Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cob Oven Building - Final Day

"I can see my path, but I don't know where it leads.  Not knowing where I'm going inspires me to travel it.

- Rosalia de Castro


Since we can't predict or control the future, all we can do is live in the moment.  We all set paths for ourselves, but I imagine we rarely end up at the destination originally planned, or at least we rarely take a straight line to get there.  If you asked me a year ago, if I expected to assist in the building of a cob oven, I would have asked you "what's a cob oven, who are you and how did you get into my home?"  The picture above displays Evan's original oven design and the picture below is the beauty that resulted.  Although these metaphors may be a stretch in this instance, I believe that projects and life are about the journey and not about the end result.  Perceptions change, circumstances change, desires change and the excitement of that uncertainty jolts me to take a step forward.

If you want to follow the...
whole process from start to finish, check out Oven DAY 1 and DAY 2

After weeks of anxiously waiting, Evan was finally able to take a weekend and head back down from school to help finish the cob oven.  With newly gathered clay from the river, we began the day by scooping out the sand mold, unveiling the oven's beautiful brick floor and hollow cave.  The newspaper dividing the cob layer from the sand mold is still inside and will need to be burned out in a few weeks as the final step before cooking and baking begin.

Just as we had done in the past, we hydrated the clay in buckets then stomped on it while adding the sawdust and straw so it would dry more firmly.

A few little feet went a long way

After some intense riverdancing in the cob mixture and a drop test or two to confirm the proper texture, we were ready to pack on the outer layer.

Rehydrating the grooved streaks we designed last time, allowed the outer layer to bind more easily to the structure in place.  We only added about another inch of cob which was important for insulation.  This was a smooth canvass-like layer which gave Evan and The Captain the artistic freedom to imprint the outside.

The malleability of the moist cob allowed the use of corn, wheat, kale and some other foods grown at the farm to beautifully imprint the outside of the oven.

As we discussed last time, the double chamber structure of this oven, allows the chimney to be used to saute veggies in a pan outside, while baking inside the oven.  It's important to create separation between the pan and the chimney in order to ensure that some air can can still escape.  These rocks do a nice job of looking good and creating space between the pan and the top of the chimney.

Although the building of the oven is complete, it still requires about 3 weeks covered under this tarp so the cob can thoroughly dry.  After that, let the fun begin at about 800 degrees.  I'd be sad that we were finished building the oven, but then again everything that comes out of this bad boy will be so delicious I think I'll get over it...and with that, the journey continues.  Incredible work Evan, thank you for letting us novices learn some valuable skills.


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