Let the Beauty of what you Love be what you Do...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Still Playing in Clay :)

Nope, I haven't stopped working in clay since my last class ended... I just haven't been doing as much documentation in process as I normally do. I picked up a short 7 week class at Santa Fe Clay here in town. It's actually a wheel throwing class, but I had some leftover bags of cone 10 clay in my closet, so I've been doing some hand building at home, too.

Still making bears.... :)

Setting up the clay station in my apartment is rather messy... still dreaming of my own studio someday, but I suppose I've gotta make do until then.

Looks like a bear migration, doesn't it? I find them fun & relaxing to make.

In class, I've mainly been working on mugs & bowls.

The 3 shallow bowls in the back are Puki's which I'll use as a base when I get back to Micaceous clay. Though I tend to gravitate towards darker clay bodies, I've been experimenting with lighter clays, too.

I threw these last week... it's funny because when I sat down at the wheel, my original intention was to try to throw identical cylinders, but I found it much more fun to experiment w/ different shapes.


What generally happens, regardless of the fact that I spend all day in the studio on the day of class... is that I run out of time with what ever I'm working on, and either need to triple wrap them to keep them moist until I can get into the studio again... or take them home & work on them there.

Once the handles are made, they generally dry rather quickly, so in this case, I decided to take them home & finish them up that night.

Below~ another bear I made after work one night. I've decided to leave him a little rough & see how he fires up w/ a clear or two toned glaze.

So, that's what I've been up to. I've got the day off today & I don't know how many bowls/mugs that should be out of the bisque & ready to glaze. I haven't got any finished work back yet... but had a few glazed bowls on the rack last week awaiting the final firing, so we'll see!
p.s.~ Happy Thanksgiving! I'll be working, which is actually a good thing... 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

First Winter Hike of the Season~ Santa Fe Baldy! :)

I love it when nature cooperates with my schedule! It was a cold & blustery day on Saturday as I worked, but I paid it no mind, as the forecast for Sunday- my day off- was for blue skies... and I had a hike planned with a couple of new friends.
I love hiking in freshly fallen snow. The landscape seems so quiet, and the summer crowds are gone.

It was a chilly start... somewhere in the teens as we started our hike, but we quickly warmed up in our many layers with the gentle uphill effort. A couple of miles in, we get the first clear view of our goal~ the summit of Santa Fe Baldy.

At about the halfway point towards the summit, we were breaking new trail through the snow... it was only a few inches deep... not enough for snowshoes, but enough to make the hike a bit more challenging.

Below, a view of Santa Fe Baldy from the saddle. At this point, it's only another 1,000 feet or so to climb~ but it's the steepest part of the hike and the air is thin!

Climbing higher, we find we are not alone on this hike! We spotted a Bighorn sheep (look in the right hand corner)... he was very cool to observe from a distance.

But he apparently wanted a closer view of us, or perhaps he was a bit perturbed that we were in his territory, but in any case, he started down the trail~ making a beeline directly toward us!

I had never been this close to a Bighorn before... my experience has been that they keep their distance... and we keep ours. It was a little nerve wracking as he approached. Not knowing what to do, I implored the technique I'd use if encountering a bear in the wilderness~ yelling & clanging my hiking poles, trying to seem intimidating (as if!) He just came closer... staring us down. 

We changed tactics, and slowly began backing down the mountain... looking for possible shelter in the rocks.

We gave him a wide berth, and thankfully he got bored with us and sauntered on down the trail...

though he paused to take in the view!

With him now below us, (and with a fresh burst of adrenaline) we got back on the trail & continued on up the mountain.

Looking down from the summit ridge, I was able to observe for the first time the devastation from the Pacheco Fire this summer. I hadn't been up on Baldy since June, just before the fires... so my last view in this direction was of green forests. It was a little heartbreaking to see, though with the freshly fallen snow, it seemed to have a stark beauty all it's own.

The snowy windswept ridge, with the summit of Baldy in the distance.

