Sunday, August 29, 2010

How to cook a Sockeye

The Sockeye are running and boy, are they good.

I never imagined I would be able to discern different types of salmon, but after living in the Northwest for so many years, I've found that Sockeye tastes different than Coho; Cut Throat tastes different than Chinook.

When confronted with my first fillet of fresh salmon, I didn't have a clue about how to cook it. I was advised to layer it with slices of orange and onion, wrap it in all up in foil and bake it.

Later, when I got a beautiful hunk of fish, I remembered a wonderful breakfast I ate in Japan. I was traveling with a group of potters and we had stayed in a traditional Japanese Inn. The innkeeper gave us a most unusual and delicious breakfast: Cold trout that had been cooked in a sweet soy and spice sauce. (If you're ever eaten fish with hashi, while the fish--head and all--looks on in shocked horror, is an adventure in dexterity.)

I remembered that wonderful cold fish and tried to duplicate it's flavor. So here goes:

Mix a up a combination of the following:

1 T. sugar (brown sugar is good too)
3 - 4 T. Japanese rice vinegar or sake, if you choose
Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Add olive oil equal to or 2/3rds more of the vinegar (ex. 3 T. vinegar; 5 T. olive oil)
Add in soy sauce to taste. I usually put in an equal amount of soy to vinegar
Add Basil, garlic, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce--whatever seasoning you like.

Mix this all up and set aside. Be sure to mix again before adding to the fish.

Put some extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick pan. Heat it to medium-high and lay the fish, skin side down into the oil and cook until you see the meat change half-way up the fillet. Gently turn the fish over and begin cooking the other side.

Just after you do this, pour the seasoning mix over the fish. If your pan is hot, it will sizzle a lot. Turn the head down and poach the fish to finish cooking. The sauce with naturally thicken. Spoon it over the fish if you want or drizzle it over the finished dish to serve.

Only turn the fish once. Serve with a green salad and home-baked bread. Or make sauteed spinach and breaded tomatoes as side dishes.

I love cold, left-over fish for breakfast. Served with buttered toast points, it's privileged eating indeed. I remember that great cold Japanese trout, the kippered herring from the UK, the wonderful pickled herring I first ate in Amsterdam.

Every molecule of my Scottish and Scandinavian DNA rises up and thanks me with each mouthful.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Square "Goth" Teapot

The teapot so far:

Looks like the surface treatment will behave itself and not crack.

During the making process, I decided to make this one with an applied handle and make some interesting legs.

I don't know where the lid came from. I started out making a different kind of one and this just........evolved.

I made a spare, just in case.

I always make two lids for any teapot. You never know.......

Friday, August 20, 2010

Oh, No,I think Paris Hilton's under there!

I Wish - Purses and Bags

"OH, I left my purse somewhere!"

I wish:
Car designers could figure out a place to put a purse.

And an umbrella.

I rather liked the Rolls Hole-in-the-Door Umbrella storage idea.

I mean, if they can figure out a place to store an UMBRELLA, surely a purse isn't such a mental stretch.

That's probably a Rolls umbrella; I would think no other kind would fit in there......

Maybe you would have to have a Rolls Royce purse. At the rate they're selling at these days, I think the price points have gotten high enough for the car manufacturers to be considering it.

Now if I could just figure out where to put those shopping bags as well.........

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Square Teapot

Today I'm going to make another square teapot. It's sorta become my signature piece. I've made and sold several. They're a real bear to make, but I love to do them.

All the slabs that make up the piece must come from the same bag of clay. That way I hedge my bets on compatibility in joining and shrinkage. All the pieces must be assembled in one go. It just won't work to put part of the pot together even in two component parts and hope the whole thing will work.

The slabs must be the right wet/dry condition to join and manipulate the form. As soon as possible, the handle must be fabricated and attached, but it is thinner, so that part of the operation has to be orchestrated after the base of the pot is done.

I've invented a way to attach the handle which is my trade secret. So don't ask. (insert smile here).

At any time during the process, the pot can develop a crack, the handle can get temperamental or any one of a good number of things can make the whole thing go south.

Glazing is the same story. Just holding this pot during glazing is a real pain.

...............why do I go through all this? 'Cause I love how they come out. And I love to experiment with variations in handles, feet, height and width of the pot and lids. Every one has a personality of it's own.

Two variations are in 500 Teapots.

P.S. The last one I made, I didn't measure the shorty kiln I have and had to take the feet off in order to get it in the kiln.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

When Multi-Tasking Goes Wrong

Why do I avoid that which I love?

Why do I feel I must do those things considered 'work' before I can do the thing I don't consider 'work'?

It is a woman's curse, I think.

The kitchen must be cleaned. The laundry must be done. The household wheels must be set into motion and while they're spinning, I am freed to work in my studio with no pangs.

Logically, I know this is rubbish. Housework will never be done. There will always be other things to do.

I must say to myself, "Let it all go hang. My work is what feeds me and that alone makes it a priority."

It's easy to get muddled with the myriad of things that demand attention. Multi-tasking might be viewed as a gift, but for concentrating on your art, it's an enemy.

I need time. Time to think. Time to dream. Time to just take care of my clay.

The wonderful James Christensen work, "The Responsible Woman" comes to mind. (Unfortunately this is out of print, but a copy might be found on the web through dealers or Ebay.)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pretty Pears All in a Row

Firing the kiln again.

This time I have about 100 test tile pieces, several bowls, experiments with funnels and a sieve and a large flat tile/platform for a grouping of pears.

The pears have been around in the studio for a while and I finally decided I wanted to place them on some kind of base.

Don't know if this will work, but it's good to experiment. I really didn't want to lay a piece of slabbed work down flat on a kiln shelf, so I'm firing it like I bisque plates, standing on end. Conserves kiln space and avoids the problem of warping.

I arranged them on a long piece of paper measuring the approximate size of the base tile, placing them in an order I thought looked good.

Then I marked where they should go and proceeded to roll out the tile. I cut it as long as I could to fit it into the kiln. I made note on the paper about individual pears, numbered them and outlined them with their number on the paper.

I'm thinking a black base with black stems on the pears......we'll see. The kiln is still cooling this morning.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Reading Hugh MacLeod

Hugh MacLeod, a corporate guru/artist says, "Ignore Everybody" when it comes to creativity. His book of the same title has been on the New York Times best seller list.

See his cartoons at He doesn't mince words, this boy.

I admire people who can make a living out of 'thin air'. He started making doodles on the backs of business cards and has shepherded this idea into a roaring business that seems to grow expediently.

I'm looking forward to reading his new book. Flipping through the chapter headings, I can see even though the book is aimed at corporate types and addresses creativity, a working artist can certainly benefit from reading it. After all, work ethic is work ethic.