Friday, September 30, 2011

Time to move some plants indoors

This is the leftover chicken canzanese we had last night. I think it's about the best chicken dish I've ever tasted. It's an easy, but time consuming dish -about two hours plus from start to finish but worth it - a great dish.

Just saw the local weather - it's going down to the 30's tonight - time to bring some of my potted plants indoors, and cover some in ground veggies with remay. I have several pots of South American chile peppers still ripening, so they'll all get moved into my studio for the night few nights at least. I'll also have to get into the garden this afternoon and harvest whatever I can.

My studio and other plans for the past two days went awry with the return of the scratchy throat, swollen glands, etc, so yesterday I skipped the trip to Asheville with Jim, and stayed home popping vitamins, doing paper work, computer clean up and cooking. I perked up enough in the afternoon to pull some weeds and pick about a quart and a half of cherry tomatoes - enough to make a simple pasta sauce in a couple of days. It's dinner at the Knife and Fork tonight.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Free green beans and self indulgent whining

Yesterday morning was spent running around getting the dog to the groomer, and grocery shopping, followed by bit of very non productive studio time. I should know better than try to force it when my body and mind are not up to it. Fortunately I got dinner veggies prepped early yesterday, so dinner didn't take too much time.

Hoping to garner some energy this morning, I made a big heart attack breakfast; but it doesn't seem to be working so far. I'll head to the studio and to finish up a few pots that can't wait and then call it a day; but first, I have to get back on the phone at ten o'clock and find out why I never got a call back on parts I need for my gas range, take a big handful of vitamins, and get more beans prepped for the freezer, unless someone wants about a quart or so of free, tasty,fresh green beans!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I'm trying to add something new to each firing. This time it's a couple of these double jam pots. Next time I think I'll try the handle in the other direction which I think will make for a more stable attachment on this shape cup; or just change the shape of the cup.

Yesterday was a mish mash day of activity. I finally got that second bamboo and a Japanese maple tree planted and of course, once I get in the garden to do one job, there are other things that call. My late crop of bush beans is producing well, so I had to pick those as well as some cucumbers and serrano chiles. Some of the Peruvian and other chiles are coming in but I'll wait a couple of days to pick them.

Then,it was on to the studio for the remainder of the afternoon to throw a few pots and finish up some others. There won't be much studio time today. After breakfast I have to get those bush beans prepped and in the freezer and then be out and about with assorted chores. Dinner will be simple - fried shrimp, mashed potatoes and green beans, so I should be able to squeeze in a couple of hours of studio time if I get the dinner veggies prepped this morning.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pasta Puttanesca

This pasta puttanesca calls for a 28oz can of tomatoes; but I decided to use all the cherry tomatoes on hand, which Jim picked for me. It's a quick and easy dish if you use canned tomatoes and the added anchovy paste, garlic, olives and pepperonici pepper, makes for a very tasty, savory dish. The best part is I have enough sauce leftover to make it again tonight. I'll post the recipes and the bawdy history of this dish this dish on my other blog:

It poured overnight so the ground is probably too wet to plant that incense bamboo and Japanese maple this morning, so I may get a couple of hours of studio time before we head to brunch; and hopefully I'll be able to get those things planted this afternoon, and then head back to the studio to finish and trim a couple of pots I threw yesterday.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Japanese Anemones

I think these are my favorite perennials - maybe it's because I have to patiently wait till late August for them to begin flowering; or maybe it's just because they are so beautiful! I have pink ones as well - both equally delightful as they happily dance in the slightest breeze.

Late yesterday, my other bamboo arrived (a timber, incense bamboo that has tasty shoots)and this one is in great condition. There was also a bonus Japanese maple in the pot. It looked a bit ragged but I think it will do OK. I don't know if the maple was a gift from the seller or just a volunteer that found it's way near the bamboo.

This morning we slept in after a lovely dinner with friends last night and then staying up late to watch one of our Midsommer mysteries on Netflix, so I'll put off planting these till tomorrow.

There's much to finish up in the studio today. A couple of pots need handles and the pots I trimmed and waxed yesterday will need slipping and decorating. I wish I had the energy to work till 11 pm like I did in my 40's and 50's; but these days it's usually just 6-7 hours in the studio most working days, and a couple of hours of studio paper work, sketching, etc. and cooking and garden or other chores.

The past two nights I've been dreaming of pots, but only have the faintest memory of some great pots revealed in my dreams. I have to remember to put a pen and pad next to the bed and write these down as soon as I get up!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Studio day and bamboo planting on the agenda

I got a pretty full studio day yesterday and just have one large bowl to slip and decorate, then I'll throw a few more small pots with a white stoneware which I had to wet down a bit yesterday. All the Phoenix pots are slipped with Randy's flashing slip and these white stoneware pots will be for Lindas Yellow, which is nice and bright on this body; but a bit mudddy on the Phoenix.

At some point today, if there's a bit of clearing of the weather, I need to plant a bamboo (maybe two if the other one arrives). Most bamboos don't like clay soil, which is mainly what I've found almost every time I've put a shovel in the ground; but I have found two spots with what some locals call sugary soil, and one of them is in a fairly steep slope adjacent to some of my terraced vegetable beds. In this climate, the bamboo won't be as tall as it would be in a much warmer zone; and at the ten foot height, which is what it's advertised to be in this zone, I don't expect it to interfere with my vegetable growing.

Dinner is leftovers so I'll have plenty of time for studio with a short break to plant the bamboo. It feels good to be over this flu bug and back to work!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Studio day

Yesterday I got some good studio time - filed some sketches, dipped and decorated some pots and loaded another shelf of bisque. We had an early dinner out at the Inn at Little Switzerland (Jim was craving one of their filet mignons). Last time I ordered duck there it was wonderful - meaty and fresh; but this time it was dry,and had very little, if any breast meat; but the lobster bisque was very good.

I'm moving a bit slowly on this foggy, rainy morning but will get into the studio to continue slipping and decorating the last few pots; but first I need to feed my sourdough starters which haven't been fed since early August. I just hope they're still alive. I also want to make a small batch of hakeme slip today to test on a couple of pieces.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Quesadillas and Cameras

This is Jim's newest, favorite recipe - Quesadillas with additions of thinly sliced onion, serrano chiles and tomato. He started with this one and finished after three. A little guacamole, some melon, and a nice big margarita and some cookies topped off the meal.

Yesterday was spent harvesting and saving some bean and basil seeds, fiddling with my non working digital Casio Powershot camera and checking up on what's new or expected soon, in the digital camera marketplace. Powershot has a new model S100, coming out in November, so if my camera is on it's way out, I'll have to check that one out as well as one of the Panasonic models a friend suggested. The pre issue information on the Powershot S100 looks good, but no one is able to test it yet. Fortunately, my camera seems to be back working. On instinct or out of sheer desperation, after trying everything else,I pressed the power button and on/off button at the same time and that caused the camera to reset something. The error message disappeared and I the camera was once again usable.

It's amazing how quickly you use up time doing nothing in particular! I spent a lot of time trying to find a source for replacement micro switches for my Wolf gas range and finally gave up and wrote to Subzero, who is now manufacturing the home model of the Wolf range. The whole days time seemed to be spent on similar, little projects requiring back and forth emails.

I did manage a bit of time in the garden and only about half an hour in the studio. It was definitely a smorgasbord kind of day, with little bits of everything eating up time.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jim Malone video

This is a wonderful video of Jim Malone, one of my favorite potters from the UK. His work is strong, quiet, traditional,refined, yet unconscious and void of attention getting ego - just wonderful! I love some of the Leach and Cardew and other wisdom he shares on this video as well - a real 20 minute treasure!

Time to relax for the evening with a Midsommers mystery on Netflix, after after our quesadillas and margaritas dinner./

This is a wonderful video of Jim Malone, one of my favorite potters from the UK. His work is strong, quiet, traditional,refined, yet unconscious and void of attention getting ego - just wonderful! I love some of the Leach and Cardew and other wisdom he shares on this video as well - a real 20 minute treasure!

Time to relax for the evening with a Midsommers mystery on Netflix, after after our quesadillas and margaritas dinner.

Wasted Saturday

Last night's dinner was this fresh green bean soup and tuna salad(as you can see, Jim likes his sandwiches served open faced). The soup was a new recipe I found on the Internet and made Friday. It's not a keeper -not much flavor even with the chicken brother base, extra onion I added and it was also a bit too lemony for Jim, even though I instinctively added much less; but it sure looks pretty and the warmth felt good going down my scratchy throat!

After spending most of the day yesterday erasing duplicate photos in one of the two photo folders, so I could get down folder, it turned out to be a total waste of time! When I deleted what looked like a duplicate folder, the other, un-deleted folder, now said that it was empty Fortunately I didn't empty the recycle bin. I have no idea why I have two pictures folders on this laptop in my personal directory and another one in the Music directory and only one on my other laptop (both running Windows 7); and newly added photos automatically get put in all 3 folders! It is a puzzlement.

Since I still have a lot of tomatoes and serrano chiles, I'll make cheese,tomato onion and chile quesadillas for dinner tonight. If these chills leave me, I might make margaritas as well. I could use as much vitamin C as I can handle right now. :-)

Time to make the big Sunday, pancake and bacon breakfast.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Another raw, rainy morning

It's a good day to stay quiet, sip a lot of chicken broth, and nurse myself while continuing computer cleanup and other paper work. Yesterday I did too much, spending a lot of time prepping veggies and cooking, in an effort to keep up with the garden abundance.

Cooking and seed saving among other things,kept me so busy that I never got into the studio to do any decorating; but I got a big batch of green bean soup and a pot of bolognese sauce made. We had spaghetti last night and there's some sauce for the freezer for another day; and the soup is enough for 3 meals if served with a sandwich which I'll be serving tonight with tuna salad sandwiches.

I have a lot of pot sketches on paper that I need to organize if I can finish this computer photo cleanup which is overwhelming. While my soup and sauce were cooking, I copied thousands of photos from one folder to put in another and now I have two of each in that other folder because the computer didn't recognize duplicates. Last night I spent hours on that project and got up to the k's! I think the universe just wants me to sit on my rump another day or two! LOL

Here's the URL for my gardening/cooking blog:

Friday, September 16, 2011


Last night was nachos night - an easy, fast dinner using some of the tomatoes and serrano chiles so abundant this late in the season.

Yesterday and still this morning, I'm dealing with chills,swollen glands, etc.etc., so I opted to skip the studio and sit on my rump most of the day other than preparing our meals. I got a lot of computer photo cleanup done, read and filed a lot of old email and dealt with some paper work chores that seem to pile up way too fast, and put together a couple of wooden molds for slab work.

Looks like Jim may be coming down with the same bug so we won't be doing porch sitting with friends tonight. No need to share this.

There's some cooking to be done today - meat sauce for a pasta dinner and a green bean bisque to make for the freezer. Since I'm still not feeling 100% I think cooking will be it for today unless I perk up later. If I do, I'll try to get to the studio to just do some decorating on already slipped pots.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Strange potatoes

Mickey Mouse?

No comment!

Someone requested a couple of the recipes I made recently (Thai Cucumber salad and Kosher dill barrel type pickles), so I'm posting them at the end of this post.

Since I'm a bit under the weather I've been finding lots of little, sit down jobs - putting together some molds I recently received, cleaning up my photo files and doing some Internet ordering. The studio will have to wait another day and hopefully all these vitamins and liquids will get rid of this fluish bug.

Here are those recipes:

Thai cucumber salad Serves 4

2 cucumbers peeled and sliced thinly
4 T sugar
2 T rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
4 T water
Pinch of Red Pepper flakes or to taste
1/4 cup red onion (halve or quarter the onion and slice very thinly)
1/4 cup fresh mint roughly chopped (or to taste. I used only a tiny bit)
Optional: 1/4 cup fresh cilantro roughly chopped

Combine all ingredients except the cucumbers and mix well to dissolve the sugar. Add the sliced cucumbers and lightly toss. (Best made a bit ahead a half hour or more, and refrigerated to develop more flavor .

PS: I omitted the onion and it was fine without it.

Kosher dill pickles

4 quarts (scant 4l) water
6 tablespoons coarse Kosher white salt
18-20 pickling cucumbers, scrubbed wll
8 cloves garlic, un-peeled and lightly-crushed
2 tablespoons pickling spice (see links below)
6 bay leaves
1 large bunch of dill, preferably going to seed, washed

1. In a large pot, bring 1 qt (1l) water to a boil with the salt, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and add the remaining water.

2. Prepare three 1 quart wide jars by running them through the dishwasher or hand washing and then filling them with boiling water, then dumping it out.

3. Pack the cucumbers vertically into the jars, making sure they’re tightly-packed. As you fill the jars, divide the garlic, spices, bay leaves, and dill amongst them.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Foggy mountain morning

This is the easy and delicious Lidia Bastianich sausage with grapes, garlic, pepperonici recipe, that I made last night, along with a Thai type cucumber salad and my potato salad. Jim said this was the best sausage recipe he's ever tasted, and I finally found a cucumber recipe that he not only ate but loved!

Yesterday was another man/woman plans, God laughs day. The plan was to make potato salad after breakfast, then head to studio for the day; but I discovered that I had two artichokes which needed stuffing and cooking. That done, I decided to check out the garden before heading to the studio. And, of course, that little decision created a total switch of the days plan.

The garden was loaded with things that needed to be harvested - tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, serrano chiles, and the last of the potatoes and of course, I also did some weeding along the way. Since I had so many cucumbers, I decided to make a Thai cucumber salad for dinner. The cukes were too big and seedy for pickles, but fine for cucumber salad. Before I knew it, it was time to start dinner and I still had a few quarts green beans to wash,trim and store.

I thought I'd continue garden cleanup today; but I'm wiped from yesterday, so I'll head to the studio instead and slip and decorate the latest group of pots. It's pizza tonight, so I'll get the toppings prepped before I head to the studio, and get the dough started after lunch.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Half a day in kitchen other half in studio

Getting a later studio start this morning since I need to make my potato salad for tonight's sausage with grapes dinner (a new Lidia Bastianich recipe).

The latest small group of pots are done and needing to be dipped in slip and decorated; but probably not until after lunch.

Yesterday,after I got the clay mixer emptied and the clay pugged, I found another box of Phoenix, my standard body, (which I thought I was out of), hiding under some plastic sitting on top of my pug mill. If it's too hard for my broken down bones to use, but not too hard for the slab roller, I'll make some slab
sushi and other plates. Otherwise, I'll have to run it through the pug mill 1/2 and 1/2 with some of the very soft reclaim.

I didn't get time to go through the garden yesterday so I think I'll do that right now while these potatoes finish cooking.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

David Leach Anderson Ranch 1988 Part 2

Here's part 2 of the David Leach video.

Yesterday was a full studio day - trimming and finishing a few pots, some throwing,emptying the clay mixer and making clay arches to get the reclaim dry enough to pug. I'm out of my regular tan stoneware body, so it was time for that job which is probably my least favorite studio chore. The clay was pretty wet, so I left the arches sit uncovered overnight and checked them early this morning and they'll be dry enough to pug today.

Since I want to switch to a white clay body for a few pots (my yellow flashing sip looks best on a white body), my last chore was to I get my wheel and tools thoroughly cleaned, and do a quick sweeping. It was a good day!

I got an early start yesterday and it felt so good to not have my working day interrupted with garden and other chores for a change. I changed my dinner plan and opted for linguine with pesto sauce which was already made, and the sausages with grapes will wait till tomorrow. With another full studio day planned, albeit with a later start, since we opted for a big Sunday breakfast, dinner is going to be one of my fast, easy,working day meals - ham steak, baked sweet potatoes, apple sauce and garden beans.

Time to get to work.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

David Leach at Anderson Ranch 1988

Thanks to Simon Leach for posting this 2 part video of his father teaching at Anderson Ranch in June 1988. I took a workshop with David at the Clay House in Santa Monica around 25- 30 years ago. The Clayhouse was owned by three potters at that time and there were always wonderful workshops with visiting artists like David, Ken Ferguson, Cynthia Bringle, John Glick, Daniel Rhodes, Peter Lane and many more.

Looks like I'll be able to get a fairly early start in the studio this morning. There wasn't much studio time yesterday. The morning was spent making pizza sauce, then there was a little bit of studio time in the afternoon to trim and wax a few pots, followed by a bit of weeding and then off for an early dinner at the seafood buffet. If you get there when they open you get first dibs on the biggest, freshest oysters. :-)

Looks like it's going to be a beautiful day, so I will take a bit of a studio break after lunch to check out the garden just to do the days harvest. Tonight I'm planning on making a new Lidia Bastianich, easy, Italian sweet sausage recipe and with it a potato and green bean salad if there are any green beans that haven't gone to seed. Since I've already stocked the freezer with plenty of beans, I do let a lot of the heirloom beans go to seed around this time, to save for next year.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Energy E-change video

Check out this amazing complex here in the beautiful mountains Western North Carolina

Early this morning, I uncovered the few pots I threw yesterday, hoping they'll be ready to trim when I get back in the studio. If not, I'll just pug more clay and do more throwing.

Yesterday turned out not to be an all studio day since I decided to cook dinner and have friends over, instead of the initial plan for all of us to go out to dinner. It turned into a busy day - running back and forth from studio to kitchen. I did manage to pug some clay, load a couple of shelves of pots to be bisqued and threw a few pots in between kitchen and household chores.

I also picked a lot of tomatoes which I made into a batch of pizza sauce after breakfast. Now that it's made and in the freezer, and lunch is over,I need to get in the garden and dig up one of my perennial sunflowers for my friend Laura.

My hip is trashed and I'm waiting for a call from the surgeon's office to set up my first appraisal appointment. I'm hoping to put the surgery off till some time in mid December or January. In the meantime I'll hobble along with my new shuffle gait(dragging the left leg)on a good day and with the help of my cane the rest of the time. Old age is turning out to be very interesting! LOL

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Video of pueblo potter Martin Martinez great grandson of Maria

This is a nice video following the entire process of mixing the clay to the firing of this famous black, pueblo pottery.

I did get some studio paper work done yesterday morning but it was a day for osteo treatments, stops at the vet and grocery store, lunch and home to make dinner.

Today will be a studio day with some time given to to harvest whatever veggies are ready.

After breakfast I'll load the next group of dried pots into the bisque kiln, pug some clay,and start throwing more pots to fill that next bisque firing.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Bisque unloaded

Unloaded the 1st of 2 bisques yesterday, and realized that part of that load was cone 6 test pots and test tiles, so I'll have to do some more throwing to fill the larger soda kiln. These are just the cone 10 pots. The cone 6's will go into a wood/soda firing with some other potters at the Energy Exchange in December.

Today is a non studio day with doctors appointment and some grocery shopping taking up most of my normal studio time. I might squeeze in a couple of hours this afternoon to load the finished pots into the bisque kiln.

Michael Kline started me thinking about my moms spareribs and sauerkraut recipe which I haven't made for years, because to say Jim doesn't like sauerkraut is putting it rather mildly.I need to get those ingredients so I can make it some time this week and Jim can eat the ribs and boiled potatoes with some rye bread along with a cold beer and leave all the sauerkraut for me!

