Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Apricot-Garlic Glaze

"Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly."
-M. F. K. Fisher

This simple glaze is so easy & adaptable. Adjust the recipe to the size of your pork tenderloin(s). Makes a nice glaze for chicken or salmon, too. Cedar Plank Salmon on the grill with this glaze is especially good.

About 1-1/2 cups apricot preserves (I use the readily available Smucker's).

1/2 cup soy sauce.

3-6 cloves garlic, pressed or minced.

Either about 1 teaspoon dry red pepper flakes or 1/4 cup "garlic-chili" sauce--the bottled translucent red sauce you typically use on Asian food ("Mae Ploy" is a good one). I use 2 tablespoons "Wild Thymes Thai Chili Roasted Garlic Dipping Sauce"(the point being to add something hot & spicy--a dash of cayenne pepper would work, too).

A little freshly ground black pepper, salt (I use Lawry's).

Place a pork tenderloin on heavy duty foil, pour the glaze over it, seal the foil tightly, place on cookie sheet to catch drips & bake @ 325, not too long, 30 minutes or so.

You can prepare this earlier in the day & let it marinate for half the day if you want to, before cooking.

One average pork tenderloin serves 4 people.

Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon, served on a bed of cumin-scented couscous. Grilled peaches, stuffed with goat cheese and grilled red onions.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Shining Parts of the Whole

"We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence, the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal ONE.
And this deep power in which we exist and whose beatitude is all accessible to us is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one. We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are the shining parts, is the soul." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

I came across this quote the other day and couldn't help but associate that which I do with my days, making objects with my hands from clay for people to see and to hold and to use in their own daily lives, with Emerson's more complete thought about the world as a whole: "...the act of seeing and the thing seen...the subject and object, are one." The user of the pot completes it and makes it whole, ONE. I never make pots without some sense of its final home in my mind's eye, its completion by being held by another, filled with food or flowers or gazed at upon a wall or a table. I see it, alive and part of another's life, in the future, as I am smoothing the rim, or trimming the foot or applying the glaze.

I wonder if the glacier grinding the granite into clay eons ago envisioned the bowl holding the soup, too? Or if the ancient ice crystals forming in the stratosphere and falling to the earth as snow imagined they would on day be part of this table laden with vessels and victuals, surrounded by friends and family laughing and raising their cups in salute to the occasion. Or if the wheel of time is merely doing its work and we each do our jobs as part of the larger scheme of things, however obscure it may seem to us now, at this point in time.
No matter. I will go out and make more pots tomorrow. And someone will hold that pot in their hands and fill that pot with wine and lift it to their lips and drink it one day. And maybe even see it as a shining part of the whole.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Paying Attention

Paying attention is the single most important thing for any potter/artist/being to do. In clay work it is especially important because of the technical challenge of the media. It's easy though to get side-tracked on the road of technicality and neglect aesthetics. As a studio potter and what some might call a "production potter" (though I personally find that narrow definition misleading as it implies mass repetition and non-evolution which I don't find to be the case for me---each act is virgin, even the repeated one), paying attention is vital. It would be easy to fall into the trap of designing an item, finding it successful, "perfecting"(so-called) it and producing it time after time after time, ad infinitum, with it becoming wooden and mechanical. Once one has developed a "line" of such items, one is SET for the life of the studio (as in concrete), robotically turning out these same items under a routine schedule. My evolution as a potter and as a person requires something different.

For me, producing pots is more like shedding one's skin. One is continually creating, and as new pots are fully formed and percolate to the surface of one's mind, the old forms are shed so that the new may replace the previous. The pots in and of themselves are not so important, it is the WORK that is important, the continual creating and shedding process. Sometimes it is hard to renounce the hard-won territory of my dreams in favor of a new image and this is where paying attention is vital. One must be awake and aware. ["Even to be half awake (among sleepwalkers) can be frightening at first. Later one learns to dissimulate." --Lawrence Durrell].

Ultimately my hope is to continue creating vital and vibrant work. One's skin can become toughened and callused by many things: vanity, complacency, economic concerns, fear. Then the new forms can't come out. Sometimes one can get a little bit scared by the imaginary importance of what one is doing. Stop looking in the mirror and just enjoy the work. [The poet Richard Hugo writes, "Lucky accidents seldom happen to writers who don't work. You will find that you rewrite a poem and it never seems quite right. Then a much better poem may come rather fast and you wonder why you bothered with all that work on the earlier poem. Actually, the hard work you do on one poem is put in on all poems. The hard work on the first poem is responsible for the sudden ease on the second. If you just sit around waiting for the easy ones, nothing will come. Get to work!"] [Also the Humphrey Bogart quote comes to mind: "Do everything. One thing may turn out right."]

When charting new ground, it is sometimes hard to renounce the hard-won territory of my dreams in favor of a new image just risen to the surface. There is safety and comfort in the familiar. [John Cage writes, "I am trying to become unfamiliar with what I am doing."] I, of course, enjoy the "good" pots immensely and savor the rare fine one---but I owe more to the failures. They challenge me to be more, to search further. One learns more from the pots that don't satisfy, the ones that goad us into action. The concept that in extremes (when confronted with one's failures), if one chooses life, action, then vitality results. Inaction, on the other hand, produces nothing. ["At the boundary, life blossoms."--James Gleick, 1987, Chaos]

First you have to understand intellectually what you want and then you have to feel your way to it, paying attention all the while. You have to know when it's time to abandon this goal and go on to the next.

More to come.

("Boundaries" platters)

The actual boundary between Mexico (left) and Texas (right),

separated by the Rio Grande River, in Big Bend National Park.

Life blossoms.....

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Albert Pinkham Ryder, the turn-of-the-century American painter, said, "Have you ever seen an inchworm crawl up a leaf or a twig, and then clinging to the very end, revolve in the air feeling for something to reach something? That's like me. I am trying to find something out there beyond the place on which I have footing."

I have always loved that analogy. Starting this blog, for me, embodies that quote--"I am trying to find something out there beyond the place on which I have footing". Writing about pots, about the life of an artist, about the day-to-day events, perceptions and funny-shaped pieces that compose the larger picture-puzzle is a new challenge that I have given consideration to for quite some time now. So here goes!

I'm going to keep this short today. I have pots waiting to be trimmed in the studio for our upcoming Thanksgiving Weekend Open House and Studio Sale, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 10 - 5, November 26-27-28. I am thankful to be an artist, working with clay, making pots, for over 30 years.

Please feel free to speak your mind--I'm going to. I'll keep you posted.