and ingredients came from across the Market,
and included arugula, gorgeous oyster mushrooms, tomatoes, and nasturtium.
We were lucky enough to pick up a special order of Tzatziki from Gypsy Queen Suzy Phillips, which was slated for part of an appetizer, but when we tasted its cool goodness, we re-cast it as a salad dressing. The salad included greens from several vendors, tomatoes from Flying Cloud Farms, oyster mushrooms from Carol Dreiling and nasturtium from Osada Bee Farm.

Trout lined up and ready to go.
Our entrees, Roasted Trout or Rack of Lamb, both came from East Fork Farms, and were both exquisite. Julia did a simple, yet sublime, oven-roasted trout with herbs and lemon that was beautiful and delicious.

The lamb was so good I'm still thinking about it. Extra thanks to Matt at Roots for brainstorming ideas on the prep. This is one I'll definitely do again, and the recipe follows:

Not the sexy shot I had in mind - it was fast and furious, delicious,
then I realized I forgot to take the picture! And it looked very pretty all plated up!
Rack of Lamb (for one 8-chop rack, cleaned and Frenched)

4-5 cloves of garlic, crushed & finely chopped
1 1/2 - 2 cups fresh basil & mint, finely chopped
1 cup ground pecorino romano cheese
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 TBSP ground coriander
olive oil

dijon mustard

salt, pepper
apple cider vinegar
tamari sauce

Combine first four ingredients, then add just enough olive oil to make a paste. Set aside.

Season the rack with salt and pepper, and douse with vinegar and tamari. Massage the seasonings into the meat. Heat a deep sided pan over medium-high heat. Sear the rack on all sides to a nice brown and move to a roasting pan or sheet, fat side down. Spread dijon mustard over the rack, then pat the herb mix on top.

For rare, roast about 20-23 minutes or to an internal temperature of 125. Remove the rack and let rest 10 minutes before separating chops.

not a glamour shot of the sprouts, but boy did I love
this pan that Julia brought!
The sides, which were plated when we realized the tables wouldn't hold everything, each held a taste of the coming Fall. Brussel Sprouts from Katuah Market were accented with more beautiful oyster mushrooms from Market vendor Carol Dreiling and proscuitto from Hickory Nut Gap Farms. The butternut squash mash included leeks and shallots, all from Gaining Ground Farm, and the string beans were one of those spur of the moment, "look how gorgeous those beans are!" additions, and I can't remember exactly which lovely farmer grew them. All was accompanied by fresh Market breads from Farm & Sparrow bakery.

The mini-wedding cake, topped with nasturtium and two vintage swan figurines from
Shay's beloved grandmother's collection, was joined by three different
flavors of cupcakes.
Our finale was a sweet little mini-wedding cake, plus 60 cupcakes in three flavors, all from Short Street Cakes. More nasturtium dressed the cake, along with a beautfiul pair of family heirlooms that Shay has from her grandmother. Adding the absolute perfect compliment were 50 French Macarons, in assorted flavors, from So Fine Chocolates.

pretty macarons!!
A beautiful day, and such a privilege to be a part of a completely love-filled event. So happy for the beautiful bride and her new Mr.!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What a Summer, and What a Fall!

I was amazed to see my last post here was in June, and more amazed to think about all that's happened since then:

Glaze testing continues on the Potters Mark glazes. I may have mentioned it's a slow process. I may never match the glazes, but I'm getting close to getting ... something.

recent tests for Potters Mark Red
I feel grateful every day that I am working at what I love to do, and even more so that I get to do it in a studio with people I love and respect. Studio traffic has been steady and Gallery sales continue to grow as we prepare to celebrate our third anniversary at The Village Potters, I am happily working hard just to keep up with inventory demands. It gets even better when I look through the work I make for my clients, who are all inspirations as business leaders and as people. If you're in my area, you should check them all out:

These little piggies are on their way to Cúrate!

New design for Biltmore Village Inn! (photo by Camilla Photography)

Asheville Bee Charmers, where you'll find an incredible honey tasting bar,
along with some of my mugs, honey pots, and even these sweet necklaces.
Can't wait to see the new boutique at the new
French Broad Chocolate Lounge location!

