Recipes

Gluten-free Banana Bread

img_3891The snow dusted the top of the north shore mountains this past week, which hopefully means winter is here to stay in Vancouver. The drop in temperature and a bit of the “white stuff” has me super excited about the snow season. All I can now think about is snowboarding and breaking in my new set of skis.

img_3941The last week has been a bit of a whirlwind. There is a good chance that Dan and I may move to New Zealand for a couple years in January or February. Which makes me even more eager to take full advantage of all that British Columbia has to offer. The final decision has yet to be made, but in the meantime I’ve been taking time to reflect on the past two years here in Vancouver. 
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This gluten-free Banana Bread recipe is the perfect loaf for a winter getaway. Not only is it moist and delicious, but is quite easy to make once you have the recipes on hand!

Gluten-Free Banana Bread
 
Ingredients
  • 3 mashed baking bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil (melted)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup rice flour
  • ½ cup gluten free oat flour
  • ½ cup almond meal / flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • About a tablespoon of cinnamon
  • Teaspoon of nutmeg
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix mashed bananas, eggs, coconut oil (melted), vanilla, brown sugar and coconut sugar in a bowl
  3. In another bowl mix rice, corn and almond meal flour. Add in baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  4. In a medium sized bowl stir in dry mix to wet mix, stir to good consistency. Add in the chocolate chips (optional).
  5. Pour batter in baking pan and cook for 30 mins.

 

Recipes

Flourless Chocolate Cake and Brownies

img_4577If you’re a chocoholic like me you will definitely appreciate this recipe. I have experimented with a handful of chocolate cake and brownie recipes but I also keep coming back to this one. If you end up making it, you won’t be disappointed to say the least. It is gluten-free, simple to make and will satisfy any sweet tooth.

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Feel free to change up the toppings. In the past I’ve used shredded coconut, pomegranates, crushed hazelnuts and pistachios. I have also added a glaze option in case you want to make it extra chocolatey.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
 
Ingredients
  • 6 1-ounce squares coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • For Glaze:
  • 2 1-ounce squares coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate squares
  • 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1½ teaspoon milk OR light coconut milk
  • 1½ teaspoons Agave syrup OR honey
  • ⅛ teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Melt 6 ounces of chopped chocolate and butter in a heavy saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until chocolate and butter are melted and smooth.
  3. Add sugar and salt and reduce heat to low. Cook while stirring for about one minute, until sugar starts to dissolve.
  4. Remove pan from heat. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. The mixture will look smooth and glossy.
  5. Sift cocoa into mixture. Whisk until the cake batter is smooth.
  6. Pour batter into prepared greased pan and bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes. The center of the cake should be just firm to the touch, but be careful to not over bake the cake or it will be dry.
  7. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert the cake on a plate.
  8. To prepare the glaze, melt 2 ounces of chopped chocolate and 1½ tablespoons of unsalted butter in the same saucepan you used to make the cake. When melted and smooth, remove the pan from heat. Add milk and Agave syrup OR honey and vanilla and stir until smooth and glossy. Let the glaze cool for about 3 minutes before pouring it on the cake.
  9. Pour all of the glaze in the middle of the cake. Use a silicone or rubber spatula to spread the glaze evenly over the cake, allowing the glaze to evenly run down the sides of the cake.

 

Recipes

Quinoa Feta and Pomegranate Salad

fullsizerender-3Over the Holiday season there are many friend and family gatherings that take place. I always find myself thinking about what type of dish to bring over and wanted to share one of my favourite seasonal winter salads. Pomegranate season typically runs from October through February, depending on the harvest. When selecting ripe pomegranates from your local grocery store or farmers market look for ones with a red to reddish-brown outer rind and ones that are heavier for it’s size. These pomegranates tend to be full of flavour and make a great addition to any salad.