Quite a glorious view from the top!

Summit of Santa Fe Baldy~ 12,622 ft

And the Summit shot! Normally there is a windbreak here, but it is covered in a mound of snow! In the summer, it is nice to hang around at the top... have a snack & soak in the view... but it was fr-eee-zing up there and with the shorter winter days, & 7 miles remaining to hike out, we did not linger long! We hiked out & drove down the hill just as the sun was setting, with that deep, relaxing feeling of fatigue only acheived from a day well spent in the mountains!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cooking in Dirt! :)

You're probably wondering what the heck I'm talking about. But seriously, clay pot cooking really is like cooking in dirt, don't ya think? The 2 pots that I am keeping from the last post were made from the natural mica clay from the mountains of Northern New Mexico- no additives, no fillers... just clay, dirt & mica... all natural elements from the earth... and yes! You can cook in them. The pots I've made in previous classes I've largely given away, but this time, after all that work, I had to keep a couple & test them out & see what this clay pot cooking is all about. Vegetarians close your eyes on this first one.
(Though this is free range, organic chicken from the farmer's market!)

I don't think I needed to add the oil, but I did & check it out, you can saute in these pots, too! I actually got all my ingredients on Saturday from our local farmer's market... check out the goodies below~

If I was going to make some good, wholesome food, in my own clay pots, I wanted to know where my veggies & meat were coming from... and know that they weren't shipped in from some other part of the world, thus likely cold stored & tasteless, or tainted with pesticides. (Not to mention the fossil fuels used along the path from farmer to store.) Uh-uh- no way!
I know you're eyeing those chiles above.. they come from Romero Farms. I swear Matt grows & roasts the best chiles around. Have you guessed what I'm making yet??

Yes! My first ever Green Chile Chicken Stew... and I have to admit it was one of the best I ever tasted! (Note here my stove... I believe it's from the late 60's- just like me and my apt- and it is funky! I call it my easy bake oven because it totally reminds me of a hand-me-down used easy bake I had when I was just a wee lassie.)

The finished product! Have I mentioned it was delicioso? I brought it in to share w/ a co-worker and she concurred whole heartedly! The next night after work, I made Red & green chile Bolita Beans.
I kinda made up my own recipe on this one... I wanted them to have a little kick, so I added various hot dried red chile powders & fresh roasted green chile. Despite having soaked them all day when I was at work, these beans took forever to cook!  

But the final result again, was very yummy! Yup, I took these in to work to share as well... but still had quite a bit left from both meals to freeze. 

For my next meal (yes, I cooked 3 nights out of 4... what has gotten into me?!)
I made red chile chicken enchiladas, because I wanted to test out that casserole dish. (Despite receiving a hairline crack during the final pit fire- the casserole made it out of the oven just fine.) Another first was making my own red chile sauce. I do love that red chile! We're lucky in NM, because you can find the ground red chile powder just about anywhere. I got some mild red chile from the farmers market last weekend, but also had a stash of extra hot, and sun dried that I picked up last time I was in Hatch. Looks pretty good, eh?

I think I did add a bit too much sauce to my enchiladas, though I do tend to like things saucy, and I have to admit, they were excellent as well.

My thoughts on all this cooking? Well, I have to tell you, to cook out of something you have made from hand is just about one of the coolest things ever! (My poor co-workers had to hear about it constantly... it's all I could talk about!) Secondly~ Yum-O! Definitely worth all the effort, though I probably won't be cooking that much again soon. Partly because now I've got a lot of yummy leftovers in the freezer, but also because of the time involved. Seriously, I do not know how families that work full time have the time to come home & cook a good healthy meal! In between work & chores, all the time spent shopping, prepping, cooking & cleaning... it seriously leaves little time for anything else! And my soul has been longing for a little mountain time (my forays into the mountains have been placed on the back burner... no pun intended,) plus I just started a wheel throwing class that is only a few short weeks long... so I need to spend as much time in there as possible!
So, until next time~ Bon Appetit!