Yam Pancakes

I mentioned in  Kitchen: Old and New how much I love cooking, and eating. During highschool I studied in a culinary apprenticeship program - at that time I was certain I wanted to be a chef (at times I have also been "certain" that I wanted to be a surgeon, psychiatrist, model, archeologist, actress, film director, photographer etc). Though pursuing a culinary career is not in my future, I learned a lot in that program. As a child I grew up with two parents who loved to cook and there were very few nights that they weren't home. So we lucked out and had home cooked meals everyday -  however, this meant that I didn't know the first thing about making mashed potatoes, let alone a velouté or béchamel - I had never had to cook for myself. My apprenticeship taught me all of that and more. I learned a dozen ways to cook eggs, how to properly pour a glass of wine, and to love cooking with lots of butter. I think cooking school solidified the fact that I am a meat eater. I couldn't be a vegetarian to save my life. My love of food grew rapidly, and my love was not just for food in general, but for "fancy" food. I craved ornate salads with berries and nuts. I desired rich, creamy sauces garnished with herbs and carved fruit. My love of food presentation grew with my love of quality meals. Arranging a plate was like painting with flavour, texture, and colour; piling vegetables as high as possible was a challenge I delighted in. A plate's shape, the curve of a bowl, the width of a rim: these were all factors that influence the overall look of a plated dish.

I'm no chef, but I believe this part of my life may have been where my love of pottery started - even if I didn't know it then. It was definitely the beginning of my love for food, meal sharing, entertainment, hosting, and cooking.

I'm not a food blogger, but here's my dinner from a few nights ago. We had some leftover yams from yam chips the night before, so I made pancakes. I had never made them before, so I thought I'd share my revelation with you guys.

I used two yams for Jesse and I. It made three pancakes.

1. Grate yams into a bowl 2. Beat two eggs and add. 3. Add spices (in my case paprika, chipotle), salt, pepper, diced onion and garlic. (Again, not a food blogger (or a "recipe" type cook) so use your judgement and taste buds to figure how much you want to add!) 4. Mix with your hands - this is the fun part. 5. Sprinkle in flour little by little until the yam consistency just starts to hold it's shape (like cookie dough... but shredded yams). 6. Heat up coconut oil in a frying pan (Roughly 1/4" - 1/2" deep?) - you can get coconut oil by the tub at a bulk food store, for cheap. 7. When it is HOT, drop in a spoonful of yam mixture and flatten with a spoon. (You should hear crackling when you put the mixture in) 8. Flip over when browned. They are done when both sides start to look pancakey (that speckly brown look, ya know). 9. You can put your pancakes into a warm oven until they are ready to serve on a beautiful plate. Remember, half the taste is in the appearance!

photo(1)I served ours with HIGH-FAT yogurt (don't skimp on the fat, life is short), refried kidney beans, tomatoes, and sweet peppers. You could also use sour cream, salsa, or guacamole. Throw in some cilantro, parsley, and scallions and you've got yourself some Mexican yam pancakes.

I also think they would be delicious with bacon and marmalade for breakfast. With a drizzle of honey and icing sugar.

Here's my pancakes on the first plate I ever bought, made by Michael Connelly. I picked up a set of two from the Artstream Nomadic Gallery at NCECA 2012.

 

The House is the Person

Well, it has been a long week. This is our first house and first move, and like anything else it has been an amazing learning opportunity. The Jerseyville General Store has thus far been a lesson in: patience, teamwork, organization, multi-tasking, and staying calm. It has also been a lesson in: tearing up floors, stripping wallpaper, drywalling, painting, plumbing, electrical, tearing down, re-building, cleaning, and heavy-lifting. Our renovations are non-stop from the moment we get up to the late hours of the night.

kitchenMost of our household items are now downstairs in the store, slowly making their way up into our house, but my studio is still in tear-down mode. I have a wood firing scheduled for the beginning of April though, so I am motivated to get my work space up and running as soon as possible.

Part of me loves the home-reno process. As an artist, there is nothing more exciting than a fresh slate, a blank canvas. This is the first time I have really been able to make every room my own (and Jesse's of course). I look for my home to reflect the same attributes that I hope to see in my pots:  calm, usefulness, delight, simplicity, quiet, and joy.

"The pot is the man: his virtues and his vices are shown therein—no  disguise is possible". - Bernard Leach

If Bernard Leach is right, then I guess I'm looking for those attributes in myself too.

AB Opening

Today was the opening to Art Brownie 2013: ZOO  

Unfortunately, living in Wiarton means I couldn't make it to the show in Toronto, and therefore don't have any pictures of the exhibition to share with you! ):

However, the show is up and running, so stop by INDEXG next time you're in the Gladstone Hotel area, and check out all the lovely pieces (there are even some in there by notable artist Kai Chan).

AND/OR you can now see all the pieces online at www.artbrownie.com

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Click on Artists > Emma Smith to see more of my brownies!

The Rat

RM3I first heard of Ron Meyers in second year at Sheridan, during one of our weekly morning chats with Tony Clennell. Each week we were given a new form to throw, be it cups, bowls, teapots or covered jars. First thing in the morning, we would sit around the table with Tony and start the day with tea, coffee and show and tell. Tony would bring in pots from his own collection, to show us some possible forms.

The teapot that Tony brought in of Ron Meyers' was grungy, eerie and hysterical all at the same time. Tony likes to joke that the teapot looks like it has been fired at with a shot gun - I agree with him. The piece looked bent, it had a crunched knob, and it was decorated with primitive clay smudges and stick scratches. I loved it. I had never before seen a piece of pottery that was so casual and confident. The marks of the maker were prominent and strong; he didn't try to cover up the touch of his hand, he emphasized it.

Since that morning coffee break I have fallen head over heels with Ron's pots. He is quite easily my favourite potter. At Sheridan we were lucky to have several of his demo pieces in the collection, and I spent lots of time admiring them and trying to gain some "looseness" in my work as well. I think what I admire most about his work is that IT'S HARD TO BE CASUAL, but he masters it. I have tried to make my pots gestural, for them to stand and slouch as humans do, informally. They only look sloppy and unintentional. Ron's pieces make sense. They exude confidence and reference the underground in a way that is witty and wise. The animals he carves or paints onto the surfaces are evil and mysterious, with no lack of character. I am in awe of all that this man does. If I worshipped a god, he would be it.

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This past weekend, Pinecroft Centre for the Arts hosted Ron Meyers for a weekend long workshop. Tony's family started Pinecroft 60 years ago - it continues to be the longest running pottery in Canadian history. I attended the workshop on Saturday, and was able to meet Ron for the second time and finally watch him make some pots. The way he works is directly reflected in the way his pieces turn out - he is casual, he is confident, he exudes strength and mystery and knowledge. These attributes are all noticeable in any given piece.

IMG_3459I already have one piece of Ron's in my own collection (remember that Cow plate from my blog entry "Cattle" in March?), but I see many more in the future. Bats, frogs, rats, birds, cats, dogs, pigs? I just can't control myself.

You can find Ron Meyers' work in the online AKAR gallery. www.akardesign.com

You can read more about Pinecroft on their website and on Tony Clennell's blog. www.pinecroftcentreforthearts.com www.smokieclennell.blogspot.com