Saturday, December 12, 2009

New Blog Site for Clay Coyote

We've started and revised the Clay Coyote blog.  It's now at .  Head over, post your favorite recipes, read about using the new flameware stovetop cookware as well as old favorites.  And we'll continue to post the Potter's Life of happenings here on the "farm".

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Clay Pot Cooking -

What About Lead in Pottery?
On a Barnes and Noble discussion today with Paula Wolfert about her new book "Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking", Judith asked:
Question: I understand that lead in ceramic pots is cause for concern, but why was/is lead used in the first place? I've seen some references that it occurs more in bright colors, but why?
My answer was:
Lead is one of the fluxes that help clays and glazes melt into a glass-like substance. Historically lead compounds were used when the potters had no other fluxes available. They've never been added to the clays, but used to be frequently used in glazes. Today, for pottery made in, or imported into, the US, it is almost never present. Today we use other minerals such as calcium, soda and phosphorus as components with other minerals.
By the way, the greatest problem is when these pots are used with acid foods, like citrus, tomatoes or foods with high vinegar content, and then over a period of time.

From a consumer standpoint, Paula covers this topic very well in Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking on page xvii-xviii
Glazes are essentially ground rocks...ground silica, calcium carbonate (limestone), clay and other minerals. In simplest terms, there are 3 key components in any glaze, the glass former-usually silica, the stiffener - usually alumina from clay which gives the melted glass stiffness to keep it from running off the pot; and, a flux which causes the mixture to melt at a temperature to which we're going to fire the pot. Fluxes today are usually minerals which contain sodium, calcium, potash, Lithium, talc or strontium.
These core components are combined with other minerals that affect the gloss, the opacity, the firing temperature and how the materials and colorants work together.
Coloration usually comes from the addition of various metal oxides such as iron, copper, cobalt and others. Traces of materials such as tin oxide will vary the colors as will the method of firing, thickness of the glaze application and clay body on which the glaze is applied.
Lead used to be used because it melted at low temperatures and would smooth low fire glazes out more quickly and had the effect of brightening the glaze colors. It was mostly used on low fire (1800 degF) clays in bright colored glazes.
In high-fired pottery, (2387 degF) lead has little or no effect so there is no real reason to use it. Indeed, it's fluidity at high temperature could cause glaze defects and running off the pot.
Today, even in low-fired pottery lead is almost never used in glazes. It's actually hard to find the materials.
If you have old pots which you'd like to use, but aren't sure of, lead testing kits from the hardware store are quite accurate. Another way of testing glazes is to leave them overnight with a slice of lemon covering part of the color. If the glaze isn't stable, you'll see a lighter patch where the lemon was in the morning where it leached out the colorant. In general, the only foods that could cause this leaching are acidic...citrus juice, high vinegar foods, tomatoes, etc. And, unless these foods are in the pot for a long time, there is little leaching possible.
This discussion is necessarily limited in scope. If you want to dig much more deeply this paper by John Hesselberth and Ron Roy is a good start They literally 'wrote the book' on glaze stability.
If you have any additionsl questions, please post them as a comment to this blog, or contact us at our email: claypot(at) .

Monday, October 12, 2009

What's Wrong with these pictures?

What's wrong with these pictures, you ask?

It's friggin' October 12th, that's what's wrong with these pictures! There are still leaves on the trees! Fall chores aren't done. Wood isn't cut and stacked.

And Betsy's here canning the last of our kind neighbor Jerry Notch's cucumbers, picked only a couple of days ago.

That's what's wrong with these pictures!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking-Paula Wolfert

Well, we have to admit it, we're kind of proud....of Paula Wolfert for her most beautiful book yet, with recipes that'll make you drool; and to be a part of that new book: Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking.

We just got our initial supply in and will have them up on the website in an hour or so.

And we'll have a price that'll be more than competitive in that, with the $30.00 purchase of the book, we'll include a certificate good for $10.00 off the purchase of any Clay Coyote pot.

