Crispy Polenta Fries

Air Fried Polenta sticks are so addictive!

Air Fried Polenta sticks are so addictive!

I’m obsessed with my Air Fryer and always trying to think of new ways of using it. This recipe is multi step but SO worth it! My husband and I devoured this entire recipe in a night! Perfect for party snacks, appetizers or fun sides. I’m so sure they will be loved by adults and kids alike! The best part is that you can make the polenta in advance and do the air frying on the day you want to eat the dish!

Ingredients for Polenta

1 cup polenta

2 1/2 cups vegetable broth

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1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

2 Tbsp Nooch (Nutritional Yeast)

salt/pepper

3 step dipping process: aquafaba, flour mixture, panko

3 step dipping process: aquafaba, flour mixture, panko

In a medium saucepan bring the broth to a boil and add spices and polenta and simmer and STIR frequently to avoid clumping. Simmer 5 min or until the polenta thickens considerably. Pour the mixture into an 8x8 pan lined with parchment paper and refrigerated until set (2 hours or overnight)

Ingredients for Crispy Coating

1/2 cup aquafaba (chick pea water)

1/2 cup gluten free all purpose flour (I use Bobs Red Mill)

2 tsp Everything Spice mix (optionally replace this with any seasoning you’ d like)

1 cup gluten free panko crumbs

1 tsp everything spice

salt/pepper

Spray oil

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When you’re ready to fry your polenta simply remove it from the fridge and slice it into 1/2” thick fries. In three shallow small dishes gather your dipping layers. Dip each polenta fry into each mixture in the order below and then load them into your air fryer and spray with spray oil. Air fry at 390 degrees for 10 minutes, flip and spray the other side and fry for an additional 8-10min or until golden brown and crispy.

  1. flour and 2tsp everything spice

  2. aquafaba

  3. panko and everything spice/salt/pepper

These fries are perfect in any condiment or dipping sauce you want to try out! I’ve tried them with chipotle dip or simple dijon mustard and they are divine!




Sweet & Smoky Cashews

Serve cashews in a ripple bowl! Part of our “Seaside” Collection!

Serve cashews in a ripple bowl! Part of our “Seaside” Collection!

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We are cashew obsessed in our household. We always have roasted salted cashews on hand for a quick snack and I love playing with raw cashews and incorporating my own flavors. This is a super simple way to make a tasty snack. Eat them on their own or toss them in a salad or savory trail mix!

Ingredients

3 cups raw cashews

2 Tbl maple syrup

3 tsp liquid smoke

2 Tbl molasses

1 tsp fine salt

Toss all ingredients in a bowl until well combined and cashews are completely coated with mixture.

AIR FRYER: Air Fry at 350degrees for 10-12min shaking the basket or flipping the cashews every five minutes (THIS IS IMPORTANT! if you don’t flip them or toss them around they may burn!) They should appear dark molasses brown when done and they may be slightly sticky while hot. Spread them on parchment paper to cool and store in a mason jar or airtight container once completely cool.

STOVETOP: In a non stick skillet roast the cashews over low/medium heat stirring often to avoid burning until cashews are nearly dry. They may be slightly sticky while still hot. Spread them on parchment paper to cool and store in a mason jar or airtight container once completely cool.

*create your own concoction! Add a touch of siracha or cajun seasoning for some heat!

Sweet or Salty Pretzel Bites

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Dough

1 ½ cups warm water

1 Tbl organic sugar

2 tsp active dry yeast or 1 package

1 ½ tsp salt

3 Tbl coconut oil

3 ½ -4 cups all purpose flour

 

Bath

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5 cups water

3 Tbl baking soda

 

Sweet Coating: mix

¼ cup sugar or coconut sugar

2 ½ tsp Vietnamese cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

 

Salty Coating

Coarse sea salt

In a large bowl add the warm water and add sugar and mix until dissolved. Add yeast, cover and let sit for 10 min to activate yeast.  Once the yeast is foamy add salt and coconut oil then slowly mix in flour. Knead the dough on a clean floured surface 3-5 min and shape into a ball. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and cover and set in a warm place to rise for 15 min.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 450. Heat the water for the baking soda bath in a large soup pot. Once the dough has risen cut it into 8 triangles like a pizza. Roll each triangle into an 18” long rope and cut 1-2” bites. When the water boils add the baking soda and stir. Add about 20 dough bites to the bath at a time and let soak for 30 seconds and then remove with a slotted spoon and place on parchment paper. Don’t overcrowd. Bake at 450 for 10-12 min until tops are nice and brown.