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For those of you who don’t know some of the many health benefits of pomegranates; I’ve listed some interesting facts below:

  • Pomegranates provide a good sources of vitamins, including vitamin A,vitamin C, and vitamin E, as well as folic acid.
  • They have been traditionally used for clearing up the skin and reducing inflammation. And the juice of a pomegranate can also be useful for the treatment of sore throats.

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4.0 from 1 reviews
Quinoa Feta Pomegranate Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 pomegranate , seeds removed
  • 2 large plum tomatoes, seeded, coarsely chopped
  • ¾ cucumber, peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano (I use simply organic)
  • ½ cup feta cheese to crumble on top
  • Dressing
  • ¼ cup Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Spread cooked quinoa over a platter or wide, shallow bowl.
  2. Sprinkle on top remaining ingredients with plenty of dried organic oregano.
  3. Drizzle dressing on top and salt and pepper to taste.

 

Eat, Recipes

Vegan Earl Grey Cookies

fullsizerender-3Lift your tea time to the next level with these super chewy Vegan Earl Grey Cookies. I’ve always loved the taste of Earl Grey, especially on those rainy afternoons when you need a little boost. Below are three interesting facts that you may or may not know about Earl Grey tea:

  • It is a blend of black tea enhanced with oil from the rind of bergamot oranges.
  • Traditionally, it is served with a slice of lemon with sugar to taste, as it brings out the bright flavours and shows off the warm brown colour of the steep.
  • The bergamot in Earl Grey has been known to have a calming effect on people, as well as to boost a person’s mood. This is due to bergamot’s natural aromatherapy qualities.

Lately, I’ve started to test out delicious organic all-natural teas from Sunnyside; a favourite shop of mine in the cove. They have over 30 teas in store, so there’s always something new and interesting to try.
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After stumbling across the Cream of Earl Grey Tea at Sunnyside; I knew that I wanted to infuse the flavour into a cookie. After researching some recipes on the web I came across something on the New York in Green blog. Since I didn’t have all the ingredients I ended up adapting the recipe.

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So here you have it; a Vegan Earl Grey cookie. If you make it be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below.

Vegan Earl Grey Cookies
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups unbleached organic all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Early Grey loose tea leaves
  • ¾ cup non-dairy margarine
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla soy milk
  • sugar, for the cookie edges
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the sugars, salt and tea and pulse until the tea is pulverized. Add the flour, and pulse again until everything is evenly mixed.
  3. Add the non-dairy margarine, vanilla and soy milk, and pulse again until a dough starts to form. Dump it out into a bowl, and knead just until everything comes together and the loose bits of flour are incorporated.
  4. Divide the dough in half, and roll each half into a log about 12-inches long and cut slices that are about ⅓″ thick. Place them on a cookie sheet and bake for about 10 – 12 minutes. Let them sit on the trays for at least 10 minutes to cool, and then transfer them to cooling racks.

 

 

Eat, Recipes

Curried Baked Sweet Potatoes

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The nights are getting a bit cooler here in Vancouver which means the rainy weather is starting to settling in for the Winter. Despite the fact that so many of us do not live according to the seasons, our bodies still do.

As the seasons change it’s only natural for us to start craving warmer comfort food. Of course, if you’re like me you’ll want to keep it healthy and satisfying so these Curried Baked Sweet Potatoes are a great option.

Curried Baked Sweet Potatoes
Serves: Serves 8
 
Ingredients
  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp. grape seed oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 red pepper diced
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • ½ cup toasted slivered almonds
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 cups cauliflower florets, washed
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Poke a few holes in the sweet potatoes with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape. While they cook you can start on your filling.
  2. Pour vegetable broth and quinoa to a medium sized sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Once boiling reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy. In the meantime sauté the onion and garlic in the grape seed oil with a pinch of salt until soft. Next add in the red pepper, spinach, cherry tomatoes and almonds and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. From there you can add the finished quinoa and cinnamon to the frying pan and mix together.
  3. For the Cauliflower:
  4. Mix the olive oil, curry powder, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl.
  5. Place the washed and well drained cauliflower florets in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish; pour the oil mixture over the florets and toss gently.
  6. Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes; remove from oven and stir in almonds mixing lightly.
  7. Return to oven and bake uncovered for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until cauliflower is browned.
  8. Once sweet potatoes are cooked, Remove from oven and let stand until cool enough to handle. Slice sweet potatoes lengthwise down the center to expose cooked insides, top with the quinoa and curried cauliflower and enjoy!

