stretching


I haven't had a lot of production time over the past two weeks, but I feel so much better and I've kept up with my drawings and plannings and my coursework, and I am really really excited about some of the things that are happening.  This chicken cup is one exciting thing:  I really like using mishima- even though it's a bit time consuming, it's also immediate and really a lot faster process than drawing and bisque firing and then coloring and glazing and firing again.  I'm looking forward to making more of these, in red and in blue, and in drawings that aren't necessarily chickens. 





Though I am happily chicken-obsessed.  Admittedly.  Chickens, bees, pots, gardens, food- my passions.  I am bringing home three new chicks in the next few weeks- one has already been "adopted" and named by my dear friend and studio assistant, Natalie.  One little chickie will be Trudy, named after her mom.  I'm excited to have a little namesake.  Edna and Pearl are both named after Gary and my grand and great-grandmothers.  I like the old fashioned names.  Maybe there will even be some baby chick pieces that come out of our adventures in chick-raising again.

I let the girls out this morning, as I do most mornings that I'm puttering out in the garden.  They are so curious and come running towards me when they lose sight of me.  This is from this morning, when I did some light gardening and sprucing up with my coffee.  Mmm, toes.
Pearl is the bearded araucana chicken.  Edna is my star layer, a black-star chicken.

Happy Spring, friends.  Oh, and if you're chicken-obsessed like I am (or you love someone who is), these chicken tumblers will be in the shop when they're ready in another 2 or 3 weeks.

with a little luck

and some antibiotics I'll be back to rights in another day or two, pulling out of this flu turns into sinus and ear infection funk.  It's warm, it's spring break.  Kids are running in and out of my house and the house across the street.  I want fresh food, sunshine, fresh breezes coming through the windows, a ticking kiln, paletas, and to feel like myself again. 

I found these 8 four leaf clovers in my neighbor's yard.  Right now they're in a vase but I hope to put them on some happy mugs.  For now, though, they're just reminding me that luck is all around.


watching and waiting

Last week was the first week of school, right on the heels of our beach trip.  It got massively, oppressively hot.  Then it got really nice and cool. As in, 80 degree days in which you can hang out in the yard with the chickens and a cool beverage in the evening sort of days.   I threw and threw and threw and ran out of clay last week.

My husband landed a new job after a long long long time of uncertainty and trying to keep everything together by the skin of our teeth.  It was hard, so now that it's over I've been having a bit of a post-emergency collapse.  Periods of resting and doing nothing, periods of remembering that I have a full fall schedule and will kick myself for watching Mad Men at noon on Monday.  It's not something that I'm used to (luxuriant laziness) and I'm not sure I like it.  I prefer being productive.

Having run out of clay, I fired several kiln-loads of green ware this week and am spending the last half glazing and firing it.  I'm getting more clay this weekend and next week will glaze my dinnerware set in one fell swoop.  I'm really excited about it- unglazed, it looks good.  Unfortunately, it is always the last firing that shows where the flaws are hiding- either through weakness in the clay or sloppiness in my glazing.  We'll see how that goes.

Summer is fleeting.  I'm ready for fall.

holiday home, the overview



The first room you come to in our home is our living room.  We don't have an entry hall per se,  but we've arranged things so that the space is somewhat divided between the sitting and entry areas.  The sofa usually faces the (non-working) fireplace.  My decorating style is somewhat "empire-in-decline" meets thrift store- all of the furniture is old- either bought at antique auctions, passed down, or purchased at thrift/shabby antique stores and loved up.  There are a lot of books, asian pieces passed down from my inlaws or picked up at estate sales, some art by people we knew when we worked at a gallery,  and the furniture, by and large, is comfortable but slightly formal.  We really live in this space, so I kept the decorations limited to the tree and the mantle.  
You can see that the living room adjoins the dining room- the colors and style are similar, and the decorations are pared down to the advent wreath on the table,  our advent calendar on a sideboard, and two of the sparkly wreaths you saw earlier on the china cabinet and window.  I don't typically keep a table cloth on the dining room table- I prefer bare polished wood.  This table (a 1940s mahogany duncan phyfe model) is one that we bought the first year we were married at an antiques auction for $100.  The four chairs were an additional $100.  Both are much worse for the wear- we came home one night when our house was babysitting central to find a tonka dump truck and 18" of  its tracks running down the middle of the table.  I think in the coming year I'll paint the table and chairs rather than cringe every time I see a new scratch.  The dining room is the exact center of our home- I'm embracing the battering we give in and the life it hosts.   My favorite decoration in this room is the ceramic creche that my great grandmother made.  I found it in 2001 when we were clearing out my great grandparents' home.  This was packed away in an old wooden box in the "junk room" where she used to paint poured ceramics.  The pieces had already been glazed- everything was there but the Christ Child.  I used it as-is for years until I found an identical piece at a community center where I taught children's pottery.  I inquired if the ceramics lady had the baby and offered to buy it if she did.  She gave it to me and I glazed it.  I didn't get the color quite right, but I was happy to have the completed set.  My boy set it up this year- I can really see the influence of his years in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.

