Proud to be a Mountain Folk


Folks have lived in these mountains for centuries.  Some locals here in Bryson City can trace their families way back – part of this county (Swain)  is in the Cherokee nation, which means some folks here trace their family back before America was colonized.  With such a long history, there are many stories of people that have lived here.  Two wonderful ladies, Doreyl Ammons Cain and Amy Ammons Garza, want to make sure those stories are told and heard.  Their podcast, Stories of Mountain Folk, contains short interviews with folks that live in the mountains of Western North Carolina – folks that are traditional mountain folk and new mountain transplants.  Everyone that lives in these mountains has a story  – and if their story contributes to the art, culture and place of Western North Carolina, Doreyl and Amy are out to catch that spirit – their story.    I am proud to have been asked to be one of the Mountain Folk and proud that my husband, Jeff, was also interviewed about his banjo making.

Stop and have a listen to my interview and stories of other mountain folk, including my husband,  Jeff Delfield.  Each is just 1/2 hour long and pretty enjoyable!  Before I come on, here an interview with Jenny Johnson of the Swain Center for the Arts, too.  There are plenty of artful and crafty things happening in Swain County, my hometown!

Learn more about Amy and Doreyl’s mission to Catch the Spirit of Appalachia.

Handmade Pottery Produces Great Lasagna!

I have felt really guilty about my bakers and casseroles lately. Why, you ask? Well, I love to cook and eat out of handmade pottery. Did you read that? I love to cook. And I love to eat out of handmade pottery. But do I COOK in handmade pottery?! Actually, most often I do not. This is because most all of my vegetarian/pescartarian meals are cooked directly on the stovetop – like stir fries, beans in my pressure cooker, etc. I just don’t make casseroles and hardly bake anything but bread – and that bread is in free-form or in my aluminum bread pan (insert guilty smile.)

Honestly – I am afraid of making any baked good like brownies, cornbread and the like, in a pan that doesn’t exactly fit the recipe’s recommendations. You’ve read them – a 8×8 or 11×7 pan, large loaf pan 4×9, etc. Being that I am not into measuring every little item I make on the wheel, I make no ‘8×8’ pan, and therefore no brownie pan.

So tonight I took the plunge. I brought home one of my bakers and decided to make lasagna. Now, this is no ordinary lasagna. My friend Noreen owns Big Girl Winery and Farm just outside the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. She is also a lover of handmade pottery. So when she brought over 2 pounds of fresh shiitake mushrooms to add to her barter lot*, I couldn’t resist the idea of finally doing some savory baking in my baker – shiitake-spinach lasagna.

Shiitake-spinach lasagna

Leftovers - Shiitake-spinach lasagna in a Pincu Pot baker. Notice the puffy handle (see my last post if you don't get it)

On my way home from Pincu Pottery after a long day and really fun time with my 5 young students, I stopped at Ingles, my local grocery, to purchase the required ingredients.   Here is the quick and easy recipe for working folk (If I weren’t working I may have made my own noodles, sauce, etc.):

Shiitake-Spinach Lasagna

1/2 package no-cook lasagna noodles

1 can organic pasta sauce

about 20 fresh shiitakes, sliced

4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

1 15 oz. ricotta

1/2 small bag of shredded mozzerella

Parmesan cheese

1/2 small bag frozen spinach

1 egg (organically grown by Sleepy Hollow Farm, a Bryson City organic farm just outside the Great Smoky Mountains!)



ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Mix the ricotta, mozzarella (minus about a handful), egg, spinach together. Add some black pepper to taste and a pinch of ground nutmeg. Saute the shiitake mushrooms in olive oil until slightly soft (5 min.) and at the end, throw in the garlic to soften. Mix this in with cheese mixture.
Place a little sauce to cover the bottom of the baker.  Then add one layer of noodles. Add a layer of cheese mixture and sprinkle with a little oregano. Add another layer of noodles. Then add some more cheese mix and then more sauce. One more layer of noodles, then sauce then extra mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on top.
Cover with tin foil and bake at 375 for 55 minutes. Take off the tin foil and turn on broiler for 5 minutes or until cheese on top gets crusty.

Pincu Pottery Lasagna with Shiitake and Spinach

YUM! We each had seconds! (the photo was taken with poor lighting and with a video camera, so please excuse....)

So now it’s your turn – I need more recipes to use in my bakers/casseroles! Please post your favorite no-meat casserole recipe in the comments! Thanks in advance!

* I will barter for pottery. It needs to be win-win, like me getting fresh shiitake mushrooms, honey and wine from Big Girl Winery. Just ask – I may be interested!

Give and You Shall Receive

Tomorrow, Monday, is the last day to bid on some incredible ceramic art at The auction is a benefit for Drew, a young ceramics student at U of F who lost a leg recently from an accident. All the artists and businesses participating donated to this auction and all the proceeds help Drew.

It is a win-win event. You pay far less, probably, than you normally would for an object and Drew has just a bit less to worry about. You can’t beat it!

The teapot I sent is being sold for half its value unless you act now!
But you have to go to and bid!

Blue Teapot

Blue Teapot on auction!