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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Truth in Advertising?

The past couple of weeks has been really emotional for many people in this nation. The senseless killings in a South Carolina church, followed by the removal of some Confederate symbols of hate and the discussion about them. Then the ruling by the Supreme Court making gay marriage legal and the ensuing celebrations and discussions. I was taken back to September 11 after the church murders. I remembered how we came together as a nation to show solidarity and pride. We all hung out American flags, we stood in line to give blood, we showed our love and support for complete strangers who lost family and friends and we showed the enemy that we were united. As the confederate flags started coming down in the Southern states I was hoping that this would happen again, that we'd come together as a nation and show defiance to the hate. Sadly, that has not happened. Some people believe that these symbols of a lost war and slavery are so important that they need to remain in place no matter how much it hurts the African-American community.

Then came the ruling from the SCOTUS. Love wins, everyone can now get married. Facebook turned into a rainbow, people danced in the streets. Straight people, even complete strangers congratulated me and have shown support in so many ways. Yet it's not hard to find the people that are against the ruling. It doesn't effect them in any way, yet they are ready to fight it. They are willing to spend our tax dollars fighting gay marriage because they hate it more than they hate other things that they can spend tax dollars on like fighting poverty or something more meaningful to everyone.

Wheel Thrown, Hand Carved, Ceramic Mug of City of Atlanta Skyline and Rainbow by Lori Buff
Rainbow City Mug

All my life I have heard America called “the land of the free and the home of the brave” but I have never truly felt it. This country has a long history of enslavement, discrimination and hate for no reason. We stole this country from the indigenous people by murdering, raping, enslaving, death marches, lies, and starvation. We stated that “all men are created equal” while we owned people who we kidnaped from other countries and we refused to allow women many rights like voting.

We have made great and important changes to bring freedom to more Americans but we really will never be free while some people are enslaved by their own hate. In holding fast to that hate they insult every person who has fought for freedom and love.


I'm sure I've pissed off someone with my feelings. I may even be called unAmerican by people that don't realize that I do love my country. It's like loving your home but realizing that it needs repairs. You don't pretend it doesn't need those repairs, you fix things because you love your home. My home still needs some fixing. Maybe this is one small step towards that happening. What will you do to help make this world a better place.



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

Monday, June 29, 2015

Meatless Monday - Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad

It’s the fourth of July and time for cook outs with friends.  Many people are going to be decorating with red, white and blue to celebrate the holiday. Most of the time we see this in primary colors or food coloring. Not this salad, this is much more subtle than that. Actually, it’s red, gold and purple but someone who sees this salad on this holiday might make the connection.

This salad is quick and easy, but the potatoes do take some time. The good news is that they can be made a day ahead and chilled overnight in the refrigerator.

I made a dinner out of this salad, you can do the same, you’ll get 4 - 6 servings that way, more as a side salad. It’s really pretty and delicious, you will most likely want to serve it more often than just Independence Day.

Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad by Future Relics Pottery
Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad

Ingredients: 

5 Tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 large Greek green olives, pitted and chopped
6 to 8 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, chopped
3 large green onions, including green parts, chopped
12 small multicolored potatoes (about 2 1/2 lb.)
1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts in water, quartered
6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

Directions: 

To make the olive relish, combine the oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a bowl. Whisk to blend. Stir in the olives, fennel and two-thirds of the green onions.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until tender when pierced with a small knife, about 25 minutes. Drain and let stand for about 20 minutes or until cool to the touch. Cut the potatoes in half, then transfer to a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Add the artichokes and olive relish. Toss to blend. Stir in most of the cheese, reserving some for sprinkling on top.

Sprinkle the remaining green onions and the remaining cheese over the salad and serve.

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

Friday, June 26, 2015

Practice, Practice, Practice

A man with a violin case in his hand walks up to a gentleman at a bus stop in New York City and asks “How do you get to Carnagie Hall?”
The gentleman replies “Practice.”

It’s an old joke that has a lot of truth to it. We all must practice to get better at certain things. We’ve all heard the clichés, practice makes perfect or perfect practice makes perfect. It seems that mindful practice helps us to improve.

When I was in the fourth grade my mom took me to the local music shop and bought me a guitar. I learned to read music and tried to play songs but I never got very good. I tried to play for years, I didn’t give up until I was in my thirties because I was playing less and less as the years went by.  I loved it but I couldn’t play it. Recently a friend gave me a guitar that he no longer played. It’s an old Epiphone acoustic 12 string that he restrung to be a 6 string (coincidently just like one I had when I was younger).  It’s been so many years since I played that I forgot almost everything I knew as a kid yet after only playing for about 6 weeks I’m much better than I ever was because of the way I’m practicing.

When I was a kid I just sat down with the songbook and tried to play the songs I liked. They were slow and awkward. It took me about one full second or more to change cords. Try singing along with that.