And so, Christmas is a week away.  The tree is up.  We'll hang our stockings next week and begin to wrap gifts to go under the tree.  There are cookies to bake, some last-minute gifts to make, and yes, still cards to send out.  If you celebrate, I hope your Christmas is filled with brightness and joy, and that everyone's new year brings good things.

Be well, everyone.

holiday home, II

As I said previously, I do try to keep things centered during the holidays, but every girl likes the tiniest bit of glitz!  I have only 3 wreaths for the house- sometimes there's one on the front door, sometimes there isn't.  This year I've hung a homespun felted and jingle bell swag that we received as a Christmas gift last year.  There are also some bells from my husband's childhood home in Turkey, and a strand of beads and bells I picked up years ago in a little border town market in Mexico.  I love the bells ringing every time we open the door.

But the glitz- I stumbled on a half-bushel basket of old old glass ornaments when I was in graduate school (lower left)- for a long time, those were my only holiday decorations.  I displayed them in a giant silver punch bowl, hung on evergreens, and now, they're in a small silver revere bowl on my mantle.  There are a few votive candles scattered around them, and the old 1940s round mirror I picked up one trash day reflects the cheer.  That's about all I need on the mantle.

The three wreaths were all made during my Martha Stewart fandom heyday.  I'm not sure if I made them all the same year, but I may have.  The red glass bead wreath came first- I remember searching for and then cringing as I purchased $50 in red Czech druk beads ten years ago.  I generally hang this between the living room or dining room windows.  This year it's in the dining room.
The glass ball wreath came next.  It is really on its last legs, but it's my boy's favorite wreath.  I may have to glue the balls to a foam or straw form next year, because I like it too.  It hangs in the window over our kitchen table.

The final wreath, which took forever to make, is also a MSL project.  It came out of one of the holiday books and isn't on the website, but I made each leaf out of silver-lined glass beads, arranged them in clusters of three, and wired them on a circular wire form.  It almost always hangs on a mirror or on the china cabinet, in front of my silver collection.  I am a sucker for silver hollowware and old serving pieces- I enjoy using them, even in our decidedly simple and casual lifestyle.

I would like to have one more wreath, based on this one.  A neighbor gave me quite a lot of reindeer moss, and there are huge mossy areas along the greenway in our neighborhood.  I think I'm going to wait until after Christmas for this project, when the days are dark and dreary and I need a bit more green around me.

I have one more photo for you at the end of the week-
 see you soon!

holiday home tour

my dear friend Mama Urchin is hosting a holiday home tour and asked me to play along.  Because I have a teensy house (well, the part that is heated with radiators, my best friend during the cold months is about 1200 sq ft), I try to keep things simple.  And as a person of faith, I want to focus on the holy more than the glitz. 
The Episcopal church (and many other liturgically-based churches) "celebrates" Advent - the four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas- before the great Celebration of Christmas.  Advent is a time of preparation and seeking the light in darkness (in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Isaiah 9:2- "the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light"- is the basis for much of our work during these four weeks), so light plays an important role in how my family celebrates advent.
I'll start with the bottom right photo, as it is all about Advent.  The first Sunday of Advent we make a wreath at St. Mary's Cathedral.  It's an all-ages event.  I missed it this year, but my boys brought one home.  Some churches use purple for Advent, some use blue.  We've recently switched to blue, which I'm happy about because, well, I'm not a fan of purple.  The pink candle, which we lit this week, is for Mary.  The next photo is a fun one- our advent calendar is based on the free bird pattern offered by Spool.  From the Sunday after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve, we add a new bird.  Originally I only made 24 birds -this year I need to make a few more.  I used wool and cashmere sweaters -either purchased at a thrift store or moth-eaten ones from my house- to make these sweet little birds. 
Next to the birds, this stationary wooden creche is one of my favorite holiday decorations.  The priest who was my campus minister came down to Mississippi to perform my wedding- he's done the same for several women I graduated with.  The summer I was pregnant, he traveled to Israel and sent this olive-wood creche as a baby gift when my son was born right before Thanksgiving.  When he grows up and has his own family, I'll pass it along to him, but it is very meaningful to me.
The star on our tree is a Moravian Star.  In Moravian households (and in Germany, PA, and Winston-Salem, NC, this star hangs outside, lighted, from the beginning of Advent until the beginning of Epiphany.  It represents the star of Bethlehem- that great light.  My college, Salem, was founded by Moravians, so this is a special symbol for me.  For many years I had a white star that we hung on the porch, but it died last year.  This paper one from an imports store will do for now, but I plan to replace it soon.

Later this week I'll delve more into our Christmas decorations- the tree is up and lit and I am slowly adding wreathes to the windows and other festive bits around the house.  But for now, I'm taking it slowly and anticipating the great light to come.  Be well.

7

my little one is 7 today.  We began the day with chocolate chip pancakes with chocolate syrup (seven of them), and I'm making gingerbread cupcakes with maple frosting for his urban-forest hike birthday party tomorrow.  Also doing a little trimming and glazing. 

Have a good weekend, friends.

chickens and the egg

 new chickens- big golden buff orpington is Merigold (named first for Merigold, MS, secondly for her color).  She's at least 8 lbs.  Big girl.
Next to her is "Speckles," a barred rock.  She's medium size, no larger than my sweet pet chickens.  These ladies aren't tame.  Yet.  They'll come round.
and one of their eggs- I think it belongs to Merigold.  It is extra, extra large.  Edna's egg, to the right, is a regular large grocery-store sized egg.  Merigold's was twice as large.  I thought it might have been double yolked, but it wasn't.  The yolk was large and a big asymmetrical, but not fully double.  They haven't gotten hang of the idea of nest boxes yet- this was on top of a stone in the yard.

I'll be back later in the week with some pictures of pottery, I hope.
Have a nice week!

oh, hello

I'm still here. I went camping. It was awesome. Good food, good company, beautiful surroundings. It couldn't have been better.
Re-entry has been what it always is- kind of tough. The first day you're refreshed and then real life comes crashing back down. There's homework to do. Luggage to unload and put away. Laundry, bills, and, if you're me, pottery that has to be fired and glazed *right quick like* so that you aren't behind. And I am behind, perpetually, but that's ok. I'll never be where I want to be, production-wise, because I have unrealistic expectations of how much I can do in a given time period. I do a lot, but it isn't quite what I think it is.. That's also ok. What doesn't get done isn't earth-shattering.

There have been some good things, too. New ideas I'm working on. A new project I'm feeling extremely lucky to be in on from its inception. A finished pair of socks (I like 'em bright) and 2/3 finished sweater. 40 something jars of tomatoes in the canning pantry and a really really nice stash of tomato jam and pickled okra. More freelance work coming in, new things opening up.

There are three dates left for the regular season of the farmers market.Believe it or not, I intend to put up *one more box* of tomatoes. No, they won't be the best or tastiest or whatever, but this winter, I'm not running out of tomatoes. Yes, I have a problem. And I'm fine with that. I'll be there this weekend and on the 30th. And at the holiday sale on Dec 11.

Speaking of problems, I pulled this little individual teapot-thing out of my seconds box in the basement.  Hubs was ill yesterday and I needed a teapot that wasn't a full-on teapot for his preferred small cups of tea.  I'm not sure why I thought this was a second (actually, the lid isn't quite where I would have liked it to be, but nothing is perfect), but I'm glad I pulled it out.  When we're both working at home, we tend to have a lot of tea.  I think this will be in use a lot. 

It's a Monday. And other news

It's Monday*.  The good:  We have gotten a goodly bit of rain, which I'm really just over the moon about.  My boy is in an all-day camp out in the woods, which I'm also tickled about.  I made more butter crocks today, and some crock-pot applesauce.  And I just found that I've made my second appearance in my friends' (Emily and Molly)photography blog, Habit.  I'm flattered to be included.  I've been perusing the beautiful photos and snippets of days for over a year- this month they've invited everyone to participate through flickr.  It is a thrilling to see one of my photos pop up while I'm checking my blog stream!

These tomatoes, by the way, went into a delicious cobbler that I've been playing around with for several years.  Last night's version included goat feta, basil, and a cornmeal pastry crust.  This is one of my favorite dishes- I always freeze several gallons of cherry tomatoes so that I can make this over the winter.  It is one of my favorite things to serve at Thanksgiving.

I had a good market day Saturday- the best I've had since the opening weekend.  I'm grateful for that, and grateful for the enthusiasm for the butter crocks.  Several people have talked to me about making plates over the weekend, so I've thrown a few and am waiting for them to dry enough to trim them.   Plates are hard work and expensive, but I'm up for a challenge.  I don't think I'll be too upset if they don't happen, though.  There is little that's as frustrating as opening the kiln and finding that your hours of work amounted to several cracked plates.  Or berry bowls. Or whatever.  Cracks are no fun.

I hope your weekend was good, and that your work week's gotten off to a good start.

*since it is Monday, here's my Monday story.  I drove my old reliable 15 year old volvo wagon to the bank.  I sat in the drive through, where velva-the-volvo entered her death throes.  She passed out.  In the drive-through lane.  Gary had to come and give me a jump, then go to get the battery checked and find that she needs a new alternator.  If she weren't 15, this wouldn't be a deal-killer, but she is.  And I talked to my mechanic, and he recommended a test drive of another-but-newer- 850.  Think good thoughts for us, will you?

july

Good morning!  I hope you had a good long holiday weekend.
This weekend I:
went picking blueberries with a friend and with some of my mom's friends.  Picking on this weekend at a teeny-tiny family farm is my family's tradition.  It's perfect, especially when the heat holds off like it did this weekend.  I made off with three gallons.  Then I made:

this.  In the crock pot.  It is yummy and easy.  And still in the fridge, because I didn't get around to processing it.  I also have a batch in the dehydrator.  We love dried blueberries in our granola.

watched my husband finish up the nesting box for our chickens.  The coop is finally all ready to paint and pretty up.  I'm excited about this step.

Went swimming with friends on Friday and Saturday.  Watched my boy dive into the pool and swim all the way to the shallow end.  Watched him swim from the shallow end to where I was bobbing around in the deep end.  Was mystified by his sudden progress.  And realized that for the first time since I was a college student, I have a tan.

Took vows to simplify my life a bit more.  Sometimes I try to do too much.  When you try to do too much you (read: I) aren't happy or gracious or welcoming.  Simple is better.

Bisque fired on the evening of July 4, listening to the sounds of neighborhood kids shooting off firecrackers.  Today I'll start glazing.

Helped my mom finish digging up the heirloom plants at her old garden to go to her new house.  She has some irises that belonged to my grandmother and her grandmothers.  The teeny tiny daffodils from Louisiana are hidden deep in the ground and will have to wait until spring when they show their leaves again.  And organized her new pantry, hung some plates I made before N was born on her kitchen wall, and washed all of our cars.

Started learning about planting by the moon phases.  Interesting.  I'm going to try it with a second batch of potatoes (even though it's really too late, I found some fingerlings hiding in my basement root storage) and those green beans that have dried up.  There's certainly no harm in trying them again.

This week:
holding out hope for rain and cool temperatures
more swimming- practice after this week's swimming lessons
processing the blueberry butter
making blueberry-blackberry jam (oh, hello! jam!)
glazing.  That part starts today.

talk to you soon.

long and lazy


This weekend seemed particularly long and lazy, even though we were busy and productive almost the entire time.  There was a great deal of weather excitement in town- severe storms Friday night and all day Saturday.  Thankfully we got our rain barrels set up (read: Gary diverted our gutters- some new, some ancient) just in time on Friday and collected a full 275 gallons in the back, 55 in the front, and replenished the other existing 55 gal barrel.  Despite the storms, I made my way to the Memphis Farmers Market Saturday morning to visit with my market friends (it is hard to visit when I'm working!), pick up eggs, honey, and produce. 
Once home, I made some pots, puttered, and listened to the storm.   When the weather cleared, I did a bit of weeding in the wet garden (Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces has been my bedside reading lately) while the boys worked on the chicken coop.  I bought Homemade Living: Keeping Chickens with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Care for a Happy, Healthy Flock because I love Ashley English's writing (check out her Small Measures blog- it is very inspiring), and because last time around I lost a chicken to egg binding (basically her egg got stuck and she died because I didn't know what to do).  Our coop is loosely based on some of the plans in her book.  It is an entertaining and informative read- and it is beautifully photographed.  I'm looking forward to her upcoming books on home dairy and beekeeping! 

