Dreaming of a traditional stone oven and fruitwood to heat it!

The oven at Ciao Restaurant, Coupeville

While I have put my attention on building soil over the last 16 years, and enjoyed the alchemy of many compost piles, I have missed out on the incredible art of baking. Now with several tons of organic whole grain sitting in the barn, infinite possibilities involving flour begin to swirl in my imagination. I realize, like the complexity of soil biology, the world of baking is vast and refined. What is compelling me the most about baking right now is the element of fire. I have deep respect for bakers who continue to fire their ovens with wood, and have longed for access to a clay oven somewhere near here, sometime soon, where one could experiment with wood qualities in addition to the blend of flours, ancient sourdough starters and delicious bread recipes.

I recently dropped off some fresh flour (kamut and a red hard spring wheat) at the new local pizza place “Ciao” on Main Street, in Coupeville. Mark, who has the very coolest oven (seen in the picture) increased my oven envy by telling me exactly how it was created, including the details about the volcanic sand from Mt Versuvius used in the mortar…..

I’m looking forward to Mark’s experimentation with my locally grown flours, combined with his creativity and of course his fabulous oven! He mentioned something about chocolate dessert and a pasta dish….. If the pizza’s are anything to go by, we might be in for a real treat. Mark is on an inspiring track, using local produce right from Ebey’s Prairie, the food here tastes good and the service is excellent! Check out the oven while you are at it, and the apple wood stacked below it.

Thinking about burning different woods, I remembered and found this fascinating old verse, cute enough to post: (found in Foodwise by Wendy E Cook)

Burning Wood – traditional verse

Oak logs will warm you well

If they’re old and dry.

Larch logs of pinewood smell

But the sparks will fly.

Beech logs for Christmas time,

Yew logs heat well.

Scotch logs it is a crime

For anyone to sell.

Birch logs burn too fast,

Chestnut scarce at all.

Hawthorn logs are good to last

If you cut them in the fall.

Holly logs will burn like wax,

You should burn them green.

Elm logs like smouldering flax,

No flame to be seen.

Pear logs and apple logs,

They will scent your room.

Cherry logs across the dogs

Smell like flowers in bloom.

But ash logs, all smooth and grey,

Burn them green or old;

Buy up all that come your way,

They’re worth their weight in gold!

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