Monday, March 30, 2015

Meatless Monday - Roasted Butternut Squash with Olives

Don’t you just love butternut squash? I have a thing for any vegetable that you can buy and keep on hand like any other staple of your pantry.  Plus they taste really good and can be prepared in so many different ways.

Butternut squash is reported to have very high amounts of vitamin A which is supposed to be good for you.  I always think about people saying “eat your carrots, they are good for your vision.” They said that because of the vitamin A in carrots, maybe they should have included butternut squash in that claim also.  I’m not sure what all the vitamins do for you, I just know they are delicious and versatile.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Olives by Future Relics Gallery
Roasted Butternut Squash with Olives

1 butternut squash
12 cloves of garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon thyme
1 cup cured olives
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes


Peel and dice the butternut squash and place it in a large ovenproof dish with the garlic. Pour over olive oil, and season with thyme. Mix well. Place in the oven and roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Remove it from the oven, mix in olives and tomatoes.

Place it back in the oven and roast until the squash is soft, about another 15 minutes.

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

Sunday, March 29, 2015

For toasting the raku kiln gods. #penlandspring

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Spicy Kale Salad

We still have (had) some kale in our little garden; I noticed this week that it was on the verge of going to seed. I left one stalk to bloom; I'm always curious to see if we'll end up with surprise veggies in the garden (or the lawn, or the neighbors yard), or if I can harvest the seed. We've had good luck with this with mustard and cilantro. The rest of the kale I harvested for this delicious kale salad. It's possible you've seen this recipe on this blog before, but this variation contains my special touches (mushrooms!) and other ideas for customization. I have a hard time following a recipe to the letter and make little tweaks as I go along - depending on what's in the fridge or what inspires me at any give moment. Even then, often our dinner conversation is sprinkled with "I think next time, I'll try such and such". It sounds as if I'm not satisfied with the meal, but in truth, cooking is my creative outlet and I like to experiment.
Speaking of experimentation, I started seeds for our summer garden just last weekend. Already, I have tiny seedlings of 6 varieties of tomatoes, poblano peppers, a ruffled eggplant, pepperoncinis, basil and artichoke! They are so tiny and delicate, who knows if they will actually survive to "adulthood". This is the first time I've started seeds indoors and the first time I've grown any of these things from seed. If all goes well, we'll be having pizza parties all summer and giving gifts of canned tomatoes for the holidays. 
Baby seedlings

I find that potters (the majority of this blogs audience, I believe) tend to also enjoy gardening, cooking and eating. What about you - do you have a garden? Do you grow from seed or plantings? Any advice to bestow on a seedling novice?
This kale was planted last fall and has provided many a good meal. I'm a little sad to say goodbye to it, but am looking forward to Spring's bounty soon!

Spicy Kale Salad


6 oz shitake mushrooms, chopped
1 small red onion, finely diced
5 cloves of garlic, finely diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
2-3 bunches curly kale, stemmed, chopped or torn into small pieces
2 tbsp nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese
2 tsp Srircaha sauce

1/2 c sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped

Heat olive oil in a 10 in skillet over medium heat; add mushrooms and cook until slightly browned. Stir in onions, garlic and sesame oil and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Stir in soy sauce and set aside.
Place kale in a large bowl, add sun-dried tomatoes, including a little of the oil in which they are stored. Massage kale and tomatoes together until kale is well coated.
Stir in mushroom mixture and sriracha sauce and toss well. Add cheese or nutritional yeast and serve.

This doesn't sound like much, but kale is very filling and hearty. This makes a great dinner salad.
It is also quite versatile. 
  • If you don't like mushrooms, skip them all together and add the onions, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil to the salad before massaging.
  • I think a little lemon juice and/or zest would be amazing in here too. 
  • Olives? Fresh tomatoes?
  • Not sure if the kale in the garden would be enough, I picked up some "kalelets" at the store. I didn't really read the package until I got home - the description says "A brand new vegetable, a cross between kale and brussel sprouts". I threw a few of those in here too - and they were good - it got me thinking - shredded raw brussel sprouts in place of the kale would be great! 
  • I will probably be adding some chickpeas to this salad later this week to stretch it into several lunches.  


