Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's snowing!

I've been dealing with computer and printer problems all day and still don't have it all figured out; but I did get my desktop to stop freezing after a few hours of cleanup and setting changes. It took about an hour to get the printer to stop a "no paper" error message. The only fix was to unplug the printer from the computer.

Now I have to see if I can find a way, by using the printer computer settings, to stop it from printing backgrounds, so I can make copies of Jim's new book. At the moment, he's transcribing it by hand! :-(

So much for my intended studio day! Since I have the sausage,bean,potato,escarole soup made and just have to heat it and make parmesan toast, I'll continue this computer work for another hour and enjoy the vision of the falling snow from my office window.

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

It's been a bit of a manic week getting ready for Thanksgiving and getting outdoor Christmas lights up before the bad weather hits, and doing the majority of indoor decorating. Yesterday I got the tree decorated, and Jim and I got the garlands up on the fireplace and staircase and a few other little Christmas accents around the house.

Jim still has to do the under the tree village and farm set up; but most of Christmas decor is now done other than some live arrangements. I'll wait another week or so before I go tromping through the woods to cut some evergreens for fresh holiday arrangements. Meantime, it's time to think about getting back to the studio.

I'm way behind on this firing which was supposed to be done late October; but with a viral bug that keeps coming and going and holiday prep, I'm trying to play catch up. Thank goodness I opted to skip the December TRAC tour because my stock is way down. But with one of my ten minutes dinners planned for tonight (linguini with clam sauce), I'll get a full studio day today.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Joy Tanner soda/wood fire teapot

Here's another lovely piece from Joy Tanner, with one of Anita Connelly's lovely painting in the background. They're both available now at the TRAC gallery in Burnsville, NC.

Spent forever trying to find the new chili recipe this morning, to no avail;but fortunately I had made out the shopping list so I knew some of the core ingredients and forged ahead to make up my own recipe. It turned out very well, with a two thumbs up from Jim, so I'm sharing it here, since that's just about all I did today - make chili and corn bread and dealt with a lot of mail.

June's chili- Serves 4 -6

1 lb Ground Beef (I use ground chuck)
1 C diced onion
3 cloves garlic minced
1 large green bell pepper diced
1 small serrano chile or ½ of a larger one, trimmed and minced (can use ½ or more of a jalapeno or to taste)
2 8 oz cans of tomato sauce
1 can of rotel tomatoes with green chilis
1 can of black beans
1 can of kidney beans
1 small bottle of beer
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin or more, depending on your taste preference
1/4 tsp oregano leaves
salt and a few grindings of black pepper to taste
1 or 2 T Extra virgin olive oil.

Put a thin layer of the olive oil in a heavy pan and turn on high. When pot is very hot, add the ground beef and stir, breaking it up to brown it a bit. About midway in the browning, add the diced onion and green pepper. Stir and minute or two then turn the heat down to medium high , and cook stirring occasionally, till the onion is transparent, then add the minced garlic and cook, stirring about 30 seconds. Then add the tomato sauce and rotel tomatoes, kidney beans and black beans and the spices and beer. Bring to a boil, then turn to low and let simmer for an hour or two, stirring periodically.

Serve topped with grated cheddar or other cheese and diced onion. Cornbread goes great with this.

++NOTE: The chili will taste hot in the beginning and look thin, but when you top it with the cheese and onion when serving, it will lessen the heat.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Joy Tanner pots from the TRAC show

Jim and I went to Burnsville Friday for Joy Tanner and Anita Connelly's opening at TRAC. Joy is a young, very talented soda/wood firer, currently serving a residency wit her equally talented potter husband, Will Baker at the Energy Exhcange. Anita's watercolors and other paintings are wonderful. It's a great show pairing!

Yesterday we took advantage of the beautiful weather to drive up to Banner Elk for some shopping, antiquing and lunch. When we got home I baked another, different loaf of a sour dough nut and fruit bread. We decided that we liked the first recipe better. The evening was topped off with a lovely dinner with good friends.

Today has been a day for dealing with some paper work, getting my Thanksgiving turkey in a brining solution, and now time to start on some early dinner prep of salad, mashed potatoes and fried shrimp.

