Saturday, April 19, 2014

Color Confusion

               Sometimes things are best left alone

Here is the original color of the dome. It is natural cement stucco, but Jodi was unhappy with the color so she chose the color below.

Sadly, Jodi was unhappy with her choice of the new color.

Jodi chose this second color, but I'm not sure if she likes this one either. Her husband, Eli, hates it.
There will be an update to this story.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Build Your Own Barrel Oven

Build Your Own Barrel Oven is the name of a book I just heard about, and it certainly sounds interesting. If speed is your thing, and you don't want to wait a few hours for your earth oven to heat up for bread baking, then consider a barrel oven. The author's claim that only after a 15-20 minute firing, the oven is ready for bread baking, and that I find quite impressive. Probably I'll download a pdf so I can read the book. I'd sure like to hear from you if you've had experience with this type of oven.
Open the link to read samples from the book.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Oven Protection

Amanda's oven is protected from the howling winds and snow. Really, in a northern climate without an adequate roof, you very well might kiss your oven goodby. Take the time and build a roof to protect the oven.
photo by Amanda Slamm

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Flatbreads as fashion statement

  • Richard said "Incredible, I dare anybody to try it and not end up wearing it!" This is in reference to the previous post, Enormous Flatbreads

Well, here are some flatbreads being worn.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Enormous Flatbreads

If you can get the link below to work, you'll see truly enormous flatbreads being stretched out and baked.
Note the pile of bricks shielding the baker from the intense heat

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Mystery Of Sourdough

Just when I think that I have a solid understanding of sourdough, something happens, and I have to start all over again. 
I normally use about 1/4 cup of starter in each bread, but yesterday, for no apparent reason I thought I'd push the limit. I used 1 cup of starter in a single loaf of bread. I thought something bad might happen, but no, something good happened. I baked one of my best sourdough loaves ever. The loaf had a thin, crisp crust, was tender inside, had lots of mouse holes and a mild taste. Just the way I like it.
If you're wondering why I didn't bake in my wood-fired oven, I can only say that it's been too damn cold outside, and I wasn't ready to stray from the kitchen.
To make an outstanding loaf of bread, lots of elements have to come together such as:
quality of the flour
quality of the starter
correct amount of water
room temperature
correct duration of the proof
and there's more
In a domestic oven, ALWAYS bake undercover in a Dutch oven.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Back From Guatemala

Just returned from Guatemala where Masons On A Mission (Not to be confused with The Masons or with missionaries) built 40 energy efficient stoves with the Mayas.
We divide into small groups of three where each group builds a stove a day. The wood-fired stoves are used for making tortillas, beans, stews, etc. Being vented to the outdoors, the Mayas will no longer be breathing smoke from their traditional three stone fires.
Stove paid for by Eric Msica from France

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Paleo Diet

The paleo diet certainly has an appeal for a small group of people, but there doesn't seem to be a place for bread. Paleo folks didn't eat bread (they never knew what they were missing) because there wasn't any. Michael Pollan, who probably knows more about food than any of us, tells us why it's okay to eat bread, but of course, you already know why.

Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan has written extensively about food and the environment, and I highly recommend all his books.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Back To Guatemala

Next week I'll be going back to Guatemala with the group Masons On A Mission. In Guatemala we construct energy efficient, wood-fired cook stoves with and for the Mayas. I'm only gone for ten days, but I've been going for about nine years, and it is something I always look forward to.
We work in small groups, and each group is able to easily build one stove a day. Our payback is knowing that more families will be breathing cleaner air in their homes by using stoves that vent to the outside and by burning less firewood.
We work in the spectacular Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala, and I believe that it's a real privilege to be able to work and spend time in such a beautiful country.


Another failed attempt at making tortillas


Shaping bricks for stove

She's getting a new stove

 Happy family with new cookstove

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Oven Building Classes

Build a Wood-Fired Pizza/Bread Oven 

 May 17

Classes held in Waterville, Maine
If you ever wanted to have a pizza oven in your backyard, then join me and learn how to build various types of wood-fired pizza/bread ovens. There will be lots of individual attention from two instructors.
 No experience required. Participants will work with clay and brick and construct a low-cost oven that will make the best pizzas and breads. Discussions include techniques for making pizzas, flat breads, sourdough, and no-knead breads. Instructional videos will also be shown. Unique sourdough starter will be shared with all in class. Everyone will get to bake in the instructor's oven during the pizza party at lunchtime. Lunch and beverages are provided. The earth oven we construct will be auctioned off after lunch and a portion of the funds received will be donated to a charitable organization. If time permits, we will also construct a simple brick oven. A $30 materials fee made payable to Stu Silverstein must be made at the time of registration to hold your spot. Fee will cover the costs of building materials and lunch for the class.

Available slots:  6
There is also a class on May 10 that is currently filled, but you can get on the waiting list.