Peggy Karr

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Peggy Karr has been making things for as long as she can remember. As a kid she laid out the plans to make a “flying suit.” And she was convinced that she could make one! In College she majored in art with a focus on ceramics. Her knowledge and experience with clay, firing and throwing have been a useful foundation for her foray in to fused glass.

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After her first introduction to kiln fired glass, Peggy researched the art form at Corning and through other sources. She made mold out of clay and then fired them in her clay kiln at 1600 degrees. The first effort included a square plate with a cow.

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We love how delightfully easy it is to mix and match and use in any dining/serving situation.  Peggy has created custom colors to her specifications, making each plate uniquely her own. The colors are laid on to the glass blank using as many as 10 different stencils with sifted powdered glass colors filling in the blanks. Designs generally start as a hand drawing and then gets converted to the computer so that the stencils can be laser cut.

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Each piece can be presented decoratively or is “art you can use!” Peggy Karr’s Fall designs are currently featured in our store windows. Stop by and take a peek at these gorgeous Shades of Autumn.

 

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The Serving Piece that is a One Handed Wonder

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In my humble opinion the coolest thing that we carry here at Appalachian Spring is small and very curious.

Can you guess what it is? It is one of my favorite go to gifts.

I always ask the recipient to guess what it is and most can not figure it out.  Give up yet?

It is a one handed serving tong!

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Don’t be fooled by this picture, these tongs are not just for salads, try using them for asparagus, green beans, hot bread, fruit platters, on a tray of appetizers, in a bowl of pasta, etc. Makes every holiday buffet an easy endeavor.  Be creative.  More than a couple of times I have personally given away my own pair, to guests who marveled over them.  When I first learned about these tongs, I gave a pair to every friend and family member that year for a holiday gift.

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When folded closed they lay flat and can easily be stored in the most crowded kitchen drawer or stuck into the fullest countertop utensil holder.st 2

The Parrish family makes these clever utensils from a very old pattern which was found years ago.  It’s not all magic, they steam the wood in order to bend it in to shape, then cools it.  Much the same way chair backs and musical instruments are made. The two sides are held together with a brass pin.  The Parishes use cherry, sugar maple, white oak and black walnut to create these gems.

They make a very fun gift and are very easy to store.

Chic and Stylish: farm to table serving stones

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Round Stone Beach on an island in Maine

I have spent almost every summer for the last 45 years in Maine. So if there is something that makes me feel like I am on the rocky coast of Maine, it’s going to be stones. I collect stones when I walk on Round Stone beach. I love to listen to the waves tumbling over the stones. I stack them in cairns when I walk in the woods. I have a small stone on the ledge of my vanity representing each member of our quickly growing family of 7, now 8! In my “garden” is a heart shade stone I lugged home to DC.

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Stone Cairn found on our beach walk

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Heart stone on my front step overlooking the “garden”

 

So when American Stonecraft stone slabs arrived- I was thrilled! These New England field stones are harvested, sliced, polished and then sealed.  Every field stone holds within a spectacular beauty that can only come from nature.  Each and every one is different, not only in size and shape, but the array of colors and amazing patterns of the interior.

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Field stones in New England are commonly called “New England potatoes”.  Farmers must constantly clear their fields of them.  Created by glaciers eons ago and buried within the soil, they rise to the surface and have to be removed, again and again, before the land can be farmed.   Historically they were used in the stone walls you see all over New England but these walls are too costly for today’s farmers to build and maintain so they often end up in piles.  The folks from American Stonecraft reach out to these small local farmers who are happy to supply American Stonecraft with lots and lots of field stones!

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Stone slab sandwich board

Whether you have a set of slabs and use them as plates or make it your favorite cheese serving platter, you will find hundreds of ways to put them to use. I keep one slab on my table as a trivet. I serve sushi, smoked fishes and cheeses on another. I definitely bought one to give and one for me–twice!

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Slightly large slab for summer rolls

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Keeping cheese at the perfect temperature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Wood?

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I have a confession to make. While I have had many wood cutting boards over the years, I recently realized that I my current cutting board collection was not suited to my cutting board needs. I arrived at this realization while planning and setting a new window display in the four stores. In preparation for the display, I reviewed the various artists and current selection of cutting boards we had on hand. I estimated what I thought I would need to “fill” each window. I reread the materials we had about our artists and how to care for wood. I rewrote the product knowledge materials adding new thoughts about why wood is great to use in the kitchen. I talked with Polly about the core information on care and use. We compared notes about what boards we each have at home and how we use them. Though I do have wood cutting boards (a very large carving board with a trough, an old generic one, a new and glorious walnut board that I ironically save for special occasions), I have come to realize that I am in need of some particular cutting boards for convenient every day use.  Suddenly I felt inspired to shop for new  wood cutting boards.