Have a nice cup of tea after your mass-aaaah-ge
at Sensibilities Day Spa!
And add to that, The Village Potters have been named Finalists for Martha Stewart's American Made Awards in the Crafts Category. It's an exceptional opportunity, and we are humbled to be considered and thrilled to be among so many fine Makers. Did you know you can vote six times a day

You know I believe "homemade tastes better on handmade", and I've been fortunate to have some good experiences on the 'homemade' side a bit more lately. I cook regularly at the studio, to a ridiculously receptive crowd, which only makes me want to do it more (hmmm... I see their plan!). And I was honored to cook a love-filled special meal for a good friend, and with a good friend. It got even better as we got to pick from the absolute cream of the crops and design the entire meal around what was fresh from the Farmer's Market. Watch the homemade tastes better food blog for recipes from that.

And now I'm off on another culinary adventure: I'll be cooking for private groups of eclectic folks gathering to study the hammered dulcimer, and I'll be doing it for three weeks at Virginia Beach. A reasonable question would be 'why am I leaving the studio for three weeks?!' In the final analysis, I tried out two statements: "I got to cook for folks for three weeks at Virginia Beach" and "I passed on a chance to cook for folks for three weeks at Virginia Beach". Adventure wins. And this wasn't a bad motivation either:
Sunrise at Va. Beach (photo by Laurie McCarriar)
And when I get back to Asheville and back in the studio, I get to dive into crazy production to make pots for the holiday season and refill inventories. It will no doubt be highly stressful, extremely exhausting, and at times a tad bit frustrating, but I still wake up every day and think "I get to do this!"

Friday, September 12, 2014

On the subject of Fine Dining and Dinosaur Pasta

“When life is hard and the day has been long, the ideal dinner is not four perfect courses, each in a lovely pool of sauce whose ambrosial flavors are like nothing ever before tasted, but rather something comforting and savory, easy on the digestion – something that makes one feel, if even for only a minute, that one is safe.”  ~Laurie Colwin

My friend Kay Crane posted this quote at the bottom of her recent post on her blog, Big Fat Art Cloth. She wrote on the occasion of her birthday, which, as I notice the clock ticking over as I write this, is today. 

Enjoying one of many lovely meals in Italy with Kay. Grappa Limone!!
As you may read on her blog, we've known each other a good while and yes I used to really have a thing for Tupperware. We've shared many a meal, and many of them quite spectacular in composition and quantity. But our beginnings were much more humble, and in truth, I was always a bit surprised at how impressed and grateful Kay was to have me offer her up dinosaur pasta with butter and cheese. That was my go-to meal on the go when we were in that short rest between our day jobs and our evenings working on a production of "The Miracle Worker". I thought she was just happy someone else was cooking, and that it wasn't peanut butter crackers from the gas station, but I do believe more it was good midwest manners that her Mama Ceil instilled from an early age. 

When I read that quote by Laurie Colwin, the last line really rang true for those experiences we shared and the vast amount of dinosaur pasta we ingested. It's no wonder they're extinct, but in those moments, we were safe. Safe from the crazy of the day behind us, safe from hunger, safe to take our day, part two, well into the evening. That alone would make me want to read more of Laurie Colwin's writing, and now I won't have to wait as Kay has sent me one of her books and I know I'm going to love it. 

So in honor of my good friend's birthday, I have re-invented our dinosaur pasta. If you've read my blogs and 'recipes', you know I am challenged to follow a recipe to its word. That goes for my own recipes, too. I regret I no longer keep dino-pasta stocked in the pantry, but I did have some rice penne. And the cow dairy products don't sit too well with me anymore, but I did have some goat butter and odds and ends of lovely sheep's milk cheese. And the basil - well, one does want a touch of color!

What Dinosaur Pasta Looks Like almost 20 Years Later (ok, gotta work on the name for this one):

Rice Penne (I use Tinkyada - the only rice pasta I've found that doesn't go all mushy)
Goat Butter, a couple of knobs
Mangego Cheese, finely grated
Pecorino Romano, finely grated
Salt - a sprinkle in the water while boiling the pasta
3-4 leaves of Basil, julienned

Quantities: start with how much pasta you're cooking, and use an amount of the other ingredients that fits the amount of pasta. No, I didn't measure, I was too busy being nostalgic, but I have great faith that you can work this out. Boil the pasta, drain it and put it in a bowl that already has the butter, which is close to room temp. Melt the butter on the pasta, then add the basil, then the cheese and combine. 

In honor of Kay's birthday, I ate this out of the bowl with the wooden spoon sitting cross-legged on the couch. There's no real relationship to Kay or her birthday and this style of eating, I just thought I should do something special.

Happy Birthday, Kay!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sweet, Salty, Crunchy, Chewy, Spicy, Smooth and Cool

All in one bite? Well, maybe two, but it's all here. Certain occasions call for a little extravagance and even a bit of decadence. I've been working on this recipe to make as a little cocktail nibble for an event coming up, and I believe this version is worthy of at least trying to write it down as a recipe. 

Sweet, Salty, Crunchy, Chewy, Spicy, Smooth and Cool

Spicy Candied Duck Bacon with Mango/Sriracha Hummus*

*this is a very specific sort of recipe, calling on very specific ingredients. If you have access to my same ingredients, I highly recommend trying this. If not, I highly recommend using what you have available and making your own interesting version. This recipe is also based on creating a tasty tidbit for about 25 people, so adjust as needed for your own consumption. :)

a test run with pork bacon - also good!


1 pound thinly sliced duck bacon*
   *from Katuah Market if you're local to Asheville, NC, but it's been tested with 'regular' bacon too.

1 cup raw cane sugar
1 cup maple sugar**
3/4 TBSP cayenne (or more or less based on your own heat index)
1 1/2 TBSP ground ginger
1 TBSP freshly grated ginger
2 TBSP blackstrap molasses

Roots Mango Sriracha Hummus***

Preheat oven to 375F.

Line a large sheet cake pan with parchment paper, then place a cooling rack on top. Make sure the paper is well below the rack and not touching the top bars.

**I know maple sugar isn't easy to find everywhere (I also found that at Katuah), but using it over maple syrup gives a nicer candy texture, and less moisture as it cools. If you are using maple syrup, I suggest a higher ratio of the cane sugar to the syrup.

NOTE: Duck bacon shrinks. A lot. That was a bit of a surprise, so if you want 'cocktail' portions, keep your strips at about 4" long, as they'll shrink up a good bit but will provide a nicely concentrated bite of flavor!

If you need to cut down your bacon strips, so that and set aside.

Combine the dry sugars, gingers and cayenne in a shallow bowl and mix thoroughly to combine and coat the grated ginger with the sugars. Drizzle the molasses on top, and again using your fingers, quickly combine to distribute the molasses throughout. 

a touch of molasses adds a nice richness

ANOTHER NOTE: You might want to keep a damp towel on hand, as you're about to cover your hands in sugary fun. And if you have any small cuts on your fingers, the cayenne pepper will find them. :)

Take each bacon slice and coat each side with the sugar mix. If it doesn't stick well, get one side coated as much as possible, then place the slice on the cooling rack that's placed on the parchment lined sheet cake pan. Add more sugar mix to the top in an even layer. Repeat with remaining slices (you may have to do a couple of batches - you can keep the slices close, but don't let them touch).

I should have taken the "after" picture to show the shrinkage

Place in the pre-heated oven and check after 12 minutes. Rotate the pan, then check again in another 5 minutes. The bacon will get darker, and the extra sugars will drip down onto the parchment and will, just at the moment the bacon is perfectly cooked, start to scorch and might even smoke. Be patient to make sure the bacon is cooked well, but watch it carefully because you don't want burnt sugar bacon!

Remove from the oven when done, and move the bacon rack onto a clean piece of parchment. Use tongs to loosen the bacon from the rack, and let cool completely.

To serve, place a small dollop of Roots Mango Sriracha Hummus*** on one end of each bacon strip. You can serve on a platter, or place each strip in a mini-muffin cup.