Now, I found instructors on line that show what to do and a great app that is a fun way of practicing cord changes. I also learned a great way to practice strumming. Now I take a few minutes every day and practice technique. If I’m really busy I only practice the techniques because it only takes ten to fifteen minutes. Now the songs are getting much better.

In pottery we often focus so much on making pots that we don’t practice the techniques that get us there. We want to make pretty pots without practice.

I wanted to play like Jimi Hendrix.

Jimi practiced his guitar playing. I practice my pottery throwing.

When I was at Penland last spring Cynthia showed me a way to improve my juicers. Not the form, that was okay, she thought the reamer could be improved. So I sat down and threw a bunch of domes that looked like the reamer without the bottom. When they were leather hard I practiced carving them so they would juice better. When I was done I recycled the clay.  I now make better juicers. It was worth the time.

Ceramic Pitcher and Juicer by Lori Buff of Future Relics Gallery
Mojito Pitcher with Juicer

My readers who are potters might want to try an exercise. Everyday before you start throwing wedge up a few two pound balls of clay and a few three pound balls of clay. Throw the 2 pounder in only 3 pulls, measure the height, cut it in half and check the consistency of thickness. Then do the same with the three pounder. Now throw another 2 pounds followed by the 3 pound ball. Repeat until you’re out of clay. Keep a log of how tall you’ve gotten the clay each day. You’ll be able to track your progress. Pay careful attention to what you’re doing and try to improve the consistency, height and thickness.

When you’re done practicing you can wedge up the practice clay and throw some pots.

What are some practice techniques that you use?

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Family Reunion, Sundogs, and Texture Trees

Every two years Janet’s family gathers together to celebrate and visit.  Since it’s a fairly large family the reunions are usually held in state parks so people can camp, kids can play, and groups can gather and visit with each other.  This year it was held in the Boise National Forest in an area with the unfortunate name of Rattlesnake Campground. Fortunately, we did not see any snakes with or without rattlers.

The trip started off with a flight from Atlanta to Boise on Southwest Airlines.  Sadly, due to unforeseen circumstances we got to the gate just as the plane was pulling away. That is something nobody wants to see but I was a little surprised at how badly some of the travelers acted about it. It’s 2015, we all know that you’re supposed to be at the gate way early. We messed up, not Southwest. To be honest, they did a great job of switching things around and getting us on different flights so we made it there and only one hour behind schedule. They gave us great customer service.

The mountains were beautiful, tall and majestic covered in Douglas Fir and Lodgepole pine trees. The elevation of these mountains is about 5,000 feet and they are quite steep leading down to the Middle Fork Payette River.  They are something to be experienced since capturing them on a camera never seems to do a mountain justice.

View from the Campground
 While relaxing along the river bank I looked up to see a huge sundog. Sundogs are created by the sun reflecting on ice in the clouds and they produce a halo that can appear to have all the colors of the rainbow. Now that’s a beautiful treat.

Sundog
 We took a hike up the mountain side on a trail that quickly became nothing more than a deer path. I love hiking these types of trails. They make me feel more connected with nature. As we hiked we heard water and headed towards it. We found a few places where the river cascaded down the rocks and deadfall making some beautiful waterfalls.


Waterfall
One thing I love about nature is all the textures. Some of the hardest looking surfaces can be very soft while some softer looking textures are hard as rocks, sometimes they actually are rocks.  I really like the texture on this tree. I imagine it will influence the texture on a pot very soon.

Pine Tree Bark Texture
 I love finding flowers in the woods. I can identify some but most are just a mystery although they may resemble a more cultured flower that we know from our home gardens. This wild rose was an exceptional treat.
Wild Rose
For fun on Saturday night a group of us went down to the Starlight Mountain Theatre in Crouch, ID to see the play Cinderella.  This is an outdoor theater with some very talented and hard working young actors.

The trip was too short and the flight too long but it was made better by the good humor of the flight attendants including one who sang to us. That was really fun.


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

Monday, June 22, 2015

Meatless Monday - Barley Salad with Fried Cheese

What in the world is fried cheese? If you’ve ever made a grilled cheese sandwich you know that sometimes the cheese melts out of the bread and into the frying pan or griddle.  I find that friend, melted cheese delicious as well as a bit messy. However, some cheeses are well suited to being intentionally fried. They get nice and crispy on the outside while being warm and soft on the inside and don’t make a mess of your pan. These are cheeses that don’t really melt very well. Many vegan cheeses don’t melt well so they are very well suited for this salad. I used queso panela but you could also try kefalotyri, halloumi, or any of the other grilling cheeses that look good to you.

Barley is not gluten free but you might be able to substitute something like quinoa or millet for the barley if you are unable to process gluten.

