Wednesday, October 28, 2009


oh. It was good to unload yesterday. I let the kiln cool down for an entire 36 hours (better for the glaze, less crazing, pieces have better longevity). Nearly everything came out JUST RIGHT. I tried some new things with this load and had some new forms- my long-awaited (but largely silent) salt spoons.A test pomegranate. A very good application of my new green glaze. More speckled egg pieces. Each layer held surprises of the very good sort. The only slight disappointment was with red berry bowls. Here's the deal with them. There will be very, very few. The amount of glaze needed to get the lovely red color means that the several thick applications run down the inside surface of the bowl and cover the holes as it melts.
So I take a special ortho surgical tool (Gary works in the marketing dept. of a large Ortho/surgical/trauma manufacturing company and has some surgical tools, like this long screw/drill that I use) to pierce the glaze, file the hole down, then refire it. These extra steps and subsequent refiring mean higher prices for you and a smidge of frustration for me. But it is pretty, and I'll keep doing them. These will just be limited run pieces.

After I unloaded the kiln, I went to the studio, discovered that I had another full load ready to go (loading this afternoon)- I've been averaging 24 pieces in about 2 hours. When I sat down to throw small pieces, I made more tiny bowls, vases, and egg cups. I threw 36 pieces yesterday morning. Today I'll trim them. My wrists complain a bit, by Hyland's Arnica-based Arthritis Relief tablets take most of the sting away.

All of my work is leading up to my own holiday show and the two other holiday sales I'll be participating in. I'll have a big etsy update the day after Thanksgiving.

Today's task: trimming, loading, prepping for tonight's clay class (crosses) by cutting out templates for my students, and more roasted root vegetables. Oh, and the vacuum.

I hope you're having a good, productive week, everyone. And as I look at this, I sigh just a bit, wish I knew how to wrap text better, then release my perfectionism. Just for this moment, I'm letting it go.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

cooking for kids- "man food"

When we were at the Urchin's house a few weeks ago, Jennifer told me about hash. I remember reading about hash on her blog, and how it seemed to be a good way to sneak in veggies (and a variety of veggies, at that) for a very carnivorous family. She was 100% right. My son and husband liked this supper better than any fancy-bordering-on-gourmet meal I've ever made.

So. Hash

Root vegetables: sweet potato, turnips, regular potatoes. Cubed (about 1/2-3/4 dice), tossed in a few teaspoons of olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. Roast at 400 until they're nicely browned. Maybe 20-30 minutes.
Bell peppers, choppped
Red/Yellow onion, about 1/2 cup, chopped
bulk sausage (I used 1/3 lb from the lb I'd bought at the farmers market and froze in sections)
one egg per person
a pat of butter

While the root vegetables are roasting in the oven, melt a pat of butter (or don't if your sausage is fatty, but mine renders very little fat so I needed it to prevent sticking) and saute the onion and garlic. Add the sausage and cook. When the sausage is about half cooked, throw in some chopped bell pepper. This doesn't require much tending, which is nice.
Once the root vegetables are roasty and cooked through, add them to the pan. Throw in a little (very) water to deglaze the pan and mix the entire thing up. Crack eggs on top of the hash, reduce heat somewhat, cover, and let the eggs steam. I don't like my egg yolks to be completely cooked ever, and this was nice with some runny yolk mixed in.

I served this with a spinach salad topped with the last (maybe) of my csa tomatoes, halved and roasted in the toaster oven, and topped with goat cheese. (honestly, this part was a concession to mama's taste buds. Little boy didn't like the roasted tomatoes so I ate his)

This meal was entirely local except for the purple onion and spinach. The boys didn't even notice the turnips, just the roasty/toasty/meaty goodness. I imagine it would be good with leftover roast beef or pork loin, chicken or turkey. Leftover savior? Though I was skeptical, it used very little meat and made a nice hearty meal. Even though it doesn't LOOK pretty, it is filling, thrifty, and they just plain loved it. We'll be having this again.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

the flip side

It was a great last day at the Memphis Farmers Market. Next week is the very last Saturday for the 2009 season (not counting the special Holiday Market Day on Dec 5). I was happy with my sales, more happy that I didn't sell out of some certain somethings, which means that I have fewer things that I need to make to feel well prepared for the aforementioned holiday sales. I met a few people who read this (hi!), which always shocks me because I always think that a mere handful of friends in metro DC and KC read this. I began to stock up on market provisions for the winter. Today I managed Goat Cheese. Next week I'll tackle sweet potatoes, honey, and, um, more goat cheese. That's a purchase I have to spread out just a teeny bit. $70 in goat cheese would raise eyebrows. Mine included.