This week is my get-ready-for-market week.  Today I'm trimming the last of my pots, drying them in the oven (we've gotten our "april showers" all in one weekend), and bisque firing tonight or  tomorrow.  Glazing mid-week, then pricing and packing.  I snuck in a little sewing time over the weekend and hope to finish some projects and throw more pots upstairs.  Throwing is my favorite thing to do, pottery-wise.  I'm so glad I decided to get help with glazing- it's really sped up the process.

I hope you all have a great week- I'll see you again  towards the latter half.  It's almost May!  Can you believe it?


(PS- I've added Amazon Associates to my account.  Since November our finances have been tight and my book-buying habit has been severely curtailed.  It was my favorite vice.  This little tool will help me to indulge in it every once in a while again.)

chickie chickie

A long time ago, before my son was born, we kept chickens. We had them from late spring 2002 until late summer 2004. We lived in the country, had a Chicken Tractor type coop and mostly let them roam free during the day. I've missed the gorgeous fresh golden-yolked eggs and have dreamed of keeping them again. My big birthday gift this year was chickens. My favorite little country farm supply store got their chicks in on Monday, so yesterday we grabbed a favorite little family and took a field trip to get our chicks.


We bought two araucanas (they lay blue/green eggs) and two black star chicks (they lay regular brown eggs). They've been named Pearl (the second Pearl we've had, actually, named after my great-grandmother), Petunia, Mary (pronounced May-ree, just because), and Edna (the third Edna, named after Gary's grandmother). We're too too tickled. Over the weekend and next week's spring break we'll build their coop and yard. No chicken tractor this time, but a "palais de poulet," made with recycled/upcycled materials, more or less in this. These chicks won't have the run of the yard- that's asking for trouble in the city- but they'll have a nice big run and they'll be allowed to patrol the garden while I'm able to be out and supervise them. Fun stuff. I think I'm getting crunchier by the day.

Tomorrow, pottery pictures. I hired a helper for glazing last week. She was incredible- so meticulous. We got an entire load glazed in 2 hours. Usually, that takes me all day. I tested a new glaze color. Not 100% sold on it, but I'll keep working on it.

Have a fabulous week!

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.

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.

cooking for kids: 2


cooking for kids: 2
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Tex-mex stuffed yellow squash with fast and easy sides was on the menu last night. I needed to use our CSA produce and had some grass-fed ground beef in the freezer that I needed to use. I don't like beef much, I don't like ground beef at all, but the boys do and since they aren't crazy about yellow squash, I thought it would be a good compromise. In 2007 Everyday Food had a "in season" article about yellow squash that I bookmarked for the day that we had some that needed to be used. There were everal recipes, but this seemed the most kid-friendly.

Tex-Mex Stuffed Squash and sides (adapted from EDF, 2007)
2 yellow squash
1/4-1/2 lb ground beef
red bell pepper
2 T tomato paste
1 tsp chili powder
frozen corn
2T olive oil
1 small onion or several green onions and garlic
cojita cheese (mexican sprinkling cheese, like parmesan)


Preheat oven to 400. Split lengthwise and hollow out 2 large yellow squash. Be sure to cut off a small slice on the bottom so it will stand up on its own. Leave at least 1/4" shell. Season with salt and pepper. Chop reserved insides of the squash and cook in a skillet with chopped bell pepper, chopped onion (I used green onion and a clove of garlic), tomato paste, and chili powder. Cook the vegetables until barely soft. Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink (maybe 10 minutes, total.) Once cooked, add 1 cup (more or less) frozen corn kernels. I didn't have any, but I did have a random can of cream-style corn (don't know why, because that is my least favorite style of corn) that I rinsed off and added. Mix in 1/4 c cojita cheese (the EDF recipe said parmesan, but I thought mexican would be better). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fill shells and bake, covered, about 30 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle more cheese over the top, and bake another 10 minutes.

Sides: cheater mexican rice
cook 1/2 c brown rice with 1 c water, salt, and 1 T salsa. Done.
My boys don't like brown rice so much, but the salsa disguises the color and flavor. Also, that's all I make, so they don't have much of a choice.
Fast guac- 1 chopped avocado, 1 chopped plum tomato, juice of half a lime. Serve with blue corn chips.

There were about 2 cups of the squash beef mixture leftover. I stashed it in the freezer to use for enchiladas or beef taco soup later this fall. Despite little boy's misgivings upon looking at the dish, he ate it all up, even the squash shell (once I cut it up and mixed it all up with the rice). Gary ate it all happily. I thought it was pretty good and not too meaty (I was a vegetarian from 1994-2001 when I gave up 100% vegetarian food- with exceptions for good bbq, because I'm a Memphian, after all- for happier suppers for Gary. The things you do for love!). There was one squash half and some rice left over, so I'm going to reprise this dish as a soup for my lunch today.

