Author: Podielski

Are you ever inspired during the holiday season and decide to try your hand at making a gingerbread house from scratch? Annnnnd then your dreams of edible decorative glory come crashing down when your gingerbread house looks more like a shanty shack than a storybook chalet? I’ve been there, and maybe you have too. Have no fear! Expert baker and cake decorator, Jodi Rhoden will be here to save the (holi)day with her upcoming weekend class: Handmade Gingerbread Houses. [caption id="attachment_15383" align="aligncenter" width="630"]IMG_9447 Jodi and her son Jasper show off their gingerbread house creations.[/caption] GumDropCP: What do you like about gingerbread houses? JR: The first time I ever made a gingerbread house, I was enchanted. I really felt like I wanted to become miniature and live inside the house! It feels completely magical and fantastical to create a little home out of candy and sweet gingerbread, and the smells, and textures (and of course, tastes, because there’s always scrap pieces of gingerbread that need to be eaten!) are uniquely pleasurable to the senses. [caption id="attachment_15381" align="alignright" width="226"]DSCF0591 Photo by Nicole McConville[/caption] CP: Do you have to be architecturally skilled to make a good gingerbread house? Who is the ideal student for your class? JR: You do not have to be architecturally skilled to build a gingerbread house! The icing and the candy make it very forgiving. Like most things worth doing, though, it does take time. We will spend a good amount of time in the planning phase, cutting and measuring templates to create the right sizes for the pieces. I also always like to bake extra pieces, in case something breaks or bakes wonky. CP: Have you ever participated in the National Gingerbread house Competition is at the Grove Park Inn? Did the proximity of this annual event in Asheville influence your interest in gingerbread house making? JR: It has always been my dream to enter a house into the competition at the Grove Park Inn, though up until now I have been too busy with my business, Short Street Cakes, to seriously consider it. But now that I have sold my business to my employee, this just might be the right time!

KS2A4495I first met Tim Ryan on a misty morning in the Folk School Garden when I was a Work/Study in 2011. My immediate impression of him was that he was a very witty & interesting character with lots of fantastic stories. Tim is involved in the Folk School in so many different ways. He recently handed over his position as Resident Artist in Gardening and Homesteading to Karen Hurtubise and he will be co-auctioning (with Bob Grove) the Gala & Benefit Auction on June 11, 2016. I thought this would be a good moment to sit down and learn a little bit about Tim the gardener, auctioneer, medicine showman, raconteur, kettle cooker, blacksmith, instructor, former Folk School Board member, bibliophile, and storyteller, that is Tim Ryan. We recently sat down over lunch to talk about many things. Enjoy our interview! CP: When did you first come to the Folk School? [caption id="attachment_15023" align="alignright" width="289"]Ryan_Tim_GA_BIO_KS2A5954_SN_ret Tim Ryan with a bonsai tree[/caption] TR: I had gotten divorced and it killed me. This was 26 years ago. I was depressed and blue and three things saved me: my Blacksmithing buddies, Al-Anon, and having a daughter. At one of the Appalachian Area Chapter Blacksmith Meetings in Mt. Juliet TN, they were having a raffle and the winner would get a free class at the Folk School. Well I don’t usually enter raffles, but my Blacksmithing buddies convinced me to enter and I won. I think they set it up because I was depressed and they knew I needed something else to focus on. It worked because I won the raffle in March or April and the class wasn’t until October, so all summer long I worked hard to become a better blacksmith, worthy of the class at the Folk School. In the fall of 1990, I used my scholarship to take a 2-week Blacksmithing class at the Folk School with Francis Whitaker, which I was by no means near prepared for, naturally. [caption id="attachment_15036" align="aligncenter" width="630"] The Folk School Blacksmith Shop (Original Francis Whitaker Shop in the foreground, the new Clay Spencer Shop in the background)[/caption]

I just finished teaching a weekend class on pollinators and gardening at the Folk School. My class was a great group of folks. We learned about seeding starting and growing native milkweeds for monarch eggs and caterpillars, planting flowers, native shrubs and trees for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, the challenges of neonicotinoids and herbicides. The weekend exhibited beautiful May weather! Enjoy our photo album: 13265881_1561794134115085_2642922861034997978_nJohn Clarke in the Folk School bee yard, showing the class the old bee hives, plus two brand new Russian bee colonies installed from the Beekeeping Class three weeks ago with Virginia Webb. Russian bees seem to be more varrora mite resistant than our beloved Italian honey bees.

IMG_9177_650pxEvery year, we have a sweet tooth soothing tradition in Emily Buehler's bread baking class. On Thursday, students team up to make a special recipe: Emily's Mom's Sticky Buns. The beginning of the week is spent learning the basics of  breads like baguettes, sourdough loaves and whole wheat sandwich bread. By Thursday, students are happy to shift gears from savory to sweet for this divine gooey treat. 

IMG_8825_650 [caption id="attachment_14958" align="alignright" width="307"]IMG_8828_650px Rob demos how to make a big jugs in segments, using the torch to quick dry the base.[/caption] Clay students of all levels joined Rob Withrow in the Folk School Clay Studio this past week to learn new skill and techniques on the wheel. Many students had never thrown on a wheel and were eager to get started. Rob is a local Brasstown potter and owner of Smoke in the Mountains Pottery. He makes the JCCFS logo mugs that are for sale in the craft shop and the big soup bowls in the Dining Hall. Rob is most know for his face mug pottery and wood firing. He creates loves to throw BIG! He has thrown 6-ft tall face jugs and can only fire them in his wood kiln (because of their large size). Students in the class tried their hand at creating mugs, bowls, plates, cups and more. By the end of the week student had some finished fired pieces and confidence to throw a vessel on the wheel. It was a great week!

On Friday, April 8, high school students in the Folk School JAM Program played a concert in the Community Room to celebrate the conclusion of the first session. Under the direction of Johnny Scroggs (guitar) and Peggy Patrick (fiddle), students spent 12 weeks learning traditional Appalachian music as part of the Folk School JAM program. We recently sat down with Program Director Hannah Levin to find out more about this wonderful program preserving traditional Appalachian music in our local high schools. Read on to find out how you (or your teen) can get involved! [caption id="attachment_14703" align="aligncenter" width="630"]JAM_Scroggs Johnny Scroggs leads a guitar lesson[/caption]

Under my tree this year is another tree and it looks like this: [caption id="attachment_14238" align="aligncenter" width="499"]Tree_IMG_6238 My Christmas tree book & box[/caption] In the Book Arts class, "Ornamental Books and Boxes for the Holidays" with Dea Sasso we tackled three ambitious projects for the Long Weekend. The first project was the tree pictured above with a fancy triangular box. Dea bought a wonderful assortment of papers, book cloth, and leather and everyone picked a combination of colors. My tree fits into a blue box with gold tooled stars and a tree on the front.