Thirty years ago, the Clay Coyote was started in a basement in New Lenox, Illinois in 1992.
At that time, Tom was making pots for fun and the basement was becoming overloaded. So Betsy signed them up for the Frankfurt Fall Fest. It was their first foray into selling Clay Coyote pottery.
Betsy and Tom were working at Baker’s Square and pottery was their nights and weekend gig. I was a feisty teenager and helped with shows on the weekend.
In 1994, they decided to make a go of selling pottery full time and we moved (me, mom, Tom, my little brother Josh, and the cats) from our home in Illinois to the farm North of Hutchinson.
We talk alot about those first days, selling pots on-the-honor-system out of the little pump house. I still have the Showroom sign hanging in the Studio today.
Now, 30 years later, the Clay Coyote has grown and reaches people all over the world.
Growing up, we were still very much a Baker’s Square family. When we’d go mom and I would split a Stir Fry Pita and fries so that we’d have room for pie (my favorite was Key Lime when it was in season, or French Apple year-round).
These days there are less Baker’s Squares out there (although you can still get the pies at famous Dave’s BBQ restaurants).
I still love the Stir Fry Pita, so I’ve been trying to recreate it in my home kitchen for years.
To celebrate our 30 years, we were invited down to Chicago’s own WGN to make our Stir Fry Pita live on air.
It was a little bit of a “going home” … While Minnesota is our home I was born in Illinois and grew up watching WGN. I was overcome with emotions sitting in the green room waiting to go on next to a picture of Harry Caray (holy cow, amiright!?!?!) and Bozo the Clown.
Little side note about Bozo, apparently he was a franchise character and there were many Bozos all over the country on different networks (mind blown).
Anyways, it was a bit of a dream come true to go on WGN and share the Clay Coyote Story. Here’s the clip for your enjoyment.
Recipe: Chicken Stir Fry Pita
2 cups soy sauce
¾ cup sugar
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp garlic minced
1 tbsp ginger grated
¼ cup sesame seeds toasted
¼ cup sesame oil
¼ cup onion dried, minced
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in water
1 tbsp olive oil (or other vegetable oil)
1 lb boneless skinless chicken (breast or tenders), cut into thin strips
1 bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
2 carrots, julienned
½ cup green sugar snap pea pods
1 cup broccoli, cut into small pieces
8 Slices Swiss Cheese
1 tbsp sesame seeds toasted
Make the Sauce (should be made at least a day in advance):
In a saucepan combine everything except the cornstarch in a saucepan and whisk, cook over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes until sugars are dissolved. Combine cornstarch and water to make a slurry paste. Add the cornstarch mixture to the saucepan, this will thicken without adding flavor. Cool and refrigerate, overnight preferable.
Make the Stirfry:
Once your oil is hot, add the chicken to the pan to saute until the chicken is white but slightly translucent. Remove chicken. Add in chopped vegetables and saute over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the chicken back in along with about 1/2 cup of sauce. Cover and simmer until chicken is completely cooked.
Pile swiss cheese on a pita, then add a heaping scoop of the Stirfry, sprinkle with a little more sesame seeds, and close. Serve warm.