I'm not sure if I'll make this again, but I was pleased with how it turned out. More kids cooking next week. . . .

cooking for kids

A few weeks ago I stumbled on a blog post about cooking for kids. I've been very fortunate that my child has a fairly adventurous palate- because Gary and I certainly do. When I was pregnant with him, I kept eating all of the usual strange and spicy foods I was accustomed to, kept it up when I was nursing, then started introducing them to him when he was ready for solids. A very spicy thai curry risotto was one of his first foods. This particular dish was so spicy that it made my scalp tingle, but he kept asking for more!
Now that my increasingly not-little-boy is in school and surrounded by kids who subsist on a diet of cheese puffs, deli meats, and "froot" products, he's become a little more picky, a little less likely to eat what we want to eat, more aware of what the kids at school want. I think I've told you about his allergy to certain ingredients that find their way into conventional dairy product. I'm pretty strict about organic-only dairy at home or at school, but if we're out and everyone is having pizza, we pull the cheese off of the pizza.

But pizza and chicken nuggets don't make me happy, so I was thrilled to find out about the online cooking group at Raising Foodies. Jocelyn is like the rest of us- working, busy, hungry. And, like me, committed to good food for the family table. She's organized an 8 week cooking group where the participants make a new dish each week and share the recipe with their child's reaction to it.

This Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup is my first "new" reicpe. This weekend I was startled to find ten eggplant in my CSA share. Eight skinny white ones, one medium-sized traditional globe eggplant. Add that to two small striped globe eggplant still in my fridge from the week before. I consulted with some foodie friends and made this delicious honey-salted fried eggplant with two of the skinnies when a friend was over on Sunday.* I also found this recipe for tomato and eggplant soup. We like Indian-spiced food, and this had plenty of curry, so I gave it a try. The instructions looked a bit labor intensive, but it was largely untended. I'll make it again, because it was a hit! And BOTH Gary and Nash are eggplant-deniers.

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Soup, adapted from an adaptation from an Everyday Food recipe. Serves 4 with salad and bread

Preheat oven to 425

6 medium-sized slicing tomatoes (or 14 plum tomatoes), salted, halved
10 garlic cloves
3-4 carrots, peeled, cut in 1" chunks
2T olive oil, kosher salt, pepper

1.5 lb eggplant, peeled, cubed
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2T olive oil
2T curry powder

cilantro
couscous
2 Roasting pans

Mix tomatoes, carrots, garlic, and olive oil, s/p on a large roasting pan, with tomatoes skin-side up. Mix the second set of vegetables on the second roasting pan. Roast for 45 min, shaking occasionally, making sure that the tomato tray is on top. Let cool slightly, peel tomatoes.

Puree the tomato mixture and half of the eggplant mixture (in a blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender. Thin with 3-4 cups of water or veg broth (I used water). Salt to taste and reheat.

To serve: bed couscous in a soup bowl, ladle soup over the couscous and top with the reserved eggplant and chickpea mixture. Sprinkle with cilantro.

The roasted chickpea and eggplant mixture was so good I could have (and did) eat it by itself. I pureed most of the eggplant to ensure that my boys would eat it. They each got 3-4 cubes on top of their soup.

I'll have this again for lunch today. I may make more and see how it freezes. This was a pretty light meal with a hearty flavor- it felt very substantial.


*It was so, so good, but just a little advice- if you're unaccustomed to fried food, don't eat 15 slices (there were 60 or so super thin potato-chip sized slices) unless you want to spend time with sir alka-seltzer later.

quartet

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.

at-home camping


our light lately
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Friday afternoon we had a big, big storm. Our power is out and may stay out for the week according to our utility company. One neighborhood to the east of us is powered back up, so I'm hopeful, but for now, I'm hanging out anywhere there's free wi-fi and air.

I've borrowed a friend's aero coffee maker, another friend's deep freeze, and with the grill, the crank radio, indoor plumbing (and hooray, the water heater still works!) and, um, the car, we're doing just fine. This is taking the idea of a stay-cation to a new level, but I'm fairly certain that gary will be going to work at first light Monday morning.

Pottery-wise, I'd planned to fire this week, but that's not happening. I'll continue to make slab pottery- platters and plates and the like. For now, though, I'm enjoying the air conditioning and comy sofas in my church's parish hall for just a few more minutes.

Have a great week, everyone!