Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Salmon cakes and pots

It was a bit cool yesterday morning so I headed to the studio instead of the garden and once I got started I worked through. Got most of the pots trimmed and waxed, just have to put together a tea pot this morning, make holes in a berry bowl order, trim the edges of the sycamore leaf dish I made for myself, and get them and a few missed one waxed before I get on to mixing the decorating and flashing slips.

That refrigerator really keeps the pots wet, so I had to take some outside yesterday, to get them dry enough to trim. Fortunately it only took less than hour to do thanks to the sun and a light breeze.

The only garden time I got was to harvest a couple of tomatoes before I came in to start dinner. Maybe I can find ten minutes later today to do a quick walk through the garden and garner whatever veggies are ready.

Jim requested salmon cakes for dinner, so he going Ingles later to pick up some of the ingredients. After breakfast I'll mix what I can and add the missing ingredient later. I'm more prone to cook a time consuming dish if I can get some of the prep done early.Usually I'm too wiped after a full day in the studio and garden to spend too much, late in the day, time on dinner prep.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Garden and studio day

Looks like it's going to be a good morning to get in a bit of garden time. I need to see if I have any sweet potatoes. Some critter got most of the plants early on so I'm not too hopeful. After harvesting whatever is ready, I'll head to the studio.

Yesterday was an Asheville day. We had to get to the mall (one of my least favorite things to do), in search of some new towels and some clothing items for Jim. Belks had a sale and luckily we found some towels we liked, so it was worth the trip even though Jim didn't find any of the clothing items he wanted. Mall shopping is tiring and more so when you can't find what you want. We then headed across the road for a lovely lunch at the Indian buffet.

Since we were both sore and tired, we skipped our plan for a food shopping stop and headed straight home. My hip is a mess and I had to resort to using the cane again. Looks like another new hip replacement is in my near future. Guess I'm going to be an elderly bionic woman before I leave this plane.

Since we had such a big lunch, I made tomato bruschettas for dinner using some lovely Brandywine tomatoes, basil,thin shavings of parmesan reggiano,olive oil, a tiny touch of red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, served on oil and garlic rubbed, toasted ciabatta. It's a filling but light and very refreshing dish.

Since I have all those roast chicken dinner leftovers for tonight, I can get a pretty full day in the studio if my energy holds.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday dinner

I got very little studio time yesterday - just enough to trim a couple of pots and put handles on a serving bowl and smooth out a couple of slab pieces. The sycamore leaf serving plate looks neat. I hope it fires well. I mimicked the curled up tips from the drying, real leaf on the clay one. It's an experimental piece I've made for my own use, which I thought might be a fun serving piece for our porch sitting nights with friends.

Jim is off to the store early to pick me up a few items for my planned roast chicken dinner. It's going to be another cooking day with a few stolen moments in the studio. I'm hoping to get enough time to trim a few more things and get some handles pulled and on to some mugs.

More plum tomatoes need to be picked and processed after breakfast and made into pizza sauce for the freezer. I should check the beans as well, since it's been a few days since I last harvested them. The summer juggling act between studio, garden and kitchen continues.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tomato bisque

All my throwing is done for the next soda firing. That fridge aka the new drying cabinet, is keeping the pots pretty wet. Most weren't ready to trim yesterday so I threw a few more pots, put the slab roller to work to make myself a leaf plate from one of those huge sycamore leaves, added some water to the clay mixer to slake the dry reclaim and did some paper work.I quit around 3:30 to start dinner - another tomato, pasta dish - this time with pancetta, onion and cream.

This morning was spent picking tomatoes, getting them skinned,seeded and chopped,and getting the rest of the ingredients together to finish this tomato bisque. After cooking with the onion and spices I had to run it all through the food mill, which was deeply buried in the basment. Then there was the huge cleanup of pots, pans, bowls and the food mill. Tomorrow I'll deal with all the plum tomatoes - probably use them make some pizza sauce for the freezer.

Jim and I just finished a cup of the tomato bisque for lunch and it's very good; but I'm not so sure that it's that much better than other tomato bisques I've made and it sure as heck was a lot more work! I'm exhausted and it's only 1 o'clock. So I'm going take a little break, read the local paper which has been sitting here since Wednesday, and glance through Clay Times which arrived this morning. By then I should be re-charged enough to get a few hours in the studio.

