FOR a shopper, a sheaf of rhubarb stalks can be an inspiration. For a reader, the hero's breakfast putterings may tempt setting aside the book and picking up the whisk.

For craftsmen, though, it works both ways. The pot can inspire the soup or the soup recipe can lead to another pot.

"The color and quality of this glaze looks marvelous with fresh strawberries--whole or sliced and lightly tossed with granulated sugar and fresh orange juice," said Sheila Hoffman, a Washington potter, of her fruit and vegetable server that is a part of the Washington Crafts Show, the city's first major juried crafts show, which ends today.

Since it is not always strawberry season, Hoffman also makes an applesauce compote to present in her server, and that leads to banana bread, which mates well with the compote. And so it goes, the food and its dish, the dish and its food.

For wood craftsman Peter Petrochko the medium is salad to display in his wooden bowls. Michael Duvall's Pierport Pizza bakes not on a flat metal pan but in a deep porcelain dish, for that is Duvall's craft.

Lydia Yin is working in new modes, both in the kitchen and in the studio. Born in Taiwan and raised in New York, she knew neither cooking nor pottery until, when she was 16 and living in Texas, she found herself cooking for her family. She made a lot of spaghetti, she said, "and casseroles--you can't go wrong with a casserole if you don't put in a lot of weird things." When she started learning pottery, therefore, she made casserole dishes, and in turn invented more casseroles to go in them. Western cooking and western art were her style. In the past two years, though, she has changed both her arts. Her ceramics have grown more oriental in their decoration, and in her cooking, she has turned to the Chinese cookbooks her mother sent her. She has not yet combined the two. Living in Hagerstown, Yin westernizes her Chinese recipes--beef short ribs instead of pork spareribs, cooking sherry for rice wine. But her ceramics, too, have a western art deco base.

Here are three recipes from the artists selected for the Washington Crafts Show, which is open today from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., in the Smithsonian's Departmental Auditorium, 1300 Constitution Ave. NW (admission is $4.50 for adults, $3.50 for children and senior citizens). SHEILA HOFFMAN'S APPLESAUCE COMPOTE (8 to 10 servings) 5 large, firm apples (granny smith and stayman are good) 3/4 cup golden raisins 1 cup dried apricots 1 lemon thinly sliced and slices halved (no ends) 6 to 8 whole allspice (berries) 10 to 12 whole cloves 1/4 cup sugar (for a tart taste) 2 cups water (or enough to half cover the fruit)

Combine all ingredients in saucepan and simmer, uncovered, until cooked down, about 40 minutes. Stir, as needed, to prevent sticking. Chill before serving.

This compote is meant to be made and altered according to taste. Change the amounts and ingredients according to preference. For example, use rhubarb or cranberries in place of dried apricots, with orange slices substituting for the lemon. Adjust the sugar amount proportionately. LYDIA YIN'S CANTONESE SPARERIBS (2 to 3 servings) A few cloves of garlic 1 to 2 tablespoons rice wine (cooking sherry can be substituted) 2 tablespoons white vinegar 3 tablespoons sugar 4 tablespoons soy sauce 2 pounds spareribs or short ribs 2 to 3 scallions 3 tablespoons oil (preferably peanut oil) 5 tablespoons water 4 tablespoons ketchup

Smash garlic cloves with flat side of knife. Mix with the wine, vinegar, sugar and soy sauce. Pour over the ribs and allow to sit for half an hour, turning occasionally.

Cut scallions into 1-inch sections. Drain ribs, reserving remaining liquid.

Heat the oil in a heavy pan (if possible, a cast-iron dutch oven) with a lid. Put in the scallions, then the ribs and fry until browned.

Mix water with the reserved sauce and pour over ribs. Cover, lower heat and simmer until the liquid is nearly gone. Turn the ribs occasionally to coat and to prevent sticking.

When liquid is reduced, add the 4 tablespoons of ketchup to the ribs and continue cooking until ketchup is nearly gone.

This dish makes an excellent part of a Chinese meal but could also be served with just-picked corn on the cob and salad. MICHAEL DUVALL'S PIERPORT PIZZA (Makes a 12-inch deep-dish pizza) Crust: 1 cup white flour 1 cup whole-wheat flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon sugar 3/4 cup butter Lemon juice 1 to 3 tablespoons ice water Filling: 1 green pepper, chopped 1 large onion, chopped 3/4 pound hamburger 1/2 pound Italian sausage 1/2 cup corn Sauce: 10 ounces hot enchilada sauce 6 ounces tomato paste Cheese: 1/2 pound cheese or more, combination of mozzarella, sharp and jack

Mix the flours, salt and sugar in a bowl. Cut in the butter, using two knives or a pastry cutter, until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle over it a few drops of lemon juice and a very small amount of ice water--absolutely no more than 3 tablespoons--and toss lightly until it begins to come together. Form it quickly into a ball and chill before rolling it out.

Roll 3/4 of the dough on a lightly floured board--making a circle large enough to cover the bottom and sides of a deep-dish pizza pan or 12-inch ovenproof frying pan. Fit the circle of dough loosely in the pan. Roll out remaining 1/4 of the dough to a circle one inch larger than the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

Pour a little oil in a large skillet and saute' the onions and green peppers until translucent. Add the hamburger and saute' until it is cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside. In the same pan cook sausage until well-done. Chop the sausage and combine with corn. Set aside.

To make the sauce, combine enchilada sauce and tomato paste.

Assemble pizza casserole as follows: Layer the crust with 1/3 of the sauce, then 1/2 of the hamburger and onions and pepper. Cover with the second, smaller crust. Continue layering on top of the second crust, with the next 1/3 of the sauce, the remaining hamburger and onions and pepper, then the Italian sausage and corn. Pour over the remaining sauce.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Cook for 5 minutes more.