Since this dish is made with barley it can be served warm for a hearty winter salad or cold in the summer. You might want to bookmark this recipe or add it to your Pinterest boards so you can come back to it when the weather changes.

Barley and Fried Cheese Salad by Future Relics Pottery
Barley and Fried Cheese Salad

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups Barley
1/3 cup dried blueberries
6 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
juice 1 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 red onion, finely diced
1 large bunch parsley, leaves picked
1/4 cup toasted natural almonds, roughly chopped
1 cup grilling cheese

Directions:

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and add the barley. Reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes until tender. Drain and place into a serving bowl.

Slice the cheese into 1/2in slices. Put a dry frying pan on medium-high heat and cook the cheese until it is golden brown on both sides. This will only take a minute or two. Add this to the barley.

Add the dried blueberries, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to the warm barley and cheese. Throw in the onion and parsley and toss everything together gently. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve.

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

Monday, June 15, 2015

Meatless Monday - Artichoke Spinach Pasta

Do you love artichoke dip?  I think it’s delicious, honestly, any time you get artichokes, spinach, and cheese together it’s like a little slice of heaven.  Mix that with some pasta and you get a really flavorful meal.  This recipe is really quick and easy to make. I think it took me about 20 minutes. Perfect for a Monday night after work.

You may notice I ask you to mix butter and olive oil. This is something I suggest to keep the flavor buttery but the fat calories low.  You can use this trick in most recipes. Even if your not concerned about watching your weight this is a good practice to keep your diet healthy and delicious.

Meatless Monday - Artichoke and Spinach Pasta by Future Relics Pottery
Artichoke and Spinach Pasta
Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
  • 2 bags Baby Spinach
  • 2 cans Artichoke Hearts, Drained And Halved, Reserve the Fluid
  • 3 Tablespoons Flour
  • 2 cups Whole Milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1-1/2 cup Mozzarella Or Monterey Jack Cheese, Grated
  • 1/2 cup Veggie Broth
  • 12 ounces, weight Penne, Cooked Until Al Dente
  • Crushed Red Pepper, To Taste
Preparation Instructions

Melt 1 tablespoon butter  and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot or skillet. Add garlic and throw in the spinach. Stir it around until it's wilted, about 1-3 minutes. Remove spinach from pot and set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil to the same pot and raise the heat to high. Throw in the halved artichokes and stir it around until they get a little color, 1 to 5 minutes. Remove the artichokes from the pot and set them aside.

Reduce the heat to low. Add 1 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pot. When melted, sprinkle in flour and whisk until it's combined. Pour in milk and reserved artichoke water and whisk to combine. Let it cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until starting to thicken. Add Parmesan, Mozzarella/Monterey Jack, salt and pepper, and cayenne pepper. Stir to melt, and if it's overly thick, add the veggie broth.

Add artichokes and pasta, tossing gently to combine. Gently fold in spinach, then pour the pasta into a serving bowl. Sprinkle the top with crushed red pepper flakes



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

Monday, June 8, 2015

Meatless Monday - Gluten Free Red Curry Soup

Summer is not normally soup weather unless it’s a cold soup like gazpacho but we’ve had some pretty rainy and cool days so this soup seemed right. Besides, it can be made in about 20 minutes which is really nice on a weeknight.  It’s simple to make and I found all the veggies were local grown. That just feels nice.

This is a curry but it’s not very hot with this amount of curry, however, you can easily add more or less depending on how hot you prefer your food.  As a matter of fact, I didn’t really measure any of the ingredients, I just guessed as I tossed them in the soup pot. You could swap peas for the green beans or any other similar veggie you have on hand.

This recipe is vegan, gluten free and I used non-GMO corn.

Red Curry Rice Noodle Soup, Meatless, Gluten Free, by Future Relics Pottery
Red Curry Rice Noodle Soup

 INGREDIENTS
3 oz. rice noodle vermicelli
4 cups vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk
1½ tbsp. red curry paste* (store bought
or homemade)
1 ear of fresh corn or about 1 cup frozen corn
1¼ cups fresh green beans
2 scallions, chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

INSTRUCTIONS
Fill a large saucepan with water and place over high heat. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Add the corn and allow to simmer about 10 minutes, until the corn is tender. Remove the corn from the water and set aside to cool. Place noodles into water and soak until softened. This normally takes about 3 minutes, but refer to noodle package directions, as brands may vary.

Remove from heat and drain. Rinse with cold water.

Combine broth, coconut milk and curry paste in large saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Make sure to stir enough to blend curry paste into broth completely.

Add green beans and simmer just until bright green and tender-crisp, 2-3 minutes more. Remove the corn from the cob while the soup is cooking.

Stir in noodles and corn. Ladle into bowls and top with scallions and cilantro.