If anyone wants the recipe (took me almost 4 hrs to make with cleanup!), I'll be very happy to post it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cool pots

Couldn't resist the pun. The fridge (my new drying cabinet)is full of pots. I've put off slipping and decorating and did a bit more throwing yesterday and will do a bit more today. With hurricane Irene on it's way, even though we're not in the direct path, we may be getting some power outages.

We have a big generator for the house but it's not big enough to power anything in the studio; so I'll throw a a few more things today. I can always hand mix and sieve my slips, so slipping and decorating can wait a few more days.

My soda kiln needs 2 full bisque loads in the electric kiln to fill it and the bisque kiln is currently about 3/4 full and with the other pots and hand, what I throw today and some re-fires, should fill it for mid to late September firing.

I need to check the garden later and do more harvesting. Those beans and tomatoes just keep a comin' and comin'. Think it's time to look up a recipe for tomato bisque. Some critter or critters keep eating our squash. I never thought I'd complain about not having enough zucchinis! LOL

That's it for today's blog. Time to head to the studio and pug some more clay.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cooking day yesterday dentist today

Yesterday was a cooking day. It was time to bake bread and I decided to skip the bread machine and try a new honey whole wheat recipe, which turned out great. The bread machine recipe is too heavy for sandwiches and I was looking for a lighter recipe and the 3 loaves I made yesterday fill the bill. Jim and I couldn't wait for the bread to cool and had to dig in and have a slice while it was still warm. Nothing is better than the smell of bread baking and then that first taste of the still warm, buttered slice!

I made a lovely, new pasta dish for dinner - will definitely make it again. It's a recipe I found on line and then made my own additions and revisions. I'll post it at the end of this page if anyone wants to try it.

Today is dentist day, so there isn't going to be much studio time. My permanent crown is ready and I have to go in early afternoon. I don't like those early afternoon appointments. They really interfere with a work day; but I should get a bit of studio time right after breakfast to pug some clay and do a couple other chores.

Pappardelle with Sweet Italian Sausage And Mushroom Serves 2-4

1/2 lb. Pappardelle Pasta (or you can use fettucine or wide egg noodles in a pinch)
5 dried porcini mushrooms
1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage meat (or remove casing from sausages)
1 large onion, diced
1 ½ tsp minced garlic
3 large tomatoes, chopped
3 rounded tablespoons fresh chopped basil leaves or 1 rounded tablespoon dried
2 T fresh chopped Italian parsley leaves, with a bit more for garnish when serving.
1/2 lb. white button mushrooms, thickly sliced
1/4 cup white or red wine
tiny pinch of pepperonici pepper flakes if you like it spicy (we do)
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese

Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in 1 cup very hot water for an hour or so.

In a large sauté pan, cook sausage until brown - breaking it up as it cooks. Add onion and cook 3 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook about a minute. Add the diced tomatoes, wine and chopped basil leaves. (at this point, put a big pot of salted water on high for the pasta).

Drain and rinse soaked porcinis very well. Chop porcini if pieces are too big. Add to sauté pan along with fresh white mushrooms. Cook for about 15 minutes.About 5 minutes before it's done add the tiny pinch of pepperonici pepper if you're using it.

About 7 minutes before the mushrooms are done, add the pasta to the rapidly boiling water and cook till al dente.

Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce and add some of the reserved pasta water if it looks dry. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with fresh grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bread baking day

Just put 3 loaves of whole wheat bread dough in the pans for their second rise. After a short break, I'll continue more pre dinner prep for tonight's pappardelle pasta with sausage, mushrooms and tomatoes. First I need to get in the garden and pick 2 more tomatoes; and probably weed a bit while I'm at it.

Instead of composting the weeds, I've decided to take advantage of my weed abundance, dry and burn them and use the ash for a couple of the weed ash recipes in the Phil Rogers book - eventually, since I think it's going to take a huge amount of weed burning to get enough ash even for a couple of tests!

It doesn't look like there'll be any time for the studio; but if I find a free hour I'll weigh out a couple of flashing slip tests. Most of those Cone 10 slips at Cone 6 were too dry. Only a Matt Long flashing slip looked like it might work; so I'll try adding 10% more Neph Sy to those slips, and by mixing equal amounts of that with the regular cone 10 batches I have on hand, hopefully, one of them will prove to give me the finish I'm looking for.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

John Pollex video Part 3

Here's the last part of the John Pollex video.

It's been a relaxed Sunday - a half hour of early studio time, then on to a lovely Brunch at the Knife and Fork, some grocery shopping, and doing some early dinner prep when we got home.

