Friday, July 31, 2009

one local supper: 9

Nine! Can you believe it? I have been feeling particularly uninspired about cooking this summer. It's been a little difficult to cook 100% local meals simply for lack of inspiration. We've been eating almost 100% local produce, dairy, and meats, but sometimes getting all of them into a delicious-sounding and photographable meal isn't up my alley.

That being said, this week we had two local meals. On Wednesday I made an oven-roasted baby eggplant, tomato, and feta dish, plus a baked cherry tomato-feta crustless cobbler (cherry tomatoes, smashed, 1T flour, well-mixed in, crumbles of feta, ribbons of basil). We had some other non-local food (with local lady peas, couscous, lemon juice, and LORDY big fat decidedly non-local shrimp) with it, but I made enough to have for lunch on Thursday. It was a good, good lunch.

Last night I used up a lot of produce we'd had languishing in the pantry and crisper. I roasted a lovely porkloin from Barnes Farm in Jackson, TN with local onions and shallots. I also roasted beets and sweet potatoes, cubed them, and dressed them in a mustardy vinaigrette with arugula. Earlier that morning I mixed up a big batch of dough to keep in the fridge (I use the basic boule recipe with 1/3 whole wheat from this book) and made both a sandwich loaf and six dinner rolls with whole wheat and all purpose flour from Delta Grind. I used up my last leek, some aged swiss chard, and kohlrabi in a mixed-vegetable sautee. My seemingly random mix of ingredients- the last dregs from the fridge- I haven't been to the farmer's market in two weeks and won't be able to go again until next week- was pretty good.

My garden, at the end of July, is just beginning to produce. Thanks, miserable dry hot June. Our July's been more like a typical May. My tomatoes are going crazy, peppers blooming, green beans- well- they're languishing. I'm going to rip them out. Last Friday little boy planted our fall crop of Arugula- we've eaten the last of ours. This week I put in purple sprouting broccoli, broccoli raab (my favorite), more beans, lettuces, swiss chard, and a few other things. I'm hopeful for my little garden. I laugh at the thought of all of my tomatoes coming in from August to November's first frost, just in time for my fall CSA to begin. I think September and October will be heavy-duty canning months for me. And heavy duty pottery months, but that's a different story.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

butter crocks

butter crocks
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
A little project I've been working on. Butter crocks. A lidded vessel with an lid attached to an inverted cup to fill with butter. You put a little water in the base- an inch or so. When you put the lid on the base, the water forms a seal to keep air out. The butter stays soft and sweet.

They aren't hard, exactly, but they do have to fit right. I made three, ditched one, need to refire a second, and am happy with the third. The piece with the obvious gap between the lid and the bowl? Because the cup is just a hair too long.

My friend Elisabeth introduced me to these a few years ago. She made some and I used it quite a bit. Her's were a bit larger than mine, but about the same shape as the piece on the right. For a long time I tried to make them in the same shape as my honey pots, like a bee skep, but they never worked well.

I played with the idea a little yesterday- tinkering with the shape and size, but I think once I get it down, I can crank them out. Once school starts, that is!

Monday, July 27, 2009


Hi, just popping in to say that I have these four little bowls up over in the shop. Two are seconds, priced accordingly. A few nicks and bumps = $s off for you. The other two are near perfect. Not that anything is perfect, but you know. All four are 100% functional, and at least to my eye, lovely to look at, hold, and use.

School starts so so soon. Little boy is at art camp this week so I'm sneaking in some studio time. Working on some new ideas. And old ones. I had a request for a mug in the speckled egg glaze, but I'm having a hard time with the shape. Delicacy is a must, but not so delicate you're afraid to pick it up and use it. Perhaps a handle-less form?

But I won't attack this issue in full until after August 17. Until that time, the afternoons belong to the boy. Peach picking? check. Another round of blueberry picking? check. Weekend off to the lake- checking off this weekend. Afternoons of treehouse fun with friends- check, check, check.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

the fig post

the fig post
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Every year I have a glut of figs. We eat them fresh by themselves, with goat cheese, dry them, blend them with butter and honey, turn them into pizzas/tarts, freeze them to pop in oatmeal in the winter, mash them with good vanilla icecream, and this year, I made fig sorbet.

I looked around on the internets and combined several recipes to come up with this:

1 lb of figs, trimmed
4T honey (local is best, light is better than dark)
the juice of one lemon (this, unfortunately, is essential for color and flavor)
2T each rose and Mathilde raspberry liqueur (you could use something else, like port, red wine, etc. but the alcohol keeps it from becoming a brick in the freezer)
almost 2 c water

Briefly cook figs with honey and smash them up. Add the zest of your lemon and the water. Puree with an immersion blender (or in a regular blender). Add your chosen alcohol. You'll notice with some disappointment that your mixture is the color of gravy. And the taste is somewhat flat. Add your lemon juice and change all that. The color perks back up, as does the flavor.

Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to its directions. If you don't have an ice cream maker, pour it into a loaf pan, cover, and stir every half hour or so.

Most people would make fig preserves, but they're too too sweet for me. I much prefer a savory treatment (you'll find a basic recipe under the fig tart photo- I make this at least twice each brief fig season, for any potluck we might attend or for our church's hospitality hour), but the sorbet may change my mind.

If you didn't buy your house based on the fact that it had the biggest fig tree you've ever seen in its backyard, you could use black mission figs that are sometimes available in gourmet markets. Or if you're down south, you could make friends with someone who has a fig tree. I know I'm happy to share.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

doug's bug mug

doug's bug mug
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Last week I put up a little sneak peek of a bronzey green bug that was part of a super top-secret project. Here's the full thing- a birthday gift for my friend Doug who ties VERY realistic bug flies. I gave it to his sweet wife April tonight at knit night. Since I've already heard from him, I can show it to everyone now!

I ran out of my normal green overglaze, so I used the green that I normally use to paint my ferns on my botanical pottery. I think the resulting green is more boggy and masculine than the normal "deep celadon" glaze. I put a stink-bug-ish bug up at the top of the handle after finding a brilliant green shield-shaped bug on my shoulder during a hike one day. The dragonfly was made from a mold of a real dragonfly I found in a country post office parking lot about five years ago. There's a ladybug on the other side, and a beetle/flying bug on the other side, as well as my bee stamp. Ideally, the ladybug would have been red, but I was afraid of the piece looking cutesy if I'd glazed the bugs different colors. Cutesy is fine for a little girl, but not for a naturalist like Doug!

I was very happy with the I showed in the sneak peak, so I might use it again with some fiddleheads somehow. The dragonfly is so large that the piece needs to be large enough to accommodate it- I haven't used it very much in the 6-7 years since I made it. Still, I'm happy I kept it. And I'm pleased with this piece.

I haven't made any pottery at all in 2 weeks and said that I wouldn't until little boy goes back to school in mid-august. Today we read 4 chapters of Beverly Cleary's Beezus and Ramona, made grape juice, canned tomatoes (7 quarts, with another 5-7 still to process), and made a gallon of granola. Next week he has mornings at an art camp, so I may throw a tiny bit, but I'm enjoying the break!

See you soon!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

one local supper: blt salad

After a crammed-full day yesterday, I didn't feel much like cooking. Even though the weather was beautiful, temps and humidity low, I just didn't want to cook. So BLTs were on the menu. But there wasn't enough bread for everyone, nor was there mayonnaise. The mayo problem I could solve, and did, in under 10 minutes. Not so with the bread, so I had a BLT salad. WOW.

I am a bacon nut. Salty, fatty, crispy? I'm there. Strangely, offer me the same thing with potato chips and I can resist, but I'm weak-kneed with bacon. This thick-cut, hormone/antibiotic free bacon came from Barnes Farm in Jackson TN. They sell at the Memphis Farmers Market. All of their meats (good cuts, sausage, and bacon) are well priced and delicious, but next week and every other week, I'm going to start stocking up on this bacon. We don't ususally eat it plain, but I will cook a strip and a smidge of its renderings to saute greens that my boys wouldn't touch under normal circumstances.

This week I also bough a bushel of tomatoes to can with basil and garlic for the winter. I canned tomatoes in 2001 but haven't since then. After my success with plum/blueberry/blackberry jam, I'm ready to try it again. We eat a lot of canned tomatoes in the winter- I'm happier thinking about eating Robert and Karen's delicious Ripley tomatoes all winter than I am about having to buy six cans of tomatoes every time I got to the grocery store. I'm especially excited about supporting them because they are actively working towards growing without chemicals. In the past, they've only used a short-lived, relatively minor pesticide, but they have responded to customer input to go chemical-free. Not only do they sell at the Memphis Farmers Market, but they are also at the Wednesday Botanic Gardens Market, at the newly opened Collierville Farmers Market (on Thursdays, on Washington Street, just East of the Square), and at the Agricenter Market.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
for lack of anything else to blog about, I give you very pretty cauliflower. I'm getting my camera back tomorrow, firing the kiln tonight, coping with high heat and humidity. A little travel, a little travel planning.