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

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Ash Glaze Recipe

A few readers have asked about the ash glaze that we developed during Spring concentration at Penland.  It was a great experience for the students who were involved in the process. They did research, line tests and lots of experiments. The glaze that came out of the process is a fairly stable ash glaze.  Yes, you read that correctly. Most ash glazes have some run to them, and yes, we like that puddle and run effect. We like it until we loose a pot because the glaze ran all the way down the pot and onto the kiln shelf and we have to scrape the kiln shelves.  So some stability isn’t a bad thing, especially if the glaze is pretty. This glaze is because it breaks to a nice red-brown but is also a rather pretty, deep blue without looking too much like pure cobalt. In the salt kiln it got a bit lighter and even showed some yellow.  I normally spray my ash glazes because they are so runny. This glaze we were able to dip and still had very little movement. Nice

Blue Ash Glaze by Future Relics Pottery
Peter’s Ash Glaze

The recipe started with the ash glaze recipe I use which is Mark Issenberg’s. I like the look and simplicity of the glaze. I also like that I can fire it to cone 6 in my electric kiln or cone 10 when I get to fire in a wood kiln.
Pottery ash glazes by Lori Buff
Mark’s Ash Glazes (blue and brown)

Potters being the experimental type we couldn’t leave a good recipe alone, we had to play with it which is how this recipe developed. I like the way it looks and plan on doing some work with it now that I’m home and back in my own studio.  My plan is to try to simplify it. I like glazes that use fewer ingredients because my studio is small and storage space is at a premium.

The wood that was used to make this was from Cynthia Bringle’s wood stove. She said it was mostly oak. Different types of wood flux differently so it’s very important to run tests on each batch of glaze that you make.

Peter’s Blue Ash Glaze

50 Wood Ash
30 Red Art Clay
20 Ball Clay (OM4)
20 Silica/Flint

2 Cobalt


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

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Keep On Learning

Sometimes a teacher will say something that sticks with us our entire life.  When a teacher knows this it’s often a great joy to them. What’s the point of teaching if your students don’t take something useful away when they leave the class. One of my pottery teachers, Lucille Scurti told me to keep on learning when I graduated from her class. We had dinner together back in January and she told me the same thing. We talked about workshops that she has taken over the years, some very recently.  We talked about how sometimes people don’t understand how a professional, accomplished artist and teacher would spend time and money to attend classes and workshops.  It’s about learning and growing. It’s about getting feedback from your peers. It’s about continually trying to improve yourself and your craft.

Callanwolde Fine Arts Center
Callanwolde Fine Arts Center

This week I started taking a soda firing class with my friend Lora Rust at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. I think this is going to be fun. We started by helping to unload the soda kiln from another class.  This was a great learning opportunity for the students who have not previously fired in soda. It was also a great opportunity for me to start to learn this kiln and plan my pots. Honestly, if every class and workshop on atmospheric firing (soda, salt, reduction, wood firing) started out this way I think it would shorten the learning curve dramatically. It will be interesting to see what happens.

I walked into the class with no plans, no ideas, nothing. I walked out planning a new surface idea for the mishima pots I make. I’m pretty excited to get that started. Stay tuned to see what happens, it might be exciting for all of us.

What do you do to keep on learning?

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

Monday, June 1, 2015

Meatless Monday - Green Tacos

Tacos seem like a perfect spring and summer food. Granted, I eat tacos all year long, but they seem especially good when the veggies and herbs are nice and fresh and the beer is cold.  These tacos are a little different and very green for spring. You can fill them with tofu or beans if you want but the recipe here is how I made them.

Meatless Monday Green Tacos by Future Relics Pottery
Green Tacos


Ingredients for Green Sauce 
2 poblano peppers, roasted with skins removed
1 jalapeño, seeds and stem removed
1 garlic clove
1 big bunch parsley
1 big bunch cilantro
1/2 cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

Directions 
Roast peppers over an open flame on the stove top or under the broiler. When they are cool enough to touch, remove burnt skins, stems and seeds. Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.
  
Ingredients for Blistered Shishito Peppers and Snap Peas 
6 oz shishito peppers
6 oz sugar snap peas
2 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tamari

Directions 
Heat the butter and olive oil together in a pan on medium heat. Wash and dry the veggies then toss them into the pan and sauté  2 to 5 minutes until bright green or until a bit blistered. Add the tamari and sauté for another minute.


Ingredients for the Honey Glazed Bok Choy
3 baby bok choy, quartered
1 tablespoon butter + 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon tamari
1 teaspoon honey

Directions 
Heat the butter and olive oil together in a pan on medium heat. Wash and dry the bok choy then toss into the pan and  3 to 5 minutes sauté until bright green. Add the tamari and honey and sauté for another minute.

Garnish / Assembly 

Avocado, chives, sesame seeds + your favorite tortillas.

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