How are you?  I am having a nice start to 2023.  Last week, I got to spend time with four other gals in San Diego.  We talked, laughed, walked, had great meals together and talked some more.  We visited two museums and a ceramic studio.  I want to share two of the meals with you.

Tree Stump Sculptures found while hiking.

la jolla contemporary museum of art

Museum of Contemporary Arts at LaJolla, California.

Succulents and Cactus found at night.

Red Lentil Chili

8 servings; makes 9 cups


• 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

• 1 medium white onion, diced (1 cup)

• 1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced (1 cup)

• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided, or more as needed

• 1/4 teaspoon fine salt, divided, or more as needed

• 1 jalapeño pepper (not seeded), minced, plus fresh slices for serving

• 4 cloves garlic, minced and mashed with the flat side of a knife

• Two (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes and their juices

• 1 3/4 cups water, or more as needed

• 3 tablespoons tomato paste

• 3 tablespoons chili powder, divided

• 2 tablespoons ground cumin, divided

• 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (sweet pimenton)

• 3/4 cup dried red lentils, rinsed and drained

• One (15-ounce) can no-salt-added kidney beans, drained

• One (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, drained

Chopped cilantro, for serving.  Diced avocado, for serving.


1. In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the onion and red bell pepper, season with 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring often, until just softened, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Stir in the jalapeño and garlic, then add the tomatoes and their juices, water, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of the chili powder, half the cumin and the smoked paprika, stirring to incorporate. Increase the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil and stir in the lentils.

3. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the mixture is gently simmering, and cook for until the lentils are mostly tender (they will look plumped), about 15 minutes. 4. Add more water if the mixture is looking dry.

5. Add the kidney beans, black beans, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper, the remaining 1 tablespoon each of cumin and chili powder, stirring to incorporate.

6. Once the beans have heated through, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring a few times. Taste and season with more salt and/or pepper, as needed.

Eggplant Parmesan with Fresh Mozzarella

For this recipe, I am matching up ingredients with the instructions.  You can simplify by purchasing a high quality marinara sauce.

To Make the Marinara Sauce:


¼ c. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 T. tomato paste
1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper


Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown. Add chopped garlic and cook 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook until beginning to darken, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, crushing them with your hands and bring to boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until slightly thickened, 15-20 minutes. Set aside.

Preparing Eggplant:


¾ c. olive oil
4 medium eggplants (about 4 lb.)
8 whole garlic cloves
8 sprigs oregano
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper


Preheat oven to 400. Cut eggplants in half lengthwise. Using a vegetable peeler, remove skin from rounded side of each eggplant half, leaving a 1” strip of skin around cut edges. Divide eggplant, oregano and garlic and olive oil between two large rimmed baking sheets. Turn eggplants to coat with oil, season with salt and pepper, and place cut sides down. Cover baking sheets tightly with foil and bake until eggplants are very soft, 45-50 minutes.

Putting it all together:

2 T. olive oil
1¼ c. panko breadcrumbs

8 oz. mozzarella, sliced
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces
3 oz. parmesan, finely grated


Toss breadcrumbs and olive oil in medium bowl. Transfer eggplants, oregano and garlic to 2 large shallow baking dished, placing eggplants cut side up. Top with tomato sauce, sliced mozzarella and torn fresh mozzarella, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Bake until cheese is bubbling and breadcrumbs are golden, 25-30 minutes.


Do you remember The Poky Little PuppyTootleHome for a BunnyThe Color KittensI Can Fly, and more Golden Books?  I still have some on my bookshelves.  Muskegon Museum of Art is hosting an exhibit of over sixty masterpieces of original illustrations from the Random House archives.  This would be a nice way to spend an hour or so.  Maybe take the kids?

While in San Diego, we visited a friend, Josh Herman.  I plan to do an entire blog post sharing his artwork, plans for the future, and more in two weeks.  Just before, I left for out West, I fired my gas kiln.  I had a really nice firing.  There are new beach vessels, bowls, vases, and mugs online.  Please check them out.


I had a good first firing for 2023.  Journaling has become, once again, important for me personally and remembering ideas for new clay work.  There never seems to be enough hours in the day.  I am grateful for my busy-ness and have to remind myself at times that I am only one person.  Last week, I went down a rabbit hole after making the video of “Life of a Cup”.  I started thinking about all of the steps to making and sending a mug to it’s final home.  (Maybe not final.  Maybe a handmade cup is passed through a family over the years? ). Basically, I discovered that it takes approximately 12.5 hours for each mug beginning to completion.  Also, that I earn about $3 an hour when making 50 mugs sold at $41.  I am not a production potter.  I could make more cups more quickly.  I choose to not.  I want each piece looked at, considered, adjusted, and finished to the best of my abilities (at this current place and time). This is truly an act of love – being a clay artist.

The 12.5 hours to completion:

I hope you find time to do something fun.  I am working on having more fun.  I guess I really enjoy my job.

take good care, Cyndi

handmade ceramic mugs
handmade ceramic tray cyndi casemier
sun inspired ceramic home decor
handmade ceramic beach vase
Handmade ceramic serving bowl
handmade ceramic beach mug

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *