Monday, September 10, 2012

Woodfired weekend

The focus on this weekend was without a doubt, fire. To be more exact, cooking with it. I am just loving our new chiminea, the way it's so portable, the way it splits in two for dual purposes and the way it warms! Not to mention the way it gobbles up fallen branches on our property with greed..this has to be the best incentive to get out there and tidy up the never ending supply of kindling we have dropping from the enormous gum trees!


It also makes a pretty good toasted sandwich, too!

Not one to miss out on the fire action of the weekend, hubby felt inclined to go and light himself a man fire. Efficient as our chiminea is at throwing out the heat, there is no way it could cope with the generous amounts of fallen bark and branches we have.


The little chimney warmer also managed to provide us with a couple of loaves of hearty bread this weekend.
I made up a double batch of 7 grain kibble sourdough, formed one into a free-form loaf, the other into a loaf tin and baked them on the bbq rack with the chimney in place. It was great because I could keep an eye on them as they were cooking. The daughter's swimming goggles came in most useful for peering over the smoky opening..what a sight! Triple traying seems to be the go here..ie - 3 pizza trays stacked together for the free form loaf and two stacked with the loaf tin. To prevent bottom burning, it's hot in there! ;)

Tandoori chicken skewers made with homemade yoghurt were attempted for dinner. Very tasty! Although I can see why the book I had skewered a lemon half onto the bottom of each skewer - a very good heat buffer. We had to pick our bottom bits off, they were ..ah, slightly blackened.


A homemade eucalyptus dye pot experiment..

So inspired was I by the glorious offerings of our chiminea, I decided to crank up our woodfired oven the following day..

After a completely exhausting day the twelve year old and I had baked enough food for a week..literally.

It was such a sunshiney, springy day without a breath of wind, perfect for such a woodfired bake-off!

Our efforts produced (in order of cooking, with fire in the oven throughout):
Vegemite scrolls (note to self - next time do a double batch as they were eaten straight away)
Roast leg of lamb
Spinach, bacon and egg filo pie
chocolate chip cookies
muffins
baked meatballs in napoli sauce
slow cooked boston baked beans
orange cake x 2
tray of roast vegetables
apple pie (note to self, put this in earlier, base needed more cooking)

It was a lot of work but it feels great that our cooking is now done for the week..all without the use of any electricity!

I'm looking forward to pulling out our woodfired meals as the week progresses. The only hard part is deciding just what to have, when!

Hoping you managed to soak up a little sun, fire and good food on your weekend.  :)

(Thanks for your tips on the fair isle knitting! I will be coming back to this post to follow your links, they are much appreciated)


39 comments:

  1. My hubby has been talking about building a wood fired oven for years. Did you build yours? Your weeks worth of cooking without electricity is inspiring stuff. Meanwhile I love the idea of that little chimnea. Something like that might get us outdoors more with our crisp evenings.

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    1. Hi Tania, we built the oven a few years ago after going to a local workshop. You can read more about it here:

      http://slowlivingessentials.blogspot.com.au/2010/02/big-mama-woodfired-oven.html

      It's a great addition to outdoor living and I would also highly recommend the chiminea..so much fun and as I was reading somewhere - they bring the gift of conversation with them. Just gathering around one gets people talking about their day..brilliant!

      If you are really interested in building an outdoor oven, try and get a hold of Russell Jeavons "Your Brick Oven" book, and perhaps Kiko Denzer's "How to Build an Earth Oven". Really informative books and for inspiration, the Earth Garden backyard oven books are a lot of fun! :)

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  2. I would love a wood fired oven - it is on the to do list!

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  3. I showed my husband the photos of your chiminea and he loved the way you could cook on it as well as use it as a heater. We managed to find one at Bunnings so we're looking forward to trying it next weekend.

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    1. Fantastic, Deanne. They really add a lot of character to a property.

      Yes, we got ours at Bunnings too, Roni. Happy fire-stoking! :)

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  4. Brilliant! That's all I can say! I have chim

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  5. I have only seen chimineas in fancy courtyards and the like - for the purpose of decoration and warming people. I hadn't even realised they could be used for cooking. Quite an eye-opener.

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    1. Yes, it's a versatile addition to the home, Hazel. There are all sorts of attachments that you can get to assist with cooking, even for the pottery chimineas.

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  6. Yay - good for you :) Would love a chiminea - just the cost put me off... But, yeah - also have chiminea envy LOL

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    1. I hear you, Dani, however if we can use it for outdoor heating and cooking on a regular basis, I'll be extremely happy. I love the idea of not using the stovetop or electric oven and it makes perfect sense to utilise all the fallen timber we have here. :)

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  7. I'm curious to know how much wood it takes to cook all those yummy things? Still madly in love with the chiminea :) Wood-fired Bread, now that's awesome.

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    1. The large woodfired oven uses about 1 1/2 - 2 wheelbarrow loads of wood to reach a fully fired state, whereas the little chiminea runs on scrappy branches and the like. One feels compelled to make use of all of the available heat when cooking in the woodfired oven, while the little chiminea is perfect for 'fast food'. ;)

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  8. Loved that post and I'm SO envious of a never-ending supply of wood - we have to BUY wood to light our open fire here in Scotland [a necessity in winter, especially with inevitable power cuts]. All we can manage to cook with fire, is the occasional muffin to drizzle with golden syrup!

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  9. Nothing wrong with a muffin drizzled with golden syrup, Penny, nothing at all! How about some baked potatoes in the fire as well? ;)

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  10. Excellent and very inspiring. I like to cook in our camp oven.

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  11. I've just read Celia's post on weekend baking and now your wonderful cook up and I'm hungry again an hour after dinner. A low tech wod fired oven is on my to do list. Thanks for the link to your building project.

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    1. They're a lot of fun, aren't they Wendy?! :)

      You're welcome, Jo. The books I mentioned above are worth reading and there are some great sites online - Traditional Oven and Forno Bravo to name a couple. ;)

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  12. my chiminea feels so under utilised, can't wait to see yours in the flesh, or the in the iron, so to speak.

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    1. Nooo, your chiminea is so beautiful and perfectly fitting for your little seating area! I love it! :)

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  13. Wow - that's just breathtaking!! What a productive day. I quite like the idea of challenging yourself to make a weeks worth of food without using gas or electric!! Not sure many could do that (including myself). Very impressive!! Well done, J9

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    1. It was nice to have a helper in the kitchen, J9. The only other thing that really surprised me was that our pantry was nearly bare, I was amazed we managed to pull a good few meals out of it!

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  14. Wow, like Hazel I had no idea you could cook with a chiminea! I thought they were just a yuppy thing for city folk! Now I want one. Btw I think we own one of those books on building a brick oven. I must see if I can find it.

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  15. That all looks so wonderful. I had no idea you could cook on those chimineas. And they bake bread to. Wow!

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    1. Yes, who knew, Kate and Linda? Quite an eye opener here too. :)

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  16. I want one now too. I never thought about doing cookies or bread on top of one of these, but since I don't have a stove this would be a wonderful addition in our field with the gardens. thanks for sharing this.

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    1. They just seem at home in a garden, all the better if there are herbs or veggies growing nearby, too.

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  17. Hi Christine, Your weekend looks fabulously smoky!
    We're in the thick of planning our woodfired oven building, and I wanted to 'pick your brains' on one thing we're feeling a little stumped on (if you don't mind). You used bricks when building your ovens didn't you? We have our bricks and we have our base planned and our design just about sorted, but I don't know what to use for the mortar. Many of the things I've read have been from the US, and then the books I've seen so far are a little vague. What did you use for mortar between your bricks? And where did you source it? We're down near Warrnambool, so should be able to get most of what we need, but I just am not sure where to start.
    Hope you can help! :)
    Tracey

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    1. Hi Tracey, that's great news about your oven, how exciting!

      We used a standard brickies mortar for joining the bricks - 1 part cement to 3 parts brickies sand and then mixed with water until a gloopy consistency was achieved. Not unlike a cake batter if truth be told.

      As we had a lot of brickwork in our oven, we bought in a trailer load of sand from the local garden centre and had them supply the cement too. To mix it we used the wheelbarrow and a shovel.

      Best of luck with your project, would love to see it when it's done! :)

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  18. Oh I had no idea you could cook in a chimnea - I too now have chimnea envy!

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  19. We've just bought a clay chiminea and look forward to grilling a bit on it. Interesting seeing how you toast stuff on the top of it.

    Cheers - Joolz

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  20. Christine that is a whole bunch of awesome, having cooked all those things. Super impressed you did bread in that thing too!...oh that reminds me, bread to make.

    (had a chuckle about your man, building a man fire too :-)

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  21. Definitely chiminea envy here too - I have nagging the husband about getting one of these. Im thinking he might need one for his birthday now... hehehehe... K xx

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  22. What an exciting post. I love all that cooking with wood.

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  23. OK, if I need a cook something on a fire I know where to come! Do you use them all? Which one's the most useful do you think?

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  24. Hi Virginia! We do use them all although they seem to follow a seasonal pattern. The big brick woodfired oven is used more in autumn after the heat of summer has passed. It takes two wheelbarrow loads to fire it completely. The smaller woodfired oven is used anytime during autumn and spring, and only takes one wheelbarrow of wood to fire. It's pretty small though..so more of a novelty! The chiminea is perfect for use over winter as it doesn't take much wood at all and heats up pretty much immediately, plus you get the added benefit of sitting in front of it to toast your toes! Fantastic on a chilly winter afternoon!!
    Over summer we don't tend to use them much because we live in a high risk bushfire zone and we don't feel that comfortable with having fires burning, no matter how well attended they are.
    Although the brick ovens were a lot of work to build, I don't regret for a minute the amount of time we spent..they add so much enjoyment to a property and the food cooked in them tastes sensational - they take eating to a whole new level! If you are interested to learn more, Russell Jeaven's "Your Brick Oven' and the website: www.traditionaloven.com helped us enormously, as well as the Forno Bravo free downloadable building plans. :)

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    1. I will look into those resources! Thanks so much :) Your ovens are works of art. Love your work!

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Hi there, so nice of you to stop by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I love hearing what you are up to. Christine x

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