I went to the Georgetown store to identify the boards I would put in the window and how I would present them. This meant that I picked up many boards and looked at them. In doing this I started to fall in love with particular cutting boards.

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 The Dickinson checkerboard end grain one is made of walnut, cherry, oak and maple. It is 9 inches square and 1 inch thick and can be used on both sides. The Larchwood end grain board at 2” thick,  reminds me of a butcher block. It comes in rectangle, circle, and oval shapes in varying sizes. It is a warm creamy color with honey tones in the grain figuring. Northwood makes a delightful small board with inlaid circle and arcing designs and a cutout hole for hanging. At 6.5” x 9” it is a perfect small board for quick jobs. JK Creative and Hardwood Creations make striped boards in every shape and size.

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 I covet Wooden Palate’s end grain, fumed oak cutting board with feet at 19”x14” x5”. It is visually spectacular and would make any serious chef lustful. I can definitely imagine planning my kitchen around this board!

I have given cutting boards for wedding gifts for 30 years. I received cutting boards as a wedding gift 30 years ago. I gave my husband a glorious walnut board for Christmas last year. I love to cut on wood cutting boards.

Within 24 hrs of sorting wood boards for the window, I identified what I need immediately and what I want in the long term.  I definitely need a small every day cutting board. I slice tomatoes for breakfast every day; I make muesli with chopped fresh fruit every other day;


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 I chop dinner veggies for two every night. I want a board that is small enough for me to keep it on the counter in easy reach; I bought myself the Dickinson 9” square in the checkerboard pattern (and I have used it everyday since!)

My sister always has a designated board for onions and garlic to avoid any chance of garlic flavored strawberries. I want a bigger board for prepping meats and fish for dinner; big enough to cut up a chicken. And perhaps one more in between board for larger chopping endeavors such as prepping quantities of fruit or veggies for my juicer.

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A small board with a gutter might be handy for juicy small jobs like tomatoes and fruit. Generally, I want cutting boards to “live” on or near the counter where I use them. I like them thick enough to stand on end without tipping over. I might consider hanging one or two on our “Julia” styled pegboard.

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I have a particular appreciation for end grain boards as they “play nicely” with good knives. Grain and color will be the final defining feature for me. The board I gave to my husband was a slab of walnut with a blond streak running through it on the edges. It was cut to highlight the rings of the tree and pays tribute to natural shape of the wood; I can envision the tree as it grew.

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After all of the reviewing, rewriting, and planning, I went to each store and set the window with kitchen wood. Let me know what you think next time you are in the store.

I’ll take the Wedding Gift with the salad on the side!

My niece and her partner got married last week and we decided to build a wedding gift from our clan (an aunt and uncle, 3 cousins and a girlfriend).

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Maggie and Mel are vegan and love to cook. They are twenty-somethings who appreciate: all things green, handmade, supporting local artists and natural products. But, they had a very short wedding registry list!

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The one clue we could glean was that they like blue! Happily– we were right on the mark. With clan members scattered or busy with their lives and jobs around the city and in Europe, we conferred by text and photos until we could agree on the collection we assembled.

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Summer Salad Supreme


 

  • Chop tomatoes into coarse chunks.

Tip: Use one side of the cutting board for chopping and one for serving.  Many boards are stamped with the artists mark to designate easily which you will cut on which you will serve on.

  • Slice cucumbers, skin on.
  • Shave onion in thin rings.
  • Trim and half fennel, slice thin half moon pieces of fennel.
  • Toss veggies together in wooden salad bowl.
  • Fill salt and pepper shakers.

Tip: a few grains of rice in the salt cellar will keep salt from clumping in humid climates.

  •  Fill cruet with the finest grade of extra virgin olive oil, cold pressed.

Tip: the spout on the cruet is made of chrome and designed to pour at a medium rate. EVOO cold pressed oils are produced naturally without any chemical and are therefore lower in acidity.

  • Dress salad with olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon, and a dash of salt and pepper. Serve with ease at the table with tongs and additional S&P to taste.

 

Cheers to Maggie and Mel and to a lifetime of health, happiness and love, with a salad on the side!

 

 

 

 

 

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