I got the last of the pots slipped Friday, but still need to do some decorating. Hopefully I should get a pretty full studio day tomorrow and Tuesday. Wednesday will be an all day of food prep and baking.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Yummy, Nutty, fruity bread

The fruity nutty sourdough bread I made yesterday is a wonderful breakfast bread. I have two other similar recipes to try; but this one is definitely a winner. I'd been looking for a heavy, chewy, nut and raisin breakfast bread for a while - similar to the ones you can buy at some artisan bakeries. It worked great with the new bake pan.

It's cold this morning and they predicting that it's going down to 17 degrees tonight, so I'll have to check those covered peppers and pick what I can as soon as the day warms up a bit, because even a thick layer of remay is not going to help with cold at that level. I should have put the cover on the cold frame and I'm just hoping my artichokes have enough life in the roots to save the plants if I cover them today.

I'm finally getting into the studio today; but will work part half a day. I have to quit early and head to Burnsville for some chores and then to Joy Tanner's and Anitas Connelly's opening reception at the TRAC gallery.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

New baking pan

Finding studio time this week, while planning Thanksgiving and tending to outside chores has been a challenge. Since my bread supply is low I decided to try a new recipe and the new baking pan. The fruity, nutty, sourdough bread is now wrapped up in a towel and sitting snuggly on a living rooms club chair waiting for the first rise to finish.

Chicken soup was a good choice for this cold, windy, rainy day; and I have leftover stove top rice pudding for dessert, thanks to Joy Tanner's mouth watering post about this recipe the other day.

There's still a bunch of email and snail mail to go through and some lunch waiting;but first, there's a kitty to be fed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cooking morning studio afternoon

It's a foggy, rainy, mountain top morning - a good morning to cook. After a buckwheat pancake and turkey bacon breakfast, I'll start on my meat sauce for tonight's ziti casserole. And since my mouth was watering after reading Joy Tanners note on her cardamon flavored rice pudding, I just have to make that as well! Thanks Joy!

Then it will be on to the studio for most of the afternoon. There was no studio time yesterday, which was a running around day - first to the osteopath for treatments for both of us then, then the big meal of our day at the buffet, followed by some early Thanksgiving grocery shopping. If you're price comparing, Ingles fresh turkeys were 40 cents a lb more than Walmarts - huge saving if you're buying one of those big birds!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Kiln shelf cleaning day and long term planning

OK, I've put it off long enough. Today is kiln shelf cleaning day - doing it outdoors this afternoon when it warms up to the mid sixties. This morning I'll slip the last pots and continue glazing and decorating. My daily horoscope said "expect to have a very trying day". Now how did it know it was kiln shelf cleaning day - one of my least favorite studio jobs.

The past few days have been dedicated to kitchen and household duties and studio paper work - sketching, working on glaze recipes and researching some low fired slips and glazes. Since that viral bug came back again for a few days, it was an opportunity to take it easier and get a lot of these kitchen and sit down chores done. My daughter tells me a friend of hers with this same bug has been dealing with it for 6 months - oh joy, NOT!

My long term plan (as long term as you can plan at almost 72 years of age, :-), is to switch to cone 6 soda as soon as I get some good test results and then play around with some earthenware. After this cone 10 firing I'll be getting a lot of the cone 6 tests done and hopefully get a small cone 6-7 soda test firing in next month. I have a lot of glaze tests already batched - just have to get them mixed and sieved and on to test tiles which are already made, so it should only take me a week to complete that project. Having a good digital scale is a real time saver when it comes to weighing out glazes.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Margaritas, caviar and chicken wings

I'm enjoying my somewhat lazy weekend, catching up on kitchen and other household chores. The pureed pumpkin is in the freezer after first having it sit on cheesecloth to drain for a couple of hours this mornng. Half of that big pumpkin only gave me 5 cups of puree (gave the other half to a friend for his restaurant); but it's enough for two pies and a couple of cakes or batches of pumpkin soup. The pumpkin seeds were roasted after being tossed in a mixture of butter, Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt and garlic powder.

