Monday, November 23, 2015

Meatless Monday - Barley and Roasted Cauliflower with Almonds

Whole grains tend to be quite delicious and can add wonderful flavor and health benefits to our food. We are used to seeing them in breads and cereals but they are less commonly used in dinners. That’s one of the reasons I love using them in dishes that I am going to share with friends and family. I serve them something delicious and unusual.

I like the nutty taste of barley because it complements many different vegetables and is wonderful on it’s own. But I also like it for is similarities to pasta in texture. It’s like a comfort food that you may never have tasted. It’s also got more health benefits than pasta but don’t let that scare you off. Bring this dish to your next pot luck and your friends will thank you.

Barley and Roasted Cauliflower with Almonds by Lori Buff
Barley and Roasted Cauliflower with Almonds


4 Tbs olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 - 3 crushed garlic cloves
1 1/4 cups uncooked barley (I used purple barley)
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cauliflower, stems trimmed, cut into small florets (substitute broccoli or brussle sprouts)
1/3 cup chilled butter, diced
1/3 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp Sherry vinegar
Finely grated rind and juice of ½ lemon

Garnish with chopped flat-leaf parsley and mint


  • Heat 2 Tbs oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, add onion and garlic and fry until tender (4-5 minutes). Add barley, stir to coat, then add broth and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil. Cover with a lid, reduce heat to low and cook until barley is tender and stock is absorbed (1-1¼ hours). Remove from heat and stand covered to steam for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees and toss cauliflower with remaining oil in a bowl and season to taste. Spread on an oven tray lined with baking paper and roast, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden (45-50 minutes).
  • Cook butter in a saucepan over high heat, swirling pan occasionally, until nut brown (4-5 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in almonds, vinegar, rind and juice. Toss the barley, cauliflower and almonds together in a serving bowl, top with parsley and/or mint leaves and serve. 

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Callanwolde Annual Holiday Clay Sale and Show

One of the many nice things about being an assistant at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center is that I get to participate in the Annual Holiday Clay Sale and Show with the other assistants, the teachers,  and the director, Glenn Dair.

If you are in the area you should really come to the event.  You’ll get an opportunity to see and purchase some really amazing ceramics.

Preview reception is Friday, Nov 20, 2015 from 7pm - 10pm
Show is Saturday, Nov 21 and Sunday Nov 22, 2015 from 10am - 5pm

Callanwolde Fine Arts Center
980 Briarcliff Rd
Atlanta, GA  30306
Get directions

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Shimpo VL Lite vs Speedball ShimpClay Boss

If you’re looking for a low priced potter’s wheel you’ll find the Shimpo VL Lite and the Speedball Clay Boss among others in the under $1000 price range. When you look at the specs you might start to wonder which would be the best value for the money.  I’ve used both and have some thoughts on them that might help you make a decision.

Both wheels are pretty light weight for a pottery wheel. The Shimpo is about 50 pounds while the Clay Boss is 66. So if you can pick up a box of clay you can pick up one of these wheels.  This is a nice feature if you have a reason to move the wheel frequently. If you do demonstrations at multiple locations or if you need to move it for cleaning or storage it’s a great feature. If you don’t need it to be light weight then it’s just nice when you first take delivery.

 Both wheels have a 1/2 horse power motor.  The Clay Boss claims a 100 pound centering capacity vs 25 on the Shimpo. I can’t center that much clay all at once. Honestly, I’ve never tried and have no desire to do so. Ten pounds is about the max I’m comfortable working with. The funny thing is that the Shimpo seems to handle that amount of clay with ease where the Clay Boss seems like it’s laboring under the strain.

Lori Buff of Future Relics Gallery testing the Shimpo VL Lite pottery wheel
Testing the Shimpo VL Lite

The Shimpo  has a 12” alloy wheel head that is drilled to accommodate bat pins. The Clay Boss has a 14” composite wheel head that will also accommodate bat pins. I prefer the alloy but I haven’t found anything really wrong with the composite. Both are fine for throwing off the wheel head with the composite having the advantage of not getting your slip black. I know the color burns out in the kiln and washes off your hands so it’s no big deal. The larger wheel head is also nice if you plan to make large platters on this wheel.