So. The flip side to my pottery-making craziness is I've become even more of a homebody. After the market I swung by my favorite Thai-dive and picked up some curried tofu soup (it kicks the formerly best-soup-ever Tom Yum in the tail). What you see here, red wine and pistachios, would comprise my plans for the evening. Some dear friends are throwing a party- I'm on the sofa. Sending the boys off tomorrow and staying home to glaze and trim a bit. And maybe read and knit on the sofa. Next week is a little crazy with outside appointments so I'm alternating staying at home cozying with staying at home working. Fall has really set in and all I want is soup, warm drinks, and blankets during my downtime. And maybe for the first time ever, I'm really understanding what it means to relax. Now all I need is a little pot-bellied wood stove.

Hope y'all have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

holiday hoopla

I have been a pottery-making crazy lately. I'm making 25-30 pieces a few days a week (one day to throw, one day to trim, a day to rest my arms, then repeat), then firing and glazing on off days and the weekend. But the news is this: I've got plans. I've got a schedule. There needs to be work ready to roll by Nov 1, and after Dec 5, I'm finished making for the season. Here are my event dates:

Oct 24
: This Saturday is the penultimate 2009 Memphis Farmers Market day. I'll be there.

Nov 20, 21: my house. If you're in Memphis or the surrounding area, you're invited to come shop my wares. Berry bowls (though fair warning- I'm only putting out a dozen, so if you want one, come early), egg cups, tumblers, platters, honey pots, butter bells- a decent selection of work.

Nov 27: Etsy. Berry bowls up for the holidays. I'm making twenty five berry bowls in assorted colors. When they're gone, they're gone. I may have a few more here and there, but I'm not making promises. My online market has gotten the lion's share of my time this year, so I'm focusing on local customers this season. But I still really, really, love you.

Dec 5: MFM is having a holiday market. Outside, under the pavillion, right where we always are. Santa will be there, too!

Dec 10: Deck the Halls at Park Place Mall in East Memphis. I'll have work there from Dec 10-20.

My normal MO is to think (and commit to) that I can do way more than is reasonable. This leaves me in a crazed state by Dec 15, when the holiday parties are in high gear, and all I want to do is stay home, huddled under blankets on the sofa, with a big mug of cider-spiked rum. I'm looking for balance this year. Having it mapped out on the calendar before Halloween is a pretty good start.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

kids' cooking- asian

Tuesday has kicked my tail. Totally kicked it. I'm glad the day is done and that I cooked my kids' meal yesterday. Friday also kicked me pretty hard, so we ate out. Normally, I don't like to eat out. I like knowing where my food comes from and how it is prepared. And six nights out of seven, I really enjoy cooking. When we do go out, it's usually ethnic (Thai, Mexican, Japanese) and Gary and I try to deconstruct our dishes to figure out how to adapt them to home cooking. We went to a dive-y Chinese place that also has a fabulous Thai menu. Thinking about how much we enjoyed our meal, and knowing that we had the essential ingredients, I looked up a recipe for Pad Thai in Joy of Cooking. And promptly closed the book because the recipe was too too long and complicated. Here's what I did instead.

Gingery Asian Noodles with Good Stuff
1 T vegetable oil and Sesame oil (I use safflower oil because that's what I make our mayo with and it is nice, neutral, and good for high heat)
1 large clove of garlic, smashed
1" fresh ginger, cut in match sticks.