Tomorrow will be another all studio day. I have a huge to do list for this month and next and have decided to skip the December TRAC tour so I can concentrate on getting all these other things done, including getting the garden put to bed which is going to require a good amount of time and energy.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Dorothy Feibleman video

There's some exquisite, elegant work in this video - enjoy!

I've been up since 3 am and feeling like my body is going to crash any minute. I managed to get to the studio and unload the bisque kiln. Yesterdays decorated pots are finishing drying; but I need to throw more pots tomorrow. I forgot that I had some cone 6 pots in this bisque load; and all the test tiles were cone 6, so I have to throw some cone 10 test tiles as well.

It's munchies night, so after breakfast I got tomatoes ready for the bruschetta and made some cheese stuffed, bacon wrapped, jalapeno poppers. I'll make the guacamole later. These will go well with the mojitos. :-)

Time to do some living room tidying before heading back to the studio.

Monday, September 05, 2011

New bird box

Here's one of the two new boxes I made for this months soda firing. This is the kind of form that would work at any temperature and stmosphere. One of this winters projects is to explore not only lower (cone 6 soda firing); but also play with some oxidation earthenware (thinking of my old and getting older every day, bones!). I told Jim that I want to fire the soda kiln for a couple more years, but lowering the firing to cone 6 and at the same time play around with oxidation earthenware.

I like the idea of using the red body color as part of the decoration as well as the use of brighter colors. Many of my current forms would work fine with the switch.

The bisque kiln was down to around 700F early this morning and the studio was really hot. Jim turned the air on for me a half hour ago, so it should be bearable by now.

There are just 2 mugs to slip and the rest of the pots to decorate this morning and some studio tidying and cleanup to do the rest of the day. Before breakfast I was making my "to do" list for the next week, of a few more pots to make and glaze and slips tests that I want to make for this upcoming soda firing.

The studio should be cool enough by now - time to head to work.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Bisquing day

Got the last few pots to top off this bisque load, decorated early this morning and turned the kiln on long enough to get everything warm and turned it off again until after breakfast. I just want to make sure everything is dry enough before I got ahead with firing. With bad weather coming the next few days I definitely want to get this bisque done today.

Had a great, busy day yesterday with a visit to the Soda Chicks show and sale and meeting up with my friend McKenzie Smith who is one of the visiting artists. Unfortunately I left my camera at home (I didn't notice that it fell out of my purse when I lifted it off the floor)and only had my tiny Flip movie camera.

It was another great show with so much exquisite work, it was difficult to hold myself to one big purchase; but I did - one of McKenzie's amazing platters.

Then it was time to head back to the studio for more slipping and decorating, and quitting at 5 to go to dinner before attending another wonderful opening at the Crimson Laurel gallery. A couple of pots I was interested in were already sold, darn it -a charming little chicken bowl of Shawn Ireland's that I had my eye on as well a couple of Mark Knott's pots. They probably sold when sales opened up on line in the morning; but I was out at that time at the Farmers market and heading up to Fork Mountain pottery for the Soda Chicks sale.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Social and working day

I'm heading out early to the Farmers market, then on to the Soda Chicks show and sale, then home for a half a day of studio time, then cleanup and heading back to town for the opening at Crimson Laurel.

Yesterday I started waxing some pots, finishing a couple of others and mixing the decorating and flashing slips and getting a table full of pots dipped.

When I got into soda firing, one of the things I was looking forward to was what I thought would be the easier application of flashing slips as opposed to glazes; but I've yet to figure out how to get these pots slipped without having to spend a lot of time cleaning up the flashing slip drips. Dipping or pouring these flashing slips, no matter how thin, or how much I shake the pots, too often results in a few offending drips that have to be cleaned up. Glaze dipping was a lot easier! But I guess there's always a trade off - mixing the flashing slips is a lot easier than mixing and sieving glazes.