 

 

 

Eat, Recipes

Vegan Borscht Soup

fullsizerender-6This past week I had a long over due lunch with a girlfriend whom I hadn’t seen for ages at Pazzo Chow. For those of you who haven’t been, it’s definitely a local gem in Chinatown that I often frequent for lunch. The menu changes everyday so you’re always in for a surprise.

The special for the day ended up being this life-changing Vegetarian Borscht Soup which instantly brought back many memories of the good ol’ days at my Bubbie’s chalet in Quebec’s Eastern townships. It’s pretty incredible how certain flavours can take you right back to a place or a moment in time. For me while eating this soup all I could think about is coming home after a long day of skiing in -43 degrees, cozying up by the fire and indulging in comfort food prepared by my very talent Bubbie.

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This Sunday I made the point of calling her and asking her for the recipe which I wanted to share with all of you.

Vegan Borscht Soup
Author: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 medium-size beets, peeled and grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 medium onions, sliced into half-moons
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1 pound white cabbage, cut thinly into shreds
  • 2 tablespoons grape seed oil
  • 7 cups vegetable stock
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • Salt & ground black pepper to taste
  • Finely chopped chives & dill for garnish
Instructions
  1. Peel and cut the onions, carrots, and grate the beets once peeled.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of grape seed oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add crushed garlic and onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent.
  3. Continue to add carrots, grated beets and a pinch of salt. Cook until they have soften.
  4. In the meantime, bring the vegetable stock to a boil. Once boiled, add the soften veggies along with the shredded cabbage. Let simmer 15-25 minutes.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then squeeze in the lemon juice.

 

Recipes

Chicken Soup

Nothing feeds the soul like homemade chicken soup, especially as cooler weather starts to settle in. The version I’m sharing with you today is tested, tried and true. It’s a cherished staple amongst the Steiman side of my family, passed down from generation to generation.

Chicken Soup
The stock freezes quite nicely and can be used as a great base in all sorts of other dishes, some of my all-time favourites include homemade mushroom risotto.

Chicken Soup
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • Chicken Stock:
  • 4 lbs chicken, cut in pieces
  • 8 cups cold water
  • 3 large yellow onions
  • 4-5 carrots, cut into ½ pieces
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into ½ pieces
  • Chopped fresh dill leaves
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Wash whole Chicken and cut into quarters. Place into sauce pot and cover with cold water about 8 cups.
  2. Bring to a boil, over medium heat, skim until clear then add the carrots, whole onions and one rounded teaspoon of kosher salt. Cover and let simmer until almost done about 2 hours then add the celery and dill for an additional hour. Strain broth into a large bowl and separate chicken from bone.
  3. Reheat and ladle the soup into individual bowls and serve.
  4. *Tip: Refrigerate broth after separation to remove fat.

 

Recipes

Challah Bread

I have yet to meet a single person who doesn’t enjoy the taste of freshly baked challah bread. This recipe is sweet, tender and undeniably the best bread ever. It’s always a treat to have this toasted with an avocado spread on top. Personally, I love making French toast or grilled cheese challah… If you haven’t already tried making some, I suggest you do! Happy bread baking everyone.