Even without the 'deal' we think you're going to find this one of those cookbooks you keep right up front. Just reading some of the recipes makes my mouth water.

But it's also going to become the 'go-to' reference on cooking with clay pots, both modern and indigenous.

Clay has been used essentially ever since man started cooking food, first for storage, then for actual cooking.

And as Paula discusses, there is something about pottery and food that just go together. There aren't many metal pans you'd put on the table to serve with, but pottery just seems to go there naturally.

Above is the frontispiece with a new flameware casserole which you can use like a crockpot. Betsy also made perfect risotto the first time out with one of them.

On the right is the Introduction with a couple more Clay Coyote Flameware pieces...saucepan and skillet.

So order your copy now. We can ship immediately.

Our Special Price ($30) includes a $10 certificate for Clay Coyote pottery.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Coyotes In Cape Cod

Tom and Betsy are in Cape Cod...for Morgan and Ian's wedding. (Above the Chatham Light). The day turned out to be gorgeous...light breeze, maybe 65 Deg.
A Stuart kilted piper (John of the Highland Light Pipe Band) welcomed the party. Quite a sight and sound on the beach.
The crowd to blow up a bit.
Both of 'em showed up so we could get on with it. Aaron Pilhofer officiated, and Ian and Moo wrote beautiful vows.
Grandma J was thankfully able to make it. (We suspect mostly for the reception White Russians).
And the new Mr. & Mrs Baum relax on Sunday after most everyone's out of town.And I caught this picture of Mr and Mrs Baum beachcombing 40 years from now.
Best wishes for a long and happy time together.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Paula Wolfert and Flameware Pottery

As followers of Clay Coyote know, we've been working on developing a Flameware Stovetop Ceramic Cookware line for some time now.
We just got our copy of 'Food and Wine' magazine today, in which Paula Wolfert has a great article on Cooking in Clay. Her new book Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking will be out in a month. As she was writing it, we had some long conversations on why food tastes better when cooked in clay pots. If you've tried our new Flameware Stovetop Ceramic Cookware, you'll probably agree-food really does taste better when cooked in clay pottery.
My theory is that metal pots transmit heat very quickly. Clay, on the other hand, is an insulator. When you put heat to a clay pot, it comes through very slowly. I think the metal causes a very slight burning where the food meets the pan. If you control your heat in a clay pot, this doesn't happen and the food doesn't get the bitter, burned taste that metal gives. Paula thinks it's because the indigenous low fired clay pots that will withstand direct heat gather flavors over time. In low fired ware, there probably is some flavor transfer. Our new Flameware is high-fired and I don't think the pot itself picks up any we're probably both right.

So far we've cooked an apple pancake that starts in the skillet and ends in the oven, oatmeal almost daily, scrambled eggs and ham almost daily, risotto (fabulous) in the casserole, tagines in the tagine, Pollo Verde in the cazuela, stir-fried vegetables in the skillet and many more.

We'll be getting some recipes on the website and would like to hear your thoughts and shared recipes.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cambridge (WI) Pottery Festival

This was the 18th Annual Cambridge Pottery Festival and US Pottery Games...and what a great time. We've always had other shows conflicting and not gone. Shame on us! It's a semi-unique kind of show - all pottery!
None of those pesky painters or glass blowers. The atmosphere was relaxed, only 40 booths so no one was in a rush.
Potters from all over the country, mostly mid-west but also North Carolina, Arizona, Nebraska, Florida. (That's us, second on the left in the photo on the right.)

The big event is the Pottery Games, where potters, experienced and student, run timed throwing contests for a cylinder, large pot, plate, etc. These run from about noon on Saturday through the weekend.

There's a raku pit where you glaze a pot and watch it fired and an hour later take it with.
Kids events, you can try your hand at throwing a pot (with help).

