Friday, April 18, 2014

The Easter Turkey

Turkey eggs rock! They are big and speckled! They make great Easter eggs! And they will make enormous deviled eggs next week!

Enterprise, the turkey, has a hard time walking now, because she is an overbred White. Fortunately she has decided to turn things to her advantage by sitting on her eggs (but not until I got enough for the holiday). There is no male turkey, so there will be no poults, but it gives her something to do.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Beans Are Done

Those Salem Witch Trials hearth-baked beans? If you wanted them for supper tonight, you should have started them when you got home from the courthouse in 1692. Possibly if you grew them yourself it would take less time to cook them. In fact, growing them yourself and then cooking them in the fire might take less time than cooking store-bought beans there. Because OH my god. How old are these things anyway? My next experiment will involve pressure cooking these store-bought beans for about an hour at temperatures typically only available on the planet Mercury and THEN letting them spend 9 hours in the fire, getting all savory.

The other problem being that an unscrupulous person, and I use the term loosely, sold us unseasoned firewood in the middle of winter. So not unlike the cook fires of Salem in the late 17th century, this wood is bewitched and will not burn. Either that or it's that new fireproof safety wood from Monsanto.  In any event, the whole Sugaring On The Coronet plan is off until next year, when my woodshed will be in better order and my temper will have receded to its normal placid levels.

I am full of gratitude that my life and my family’s lives do not depend on this firewood and these beans. As my off the grid friends say, “Praise the fossil fuels.” Only I, you know, actually mean it. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Snow Day's Journey Into Night

K, so the whole earth oven workshop thing has probably run amok? But today, after reading part of a book called The Magic of Fire by William Rubel, lent to me by my far-ranging friend, Marilyn Anthony, of Lundale Farm, and being faced with our first Snow Day of the season, I decided to cook some beans in a casserole in the fireplace, a lรก Salem Witch Trials, and while I was at it, what the hay! Why not bake some bread as well? Now Rubel only includes flatbread and steamed Boston brown bread recipes in his book—teaching people to make sourdough and teaching them to cook on fire no doubt comprising too great an object for one hard-cover book—but since, like I said, I can already make dough, what the hay! And damned if it wasn’t just. so. good.

So I assume that, Salem Witch Trial-like, I have been possessed by some kind of Supernatural Item with an agenda about teaching me to cook with fire. Its purpose is not known to me, but I am enjoying the fruits of possession.

The beans, btw, are still in there. Maybe by breakfast, they’ll be cooked.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

First Fruits of the Ovenbuild, Or, The Coronet Rides Again

Here is my first wood-fired breadbeast. It was going to be a pizza but then the oven thermometer said HOT and the dough was ready, so even though it is not dinner time yet I said What The Heck, and here is my magnificent little friend.

It smells like this:

Yes. That good.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Oven Building

This past weekend, I attended an earth-oven building workshop at Green Mountain Flour in Windsor, Vermont. It was fun and very educational, in addition to being a superior workout. Cooking food with fire appeals to me so much, and it was wonderful to spend time with like-minded people who know a lot about using the arc of the heat to turn a bunch of ingredients into a bunch of noms. Also? I LOVE MAKING MORTAR. If the whole copywriting thing ever goes south, I am becoming a mason.

Above you see a picture of the oven when the clay layer that forms the shape of the oven has been applied, and the cob layer (with the straw sticking out) is starting to rise. The cob is for insulation, and it is made of clay, sand, water and oat straw. It helps the oven retain its heat so it can be used for hours without having to build a new fire. This is a commercial oven that Zach the baker will use to make the breads and pizzas that Green Mountain Flour sells to those fortunate enough to live in east-central Vermont, which explains why the oven is so huge. Because there are a lot of hungry people in east-central Vermont.

When we build our oven at home, it will be much smaller. After I had unpacked, my husband and I sat on the sofa, pointed our feet at the fire and started plotting. We evaluated our assets, browsed From The Wood-Fired Oven (the informative and inspirational book that the workshop teacher, Richard Miscovich, had just published) and worked out a plan in which we net an earth-oven AND a wood-fired hot tub; the Coronet cookstove gets to return to the kitchen it has not graced in about a century; the Hen Cottage chickens can join the greater poultry society of the barnyard (because we need their real estate to build on); and we get a new bardyard gate to replace the laughable one I made out of a pallet and have been patching with hay twine ever since. So. Super easy! No problem! Stay tuned!

Here’s a picture of how many people it takes to have a good time and still get a lot done on a giant oven. The take-away: make YOUR earth oven a party from Day 1. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Snowbirds of the Greenhouse

 The windows of the house are now packed with plants, and I was going to overwinter the Chicago hardy fig, the Brazilian begonia and the little copper leaf begonias in the south-facing cellar windows, which are about a foot tall with a good deep ledge where the stone foundation meets them. But after I carried the copper leaf begonias through the coal bin to their window and shoe-horned the Brazilian into the space above the workbench, between the furnace pipes and the window glass, I felt like one of those sadistic men who keeps abducted girls locked in their cellar for decades. So I moved all the cellar plants to the greenhouse, where I now have a strong inducement to caulk and plastic the old windows and make the place more habitable. Like soon, because we are expecting overnight lows in the 20s already later this week.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Giant Shallots!

This past spring I cut way back on my habitual excessive planting, but I did plant a bunch of little top-bulbs made by some shallots that were suffered to grow in the same piece of ground for…oh, I don’t know how many years…without being harvested. I had the raised bed space and they were around, so what the heck.

Well. This is what happens when you plant top-bulbs in a raised bed: giant shallots. Thus has my vice and ignominy revealed itself to be The One True Path of Shallots.

The best part is that I forgot about the previously forgotten shallots (do you see a pattern emerging?), so when I went to pull that bed of huge onion leaves that was mysteriously thriving out there in the garden, great was my surprise and delight to find these fat fellows there by the dozen.