Sunday, 26 February 2006

Sunday Lunch

This afternoon I will be setting off on my second sojourn into the world of earth oven use. As a newcomer to this type of cooking I guess that I am not really qualified to comment on it's finer points as a cooking technique. However, there are one or things that come to mind when using an earth oven as opposed to a domestic or commercial oven. I have no small amount of experience with either domestic or commercial ovens having long been a keen cook and even on occasion earning a living as a chef, I come to the world of earth ovens, as the majority of people will, with an understanding of ovens gained in a less traditional setting. One thing about modern ovens that I had never really noticed before yet which became abundantly clear to me this morning is that they are very easy to locate. Domestic ovens will be against a wall, covered in buttons and, invariably, a digital clock sometimes such ovens even emit a loud ping noise that both alerts one to it's location and to the fact that whatever is in it should be done. Commercial ovens tend to be made of stainless steel, with a row of black dials along the front and can be located by the proximity of a large number of sweating swearing chefs. Earth ovens, as I discovered this morning, are not so easy to find. It might appear to you, as it previously did to me, that a hole in the ground would be easy enough to find, especially if you know where abouts it is and you had been falling into it with alarming regularity for over a month. It's location might also appear irrelevant when it is considered that to build another one all one has to do is dig a hole. However, the heat source I used on Christmas Day was two 10kg weight lifting weights and these I had left, for convenience and tidiness, in the bottom of the hole.

Two weeks ago it rained, a lot, and the spot where I sit next to the fire became a mini quagmire of mud. Cunningly I raked this mud into a convenient nearby hole, thus burying the weights. Last weekend I built a lean-to shelter and so the lay of the land is now completely different. What fun I had this morning digging a series of long shallow trenches in the hope of locating the oven. Eventually I did indeed find it, under the east wing of the lean-to.

So I have come into Oxford to get something to wrap the lamb in for cooking, there being no leaves on the trees right now. There are shoots on the Elder trees and buds apearing on the Hazel, some green plant is just showing through the layer of leaves on the forest floor but I have no idea what it is.


Stuart Robinson said...

How did your friction firelighting go on the weekend btw?

Hugh Sawyer said...

Didn't get the chance, too busy making charcoal, finding ovens, building extra bit of shelter, getting interviewed, reading books and having a cold.

Lamb was lovely roasted in the ground.