Sautee this until the garlic is browned and remove it. I keep the ginger in because we like it. Use the oil to sautee:

1 halved and sliced yellow squash
1 halved and slice baby leek (pulled from the garden) or several scallions
1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced
about a dozen sugar snap or snow peas

Remove from fire and aside when tender crisp.

Mix together:
1 T chunky peanut butter
1/4 c lemon or lime juice (I used lime)
1/4 c fish sauce
2T sesame oil
2T sugar

Cube about half a block firm tofu and pat dry. Marinate briefly in the sauce you just made, then pan-fry in the same gingery-garlicy oil.

Boil enough soba (buckwheat) noodles or whole wheat spaghetti noodles for your family. I didn't have enough of either so I combined them and no one noticed. When they were almost finished, I tossed in a cup of shrimp. Drain, mix with vegetables and tofu. Top with the sauce you made and gently toss to combine. Serve it up: we added some frozen crumbles of thai basil that my mom bought and didn't like- I froze the entire bunch, crushed it, and dole out a bit as needed. Regular basil would work, too. I topped the adult noodle bowls with a bit of Sriracha, Thai chili-garlic sauce. We like the kid with the rooster on the label and the green lid. Everyone ate it up. I was really happy that I left the ginger in because it added a lot to the dish. There was only a tiny bit left. I ate that cold for lunch and enjoyed the ginger even more.

Monday, October 19, 2009


boy meets mama
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Last week was such a blur. I don't think we even gave ourselves time to recover from our trip to DC before we jumped back into life and production. I made pottery like a crazy lady all week- berry bowls, mugs, platters, butter bells, and some big bowls. I haven't made a bowl larger than 6-8" in diameter in two years. I made two and loved it. And I realized that my pottery production had to be more than berry bowls. I enjoy making them, but I can't just make them. I have had a consultation with a lovely man in San Francisco about making some molds and slip-casting them, which will allow me to make other things. I will spend more than $400 to get molds made, but in the long term, it may be worth it. Now to find casting slip locally.

It got cold last week! I made soup on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. On Friday we went out to a looks-like-a-beef'n'broccoli-Chinese-joint that has a fabulous Thai menu. And what did I order? Soup. Tom Yum Soup. Which I'm going to figure out and make again and again and again. Except those little carrot-like pieces? They aren't carrots. Thai chili bits. This soup would kill a head cold.

And the boy and I decorated yesterday. I am not a fan of halloween. I am a fan of fall. We compromised and added the ever-popular possum-skull-on-a-stick to my croton and last year's light-up pirate pumpkin to my squash pile. We'll carve our big pumpkin this weekend. That lovely blue guy? I'm going to eat him up after Thanksgiving. I can't wait for that. He will make a lovely curried pumpkin soup, don't you think?

Yesterday I also spent about three hours with my scraping block and the electric grinder cleaning off my kiln shelves. They were covered with flaking kiln wash and glaze drips and needed to be completely resurfaced. I wore all of the grit off the grinding disc and had dust in my hair, my clothes, and even though I wore a respirator (and eye protection, and ear protection), in my teeth. When it warms up a bit I'll mix up the kiln wash and paint the shelves, then fire them on so that I can bisque and glaze this week.

Have a wonderful Monday, everyone! I'll be at the Memphis Farmers Market on Saturday- closing day is Oct 31! This season has flown by.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

holiday sale

At my house. Friday Nov 20, Saturday Nov 21. Limited inventory, but I've got to get back into the swing.

Oh, and I'll be at the Memphis Farmer's Market next Saturday, Oct 24.

Back to work I go.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

cooking for kids- the pantry

Or: what to eat when you've been out of town for 5 days and haven't been to the store yet. Happily, we had some trader joe's cod fillets in the freezer, along with some chicken stock, goat cheese, and half a bag of spinach salad I knew would go bad if I didn't stash it on ice. Carrots, a few celery stalks, lemons, and half a purple onion in the fridge. Rice in the pantry. Sounds like supper to me.