I had some of the leftover Boursin filling, so I stuffed some more mushrooms. It's a leftover night - stuffed mushrooms and curried lemon grass chicken wings and ratatouille.

Time to pop those mushrooms in the oven.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

John Pollex video part 2

I'm enjoying a quiet, sunny, Saturday morning after a mojito, white wine and porch sitting munching on chicken wings and other goodies,party with friends last night; but I will be heading to the studio in a few minutes. The plan yesterday was to get some studio time, but because I decided to do more cooking for the porch sitting, all I managed to do in the studio was cleaning a bunch of tools,doing a sweeping and cleaning the clay trimming from my wheel.

Our resident mink was spotted this morning at the base of the bird feeder. We seen him once before, heading to my compost pile behind the gallery. It was nice to get a closer look at him; but he scooted into the brush before I could take a photo.

Today I'll be waxing those pots before slipping. I find that waxing the bases works better than than trying to clean unwanted slip off the bottoms. I'll probably leave them to dry a few hours and run some clay through the pug mill and continue with clearing my studio desk. I also want to check those test tiles from the cone 6 soda test firing and see which ones I want to re batch with more flux.

Now that it's getting a bit cooler, I'd like to do another cone 6 soda firing using the soda mix and other cone 6 information Mark Knott generously shared with me. There's always so much to do;but it's certainly better than being bored.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday porch sitting

We're hosting our Friday night porch sitting, so it's been a food prep morning. Six pounds of Oriental style chicken wings are now marinating in curry, soy sauce, garlic, lemon grass, hot sauce, etc; and I've got some of the prep done for the Boursin stuffed mushrooms - just have to wait for Jim to get the Boursin. Now I just have to prep some raw veggies and then it will be on to the studio for a few hours.

I got the last of the current batch of pots trimmed yesterday, so today I'll start slipping and decorating. This batch should fill the rest of the bisque kiln which will be fired some time this coming week. I'll need one more bisque to fill the big soda kiln, so more throwing will be on the agenda, in between harvesting and food prep.

It's raining this morning with more showers expected later, so porch sitting is going to be moved to the living room.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

John Pollex video of his new work Part 1

John Pollex's current body of work is a total departure from his well known slipware, and is equally impressive. This is a several part video so I'll post another one tomorrow.

Yesterday was an Asheville shopping day - first for Jim's new favorite coffee (Pitbull on crack)at Asheville Coffee, then a bit of grocery shopping at Fresh Market followed by lunch at the Blue Water fish store/restaurant. Jim had the clams casino and I had the clams steamed in white wine and garlic(both, very excellent). I bought some of their crab cakes and a small amount of lobster salad to try,for dinner. The crab cakes were a little bland (a spicy side sauce would help)but the lobster salad was very good.

I bought some of their N.C. flounder for tonight's flounder Provencal. We will definitely be going back there again for lunch and to purchase their sustainable seafood. They also carry fresh dry scallops (the best), so that will be for another day.

At the moment I've got a pot of bean, carrot and tomato soup cooking and I'll get that in the freezer when it's done, have breakfast and then head to the studio to trim some pots.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dividing the day

Enjoying the pre-dawn quiet before the start of a busy day, to catch up with email. Most,if not all of the morning after breakfast, will be devoted to, pickle making and harvesting. Then I'll be off to the studio to start trimming and finishing some pots before coming in to start on dinner.

Tonight's dinner will be one of Jim's favorites -fettucine with sauteed onion, mushrooms and pancetta AKA, the heart attack special, which is why I only make it about twice a year!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Quiet Sunday

We enjoyed a relaxing morning/early afternoon out, starting with a lovely brunch at the Knife and Fork. They were fully booked and had to turn people away - good thing we made a reservation! After brunch we checked out the fund raising auction preview at TRAC before heading home.

The only studio time I got was to cover some of yesterday pots, because I got sidetracked quite a while doing some ash glaze research and by then it was too late to think about starting anything in the studio.