School starts for us in four weeks. I think that I'll be here very little until then. I want to jam in the last bits of summer with my boy - peach picking, farmers marketing, firefly nights, early morning bike rides/runs. He'll never have another five-year-old summer, it is now. Once school begins, I'll start pottery again with full force. Until I have some new pretty thing to show you, pretty cauliflower.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Have you ever used a Holga? We've had one in the top of one of our closets for a long time, and we've had 120 film for it for a long time, just waiting for one of use to get inspired and use it. I got inspired. I used it. And while fully half of the roll was ick, there were some interesting things on the roll, too. It makes me want to get out my old Cannon AE1 that has a bit of a light leak issue- it is older than I am, and I've got some functionality issues, too- pop some film in, and see what happens. It is always a surprise. Digital is wonderful. I love the quality, knowing what I've shot, and having immediate access. But film is a fun (sometimes) surprise.

Holgas are inexpensive (under $20, usually), and available widely online. The film isn't too expensive, but developing- I got the roll processed and images on a disc, but not prints for $16- is higher than regular film. But I had an entire weekend morning's worth of fun with it- for about what it would cost to see a movie. I think I'm going to shoot another roll this weekend. I have much to learn about using this camera, but I think it will be fun.

I'm signing off until next week- my little brother is coming into town tomorrowand we're meeting my dad, stepmother, and sister up at the lake for a long weekend. I hope you all have a great end to your week and a beautiful weekend!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

finally: solution

one problem solved
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I have finally, finally stopped opening the kiln to 50% berry bowl loss. I've changed the piercing pattern to a single hole in the center and five holes right outside the foot of the bowl where it begins to flare up. I can't tell you how very, very happy this makes me. This last weekend I fired and hoped to have 17 bowls to finish the orders placed at the end of may. I got all but 7 shipped. Four need to be re-glazed and I have another dozen that will be ready to be bisque fired at the first of next week. I am aiming to have another batch ready by the last week of July.

These four bowls all have glaze problems- there are spots that didn't get coated and you can feel rough clay through the glaze. I'll have them fixed and shipped next week. And I need to take more time with my glazing and make sure that the coats are nice and even. I'm low on several colors, so my next glazing session will be preceded by plenty of mixing and adding fixative to keep it mixed. Alchemy, this is.

And YAY! The nikon's repair is under warranty. I hope to have my camera back soon. I miss it. A lot.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

one local supper: 4 and 5.

one local supper: 4
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
The night before we had this meal we celebrated our 9th anniversary at one of the better (in my humble opinion) fine dining restaurants in Memphis, Hunt Phelan, that makes good prodigious use of local ingredients from local farmers. It is my favorite go-to restaurant for special occasions. This meal, however, rivaled my wonderful carrot-ginger bisque and redfish clemenceau. It was a roasted halal chicken with halved baby onions and a roasted beet, feta, and basil salad.

A little bird told me that all of the halal meats in Memphis were raised by Mennonites in the Jackson, TN area. The butcher at the shop I went to agreed, then disagreed. I think we had a language barrier. I'm going to try the other halal butcher I know about and ask him, but for now, I'm calling this delicious chicken local, hailing about 60 miles from Memphis. The onions, basil and beets were from Whitton Farms, and goat feta came from Bonnie Blue Farm.

I bought one chicken to roast and another to cut up and freeze. We already made chicken and dumplings with my local flour, local milk, and Whitton's leeks, onions, and carrots, but no matter how you cook it, chicken and dumplings just isn't a pretty dish. It's white with flecks of vegetal color. But it was very very good.

And I made a 95% local blueberry pie- my first double-crust pie ever. I used this recipe for the crust and nothing but blueberries, flour, a sprinkle of sugar, cinnamon, and water for the filling. It was so, so good. As in, eat it for breakfast good.

Have a wonderful week! I'm looking forward to making a tomato cobbler this week- it is my favorite!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Hooray! The heat has broken! I was able to fire the kiln to bisque Monday night and I should be able to run a glaze fire this weekend. We're expecting highs in the upper 80s all weekend with lows back in the high 60s/70s. The other night it was still 90 degrees at 9 pm. Ugh.

I won't have wonderful pictures to show you because I had to send my Nikon back in to repair the flash. I don't ever use the flash for pottery photos, but I realized that I could either have it fixed now (while it is still under waranty), or be VERY upset that I hadn't done it once Halloween rolls around. So I'm fixing it now and re-learning the point-n-shoot. Because I totally forgot how to use it.

I think in another two weeks I'll be listing berry bowls again. I'm trying to throw plenty of them and have them bisqued so that I can simply glaze-to-order, but it's summer, and we are being very lazy at my house. Playing, swimming lessons, reading underneath the ceiling fan, contemplating painting the old porch swing, you know, summer stuff.

Have a great week everyone!