Happy Rosh Hashanah! @carstei and I decided to cook up a delicious meal tonight for a few friends. I can't wait to dig into this challah bread

Challah Bread
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon plus ½ cup sugar
  • 1¾ cups lukewarm water
  • ½ cup olive or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon table salt
  • 8 to 8½ cups all-purpose flour
  • Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling.
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in water; set aside for 5 minutes until a bit foamy.
  2. Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading.
  3. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. Dough may also rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off. Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.
  4. To make a 6-braid challah, either straight or circular, take half the dough and form it into 6 balls. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1½ inches wide. Place the 6 in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together. Move the outside right strand over 2 strands. Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2. Move second strand from the right over to the far left. Start over with the outside right strand. Continue this until all strands are braided. For a straight loaf, tuck ends underneath. For a circular loaf, twist into a circle, pinching ends together. Make a second loaf the same way. Place braided loaves on a greased cookie sheet with at least 2 inches in between.
  5. Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaves. Either freeze breads or let rise another hour.
  6. If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves again. Sprinkle bread with seeds, if using. If freezing, remove from freezer 5 hours before baking.
  7. Bake in middle of oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. (If you have an instant read thermometer, you can take it out when it hits an internal temperature of 190 degrees.) Cool loaves on a rack.

 

Travel

Our Road Trip Through Northern Italy

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From the windy hike along the shores of La Spezia to the breathtaking views of the Dolomite mountains, nine-days in Italy was not nearly enough time to explore everything; but we sure made the most of it. September 2nd, 2016 marked my first trip to Europe. It sure has open my eyes to a wonderful way of life, culture & expansion of my food palette. Some notable highlights were obviously the beautiful countryside, wine and brightly colorful houses along the waterfront.

Get lost and then get found.

Traveling has a way of transforming you, as soon as I stepped off the plane I felt as though the stress in my shoulders was lifted. I flew into Milan–Malpensa Airport then made my way to the other airport in Milan to meet my girlfriend Miranda. From there we rented a car and drove up to Val di Sole where both our boyfriends were racing in World Master’s for Downhill. Little did we know the drive from Milan to Trentino was going to be an adventure. The roads in Italy are very narrow compared to the spacious ones we have here in Canada. It definitly made for a very interesting drive up the windy mountain roads. After about 3 hours we finally made it to Trentino and settled in for the night at this cozy but modern chalet called the Hotel Palace Ravelli.

The next day Miranda and I took the gondola up to the top of the mountain and hiked around for a few hours while the boys did their practice runs. I was truly amazed at how mountainous the northern region was. While up touring the top we constantly heard cow bells in the distance. After some time we ended up stumbling across them grazing. In Europe they call this Alpine transhumance which is a traditional practice of grazing livestock between the valleys in winter and the high mountain pastures in summer. It has helped shaped much of the landscape in the Alps, as without it, most areas below 6,600 ft would be forests.

Trentino, Italy

 

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The next day we rented some bikes and road along a valley trail between five of the little mountain towns. We searched for a little cafe before making our way back to see the boys race in the afternoon.img_0317

With the tough conditions and rough track the race was definitely quite interesting to watch. Unfortunately, Dan crashed at the top section and was set back with his time. It was hard to see all the hard work gone into training and to have one lap to determine your standing…but that’s downhill. Despite the not so great run we all enjoyed a lovely dinner in town with crunchy thin crust pizza and chocolate desserts. The next morning we grabbed a quick espresso in town before heading down to Verona.

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The Dolomites are simple incredible, for those of you living in British Columbia picture driving through cliff faces like “The Chief”. I’ve done a fair bit of road trips in my time and I will say this was the kind of drive where you want to stop every 10 minutes to take a photo. Dan being the patient guy he is obliged.

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The drive from Trentino to Verona took around 2.5 hours which included a quick pitstop at a small hotel on the side of the highway. There we grabbed lunch, had a glass of white wine and took in the view. img_0598

img_0670For a couple weeks I had been looking forward to our stay just outside of Verona at beautiful little Airbnb I found (here). Our host was wonderful, and was able to recommend a traditional Italian restaurant in the area.  We had a few hours to spare before dinner so Dan and I decided to go into the city to check out the arena.  The next morning we got up at the crack of dawn and made our way to the beautiful little town of Modena. By the time we made it there we had both built up an appetite and while walking around the city we stumbled across this vegetarian spot called Loma, where we ate some tasty panini’s.img_0752

After lunch we continued walking along the narrow side streets in town before making our way to the Ferrari exhibit.  After the exhibit we made our way to the Balsamic tasting at Acetaia Di Giorgio.