I'm looking for a nice, transparent, celadon type ash green, but could only find one possible recipe to try in the Phil Rogers book on ash glazes. I might just take my regular celadon, omit the tin, and do a line blend, adding wood ash in 10% increments. After dinner I'll check out the Tichane book and see if there are any possible recipes in there.-

The Rogers book also had a lovely matt gold ash, pooling green, which I'd love to try. It calls for pine ash, so I'd have to burn some of the large amount I of 3 year old pine logs I have. The logs would have to be retrieved from the top of the hill and burned. It will be a good fall job in my outdoor, free standing fireplace. Maybe I can hire one of the younger, more able bodied local potters to split that wood. It's already cut in small rounds, but just needs splitting. Any takers???? I have lots of aged pine I could share for anyone wanting to make some money splitting some of the wood for me.

Since we had a larger lunch than normal, I'm just doing a Jewish pizza tonight - an idea I got years ago from Wolfgang Puck, Spago's. It's just pizza base formed and baked, then spread with cream cheese and topped with smoked salmon.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Are your glazes safe

Between garden, kitchen and studio there hasn't been much time leftover to do a daily blog.

This morning I've been doing some glaze chemistry, looking at some old recipes from the the past 40 years of more. It's amazing how many glazes used then and now are either not durable or not safe or both.

Whenever I design a glaze or check out one that look promising enough to test, I run it through my Insight Glaze program to check the limits for it's cone range, expansion, etc. I find, in many instance, glazes listed as gloss, are actually mattes under supplied with alumina and silica and over fired for their cone; or the reverse, glazes over supplied with some materials and then under fired for their cone giving a false matte. In either case, they will probably not be safe and/or durable over time.

Running a glaze through a glaze calculation program, or just doing the calculations by hand which I did for years, can give a good indication of whether a glaze will craze, be a matte or a gloss or something in between, as well as other important information, like the mole limits of that oxide for the cone you're firing.

If you're not sure of the safety of your glazes, Alfred University has a service and for about $15 per oxide will test your glazes for leaching and let you know if the leaching is within accepted safety limits. High copper glazes are notorious for leaching, mainly because there isn't enough silica even at cone 10 to keep that material in suspension. So, over time the glaze will bleach out, releasing that copper into any food stored in that pot. Better to get copper naturally through eating peas than getting over supplied through toxic copper carbonate.

Well, time to think about breakfast and get into the studio. Yesterday pots need attending to and more pots need to be made. Things are going slowly because I pugged this batch of clay way too soft.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The day's plan

Today's plan - after a boiled eggs and zucchini bread breakfast, prepped everything for tonight's roast beef hash (they're on now), feed my other sourdough starter, then head to the studio to the studio to continue decorating the last few pots.

After that I'll try to throw a few requested items. I thought I'd be able to get more pickles made this morning, but found that I need fresh dill, so Jim will get to Spruce Pine after breakfast to get some. I'll work till 4 then come in and start on the pickles and dinner.

This garden/harvest, cook, studio juggling act continues for another six weeks or till the first hard frost when I can put the garden to bed.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Garden time, studio time, Orecchiette dinner

This is the Orecchiette I made for tonight's dinner. I picked a lot of cherry tomatoes and decided to add them to an Orecchiette pasta dish we like. Jim loved the cherry tomatoes addition not only for the color, but for the extra sauce that the tomatoes added to the olive oil, anchovy, garlic, pepperonici pepper and steamed broccoli which is the basic sauce and ingredients for this pasta dish. I also add pignoli nuts which Jim also loves.

It was another very busy day - first doing a bit of weeding before breakfast, feeding one of my sourdough starters, then dealing with Dell and Visa over a fraudulent charge (got that resolved), then off to do my second weeding and harvesting, then studio time (assorted studio paperwork and some decorating, tidying and getting more pots into the bisque kiln), then back at 5 o'clock in to make dinner.

I'm done for the day other than email,computer work, and a Brit detective (Misomer murders)story before bedtime. It was a good day!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Productive insomnia

I've been wide awake since 3AM, so instead of tossing and turning, I got up and got a lot of glaze recipes into one of my notebooks, and started sketching ideas for some new soda pots that I want to make - some simple extruded vases and boxes, and some slab pieces - trenchers, sushi plates,etc., along with the slip/glaze/and design elements I want to try with those forms as well as some of my current forms. Now I just have to find time between all this gardening and food processing to get into the studio.

I got all of yesterdays beans processed and in the freezer, and today I hope to get another couple of jars of pickles made; but first I'm going to try to go back to bed and see if I can get another hour of sleep. I can function OK with 5 hours, but not with less than 4!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Desk cleaning

The only thing I had energy for yesterday was about fifteen minutes of weeding and a lightweight, sit down job - tackling the mountain of paper on my studio desk. So sorting,filing and noting was the order of the day.