Vegetable "risotto" (because it isn't quite, nor is it really pilaf) with crispy cod

1 small purple onion (or half a large onion), chopped
1 large lump of butter
4 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 c chopped carrot tops (because they taste like parsley and I had them in the freezer for a tuscan carrot risotto, which this is not)
2 c brown basmati rice
4 c frozen chicken/vegetable stock, brought to a boil
1/4 c crumbled goat cheese
large handful/small salad bowl fresh spinach
dried thyme

1.5 lb cod fillets
2 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. If you have a cast iron grill pan or skillet, put it in the oven to heat up.
Heat butter in a large skillet. Cook onions, carrots, and celery in the skillet. Add rice after a few minutes. Salt and pepper (just a little). Ladle in 1/2-1 c hot stock, stirring until evaporated.
salt and pepper. Keep doing this until you've used most of the stock and the rice is fairly plumped up. I turn the heat down and cover the skillet and don't worry about stirring constantly. When the rice is nearly cooked, I added thyme, the juice of a lemon, more salt and pepper, the spinach (because I'd just noticed it in the freezer), the carrot tops, and the rest of the stock.

Now rub the fish with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. You only need to cook the fish for about 8 minutes. While it is cooking, add the goat cheese to the rice and give it a stir. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice if you like. Dish up the rice, put a piece of flaky crispy cod next to it, and serve with bread and a lemon wedge.

Yum yum. And the boys liked it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

new! buttons!

Squee! I think I've showed you some of my buttons before, but for some unaccountable reason, these just make me SO happy! These eggshell-glazed buttons are, of course, my favorites, but I just love making these! Maybe because they combine my love of knitting and sewing with pottery. I began sewing simple clothes dolls when I was in the third grade. I remember making a nightgown in the 5th grade. And wanting cute buttons for it.

It can be hard to find good buttons commercially- and they can make or break an outfit. My first set that I was happy with were for my norostripey cardigan. I made another set for a friend's baby sweater (they're the tiny celadon green ones). I'm hooked on them, mainly because it is a way to work in clay when I don't have the time for a full-on throwing session. It is also a great way to use some of my stamps, like the starburst-shaped plastic bits your sometimes see mirrors attached to walls with (in white), or bottlecaps (yellow). The red ones are just pinched/thumbprinted. These are making me insanely happy.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


These butter crocks are a tangible representation of friendship for me. I wrapped them carefully and carried them on my lap as we flew to Washington (because I've had pottery break in my suitcase. It is disappointing to arrive and find gifts in shards). They are gifts for friends- three women I feel like I know well, two of whom I've never met. One is directly responsible for so many of my sales online- she pushed me a tiny bit and gave me a start. I feel like I owe her so, so much. All three are fabulous mothers and inspiring in their dedication to their creative output, their homes, their families. I'm lucky to get to see them and hug their necks today. Email is wonderful, blogs are great, but in person- that's just bliss. I am so, so happy that it is happening.

I've made about a dozen butter crocks now and feel like I have the form down. I should have plenty of these available for the holidays. I try to make a few of these and a few berry bowls every time I throw. I really like them in this speckled glaze.

Hope you're having a lovely weekend!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Earlier this summer a woman from Australia contacted me about my ladybug pottery. She asked for this breakfast set, pictured. Five little mugs, bowls, ramekins, and a honey pot, sugar bowl, and creamer. I hope they love it and use it every day. I'm a bit nervous, though, because this may be the largest order I've ever shipped. It went out on Wednesday, and even though it is VERY well-packed, I'm literally praying over it. Shipping overseas makes me anxious. I am 100% comfortable with my corrugated cardboard wrapping and paper filling, but it is heavy. This time I'm using bubble wrap and styro peanuts. Shifting (and resulting breakage) is my biggest fear. I've shipped to England a time or two, but Australia is another matter entirely. That is a LONG way from Memphis, TN!

We're headed out on a mini-vacation today. I'm so excited to see old friends and new ones, too. More on that later! I've got a post or two scheduled for while I'm gone, and I've been making work like crazy. I'm not going to put anything new up on Etsy until after Thanksgiving. I've neglected my local base for online customers all summer, so it's time to focus on folks in Memphis for a bit. That being said, if you have something in mind for holiday giving, let me know and I'll be happy to add it to the list.