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I could have easily spent the night in Modena, but we already rented an Airbnb in Florence. So after our balsamic tasting we were on the road yet again. The weather had decided to take a turn so by the time we made it to Florence it had started to rain. Despite the down pour there was something awfully beautiful about staying in the Florence countryside. From the rolling hills, endless amount of vineyards and beautiful estates we were soaking the whole experience up. That evening our host at the bed and breakfast recommended yet another great restaurant right down the road called Tres Pini. We couldn’t have asked for a better atmosphere and the the food and the live music was the cherry on top. The next morning we woke up and headed into the city for a early breakfast. We quickly realized we didn’t have enough time to fully explore Florence so we made a decision to continue heading towards Lucca, a small town where my grandmother’s family was from to spend most of the afternoon.  img_1159

I instantly fell in love with the little town. We rented bikes for the day and got lost down the narrow windy streets. It was a small enough town that you could do that. Around lunch we found a little restaurant where I indulged in some burrata cheese and prosecco, what more could a girl want?

img_1131My grandmother wanted to visit Lucca before she passed, but wasn’t able to make the trip due to health concerns. Before we left town, I made a point to go to the cathedral and light a candle for her and my poppa. I’m so grateful I was able to spend the afternoon there with Dan, exploring and seeing that part of Italy.

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Our next stop was La Spezia where we planned to root ourselves for more then just one night. Dan and I stayed at Le Ville Relais a stunning hotel sitting on the very top of the hill overlooking the Port and the West of the Gulf of La Spezia.img_1259

Between the elaborate breakfast spreads to the four course dinner menus,  the food there was simply incredible. I will never forget the delicious molten lava raspberry chocolate cake I had two nights in a row, it was that tasty. The following day we spent exploring the beautiful Cinque Terre coast. We travelled by train to the furthest town then made part of our way back by foot.

All you need is a little bit of this.

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Like I said, nine days in Italy wasn’t nearly enough. I will definitely spend some more time there. Especially to check out the southern regions.

Inspire

My Love for Pottery Begins

I start off every New Year by setting a yearly goal list, and like most people’s lists some of the items on it are easily checked off, while others don’t exactly make the cut.

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Since moving out to the cove, I’ve been obsessed with a small shop called the Sunnyside. For those of you who have yet to venture in there yet; it’s a get place to check out filled with cute succulents, delicious teas, my favourite cookbooks and most of all beautiful hand made ceramics.

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source: heather dahl

For the longest time I’ve wanted to get back into sculpting, it feels like ages ago but I studied Sculpture and Installation at OCAD. Even though my time there was shortly lived, the skills I learnt had a profound impact on my journey in life. After admiring the works of Heather Dahl, a very talented local Vancouver pottery artist. I decided to reach out to her and figure out where she would recommend taking classes. Turns out, it was just up the road at the Northshore Community Centre. Fast forward a couple months, I finally ended up enrolling in a 13-week Intro to Wheel Work and Hand Building class. The pottery teacher is named Liz DeBeer, a wonderful woman originally from South Africa and now a practicing pottery artist on the Sunshine Coast.

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Now before I dive into it the wonderful world of Pottery, let me begin by saying it isn’t for everyone. In fact, you truly need to have outmost attention to detail and patience if you want to succeed. The more classes I take, the more I realize that the foundational work is key.

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I have a tendency to rush through work, as I’m eager to see the end result. With pottery much of the reward is in the process as there are many steps from the building of the clay, the trimming and decorating, to the glazing. I’m learning to love the slow progression of each stage.

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I’m currently experimenting with all sorts of shapes and sizes to get a feeling for the clay. Nothing noteworthy yet, but you have to begin somewhere. Now that I’ve shared a yearly goal of mine I hope that I inspired you to get out there and cross something off your list.