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

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Being Mindful

The door to the Craft House, where I’m living on the Penland School of Crafts is an old style iron latch. The building is 80 years old and made of logs and stone, it’s very cool. I assume this door latch was made in the iron shop here. You don’t see too many door latches like this any more. Which means that people aren’t used to them and the door is continually left unlatched no matter what the weather. With modern door knobs we simply give them a little pull and the door closes and latches but with this one you have to be actively involved in operating the latch and making sure it engages. You have to pause and be mindful that the door is completely closed and latched behind you whenever you pass through it.

I think it’s good for me to take a moment and think about things I’m doing. I rush through life sometimes always moving on to the next task or idea. It’s exciting but so is right now. Experiencing the moment can make it special and memorable. Even when it’s a simple task like latching the door behind me as I transition through it.

While I’m here at Penland I want to take the time to be more mindful and intentional in my pottery. I could crank out a hundred mugs and have all or most of them come out of the kiln looking beautiful but I have to remind myself that’s not why we are here taking this class. We are trying to make better art, we are trying to improve our craft. We are taking time to be mindful of our work, our beautiful sunsets, each other, and little things like door latches.

What do you do to slow yourself down?

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

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Handle Pulling Tip

We’ve been working on making better mugs in the class at Penland. Cynthia Bringle has demonstrated her way of attaching and pulling handles so we’ve all been working hard at getting the technique down well.  Cynthia pulls handles off the side of the mug which is different than the way I normally do it. So we’ve been pulling a lot of handles in this class. It’s not unusual to find a piece with 2 or more handles, it’s rather fun.

When pulling handles a potter tends to use a bit of water to make the clay move to the thinness and length that we want for the piece. This often means we have a little water running down our arms. It’s a bit annoying. My friend and classmate, Lora Rust has come up with a great solution. She uses a sweatband to absorb that water and stop it from running down the arm and dripping off the elbow.  Brilliant.

Pulling a Handle
How do you make your handles?

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

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pasta with Mushrooms in Creamy Mustard Sauce

Mushrooms, spinach, good mustard and eating alfresco - these are just few of my favorite things. How lovely to have them all together in one dish! (Note, this dish will work even if you can’t dine outside, but I’m SO EXCITED that Spring if finally making an attempt!Spring: another of my favorite things.)

I warned that there would be mushrooms, and this recipe is highlights them in the most beautiful way.  What are some of your favorite “go to” ingredients?

Cooking the mushrooms is the most time consuming part of this; it took three batches in my 10" cast iron skillet. You want to give them plenty of room to cook and brown. They can touch when you first add them, but they should be in a single layer. They shrink, so by the time they are good and browned, you'll have lots of room in the pan.

Look at all the fungus-y goodness!


  • 16 oz. mixed mushrooms, such as crimini, shiitake (a wild mushroom mix would be amazing in this)
  • About 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup white wine (I used “cooking wine”, but recommend using a nice white wine that you’d be willing to drink)
  • 1 Tbsp. grainy mustard 
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 oz wide ribbon pasta (I used Pappardelle, Fettuccine or linguini would work well too)
  • 6 oz fresh spinach (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh parsley, for garnish