Our weather has turned just glorious here- cool crisp mornings, temperate days, bright blue skies. I hope yours is just as nice.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

cooking for kids: 3

cooking for kids: 3
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
So, this is typically how I cook: "Oh, Lord. It's 4:30. What needs to be used?" Butternut squash, carrots, a cup of coconut milk from a coconut little boy opened with his grandparents this weekend. A knob of ginger I bought for another recipe. A brick of cream cheese that needed to be finished off. A mistakenly-bought container of hot-pepper labne (thick and creamy Middle-eastern yogurt cheese). Knowing we're about to go on a mini-vacation for a bit and some food just won't keep. Cool and grey day, feeling a little poorly, wanting warming soup.

Gingered Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

1 med butternut squash, peeled and cut in chunks
4 carrots, peeled, chunked
2 c water
1 c coconut water or canned coconut milk
salt to taste
1 T olive oil
1 onion
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 2" knob of ginger, peeled and grated
2T cream cheese
juice of 1/2 lime

paprika, creme fraiche, labne, yogurt, or cream cheese

Steam squash and carrots over water until tender. Cook onion, garlic, and grated ginger in a bit of olive oil. Combine all in the water you used to steam the veggies. Puree with an immersion blender (or a regular blender, but my immersion blender gets more use than any other small kitchen appliance we own). Add lime juice and cream cheese*, puree again. Salt to taste.

When ready to serve, top with a scoop of labne/yogurt/whatever you're using. The hot pepper labne gave this a real kick. I didn't use it with little boy's serving, though, because mine was crazy hot. Sprinkle with paprika.

We ate ours with a spinach and bell pepper salad and some garlic herb bread I picked up that afternoon. It was definitely a hit- perfect for a chilly night. I'm eating the very last cup-full for lunch. And planning to make it again the next cold rainy night we have.

*If you're concerned about fat content, you could cook a potato or add some silken tofu and puree it to sub for the cream cheese. You'll keep most of the velvety texture that way.

Monday, October 5, 2009

happy monday

river maple
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
to you. I just barely managed to take this picture of a light-flooded red river maple as our canoe sailed underneath on Saturday. It was such a gorgeous day.

It's cold here and I'm glazing, drinking tea, listening to podcasts and doing the weekend's laundry that got skipped this weekend. Thinking of some homemade tomato soup and cornbread muffins for supper.

It seems to be shaping up to be a chilly fall in these parts. It just now hit 60 and our normal high for early October is in the low 80s. I'm ready for the change, but I'm not.

Back to work for me.

Friday, October 2, 2009

autumn colour week: red

Oh how I love red. There is at least one red thing in every room in my house. Lots in the kitchen, hits in every other room. Red fruit, red furniture, red flowers. Um, red shoes. Red shoes are a serious weakness for me. I have an embarrassing number of red shoes. But they make me SO HAPPY! Red and yellow are my happy colors.

I just peeked in the kiln to check and see how this load went. Top layer looked great, including these new red pieces!! These were tests- not for sale yet. I'll make more and have them available before the holidays.

Somewhere in this load there are also some tiny little red buttons. And some robin's egg buttons. I was really, really meticulous with this glaze load. I'll see at the end of the day how the whole load went- it is still too too hot to touch. I did a teeny bit of kiln maintenance, but I haven't scraped and re-coated my shelves yet.

This morning we all woke up with a sunny outlook. We're all well, rested, and ready to face a full weekend. I'm looking forward to taking my first canoe float in about 2 years tomorrow with Gary and some friends. I promised little boy we'd get a pumpkin at the farmer's market tomorrow. The weather is glorious, the leaves are beginning to turn. I'm going to find our tiniest drybag and bring my camera on the trip. Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

autumn colour week: brown

this morning got off to a rough start*. I'm throwing myself into work.

*ETA, parenting issues. I'm feeling quite recovered from my ills, thank you. And I'm spending this beautiful day outside, learning to be meticulous with my glazing.