***a new flavor from Roots, currently available via Whole Foods and eventually in other stores as well. If your WF store doesn't carry Roots yet, go ask for it! You can try another flavor/hummus for this recipe, but I can't think of one with the specific flavor combination that works as well. The light sweetness and lingering spice are actually a cooling foil to the salty spice of the bacon. 

Storing/Serving Note: You can make this ahead, and store between layers of parchment paper. While it doesn't necessarily need refrigeration, I found that the texture benefited - store it without the hummus, then take it out of the fridge at least 10 minutes before you want to serve, and add the dollop of hummus at that time.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Studio Eats: Lasagna

Why, in the (relative) heat of summer am I cooking up lasagna? I wondered that myself, and this recent curiousity and affection for what is normally a more winter dish started on chance and continues for reasons of taste and convenience. In a grocery, I spied some fresh lasagna sheets on sale. A studio mate had brought a rather large squash to the studio, and it needed to be used. I knew I had some other vegetables and bits in the fridge, so inspired by the lasagna sheets, I grabbed them up along with a jar of spicy pasta sauce.

I know not everyone creates free-form in the kitchen, and most people really, really like to see the comfort of a well thought out and tested recipe. I'm one of those people! I use recipes all the time, it's just that I might not use them to the letter. So while I can tell you what's in the lasagna, I'll have to make it several more times with the time and intention of measuring ingredients to give you a specific recipe. Many pardons for any frustrations, but I encourage you to give it a try:

Spicy Lasagna
Spicy Lasagna: For this version, here's what I had:

Fresh Lasagna Sheets (purchased from the refrigerated section)
Spicy Pasta Sauce (purchased in the jar, optional on the spice of course, and when time allows, homemade preferred of course!)
Leftover diced sweet potato
Leftover roasted corn, removed from the cob
1/2 large onion
4-5 large leaves of kale, chopped 
Leftover hamburger, broken into small bits
Goat Cream Cheese
Pecorino Romano
Goat Feta Cheese

I saute-ed the onion in olive oil, then added the leftover corn, sweet potato, and kale. As the onion and kale softened (the others were pre-cooked), I added about a half cup of the sauce and stirred to combine. 

In a small bowl, I combined about 1/4 cup of the cream cheese with about 1/4 cup grated Pecorino and 1/2 cup grated Goat Feta. This is a soft mixture.

I used one of my medium size bakers, cutting the fresh pasta sheets to fit the curve of the pot. My layers, in order from bottom up: Sauce/dots of cheese/pasta/sauce/vegetables/broken up burger/sauce/dots of cheese/pasta sheets/sauce/dots of cheese.

This pan of lasagna went into a cold oven, and then I turned it to 350F. About an hour later, you'll smell the lasagna and that's when you check it. If the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is browning, take it out of the oven and let it rest a few minutes before serving. 

*If you're paying close attention, you'll note that I completely forgot the large squash in the fridge, which was the original intent of that days lunch. But the lasagna was a very fine substitute!

I mentioned that one of the factors in my lasagna infatuation was convenience. It may seem like a lot of work, but if you do a little prep and have the right bits and pieces in the kitchen, the prep goes pretty quickly and then you can toss it in the oven and then 'poof!' you have lunch. Or dinner. And if you're really, really, lucky, like me, you have wonderful studio mates grateful for the meal who will clean up the kitchen behind you.

I like to spread the love between this blog and the website recipe blog, so if you'd like to see the 'guidelines' to the most recent pan of oozy goodness, check out my Crazy Green Studios Recipe blog.

Chicken Vegetable Lasagna

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Oven Roasted Trout

Fresh ingredients need very little added for full flavor enjoyment. That's pretty much it. I haven't had as much time yet this season to peruse through the Farmer's Markets and play in the kitchen or at the grill - but I'll be rewarded at the end of the summer in a big way ... that I'll say more about ... later.

For now, I take my opportunities where I can. I got some leeks from one of my favorite local farmers this week, and last night on my way home I picked up a beautiful, cleaned local trout, some lemon and a bag of brussel sprouts. Tonight, I did very little other than snip some thyme from the garden and lightly season along the way, and I had a lovely result.