  • Saute the mushrooms: Add butter to a large skillet and melt. Add about 1/3  of your mushrooms and arrange in a single layer (they should all lay flat.) Allow to cook until the underside is nice and golden. Flip over and brown the other side. Once golden brown on both sides, remove mushrooms to a bowl and repeat with remainder of the mushrooms (add more butter each time).
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil for your pasta. When water is boiling, salt well and add pasta. Cook according to cooking instructions.
  • When all mushrooms are browned and as pasta boils, wipe out your skillet and return all the mushrooms to the pan. Re-heat over medium heat until warmed through. Add wine and allow to simmer until wine reduces by half. Add grainy mustard and dried tarragon or thyme. Stir well to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the cream, half of the grated Parmesan, a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper and stir well to combine (pasta should be just about cooked by now. If not, remove pan from heat until pasta is ready).
  • Remove/reserve 1 cup of pasta boiling water from pot then drain pasta and add to skillet with mushrooms and sauce. Add about 1/3 of a cup of the reserved pasta water. (Don't be like me, I wasn't paying attention and added the entire cup of water - it was fun, but more runny than I'd have liked) Over medium heat, cook, tossing the pasta in the sauce, until the sauce thickens slightly and coats the pasta. I also threw in a few handfuls of fresh spinach here. Add more pasta water if necessary. Add the freshly chopped parsley and toss with pasta.
  • Remove pasta to serving plates or bowls. Serve garnished with the additional grated Parmesan and a finishing sprinkling of salt and freshly ground pepper as needed. 
  • A note from my Honey - another favorite thing.

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

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Getting Loaded

The first assignment in Cynthia Bringle's concentration here are Penland School of Crafts was to make mugs. Everyone in the class made a bunch of them then picked the best for firing. As soon as they were dry we started loading a bisque kiln. We had just gotten started when Cynthia came out and told us that since we were firing this many mugs we didn't need to use kiln shelves. It's more efficient to just stack foot to foot then rim to rim all the way up the kiln.

I've loaded 2 kilns this way now. I have to tell you it's exciting. I realize it would be easier if all the pieces where made by one potter but it still worked.

I'm Feeling like a Jinga Master, let's hope the second kiln comes out this good. It's packed tighter and taller.
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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

First Days of Penland Spring Concentration

If you are preparing for any gathering you always seem to have a list of things to do to get ready. Expecting lots of people coming to your facility for classes is no different at all. Our first days as Studio Assistants and work study students was filled with prep work. We cleaned the studios, moved the tables and potters wheels. Loaded the dump truck with scrap wood for a wood firing class in the summer.
Wood for Woodfire Class

Classes started on Monday night and the assignment was to make mugs. All the students in the class have experience with clay so they could start the assignment before Cynthia Bringle (the instructor) gave any demos.

The reason for this assignment is so that people are more likely to use hand crafted mugs for coffee and tea rather than the disposable ones.  Pottery is more environmentally friendly. We will have a sale via lottery so the other students can participate in that portion of sustainable living.

Cynthia did demonstrate how to pull a handle off the side of a mug. That is not how I normally make my handles and the change is difficult for me but I’ll keep trying.

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

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Tale of Two Dishes

Hi, it's Janet.
As most of you know, Lori is away at Penland for the next few (many) weeks. While she is there, she has the luxury of being able to dine from the wonderful Penland kitchen. So, she asked me to take over Meatless Mondays in her absence.

Last week was a busy week for us with Lori packing and prepping for her trip, but we wanted to make the most of our evenings together so made a point to eat in and share some delicious home-cooked meals. Lori loves spaghetti squash, so this was an easy choice, plus it comes together quite quickly!

We also had some fridge cleaning out to do - veggies on the verge of expiration that we knew were at "now or never" stage. So, I lightly sautéed some mushrooms in olive oil to add to my dish and halved some grape tomatoes to add to Lori's. I LOVE mushrooms (expect to see many mushroom themed recipes in the coming weeks - Lori is not a fan) I also enjoy tomatoes, but just wasn't feeling them this evening, while they are definitely one of Lori's loves, so it worked out perfectly - a few mushrooms tossed into my dish and tomatoes in hers - everybody's happy! This dish is delicious as is, but these additions took it up another notch. I think olives, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, maybe some lemon zest (just to name a few) would also be great!

Garlic Spaghetti Squash w/ Herbs and Gruyere

Serves 4


  • 1 medium spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup minced fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil, sage, rosemary or a combo
  • ¾ cup shredded Gruyère cheese
  • ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Tomatoes, olives, capers, mushrooms as desired


  1. Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds with a large spoon. Place squash cut side down in a large baking dish, add water up to about 2 inches high on the squash. Cover dish tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for about 10 minutes. Squash is done when you can pierce it from the outside with a fork. Let cool about 10 minutes, then scrape the insides with a fork to pull the strands away from the skin. 
  2. In a large skillet, heat 2½ tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1½ minutes, until fragrant. Stir in spaghetti squash, vinegar, herbs, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook for about 2 minutes to heat through. Remove from heat and stir in Gruyère cheese, then top with pine nuts. Taste and add salt or pepper if desired.

