I spent the autumnal equinox in my car, driving home from Wisconsin. I thought mostly about changing seasons and death.
Funny: most of the weekend was spent wildly reveling in the strength of my body and embracing life. And food. Glorious food, the fuel of life itself. But death has a way of sticking its nose in. Fortunately, I was able to spend some time at the bedside of a dying friend. I was able to at least say goodbye. The rest of the weekend was living the life of the living, and living it with those who remain alive, without him now. He died Friday morning, at home.
Ostensibly, the reason for my journey was to configure a large screened enclosure to house this thing. This wood-fired oven has been a labor of love for my friend C on her farm. It’s been wonderful, helping shape this dream with her: lots of sweat, edible payoff. The oven needs to be stuccoed yet, and the concrete legs on the side are to hold up plank tables for easy pizza assembly. But as you can see it is functional. I spent much of the weekend playing with its functions.
Here are the tomatoes I brought for her (with some gnocchi I made): we threw these in for an overnight roast in the cooling oven (300* down to 125*).
I adored the quick hot pizzas we would wolf down for lunch, but the oven’s greater wonders for me were in its long-term cooking abilities. Seeing what it could do with the tomatoes, I threw in unshucked corn cobs, some glut sauce hastily made from what I could find in C’s garden, and sliced apples and pears from two neighbors’ trees. In different pans, we let them cook all day while we labored…except the corn was just on the oven floor. The glut sauce is now frozen and the apples/pears are now butter with ginger, allspice and sugar.
Sweaty dirty working girly arms, and one should always drink out of canning jars, don’t you think?
And then after digging and hammering, wine would come out, and a walk through the cornfield, then hot outdoor showers in the cool dark in this lovely space. Then dinner. Repeat the next day.