Jim enjoyed his birthday caviar so much that he requested it again tonight; but tonight we're using the inexpensive white fish roe instead. The freezers have gotten full again and I'm needing to start using some of the over flow. So, I'm defrosting some margaritas to go with the defrosted curried chicken wings we'll have after the caviar. It's definitely a smorgasbord kind of appetizer meal.

Hopefully I'll be back in the studio tomorrow; but I had one of those night where I was up at 2am and never able to go back to sleep so I've been moving real slow today. The dinner margarita should work it's magic and get me to sleep early - I hope!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pumpkin day

Today is kitchen day - finally tackled this big French pumpkin, got it dissected, cleaned, baked, and scooped out the hot flesh. Half of it took up the entire large baking sheet. Looks like I'll be making pumpkin pies and pumpkin soup, etc. in the near future. For now I think I'll freeze most of it once I run it through the food mill.

There's no time for studio work today, so I'll just do a bit of filing and catch up on some reading, before an early dinner and some pick up grocery shopping. The days sure do fly by too quickly lately.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Moving slowly this morning

Enjoying a somewhat lazy morning after sleeping in late. I'm perusing my new Lidia Bastianch cookbook "La Cucina Di Lidia",and writing out a shopping list for tomorrow and doing some of tonight's pre dinner prep.The recipes are from Italy's Adriatic coast, so there are some nice fish recipes as well that I'll be eager to try.

There's a mushroom pie recipe in this book made with puff pastry, porcini mushrooms, pancetta, cheese and shallots in a cream sauce, that sounds really good. Think I'll try that one sometime next week.

Right now I need to prep Jim's birthday caviar toppings (tonight's first course). The eggs are boiled, so I just have to finely chop them and the onion and get the bread rounds buttered. With that done, I'll be able to stay in the studio until about ten minutes before dinner.

There's just one last bowl to finish trimming and then I'll start slipping this latest group of pots that were thrown to replace the ones I knocked off a table a few days ago.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Slip sliding away day

Glad to say that the little test pot was fine at cone 10. Yesterday I was wary about the clay that I used for the latest group of pots and thought it may have been a mis-marked cone 6 body; but all is well, so I can go ahead and slip those pots after I finish a couple of made yesterday.

Before dinner I need to bring that big French pumpkin in off the porch, cut it up and get it baked, pureed and into the freezer. Other than some swiss chard, and I think, some parsnips, all the vegetables are now harvested.

We had a lovely birthday dinner for Jim at PF Chang's. It was like a tapas meal - (we mainly ordered appetizers); and as full as we all were we still shared a couple of orders of their banana stuffed egg rolls with coconut ice cream. Jim asked me to thank everyone for the birthday greetings!

Time to start a loaf of whole wheat in the bread machine before breakfast, and then on to the studio for the day. It's a month of completions in a sense. Jim is starting on the last chapter of his book and I will get that soda firing in within a month. Life is very good!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Propane ouch

Didn't get the kiln shelves done yesterday because the propane people didn't come till late afternoon and I didn't want to set up saw horses in the driveway, be in the middle of a job and have to dismantle everything. The checkbook is now over eight hundred dollars down after writing the check for the propane. OUCH!

I did get the replacement pots thrown yesterday but not sure of the white clay body I used since I think the bag was mis-marked, so I dried out a tiny test pot and am firing that to cone 10 this morning in one of my tiny test kilns. If it doesn't melt down or badly warp then I'll know it's cone 10 and will slip those pots tomorrow.

It's Jim's 78th birthday today and he requested poached eggs for breakfast, and we're celebrating tonight with dinner with friends. The caviar I ordered for his birthday present is due to arrive tomorrow. I serve it on little, buttered toast rounds, topped with finely chopped hard boiled eggs and onions - food of the gods. It's a delicious, decadent and indulgent treat. I didn't know that beluga is now considered part of an endangered species and no longer available, but fortunately, the other high quality caviars are still available for these very special occasions.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Escarole sausage bean potato soup and parmesan toast

This is an easy, comfort food dish after a busy studio day; and the other benefit is the recipe makes enough for us to put two more dinner portions for us in the freezer, with a smaller amount leftover for lunch another day.

It was a super busy day yesterday with workers in and out; but I managed to get a lot done even with all the interruptions. Unfortunately, I was rushing a bit trying to make up for the lost time and knocked over a bunch of stacked cups and tumblers and of course, they all broke. So, this morning I'll do some throwing to replace them and with a warm, sunny day in the forecast, I'm planning on setting up my new saw horse outside this afternoon and cleaning my kiln shelves.

This time of year is always so busy getting ready for a firing, putting the garden to bed and getting the house winter ready; and it seems that there's never enough time and energy at our age to get it all done; but I'm amazed at how much we can still actually accomplish, so that's a good thing!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Cruelly abandoned cute dog needs a loving home

This cute little guy was cruelly abandoned near the Creek walk here in Bakersville. A woman in a car pulled up to a person walking by and asked if they wanted a dog, and when they said "no", she just dumped the dog out of the car. Please, pass this along and let's try to find this little guy a good, loving, permanent home. David Trophia at the Crimson Laurel Gallery, got him off the street and is trying to find someone to adopt him.

I got the bisqued sorted and dusted yesterday, got three liner glazes mixed and sieved and got some pots lined. I stopped an hour earlier than intended because I had forgotten to set the studio clock back, so I used that extra hour to work transcribing glazes recipes until it was time to start dinner.

Time to head to the studio, work till 4 then come in to start on tonight's dinner - salad, Sausage, bean, escarole, potato soup and parmesan toasted sourdough.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Least favorite studio job

Getting a late start probably because I have to remix and sieve glazes (my least favorite studio job)- lots of donkey work, mixing settled glazes and washing all those sieves and buckets. But, with a good, big breakfast under my belt, email read, etc. I have no more excuses, so it's time to head out and get to work.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Bodhi and his pillow

Bodhi has certainly found a way to make himself very comfortable.

As I thought, there wasn't much studio time yesterday; but after we got home from a lovely lunch and visiting Jim's sister and brother in law in Little Switzerland, I did at least get the bisque kiln unloaded and mixed the decorating slip and finished one pot before coming in for dinner.

The evening was spent transcribing glaze recipes from my latest spiral notebook which is falling apart, into a more substantial, hard cover,bound notebook. This will be my evening's work for a while. I have glaze notebooks that are close to 40 years old which are in better shape than this one year old one. There's no substance to the paper in these new ones and they're definitely not suitable for long term storage. It's a tedious job; but fortunately, the falling apart notebook was only about 1/3 full of recipes.

As soon as I finish this morning's "wake up" tea, I need to get to the studio to spread our some reclaim on plaster so it will dry out enough for me to throw a few things after breakfast.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Albino stag

Here's a picture of the albino deer that was enjoying a relaxing afternoon in our woods two days ago. It was a pretty sight!

Yesterday was an Asheville day with stops at Highwater for some studio supplies and a few more grocery stops. Going to Asheville is always an all day affair so there was no studio time other than to check the bisque kiln which was still too hot to unload. That will be today's job when we get back from lunch with Jim's sister and brother-in-law.It will be another day doing local chores and probably no more studio time than emptying the kiln.

I got some Carolina shrimp at Fresh Market yesterday and will be trying a new S.E. Asian recipe tonight. I couldn't find the long beans called for in the recipe; but in the photo it looks like green beans to me, so I'll just get some of those on our way back from lunch.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Great cup show

Check out Charlie Cummings gallery cup show - some amazing pots. If this link doesn't show, just copy and paste this:

I spent quite a while viewing this huge, very diverse, wonderful cup show this morning.

The bisque kiln is on (turned it on first thing this morning). I'm feeling a bit wiped this morning, so I took the morning off to do some pot sketching and making out tomorrow shopping lists. I need to get to Highwater and get a few supplies and do some pick up food shopping. After company and a long weekend of entertaining, the cupboard is a bit bare.

I still have to weigh out another liner glaze and then get it and the one I made yesterday sieved, so I'll try to get to that chore right after lunch.