We were so enthralled we came back wanting to start as similar festival here in Hutch! Two potter friends Joe Frank McKee and Travis Berning from North Carolina who were there told us about the Smoky Mountain Pottery Festival (June 6) and Western NC Pottery Festival (Nov 7) that run back east. (We carry Joe Frank's work in the Gallery).
Anyone want to volunteer to help us pull this off in 2011?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We're Trying to Keep Up

This electronic thing is taking us over. First it was this blog...then our Constant Contact Newsletter, then Facebook, then LinkedIn, and now they want us to Tweet???? Who's making the pots....for that matter, who's doing the work anywhere?

But if you're not getting the newsletter, sign up here. We keep up with the Gallery and some Pottery stuff, new products and usually have a special at the end.
If you want to be a fan on Facebook, here's where.
We'll be glad to be your friend. Incidentally, if anyone knows food magazine Food Editors, Test Kitchen folks, photographers or writers, we're getting quite a base of knowledge in contemporary cooking with clay and would be glad to share. Let us know via an email .

And now with the new Clay Coyote Ceramic Flameware, a whole new world is opening up.
We're going to try to get a Facebook Group (Cooking with Clay) going to trade cooking tips, recipes, and uses for pots.
Oh yeah...then there's YouTube. As soon as I can learn the editing software, I'll get more videos up there including one on cassoulet, making homemade vinegar, throwing various pots, a tour of the studio and more.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sushi Coming

Watch this spot. We're running a Sushi
class at the Gallery March 21 and will be videoing the event and posting on line (YouTube with link to this blog). It's a new effort we're trying this year. So far we have people interested in doing Chinese and Indian Cooking Short Courses, we're thinking of a "How to buy pottery" and "How to Buy Blown Glass". What else might you like to see? Click on Comments (below) and let us know what might be of interest, or if you've got a specialty, and might be interested in teaching a 2 hour class.

Saturday, February 14, 2009



Like so many, I pay attention to the frequency with which I hear various subjects, to try to determine trends. That has to be tempered with awareness that where you are and what you're doing may color what you hear.
That being said, I'm hearing from a lot of different directions and sources, that people are looking at trying to use more and more locally grown foods...both for health reasons, because it helps our local economies and because it "feels" better as well as tasting better. Amazing isn't it? We're beginning to figure out that the foods we eat and our health are linked.
There's also something about linking to your local community that completes a circle. There is a commonality between food and handmade pottery, in nurturing us, our families and our communities. The level of humanity in growing, harvesting, preparing and serving food to each other is complimented by the use of utensils that have been made by people you know.
A couple of years ago there was an article in Ceramics Monthly, which we posted here, which explored this in more depth.
Recently, perhaps partly because the 'growing season' will be upon us soon here in Minnesota, we have become aware of the almost explosive growth of CSA farms, and local organic foods, changing what we eat to be more healthy and healthful.
There has been a spate of books recently that talk about these topics.
A few we've read and can recommend highly are:
"The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan
"The Hundred and Fifty Healthiest Foods" Jonny Bowden
"Good Calories-Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes
"In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan
"Weeds and Why They Grow" by Jay McCaman (for gardeners)
If you have thoughts on this topic, and other good books to recommend on better eating, please share by posting a comment below.
Adam and Laura have taken over Katy and Peter' August Earth CSA Farm and renamed it to Loon Organics. They're still looking for some members, as is a new CSA "The Farm of Minnesota" being established by Dan and Donna Moe. They won't be certified organic for a couple of years, but are using organic methods now (Website to come shortly). They can be reached at 320-587-7882.
Dan observed in a visit a couple of days ago that if you consider cost of food as part of healthcare, you can spend a smaller amount on food and pay for it in bad health later. Or you can pay more for food now, live better and have better health later with lower costs for medical care.
If you're not in the Hutch area, we strongly recommend looking at which is an excellent starting resource for locally grown foods.
This is all another reason we're so excited about our new line of Ceramic Flameware Stovetop Cookware. It adds another dimension to being able to use handmade pottery for cooking.