Brush bites with coconut oil once they have cooled and toss into sweet coating. Or sprinkle with salt.

Spinach Bites

photo credit: amma rhea photography

photo credit: amma rhea photography

These are quick, easy and delicious for snacks or appetizers. Dip them in seasoned olive oil or hummus and enjoy!

Ingredients

photo credit: amma rhea photography

photo credit: amma rhea photography

3  Cups Fresh organic spinach

½ cup raw cashews

¾ cup almond meal flour

3 Tbl Olive Oil

1 tsp salt

1 egg replacer or flax egg

1 small chopped red onion

2 cloves garlic

1 cup oats

¼ tsp pepper

¼ tsp smoked paprika

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined. If the mixture is overly wet, add more oats and blend until smooth. Scoop tablespoon sized balls of the mixture onto the parchment paper. Bake for 15-20min or until bottoms have browned. Remove and let cool on a cookie rack, serve warm with hummus for dipping.

Chai Tea Concentrate

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I've been a chai tea lover for years and I've tried all the store bought concentrates which tend to be pricey and filled with sugar, not to mention they often lack the real spicy flavor I'm craving in a good chai. Despite being obsessed with hot drinks all year round the hot New England Summer has left me wanting something cool. I looked at a bunch of recipes for chai concentrate before concocting my own version which leaves out the controversial star anise. Let's face it, anise is a love it or hate it flavor and my hubby hates it so I left it out of this recipe.  If you love it, skip to the bottom for *suggestions. This recipe makes about 6 cups (or 3 pint sized mason jars full) and can easily be halved, but why bother when it keeps in the fridge for several weeks or makes a great hostess gift for a summer soiree! 

Ingredients

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10 cups water

2 inches fresh ginger peeled

8 cinnamon sticks

16 tsp loose black tea

16 whole cloves

10 cardamom pods

24 black peppercorns

30 allspice berries

3/4 - 1 cup coconut sugar

muslin bag OR cheesecloth and cotton cord OR strainer

Put the 10 cups of water into a large pot and boil while you prep the ingredients for steeping the tea. I used a piece of cheesecloth folded over several times into a 8"x8" square to make a large teabag for this recipe but you could just add everything to the water and strain it with fine mesh when you're done. 

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Crack the peppercorns, allspice, cardamom and cloves with the back of a heavy knife and add them to the cheesecloth.  Slice the vanillla bean lengthwise and use a knife tip to scrape out the seeds adding them to the cheesecloth. Add the loose tea to the cheesecloth and lift up the corners and twist to make a large tea bag, secure the sachet with cotton cording.  Peel and rough chop the ginger and set it aside.

Once your water comes to a boil add the loose ginger, cinnamon sticks and the sachet with all other ingredients into the water and turn heat down to simmer uncovered for 20 min or until the liquid is reduced by 2 cups. Remove the sachet if using one and add your coconut sugar to taste, I used approx 3/4 cup. Stir to dissolve. Strain the remaining liquid and jar when cooled.

To use your concentrate:

I use 1/3 concentrate to 2/3 almond milk. It depends on how spicy you want your mixture. You could also do a 50/50 ratio.

Suggestions:

  • This is great cold OR hot!
  • For a decaf version, use Rooibos loose tea instead of black
  • Add a cinnamon stick to a hot version for a bit more spice
  • Try it with coconut milk or soy milk!
  • Add in 1 or 2 Star Anise (no need to crack these just toss them in)
  • Add in 1-2 tsp cacao nibs for a chocolate chai!
  • Make your own version of dirty chai with 1/3 coffee, 1/3 chai, 1/3 milk of choice
  • Add seeds from a second vanilla bean for smoother/sweeter tones
  •  

Corn Salsa

Looking for the perfect dish to bring to a summer picnic, pot luck or backyard BBQ?  This is IT!  It's quick, easy, delicious and will be a hit with vegans and omnivores alike! Scoop it up with corn chips or enjoy it like a salad or side! It's great leftover on top of rice too!

Ingredients

It is easiest to make the dressing first and let it cool while you do the rest of the recipe.

For dressing, bring to a boil:

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

1 Tbls. water

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup sugar or sugar substitute

Cool before pouring over beans/corn/veggie mixture below.

Combine in large bowl:

1 can black eyed peas (drained and rinsed)

1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)

1 small orange or red pepper chopped

1 cans of corn, drained

1 small red onion chopped

1 small green pepper chopped

1-2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley (optional)

1 jalepeno pepper chopped (optional)

The Right Mix

It’s funny how an entire week can go by and I’ll have a difficult time recalling much of what went on but my memory of the pots I made is always in tact. Throwing pots is such a release for me and I’m so grateful for every minute I find to have my hands in clay. This week’s project was large mixing bowls, at the recommendation of a friend who owns a cheese shop in Stonington, CT, called Cheese Boro Whey. I had just dropped some pots off for her to sell in her shop and she mentioned her customers were asking for mixing bowls. I’m always excited when someone suggests a particular type of vessel because it takes the pressure off to go into the week setting my intention towards particular forms. I thought about my favorite mixing bowl (to clarify it’s my ONLY mixing bowl) and all the ways I use it. (and if you read all the way to the end I've included a recipe I mix up in my bowl. )throwingbowl
  • Mixing pancake batter
  • Making cookies
  • Serving Salad
  • Combining granola
  • Eating popcorn (the bigger the bowl the more popcorn!)
  • Mixing ingredients for just about anything……..
Mixing bowls are really a vital part to any good kitchen. The deeper the bowl, the easier it is to mix ingredients without having them spill out and the best part about pottery is its ALWAYS easy to clean!

When I sit down to create a number of the same type of form, my primary goal is never to make them look identical. (I’m NOT a production potter) Each bowl is thrown with between 6 and 8lbs of clay (for you inquiring potters out there!) It’s been a while since I’ve thrown any large forms and I’m always surprised when the clay responds with such fluidity that it feels somewhat easy. I threw about 7 successful bowls in a row before shooting this first time lapse video. Watch closely……

The second you get a little too confident with a piece of clay, it always provides you with what I like to call a quick ‘ego-check’. We’ve all heard the saying “you learn more from failures than from successes” and they ARE words to live by, but I try to use my work with clay as a ‘practice’ for life. When I sit down with intention of making a large mixing bowl and suddenly something goes awry, my instinct is not to try to SAVE what I know is a dying piece of clay, but rather to pick up a new piece and move on as quickly as possible. The more you practice, the more you’re tested and the more you are tested the more you learn to continue moving forward rather than to stand in indecision and simply endure.

The process of making something functional out of a lump of raw clay is always awe-inspiring. I encourage my pottery students to quickly adopt the mantra “the joy is in the journey” so that they embrace the process of making work rather than any outcome. I think working with clay keeps me humble. (I’m setting myself up for potential comments with THAT statement!) The medium seems to respond to the potter based on their disposition in the moment. If my mind is elsewhere, the quality of work suffers the consequences. Fortunately the day I spent trimming and finishing the mixing bowls, things flowed nicely as you can see in this next time lapse video......

finished bowl_edited-1 Throwing good pots is a practice of presence and being present allows me to connect with the clay in a way that feels more like a conversation with a friend. So, for me, whether I’m sitting down to make good pots, or preparing to cook a delicious vegan meal, it’s about finding the right mix of presence, intention, creativity and humility. No matter what, I'm doing what I love and I can't complain about that!

Check out my instagram account to see updates on how these bowls come through the drying, firing and glazing processes! In the mean time, here's my favorite late night snack!

Popcorn the VEGAN way

popcorn 1/3 cup organic popcorn

2 Tbl Coconut Oil

Nutitional Yeast (Red Star is the company I search for and I like the fine flakes for popcorn)

Garlic Salt

Melt the coconut oil in a large non-stick pot. Add the popcorn and tilt the pot until the kernels are coated, then place the lid on the pot and be patient. I cook on a gas stove but have also used this method on a glass top electric stove and it works just fine. Now just LISTEN...... eventually you will hear the popping begin and when it slows, simply turn off the heat and take the pot off the burner. Wait a moment for any lagging poppers because they'll pop right out of the pot if you remove the lid right away!  Pour the popcorn into your favorite large mixing bowl (preferably pottery!) and sprinkle with nutri-yeast and garlic salt, tossing to combine. The yeast gives it a savory 'cheesy' flavor AND it's full of B vitamins!  Now sit your butt on the couch with your loved ones and crunch away!