Preheat oven to 395 degrees (f).
Cut 1 lemon in half, and cut one half into thin wedges, 
and slice the other half into half rounds.
Trim and clean 2 leeks, and slice in 1/4" half rounds.
Cut two pieces of parchment paper to fit inside an oven-proof baking dish, and place one in the baking dish and the other on a cutting board. Place the half round lemon slices atop the 'cutting board' parchment. Sprinkle all but a handful of the leeks on top, and top that with a few sprigs of fresh thyme.

Rub the outside of the trout with a little olive oil and sprinkle of salt. Open fillet and lightly salt. Place all but three of the lemon wedges inside, along with the handful of sliced leeks and a few sprigs of thyme.

Close the trout, and score the top in three places. Put a wedge of lemon and a sprig of thyme in each score. Place trout on the parchment atop the lemons, leeks, and thyme.

Place the trout on parchment inside the baking dish, on top of the other parchment. 
Cut 1 1/2 cups of brussel sprouts in half (in quarters if larger), toss lightly with oil and salt, and place them on the bottom parchment, but under the top parchment. (If you're wondering why, it's to let the sprouts retain their own flavor.)

Bake for 25 minutes, then let rest out of the oven for a few minutes. Remove the sprouts, lightly drizzle with aged balsamic, and salt to taste.


Serves 1-2 (if you're sharing or just really hungry). 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Miso Pickles

I've always loved the idea of pickling and canning vegetables and fruit, but have always been daunted by the process, feeling I lacked the proper equipment or knowledge to do it properly. Plus, I've always been fortunate enough to have ample folk around me who excel at the process, so I've been happy to enjoy the fruits (and veg) of their labors. 

Still - in the height of market season, I often find my eyes are bigger than my fridge or food prep capabilities in a week, and not everything works by tossing it in the freezer. So when I heard an interview and description on Splendid Table of 'Miso Pickles', I was intrigued. I love miso, and even had just about everything I needed on hand to try it out. 

homemade tastes better on handmade, miso pickles
the players - the first batch was made in the casserole,
with a plate on top. Now I just put them directly into a jar.

Looking over the recipe and method, I felt pretty secure in tampering a bit with some ingredients. Below is my method, and if you'd like to see the original, you can find it on the Splendid Table website. I saw another interesting version at the Cultured Food LIfe site too - lots of options!

The broadcast and web article also talk about making a 'bed' of the pickling paste, and I'll be trying that next - here's my take on the submersion version:

Miso Pickles

1 cup white miso
4 TBSP rice vinegar
1 tsp honey
2 TBSP rice wine
1 clove garlic, finely sliced
1 small knob of ginger, grated

1-2 cups vegetables (I used thinly sliced carrots and green beans - quantity is determined some by size of the veg as you need to make sure everything is well coated by the paste)

Combine the first six ingredients in a bowl and mix into a loose paste. Pour the paste into a jar or other container with a lid (I did my first test batch in a small ceramic casserole). Submerge the vegetables into the paste - make sure all veg gets thoroughly coated. As I was filling the jar, I would periodically put on the lid and give it a light shake to distribute everything.

homemade tastes better on handmade, miso pickles
pasty pickles

Let this sit on the counter overnight, then transfer to the fridge for storage. When you want to eat the pickles, take them out of the jar and rinse them first. I didn't slice the green beans, and I'm finding that the longer they stay in the paste (you should be able to keep them in the fridge for several months), the tastier they get. The thinly sliced carrots became tender and tasty overnight. 

homemade tastes better on handmade, miso pickles
delicate, lightly crunchy, and delicious alone or added to a dish.

I'm letting all the veg 'cure' in the pickling bed for another week before I take them out, so I can see how it continues to develop, and then as long as the base doesn't become too watery, I'll use it again. I have another test batch of thinly sliced beets in another container - not sure of how long the veg should last out of the pickling paste, but so far I've been using them as fast as I can rinse them so perhaps that's not an issue at all. 

I've eaten these alone and added them to salads, and the flavor is a mildly 'miso' that is quite tasty. I'm looking forward to trying this with other veg, and then eventually when the miso paste loses its pickling power, turning that into a nice marinade.

