Eggs Galore! On the front step!!

To any of my neighbors who happen to read this blog please know that we have eggs, eggs and more eggs. The pullets have recently begun laying, and they’re a prolific flock of layers, deserving of a Pulletzer Prize. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist). To prevent freezing, we’re keeping them (the eggs, not the pullets) in a cooler on the front steps during daylight hours. If you need them after sunset just knock on the door.

I’ve discovered some wonderful recipes for egg curries, some that use hard-boiled eggs in a thick, onion based sauce, infused with fragrant coconut milk, and others that make use of an omelette preparation, cut into strips and simmered in a tangy, aromatic tomato sauce. I’m enjoying these, as they can be kept warm on the wood stove, or portioned out and put in the freezer.

Cholesterol concerns? I’ve been reading that eggs are very much more healthy for us than we’d previously been lead to believe. They are a perfect protein and the cholesterol danger has been hyped. I don’t have cholesterol issues, and I eat two to four eggs every day. Genetics? Maybe. I do try to consume at least 2 glasses of red wine every day to keep cholesterol levels in check, but that’s not always possible. I do try to make up for it by consuming the equivalent balance at the end of the week, often accompanied by a hard boiled egg.

Here are some links to the absolutely delicious egg curries that I’ve been making:

http://www.sailusfood.com/2012/11/17/kerala-egg-curry-recipe/

http://rasamalaysia.com/egg-curry-recipe/2/

http://www.khanakhazana.com/recipes/view.aspx?id=3704

http://padmasrecipes.blogspot.com/2008/12/eggomelette-curry.html

I’ll have more egg recipes in forthcoming posts.

Happy New Year!

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The Wood-Fired Oven Project

Between global warming, super-storms, extended power outages, trees falling and gas prices rising, building an outdoor wood-fired oven seems less like a paranoid survivalist project and more like a common-sensible use of locally available energy resources.  With this in mind, we’ve launched into our wood-fired oven project with purposefulness, and, thus far, the weather has cooperated with us. In our efforts to preserve a small measure of self-sufficiency in the face of increasingly frequent disruptions to our power source (our home is equipped with an electric cook stove), we’ve been lucky with the unseasonably mild weather, allowing us to mix refractory mortar for the oven chamber even in December.

A well insulated, wood-fired oven can maintain cooking temperatures on a single firing for two days or more. As the temperatures fall, (in the wood-fired cooking world this is referred to as a ‘falling oven’) an organized  person can plan and prepare several pizzas, several loaves of bread, roasts, stews, even oatmeal for breakfast, and still have enough ambient heat within the oven chamber to brew some coffee or tea, dry herbs and seasonings from the garden or reheat leftovers.  In a power emergency, this oven can provide a means of cooking to the entire neighborhood; in fact, the fuller the oven is the more efficient it is.

The community aspect of such a resource is a bonus. We got a sense of this during the recent storms that put our little community on the FEMA map. Consider our blessed water source. We have an artesian well, a spring that runs 27/7, year round. During the last  three storms (Irene in 2011, then the October 2011 blizzard, then, more recently, Sandy, when neighbors were without water for eight days, (and many of our neighbors have horses, each magnificent creature requiring vast amounts of water) we were able to provide our neighbors with an unlimited supply of clean, fresh, potable water. Traffic was actually backed up into our driveway, and the Stonewell Farm well, ( in France it would be called ‘la source’) became a community hub at which to catch up on news, local political issues, gossip, and the exchange of ideas on everything from cooking to education to gardening. In the face of hardship, people are drawn together within a community like mercury, and it galvanizes ones sense of place.

What follows is a gallery of photos documenting the process of our Wood-Fired Oven Project:

The slab for the oven stand is poured.

The slab for the oven stand is poured.

Wood-fired outdoor oven; stage #1.

Andrew Pighills leveling the slab for the oven stand.

Wood-fired oven stand ready for the oven floor.

the ‘stand’ ready for the next stage, the oven floor.

Wood-fired oven stand before the oven floor slab is poured.

Hey! This is new and really interesting! Can we eat this? Anything shiny in there? Just curious.

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Wood-fired oven floor.

Oven floor made with firebricks.

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Wood-fired oven construction process.

The important working parts of the oven completed, we move on to the insulating and then, finishing layers of masonry.

Wood-fired oven. Waterproofing the insulating layer of the dome.

Chimney flue set. Now the finishing layer of concrete applied to the insulating layer of ‘perlcrete’, to waterproof the dome.

Wood-fired oven construction process.

Andrew Pighills sealing the oven dome with concrete after the refractory insulating layer is in place.

Stay tuned for the development and evolution of this green project.