Shimpo makes the quietest electric wheels I’ve found. The VL lite is super quiet which is nice when teaching or listening to music or podcasts. The Clay Boss is about as loud as most other wheels that are working properly.

The foot pedal on the Clay Boss that I have used is a bit sticky. I’m not sure how easy it would be to adjust it. The Shimpo pedal worked well right out of the box.

The Clay Boss has a small and shallow splash pan. This doesn’t bother me, I throw pretty dry but not everyone does. Many new potters may find themselves flooding the pain quickly. Shimpo includes a full size splash pain with the VL Lite.  You can still fill it up, it just takes longer. Both are two piece, removable splash pans.

The Shimpo usually costs a couple hundred more than the Clay Boss but to me it feels like a more solid wheel that will last longer. However, it’s really hard to find a used VL Lite but it is pretty easy to find a used Clay Boss. So if you have to think about the cost, the Clay Boss may be the more affordable option. If money isn’t a great concern I’d recommend the Shimpo.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Monday, November 16, 2015

Meatless Monday - Roasted Fennel and Carrot Soup with Flatbreads

Many years ago I read Bella Tuscany by Fraces Mayes. You may know her name from the movie or book Under the Tuscan Sun. Both books are memoirs of her journey into home ownership and life in Italy. One thing I remember distinctly about Bella Tuscany was her disruption of the fragrance of roasting fennel. A good author, when describing food, will always make me have cravings. After reading the book I fell in love with roasted fennel. Yes, it tastes as delicious as it smells.

Roasted Fennel and Carrot Soup with Flatbreads by Lori Buff
Roasted Fennel and Carrot Soup with Flatbreads


1 pound carrots, peeled, trimmed and sliced
2 bulbs of fennel, trimmed and sliced, tops reserved to serve
1 onion, sliced
Olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
6 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup cream, to serve

1 tsp fennel seeds
3 cups bread flour
1/2 tsp fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for shaping

Put the carrots, fennel and onion in a roasting dish and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, then add the garlic cloves. Stir everything thoroughly and return to the oven for 20 minutes more, until the vegetables are soft and browned. Remove the papery skins from the garlic cloves.

Put the roasted veggies in a large pan with the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Simmer gently for 15 minutes, then liquify with a stick blender, until completely smooth.

Next make the flatbreads. Toast the fennel seeds in a dry frying pan for 30 seconds or so, until fragrant. Crush roughly with a pestle and mortar, then pour into a bowl with the flour and ½ teaspoon of salt. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1/2 cup of hot but not boiling water, then add it to the flour mixture with the oil and 1/4 cup of hot water and mix until you have a soft, but not sticky, dough, add more water a little at a time if you need it to create the correct consistency. Knead for 5 minutes.

Pop the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and set aside to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Then, with oiled hands, divide the dough into 8 pieces and roughly roll each one into a thin oval. Stack them up, separating them with parchment paper to stop them from sticking together.

Heat a griddle pan until it’s smoking hot and add the flatbreads (you’ll need to do this in batches). Cook for a couple of minutes on each side, until charred and puffed up. Keep warm in a tea towel while cooking the rest.

Gently reheat the soup, and serve with a swirl of cream, a scattering of fennel tops and the hot flatbreads.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Friday, November 13, 2015

Art Visions At Paideia School

Once again I’ll have my pottery at Paidea School’s Art Visions Fine Art and Craft Show. I’m always pleased to be invited to this show because the volunteers who run it do such a good job and it’s a nice fund raiser for the school’s art program. You might remember me writing my thoughts about The Importance of Arts Programs for Kids.  Yes, it’s a cause that I feel is important.

What you’ll find:

An artist market featuring the works of local and regional artists

  • Offering affordable art during the holiday season in all mediums
  • Fine art, decorative art including Hanukkah and Christmas gift items, ornaments, garden art, folk art, funky and functional art in all mediums
  • Annual fundraiser for Paideia art programs
  • Admission and parking are free
Saturday Nov 14, 2015 10am - 5pm
Sunday Nov 15, 2015 12pm - 5pm

Location: Art Lobby & Practice Gym (Near the corner of Oakdale and South Ponce de Leon)
Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff