Functional hand made stoneware pottery with complex metallic glazes available at The Virginia Farmhouse

Fresh Out Of The Kiln- Our Latest Batch of Stoneware Pottery

They Survived! And even better the (somewhat experimental) combinations of glazes I used came out beautifully-Stoneware pottery with metallic glazes available at The Virginia Farmhouse

So for this large batch of pieces I used a dark, red stoneware clay called “Brooklyn Red”. This clay is heavy, groggy and due to the iron oxide content will stain anything it touches (before firing of course). It’s actually the kind of clay used to make red bricks and in is incredibly durable once fired. It is great for hand building pieces as it has minimal shrinkage during drying and and attached parts really hold together.

I also love this clay as it gives you a rich, dark ground to work off of- perfect for the metallic glazes I wanted to use for these pieces-A tuliptree leaf shaped dish and other functional ceramics with metallic glazes hand made by MJ SealI used 2 different combinations of Potter Choice Glazes from Amaco. In group one I applied 2 thick layers of Saturation Gold to the piece. Then I coated that in a blotchy layer of Temmoku (a dark, translucent brown/black glaze) and Saturation Metallic. After those layers dried I applied a little more saturation gold to the edges and rims of each piece for a little pop of gold.A luminary, soap dish and various serving bowls hand made from red stoneware clay by MJ SealDuring firing the glazes melded beautifully. In the areas with a thinner layer of Saturation Gold the glaze developed a dark bronze coloration that flashes iridescent blue when viewed at certain angles. The splotches of Temmoku and Saturation Metallic gave silvery, pewter-like touches and in areas where the Saturation Gold pooled and dripped you can see these patches of rich gold with little coppery flecks.

Soap dish and serving bowls with an ancient bronze like finish available at The Virginia FarmhouseIn the second group (which turned out to be my fav) I applied a couple thin layers of Saturation Metallic glaze over the dried clay body then a splotchy layer of Temmoku with thick blotches of Saturation Gold.Metallic finish on a stoneware leaf made by MJ Seal at The Virginia FarmhouseThis combination of glazes developed a rich and complex black metallic finish with patches of pewter and ancient bronze. On these little dishes I made with torn edges (the clay had started to dry out and had become unmanageable) the finish almost makes them look like shards of a meteorite-Stoneware dish with torn edges and metallic glaze hand made by MJ SealClose up of a meteorite like finish on a ceramic piece hand made by MJ SealIt’s always nice when an experiment turns out even better results than you were expecting!

Ceramics in Progress – September 2019

Finally had a chance to make a few somethings out of a big block of red stoneware clay that we bought last summer (?) and has been sitting around the store ever since-

Some *potential serving bowls and soap dishes

Small and Medium sized planters

Wax tart burners/ luminaries and chafing dishes

These tiny vases would be great for flower buds or air plants. The medium sized vases would be great for succulents or small ferns (and flowers of course).

I made a bunch of serving bowls that could also double as pots for plants that don’t need a lot of soil- like the mosses I’ve been experimenting with.

You’ll notice all of these have little feet which not only make them stand out more but I think will nicely compliment the Raku- like glazes they will be getting once they dry. Keep your fingers crossed they survive the firing process.

 

Mulled Wine Recipes

Here are three easy recipes for mulled wine- and you can find all of the ingredients to make them here at The Virginia Farmhouse- well except for the brandy-

*Honey or a pinch of stevia extract can be used in place of the sugar in these recipes.

For Classic Mulled Wine:

* A smooth, fruity and light-bodied red wine is best for this recipe. A Merlot or Gamay is ideal. You do not want something tannic. Cognac or orange brandy works nicely to in this recipe.

For White Mulled Wine:

* A smooth and/or fruity white wine is best for this recipe- lightly oaked Chardonnays, Traminettes or clean and citrusy Sauvignon Blancs are ideal. You do not want something grassy or with a lot of minerality.

Spicy and Savory Mulled Wine Recipe

* A smooth, spicy and meaty red wine is best for this recipe- Pinot Noirs, Red Zinfandels and Chambourcins are ideal. You do not want something tannic though.

And to make the mulled wine:

1. In a small sauce pot heat water over medium high heat. When it comes to a boil add the sugar and when it is dissolved add the wine.

2. Reduce heat to low, add the spices and cover. Let stew over low heat for at least an hour, stirring occasionally. The longer the wine is mulled the stronger the flavor will be.

3. Strain and serve hot with a splash of brandy.

Recipes- Updated Hamburger Stroganoff

Since summer is now technically over and it’s quite cool and clammy (in these parts anyway) here is a fresh take on a savory comfort food from childhood-

Hamburger Recipes:  Updated Hamburger Stroganoff

*This is a tangier and more complex take on the classic Americana recipe. The wine and vinegar reduction brings some natural sweetness and acidity to this traditionally very heavy (and fatty) dish that complements the sour cream. The generous amount of herbs gives it some added depth.

*A Chablis, Bourgogne Blanc or Viognier work best in this recipe. TVP or Faux ground beef work well if you want a veggie version of this- and they don’t need to be browned beforehand- simply add them to the pan after the mushrooms are nice and tender.  We have Pot Pie Squares from The Little Barn of PA here in the store which work well to in place of regular egg noodles.

 

  1. Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the raw hamburger and sauté until nicely browned and no pink shows. Remove from pan and keep warm.

2. Add the remaining butter to the pan and melt over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until onion is soft and begins to caramelize. Crush garlic into pan and sauté until fragrant and beginning to turn golden- do not brown/burn the garlic- about 30 seconds.

3. Add the porcini mushrooms, herbs, spices, wine and vinegar and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let simmer, uncovered, until the liquid begins to condense a little- probably 10 minutes or so.

4. Add mushrooms and sauté until they start to give off their juices. Then stir in the water or broth, the flour mixture, a little salt and the ground beef and let simmer, uncovered, for a few minutes.

5. When the gravy begins to thicken remove from heat and stir in the sour cream and parsley.

6. Serve hot over egg noodles dusted with pepper and paprika and garnish with green onion or chives.

New additions

We’ve been very busy putting together our new selection of organic dry goods and exotic spices, herbs and teas!

Our Pantry area boasts a variety of hard-to-find flours and grains as well as gluten-free baking mixes, organic dried beans, rolled oats and whole wheat flour. Our shelves are packed with items such as:

  • Organic corn meal, garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour, flax seed, millet flour, sorghum flour, brown rice flour, whole wheat flour, rolled oats, bulgur wheat, red quinoa and amaranth
  • Unsweetened and unsulfered organic shredded coconut and non-alkalized organic cocoa powder
  • Organic dried black beans, Fava (broad) beans, dark red kidney beans, mung beans, navy beans and pinto beans
  • Non-GMO chickpeas and yellow split peas (chana dal)
  • Sun-dried tomatoes, dried porcini and dried portabella mushrooms
  • Arrowroot starch and gluten-free baking mixes
  • Pot pie squares and Israeli-style (pearl) couscous

The fridge is packed with dried fruit and nuts including preservative-free dates, sun-dried Turkish apricots and California walnuts. We store them in the fridge to keep them very fresh.

And we now have a spice and herb library!

We’ve amassed quite a collection of exotic spices and herbs you can’t find nearby, with everything from aniseed to turmeric, whole green cardamom, black cardamom, ceylon cinnamon, fenugreek seed, kasoori methi, Nigella, tej patta and dadag phool (black stoneflower). And our selection will be expanding in the near future.

Most of these are organic and very high quality, very fresh and very fragrant.

We also have a variety of dried herbs and flowers like German chamomile, lemongrass, hibiscus and pink rosebuds which are excellent in tea and powerful enough to be used in potpourri. The rosebuds are great in spice blends like garam masala and ras el hanout to.

And in the freezer we have whole turmeric root, galanga (galangal) root, whole Thai chilies, lemongrass stalks and makrut (kaffir) lime leaves.

We’ve also expanded our selection of gourmet oils and vinegars to include organic canola and sesame oil and Chinese black vinegar. We also have a few international items like coconut milk from Thailand, tahini (sesame) paste, tamarind paste and Chinese cooking wine.

Visit us soon and check out all of our new inventory! We’ll be holding an Open House on August 18–details to follow.

Fresh out of the kiln 5/03/18

My first batch of pottery made with brown stoneware clay have finally been glazed and fired-

For this batch I applied an underglaze of Amaco’s Satin-Matte White and top coated that with their Satin-Matte Clear Glaze. Upon firing the white and clear glazes melded beautifully creating a creamy, grayish-white hue. The underlying khaki color of the brown stoneware clay really gives a wonderful depth to the finish. My favorites from this batch are these vaguely sea sponge-like luminaries which all miraculously survived.

Unfortunately only one of the bivalve-shaped napkin holders survived, and it shrank so much I think it works better as a sponge holder. The pieces I specifically intended to be sponge holders turned out nicely though.

All of the soap dishes survived- and I especially like how the clam shell-shaped ones turned out with the creamy white glaze.

A couple of serving bowls. The lip of these bowls undulates which gives them built in spoon rests.

Some oyster shell shaped spoon rests- the glaze looks perfect on these.

A cluster of miniature flower bud vases.

Some larger vases-

While these may seem purely decorative and very delicate these ceramics are both functional and quite sturdy.

Finally framed

My first batch of winter landscape studies are finally framed and up on the walls-

“Winter Forest Late Afternoon”- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board, 8″ x 10″. C. 2018-

 

 

For this piece I went with a distressed, dark pine frame I made from raw boards. The texture I gouged into the edges of the moulding compliment the expressive brushstrokes and texture in the paint surface.

“Snowbound Forest at Sunset- 1/15/18″- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board, 13 1/2″ x 10 1/4”. C. 2018

For this painting I went with a walnut frame that I parcel gilt with composition leaf on the front surface. The bright gilt surface of the frame really makes the golden hues pop in this piece.

A clean, elegant walnut frame joined with keys and parcel gilt with composition leaf.

“Winter Forest at Morning- 1/15/18″- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board, 8″ x 10”. C. 2018

 

The warm metallic gray of the silver leaf in this frame warms up the highlights in the painting and helps to tone down the blues of the shadow areas.

 

The rich dark brown of this frame helps to warm up this piece and compliment the purplish gray ground. The texture of the olivewood veneer blends in nicely with painterly tree trunks. This is the only frame in this bunch that I did not make myself.

“Winter Forest in a Snowstorm- 1/15/18″- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board. 14″ x 10 1/4”. C. 2018

 

“Snowbound Forest- 1/16/18″- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board, 10″ x 14 3/4”. C. 2018

 

For this piece I went with a simple, “bump” profile moulding. The grain of the oak plays off the movement of the snow covered trees and winding grape vines. The rich, golden color of the finish cools down up the warm gray hues in the painting.

 

“Snowy Winter Forest- 1/19/18″- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board, 7″ x 10”. C. 2018

For the last two paintings I went with a very clean museum profile that was painted black and gilt on the top surface with aluminum leaf. The cool silver tones of the aluminum leaf make the cool whites of the painting seem warm by comparison. The depth of the moulding and the contrast between the flat black of the sides of the frame and the gilt front surface really makes these pieces pop off the wall.

 

“Snowy Winter Forest- 1/16/18″- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on board, 10″ x 7”. C. 2018