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.

 

Polar Vortex II

photoMany of my fellow humans in Southern Ontario were irritated with the coming of  "polar vortex part 2"  this week. But, the snow storm came to me as a blessing. Instead of braving the roads (and drivers!) into work, I took the day to stay at home and finally made some pots in my new studio. The studio isn't fully functioning yet. Our severely sloped floor is limiting the amount of shelves I can put up (ie. none, as they lean FAR, FAR away from the wall) and therefore, there are still a lot of boxes of stuff hanging around on the floor. I need to make pots for this woodfiring though, so I wedged up some clay on my rickety table and spent the afternoon throwing mugs, espresso cups and tealight holders. It was a lovely way to spend the day.

While the wind whistled  and the snow piled up on our porch, I sat inside with the woodstove crackling away, and a very happy cat watching me throw.

Happy spring/dead of winter.

Kitchen: Old and New

The kitchen is, in my opinion, the most important room in the house. Not only is eating an essential requirement for life, but it's pretty enjoyable too. I love entertaining; preparing a delicious and wholesome meal for my friends and family fills me with the utmost pride. I revel every time I successfully make a new curry, or pan of rosemary focaccia bread. Eating is one of the main reasons I make functional ware. It is a delight to serve great food, on great pots. So, naturally, our kitchen was the first room we finished after moving to Jerseyville.

Here's Jesse and Alicia on our first night in the old kitchen (note the atomizer for removing wallpaper).

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And here's our new abode.

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Thanks to shelving (and the pantry from my childhood laundry room), we can fit all our stuff into this wee kitchen.

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.

A Lot Can Change in a Year.

At this time last year, I was in my final year at Sheridan College and was preparing to spear head my first woodfiring. I had participated in three up to that point, merely showing up for a shift in the middle of the night and receiving a few finished pieces out of the deal. This firing I organized myself, chopped the majority of the wood, filled one third with my work and spent 24 hours stoking the flames. At that time I was preparing to move back in with my parents, while my partner moved to the West Coast. A lot can change in a year.

In the past year I graduated college and exhibited work in Toronto, Philadelphia, Waterloo, Hamilton and Burlington. I moved to Wiarton and worked for production potter Timothy Smith and spent the summer re-learning how to throw. I moved back in with my parents (again). I had 8 firings in 4 different wood kilns. I ran my first workshop. I went to NCECA 2013 in Houston. I bought my first and second Ron Meyers pots. I made pots in three different studio spaces. My partner moved back to Ontario.

We bought our first house.

On Friday we are joining the "homeowners club" in the quaint village of Jerseyville. Our new home is just outside of Hamilton, far enough from the city to feel like the country, and close enough to take advantage of concerts, show opportunities, and Hamilton's monthly Art Crawl. We will have our own store, studio and garden. We might get chickens. We will have our own kitchen! ... and I will have lots of wall space to display my pot collection.

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I wonder what next year will bring.