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

Friday, March 6, 2015

Runnin’ Down a Dream

It’s time to dust off the playlist titled “Roadtrip.” Penland School of Crafts is about 5 hours from my home plus a stop for lunch so it’ll be a good bit of time in the old truck.  Thankfully, it’s a really pretty ride with lots of mountain vistas.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to see some snow too. That’s okay, as long as it’s not on the road.

I’ll be blogging from Penland as much as I can but I expect I won’t be able to write every day since I’ll be assisting Cynthia Bringle (the instructor), learning, and making. I expect I’ll actually be posting more on instagram than here, just because it’s quicker. So if you’re on instagram you might want to follow me. I’ll follow you back. I’m @FutureRelicsGallery there.

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

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Few From The Kiln

The look of pots fired in an atmospheric environment really speaks to me. These are pots that are fired in a wood, or gas kiln with or without salt or soda. I love how the flame plays with the pots and tells the story of what happened in that hot kiln. The flame, ash, salt, and soda all play a role in creating the pot. They are the potter’s team. But I live in the city of Atlanta so having a wood kiln in my back yard may be frowned upon by my neighbors and city officials.

That means I need to work with my glazes and electric kiln to give me similar results. I’m not really sure I’ll ever come up with something that will make people wonder what type of kiln I own, and I’m not sure I want to do that. I just want to see some of that esthetic in my pots.

Some of the pots from the most recent firing seem to have taken a step in that direction. Here are a few examples.
Pottery Tumbler by Lori Buff
Ceramic Tumbler
The color is a little off in this picture, it’s a very foggy day today, I wonder if that’s what’s doing it. The glaze is actually a little browner. 

The silicon travel lids I have fit this tumbler perfectly, which is nice. I wonder why they are called “Tumblers.” I’ll have to look that up.

Ceramic Bottle with Brushwork by Future Relics Gallery
Pottery Bottle
The photo is a little truer to color in this picture, it’s a nice soft satin finish with some slightly glossy brushwork. This bottle would make a good soap or sake dispenser.

Butter Keeper by Lori Buff
Butter Keeper
I love the way this glaze moves and all the delicious colors in it. I think I could just stare at this glaze for a few hours.

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

Monday, March 2, 2015

Meatless Monday - Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpea, and Quinoa Salad

Sometimes a warm salad is just the thing. Especially as winter is loosening it’s grip and spring is starting to show itself.  It just feels nice to have something heating in the oven as you’re thinking about how the sun is setting later and later each evening.

This recipe uses pickled jalapeños in the dressing.  A friend of mine gave me a big jar of pickled peppers from his garden. It’ a great way to preserve them and adds a nice tartness to the dressing.  You might even have a jar in your fridge right now.

Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpea, and Quinoa Salad by Future Relics Gallery
Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpea, and Quinoa Salad

1/2 medium cauliflower, cut into small florets
zest of 1 lemon
extra virgin olive oil
1 can chickpeas
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
a handful each of fresh mint leaves, flat leaf parsley, cilantro, roughly torn

Jalapeno Lime Dressing

1-2 pickled jalapeños, finely chopped
juice of 2 medium limes
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives


Preheat oven to 425F. Lay cauliflower florets out in a single layer on an oven tray, scatter over half of the lemon zest and drizzle with olive oil. Give it all a good toss and roast for 15-20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or so, or until cauliflower is golden and tender. On another tray lay out the chickpeas, scatter over remaining zest, fennel seeds, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Toss well to combine and then roast for 10-15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or so, or until crispy golden brown.

Combine all the ingredients for the dressing and mix well.

In a large bowl combine, cooked cauliflower, chickpeas, cooked quinoa, herbs and almonds, drizzle over dressing mix well and serve.

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