Friday, June 6, 2014

More Strawberry Love

Breakfast on the Go:

A quickie, but an old favorite. Still looking for ways to enjoy this season's delicious strawberries, and not always having a lot of time. I love them just the way they are, but sometimes a little more substance is needed for the start of the day. And some people think oatmeal is just for the cooler months, and I agree that I don't eat a lot of hot oatmeal in the summer, but that doesn't mean you need to neglect it for the entire season!

I took a small jar and started with about 1/3 cup of oats, topped with a handful of sliced strawberries and a small peach. Grated a small bit of fresh ginger, drizzled some honey, then topped with about 1/2 cup of goat milk yogurt and a couple of leaves each of fresh basil and mint, torn into small pieces. 

the ingredients

I gave the jar a good shake, then tossed it in my bag and headed to the studio. By the time I got to the studio, the oats had begun to soften and the flavors of the fresh fruit were nicely mingled with the ginger, honey, and herbs. 

brekkie in a jar
I'm looking forward to more combinations throughout the season. And I realize I don't have a lovely image of my morning porridge in a beautiful handmade bowl, but I was just hungry enough when I got to the studio that I ate this out of the jar. If I were to (and when I do) 'plate' this, I think a yunomi tea bowl will be the vessel. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


I love going through Spring as fruits and veg start crowding each other at Farmer's Market stalls, and the strawberries have been so luscious this year that it's been hard to resist! 

Recently, having picked up berries at the weekend Tailgate, I had the chance to get some more from another favorite farm, Mudluscious Gardens. I didn't want any to go bad, and there's only so much room in the freezer. No time for jams or preserves, so what else? 

Cue the serendipity please: a random re-organization of a kitchen drawer led to the re-discovery of a popsicle mold, and even better, some sticks! Combine that with a forecast for rising temps, a few other key ingredients:

...and we have a plan. Goat milk yogurt, berries, honey, balsamic vinegar, and a bit of basil. I was throwing this together before work, so I didn't measure exactly (big surprise!), but I found this recipe at that more or less shared my ingredient list - I used goat milk yogurt and I think a bit less honey. Also, I just tossed everything in the food processer and let it rip until it was well blended - what they detail below would be excellent as well to pull even more flavors out:

Strawberry Basil Popsicles
Makes: 8 to 9 popsicles
What You Need
  • 1 pound / pint (2 cups) strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 10 basil leaves
 Technical note: if you have this type of popsicle mold, make sure your sticks are standing STRAIGHT up, to avoid a rather comical event when it's time to take off the lid. :)
What To Do
  1. Hull and roughly chop strawberries. In a bowl, combine the strawberries with ⅓ cup honey and 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, and let stand for 15 minutes.
  2. Blend together the strawberries with 1 cup Greek yogurt and 10 basil leaves using a blender or immersion blender, until thoroughly combined.
  3. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze until firm, about 4 hours.
Adapted from The Kitchn

My review: refreshing but not too sweet - big win and can't wait to try other versions!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Spring Market Inspirations

Good News! Studio life is ramping up (mmmmm...ramps!), and the rest of the year looks productively busy and fruitful (mmmm....fruit!). And although I may not be home to cook as much, even the studio kitchen is getting more beefed up (mmmm...ok, I'll stop) with the addition of an oven/stove. Watch for studio creations in the future. And I did manage to get a bit of garden planted, with great hopes to continue - also another post to come.

Tonight's fun in the kitchen was motivated by running across a sale on lamb chops at the Farmer's Market, followed by a lucky grabbing of the last bunch of pencil-thin asparagus at another booth. 

As the chops were marinating in a bit of garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, and olive oil, I looked through what else was on hand, and this is what happened (recipe is in there if you pay attention!):

The sweet potatoes were cut up and boiled for a mash, and while they simmered and the meat marinated, the garlic scapes and shallots were chopped (small dice) and saute-ed in olive oil, seasoned with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme. Sliced mushrooms were added to that, and after it cooked down a bit over medium heat, a small drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar and about 3 tbsp of stock were added before I placed the asparagus on top. Covered that and let it steam on med-lo heat while I seared off the chops in a hot cast iron pan in a bit of olive oil over med-hi heat. After they were browned on both sides (3 minutes or so each side), they went into a preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes, during which, the sweet potatoes were mashed with 2 tbsp butter, a splash of almond milk, a few grates of pecorino romano, and salt/pepper to taste. The chops were taken out of the oven and moved to a platter to rest for a bit while asparagus was plated and topped with mushrooms/scapes along with the mash, and then we had dinner!

Continuing a Legacy

I have been given an incredible honor - Marty & Eileen Black, who have recently retired The Potter's Mark studio and gallery, have given me their process and glazes/recipes for their signature line of pottery, in the hopes that I will be able to continue the legacy they've built over the past 30+ years.

I am indeed honored and very excited about what possibilities lie ahead with this opportunity. Currently, I'm in the process of testing two of the most popular glazes, their signature 'Red', and the 'Spirit' glaze. The first tests of using these glazes on my clay body in a different kiln were very encouraging, but I won't begin regular production in any of these glazes until I have consistent results in several firings. After I nail down these two glazes, I'll test through others. While I may not carry items in every glaze, my plan is to be able to fill replacement orders for long time collectors in any glaze they have. I will only produce bodies of work in 2-3 glazes for show and sale in The Village Potters' gallery and in other regional galleries, all under the name "The Potter's Mark Line". 

The overall list of items that will be offered will be less than what Marty and Eileen originally carried, as  they, working together full time, were able to carry over 50 items, many available for wholesale as well as retail. I will have to pare down that list as I will be working solo. I'll also be carrying on my own work - if you check out my website 'Portfolio' link, you'll see that I've added a section for The Potter's Mark. As I continue the tests and achieve consistent results, I'll begin posting samples of the glazes that will be available. But testing is imperative, and cannot be rushed! If you'd like to keep up with my progress, I invite you to join The Potter's Mark mailing list for monthly updates and opportunities to win very special, very one-of-a-kind test pieces during this process. You'll also get first dibs on placing orders once that time comes!

The standing bowl, above, is The Potter's Mark signature Red Glaze. On the right, first test firing in my kiln. Encouraged to get red at all, but still some work to do!

For those who have been collecting The Potter's Mark wares, I will be carrying the most popular forms, and while I will make every effort to stay true to the spirit of Marty & Eileen's forms, they will be different as different hands are making them. I would never attempt to copy their style - indeed, one of the reasons I have been given this great honor and opportunity is because our styles, while different on the surface and in our decoration, have much in common when you look at the base forms. I believe that when current collectors see the range of forms available, that they may not have or may not have considered, with Potter's Mark glazes, they will be very pleased to add them to the collection.

Stay tuned for more!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

Just a few thoughts on Mother's Day, about my own gorgeous mom, my lovely sister who is a super-mom, and so many other women in my life who exemplify what it is to be a mother, whether they have children or not. I count many as dear and vital friends, I've adopted many of them, and I admire them all (and if we know each other and you're wondering if I'm talking about you, I am!). But my own mom is the one who gave me my first and lasting definition of 'mother', and I have found myself 'mothering' in many times/parts of my life, and if I do it right, it's because of what I learned from her. 

Happy Mother's Day Mom! I Love You!

“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” 
Washington Irving

“No language can express the power, and beauty, and heroism, and majesty of a mother's love. It shrinks not where man cowers, and grows stronger where man faints, and over wastes of worldly fortunes sends the radiance of its quenchless fidelity like a star.” - Edwin Hubbell Chapin

Allegria & Don, my 'rents
“Behind all your stories is always your mother's story. Because hers is where yours begin.” 
Mitch Albom

"A mother's arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them." - Victor Hugo

Generational moms: my sister Becky & Mom
“In a child's eyes, a mother is a goddess. She can be glorious or terrible, benevolent or filled with wrath, but she commands love either way. I am convinced that this is the greatest power in the universe.” 
― N.K. Jemisin

More generational love - me ... a few years ago ...
with a picture of my mom's mom, Hannah.

“If you have a mom, there is nowhere you are likely to go where a prayer has not already been.” 
― Robert Brault