Several hours were spent just sorting through all those little note scraps, receipts, saved articles, etc. etc. which just get thrown on the desk during a throwing/firing cycle, to be dealt with later. Well, I didn't get to it all after the last firing and it really piled up. By the time I came in to get dinner, I could actually see the glass top on the desk!

Among my note scraps we're reminders to tweak or just run some glazes through the software so that was my after dinner job. I brought a few glaze notebooks into the house and this morning I'll get recipes from saved articles numbered into a glaze notebook.

At some point I need to get in the garden to at least harvest the next batch of beans or whatever else is ready. I noticed that all my sweet potatoes vines are gone. Early on some critter got to some and now they're all gone, so I need to dig in and see if there's anything to harvest.

Years ago when visiting Michael Cardew's pottery, I found him cutting some lettuce for his lunch. He had a lovely, moderate sized, kitchen garden, and he said that he had to keep it small otherwise he wouldn't have time to make pots. Well,that's the situation I reached this year. Next year I think I'm going to plant some miniature fruit trees, raspberries and perennials in some of those vegetable terraces and mulch heavily; and I think my vegetable planting is going to be narrowed down to tomatoes, beans, kale, herbs and salad fixings.

The local farmers markets have a great selection of locally grown produce, so next season I'll rely more on them, than my own efforts. Then I can have a better balance of studio and garden time. My extensive flower beds alone take a great deal of time to maintain and adding all those veggie growing areas has made the garden all consuming this time of year. Time to change.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Video of some Lucie Rie pots

Lucie Rie- Joanna Bird Pottery from Rupert Newman on Vimeo.

Enjoying a quiet morning after a very busy all day cooking and dinner party with good friends last night. A bit too much wine, caramel liqueur on the ice cream,followed by banana liqueur after dinner, has created a bit of a heavy head this morning, so I'm going to do my best imitation of a couch potato as long as possible this morning, and let my body tell me what greater activity it may be up for later.

There are possible thunder storms in the forecast for most of the day, so it doesn't look like garden work is an option even if I felt up to it; but after breakfast, studio desk clearing is definitely a possibility.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

New blog

Since I'm taking some time off from the studio out of necessity, I decided it might be a good idea to start another blog or two, addressing those other activities which seem to be taking most of my time at the moment. And because my sore body needed this day of rest, I thought creating the other blogs would be a good use of time to let these muscles rest for a day.

Here are the two new blogs if anyone is interested:

The title is pretty self explanatory, so I won't bother readers with explanations. As soon as I can get caught up with the garden and harvest chores, I'll be back in the studio. The pickles are done to my liking and refrigerated this morning, the latest harvested beans are in the freezer and the only garden time today will probably be after dinner, to spray some offensive, rotten egg spray to hopefully deter which ever critter or critters have been raiding my small corn crop. Come to think of it, I also need to spray the newly sprouted beans,turnips and green as well.

Monday, August 01, 2011

A day of kitchen duty

With the garden veggies needing picking, digging, processing and cooking, there just isn't time for the studio, so I told Jim that I'm declaring myself retired, so I don't feel such guilt about not being able to get in the studio right now!.

Before breakfast, I harvested more beans and a few of non pickling cucumbers and then got the beans processed and in the freezer. Most of the onions have been drying on the front porch and now need to be stored.

Jim is off getting the car serviced (one of those long services), so I promised him a nice dinner - roast cornish hens, rice with sauteed onion, mushrooms and slivered almonds and either a salad or swiss chard if it's ready to harvest.

My kitchen break time has been spent the past couple of days cleaning up my music files and moving things around. This is going to take a lot longer; but I've already freed several gigabytes of memory by deleting duplicates, and those that I don't want to give computer or ipod space. I wasn't sure where these music files should be stored, because I had the same files in several place! So I've been moving everything to the C:music, Itunes, itunes media, music folder and that seems to be working. I just hope that next time the computer backs up, it will know that's where they are!

The problem I have, is that some of the music that was already in both the Itunes and Ipod, are showing their source as being in other directories and folders, so I'm going to have to reload all of them. Oh, well, it's a good sit down, resting job in between garden and kitchen chores.

Time to check my barrel type pickles. It's been three days, so they may be ready since I didn't leave them whole, but sliced them. If so, I need to bring them up out of the basement and get them in the fridge. Definitely feeling like both the farmer and the farmers wife these days!