Monday, July 11, 2011
Eat The Baby!
It's been an ongoing fantasy of mine to build an outdoor wood-burning pizza oven here at the farm. It's high on my list of projects, and this coming weekend I'm going to meet John Schwarz and John Hickey at the Smallholding Festival in Ottsville, Pennsylvania. They will be fielding questions and demonstrating how to build an earthen oven. I expect to come home with all the information I need to cross the pizza oven off the to-do list.
(By the way, if you're within driving distance of Ottsville, you should come to the festival this Saturday, July 9; for more information, go to thesmallholdingfestival.com. I'll be there spit-roasting Pennsylvania Dutch-influenced porchetta.)
The impetus behind building a wood-burning oven is not just to take advantage of wood smoke as a flavoring agent. It's to get me out of the kitchen on sweltering summer days. The farm has no air-conditioning. On prickly, humid days, even the thought of turning on the oven leaves me a little nauseous--but not enough to make me want to eat salad for every meal.
Back in the day, my family had a solution for this problem. Just off the back of the farmhouse was a little shack. It had a rough wooden floor and a slanted tin roof. Inside was a washbasin and a cast-iron wood-burning stove they used to cook on. The structure was torn down in the early 1970s, but my aunts and uncles who remember it still call it the summer kitchen.
What a good idea! An outdoor kitchen to use in the summer when it's hot. Huhh.