Friday, March 21, 2008


Ten years ago (or more), Rosanna traded fresh milk from her goat herd for bucket upon airtight bucket of spelt, a type of wheat - now stored in the barn. Two days ago, Carol ground some of the spelt into flour.

That same day, Rosanna "fed" her sourdough starter and put the freshly ground spelt flour, along with water from the well, into a bowl with the starter. Sourdough bread was underway.

Yesterday we burned a 3-hour fire with wood from Rosanna's neighbor, Marvin, and at 5:30 pm the oven, built of the soil on which it sits, was ready for the Grand Experiment - the baking of the bread. It was an unqualified, spectacular success!

We thought the oven might be too hot, so put in one loaf at 5:30, along with two russet potatoes wrapped in foil, two "naked" russets, and a foil wrapped sweet potato. Fifteen minutes later, seeing that our first loaf was doing well, the "backup" loaf went in.

The bread took 30 minutes to bake, with a perfect, crispy-brown crust. The potatoes were done in under an hour. When the potatoes and bread came out of the oven, we roasted a couple of peppers (cut up, oiled and salted, in a pan) and a pan of sliced, marinated tofu. Thirty minutes later, they were on the dining table.

I don't know why, but EVERYTHING done in the clay oven was noticeably superior to the same foods baked in an indoor oven. We expected the bread to be superior, but the potatoes were more fluffy, the roasted peppers more creamy and carmelized. The edges of the tofu slices were perfectly crusted with browned marinade, while the insides were creamy. We spent a lot of time trying to figure it out - then just gave up and enjoyed it. :-) So we count the clay oven as a complete and total success.

And just in time! This morning we resume our travels, heading east. We'll spend the next several night in New Mexico, then meander through Texas and Arkansas to Memphis, Tennessee. I know there will be spots along our route that are too remote to pick up a Verizon signal for our aircard, so we will be out of touch from time to time - but not for long. Stay tuned.


  1. Oh my, but you will be MISSED!!! What a GRAND time we had -- a superior experience. Just know that the "Legacy" you have left at Paws & Hooves Ranch will be enjoyed to the hilt!!! We love you!

  2. I have followed your oven progress felt like I could taste and smell the bread thru your pictures. You all have poured your heart and soul into this project!! and I had fun reading all about it!!! You are going to miss that oven :) By the way are you still thinking about doing the Spartan Rally in June? We have signed up and was hoping to see you there. Drive Safe