From Flame to Fire

For the past several years I feel like I’ve been fanning the flame of my own inner creativity. Managing, so to speak, maintaining, you might say. Just trying to keep the damn thing from going out! Recently with the help of my father and my boyfriend, we completed an addition to the art studio building that included a private pottery workspace for me. I’ve been running the pottery studio for 13 yrs blog 3 heartsand I’ve always had a small part of the main studio relegated as my workspace. While it was practical it never allowed me the freedom to spread out, or to leave works in progress to continue the next day, because there was always a class to prepare for that needed the work tables and shelves for their own creations. I figured I had made my choice when I started the business that my main focus would be to ‘teach others’ the craft of wheel thrown pottery and so when talk of adding on to the building began with my father, I hesitantly proposed my own workspace. He immediately embraced the idea, despite the fact that it basically doubled the size of the project he had originally agreed to undertake.

Scalloped Bowls in ProgressMy Dad understands the importance of a space to explore your craft and medium because he spent nearly 40 years as a craftsman of fine furniture. We speak the language of artists in this regard but almost immediately, I began having second thoughts about building out my own space to work. I was plagued with questions like “ did I deserve to take up valuable studio space? Was I being selfish in wanting my own space when I already had a space in the main studio? Would I even find time to actually create more pots when I’m often too wrapped up in running the business? “ It’s amazing the roller coaster we put ourselves on as human beings. We are often in a state of questioning our own worth rather than simply BEING. My man says it best “ We are called human beings, not human doings.” This simple statement has become an invaluable reminder for me and has changed the way I look at life.

blog 3 fern bowlIt has been five months since I’ve had my own workspace. I have been able to manage my studio schedule to spend a minimum of about 6 hours a week (Max so far being around 12) in the purple room (yes I painted it purple, floor and walls! It’s not only a favorite color but it’s the color of the energy center that reflects our connection with a higher purpose). The space has nurtured me back to the state of mind I was in when I initially opened the doors to Meiklem Kiln Works back in 2002. Not only have I been able to spread out and leave my work out for the next day, but the quality of my work has improved and the level of creativity has increased exponentially.

My work has filled up our small studio Gift Shop and I’m excited to have found a blog 3 oil bottlesfew places near my home to display/sell these new creations. (see a list below of where you can find my pots) I’m looking forward to getting back to my roots as a potter, using clay to stimulate my creativity, producing work that I’m proud of and wanting to share it with the world! I’ve found my excitement for my work as a potter again. I feel engaged as a teacher and revel in the joy the craft of pottery brings to my students.. I’m forever grateful that I allowed myself to feel worthy of carving out my own space and blessed to be able to practice BEING and DOING what I love. What was a decade of fanning the flame has suddenly morphed into a steady stoking of the fire.

blog 3 blue patternThe Gift Shop at Meiklem Kiln Works :   46 Lebanon Rd, Bozrah, CT     860-886-8562

Mckennas’ Florist: 520 Boswell Ave, Norwich, CT     860-887-2479

The Slater Museum Gift Shop: 305 Broadway, Norwich, CT    860-887-2505

The Yellow House Coffee Shop: 149 Water Street, Stonington, CT     860-535-4986

Cheese Boro Whey: The Velvet Mill 22 Bayview Ave, Suite 47 Stonington, CT (401)486-4591

Curried Cashewsblog 3 cashews

These have become a favorite grab-n-go snack. Great for sharing with friends or hording to yourself while you’re making pots!

1 cup Raw Cashews (you could probably use any nuts here, I’m just a fan of cashews)

1 Tbl Safflower Oil (I chose this oil because I know it has a high burn temp and I didn’t want the flavor of scorched oil with my nuts!)

1Tbl Curry Powder (There are a ton of curry powders out there, hot, sweet, spicy etc. My favorite always has a blend of sweet spices as well)

1 tsp Salt (I use garlic salt here)

In a small bowl, mix oil, curry and salt until well blended. Add cashews and toss until well coated. Sprinkle the coated cashews in a frying pan and roast (tossing often) over low heat until they dry out and appear a nice golden brown. ( my man and I love things with a bit of burnt flavor…so go ahead and nearly burn a few of those suckers, they are SO good that way!)

Remove from heat and place cashews in an even layer on a plate to let them cool completely before eating or jarring! YUM!

 If you try this recipe I would love know what you think! Let me know in the comments section of this post! If you're looking to gain a better understanding of eating vegan, join me for an Intro to Vegan Eating on Tuesday June 16 or my full 30 days to Vegan Eating Program beginning June 30.

Tree Hugging Dirt Worshipper

The first time I ever remember talking to trees I was riding in the backseat of my parents car.  I was about 8 or 9 years old. The road to our house was tree lined with beautiful old pines and I used to simply greet them 'hello trees' or 'goodbye trees', silently to myself as we passed by. I felt an intrinsic connection with them growing up as I spent a lot of time making forts in the woods. Maybe it's an only child thing......(that's what I say when I admit something that might sound strange to everyone else....my disclaimer of sorts). The trees were indicators, of season changes, of subtle changes in weather, they were home to animals and I felt the need to honor them as living things from this young age.

I have a very visceral reaction when I see trees being cut down. I had a reaction to a piece of land being cleared near my studio the other day and I thought I might have to pull the car over so I could throw up. (If you knew me you would know that I will do anything NOT to throw up, and so this kind of physical reaction is very real for me.) I saw the stumps and loose gravel left behind and earth that had been moved and I shivered at the devastation. I felt sad for the trees that had been cut and for those that are left and have had to sustain without their brethren. Call me nuts, I've been called worse. It's no wonder I became a vegan.



blog nat cathedral walkingMy man and I love to walk in nature. The first time we went for a walk together we spent the entire afternoon nearly silent, quietly pointing out birds and other wildlife, treading lightly and observing our surroundings. It's our favorite way to immerse ourselves in nature. He's a bird lover and he has taught me so much about how to distinguish hawks from vultures in flight, I can get it right nearly 90% of the time now. We look for animal tracks, scat (the proper term for animal crap.....) and listen to the birds. This morning we giggled as we heard a motor mouth bird that sounded like R2D2 from Star Wars. I am constantly astounded by nature and it's ability to adapt.

treerockThis tree looks like its actually eating the giant rock to the right.

As a potter, the ability to adapt becomes a requirement. Clay is an ever changing medium. I fell in love with it because the history and possibilities within the craft itself are vast and ever-changing. Clay is affected by air temperature, heat, humidity and touch. I look at each pot as a 'conversation' (not all conversations are good ones however!) and move through the process of making pottery with the understanding that as much as I might THINK I'm in control, I'm simply not. I teach my pottery students "the Joy is in the Journey", in an effort to encourage them to create without judgement and without expectation of a particular outcome. It's amazing to witness the first time someone's hands meet clay on a spinning wheel, there is pure joy in that moment for the student and the teacher.

treelightThis tree has grown at a complete right angle to access its own bit of sunlight from the canopy.

We could all stand to embrace joy a little more, to bend without breaking and to revel in our own interconnectedness.  I think these photos speak the cliche 'thousand words' as examples of  nature's ability to adapt and still thrive.  I suppose I'm waxing a bit philosophical (maybe that's what turning 40 does to a girl). I think pursuing my passions, eating delicious food, spending time with loved ones and laughing a lot are key ingredients for me to thrive. I'm coming to the end of a 14 day detox and after more than a week of eating nothing but veggies, fruit, brown rice, healthy oils and spices (along with the prescribed detox herbs and supplements the Dr. gave us) it's hard to think of what to put back into the clean vessel of my body. Nuts, seeds and legumes were what I missed most from my vegan diet and so this afternoon I whipped up a batch of hummus. I used to make my own hummus all the time but in recent years I've relented to 'taking the easy' route and buying prepackaged brands. Not only was the home-made batch delicious but I quickly realized how much more cost effective (not to mention, healthier) making our own hummus could be. So with that I share with you........

Easy Home Made Hummus:

by The Vegan Potter

hummus (do me a favor an at LEAST tag this blog www.TheVeganPotter.com if you share the recipe on any other social media or print!) I tend to make huge servings of things despite only feeding a family of two so feel free to cut this recipe in half if you’re less of a pig than I am.

2 cans Garbanzo Beans (fancy name for chick peas) and YES I use canned, I’m sorry I have just never gotten into soaking my own beans, I know, I know, it’s SO easy. So YOU do it if you want to. I’m over it.

2-3 Tbl Tahini (tahini is the fancy name for ground up sesame seeds. You can find it in the health food aisle at the grocery store or at a heath food store, probably in with either nut butters or oils etc. )

Juice from ½ a lemon

2 Tbl EVOO (this is what the fancy chefs on the Food Network call Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

1 tsp salt (I used garlic salt, I’m addicted to it.)

1 Roasted Red Pepper (this is certainly optional if you hate them, you can substitute roasted garlic or olives too. YES, you can buy a jar of roasted red peppers, it’s no biggie. I puree them with the beans but you can also dice your garlic or pepper or olives and toss them in before serving if you like your hummus more chunky.)

¼ cup water (you will only need to add this slowly if your hummus needs help blending)

Throw it all in a food processor and blend until smooth or desired consistency. Top with smoked paprika and fresh parsley and enjoy! I eat mine with carrot chips.