Monday, February 20, 2017

Explaining Brick Ovens

For two days, at the recent Portland Home, Remodeling and Garden Show in Portland, Maine, I attempted to explain the workings and advantages of brick ovens.  Granted, as a builder and baker myself, I am partial to the device.  Yet, in the history of cooking, there has never been a device that has outperformed or been more durable than a brick oven.

Time and again, people told of memories from earlier in the their lives or of houses from the past where these ovens played a big role in making food.

Some points that came up often:

  • It takes a laundry basket of hardwood to fire a 36" diameter oven to 700 degrees and without additional wood, the oven will be hot enough to cook many other meals for 3-4 days afterwards.
  • The cost of a true brick oven is less than most cars we buy yet it will last a life time (of five) without repair costs.
  • They can be built outdoors, indoors, or in moderated spaces such as three-season porches.
  • True Brick Ovens travels to most places in the country to build these.  We have a process and method that makes sense to do this.
  • And lastly, brick ovens are social magnets.  Owning and using one will change your social life as well as the quality of food you eat.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Conservatory Brick Oven: Part Seven

Despite the inclement weather of the past two weeks, the brick oven I am building in the conservatory space at my own home is progressing.

Pictured here is the 4" block surround wall and  will contain the insulation.  The front of the oven will be faced with brick and the sides will be stuccoed.

Monday, February 13, 2017

While Nature Sleeps...

More than 50 years ago my father bought me a gardening book that he found at the Newtown, Connecticut public library book sale.  The book, "How to Make a Vegetable Garden'. by Edith Loring Fullerton was published in 1905 and the accumulated photos and information gathered before the turn of the century.

I have thumbed through this book hundreds of times since as it evokes what gardening was like, both the plant culture and the size and importance of gardens in those times.

On the other hand, winter in norther New England is long and sometime about now, we begin to dream of what we will plant when the ground appears again.  The nearly two feet of snow that fell this week is not necessarily an indication of a late Spring.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Portland Home, Remodeling & Garden Show

On February 18th and 19th, True Brick Ovens will be on site at the Portland Home, Remodeling, and Garden Show in Portland, Maine at the Cross Insurance Arena (Formerly the Civic Center).\

Year-round cooking
You can meet me, David Neufeld and see first hand the styles and construction of the true brick ovens I build.  I will be available to talk with you, discuss your interest and perhaps future project, or just shoot the breeze about brick ovens.
How-to advice

Getting into the project

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Brick Oven in Conservatory: Part Six

Keep it level
Getting from a complete face arch to setting the damper involves bringing the brickwork toward the flue.

long  bricks frame the opening at the top of the flue and provide a base on which the damper assembly is set.  The cavities on either side of the flue are filled with insulating concrete.
Signing the dome
A layer of insulating concrete covers the dome, filling any voids and strengthening the buttresses.

Damper temporarily set on the flue awaiting connection to the chimney.

Climbing inside to inspect and clean any mortar from brick surfaces

Friday, January 27, 2017

Brick Oven in Conservatory: Part Five

Because much of the precision work on the brick oven dome was done in the shop, constructing it is efficient.

This oven has a particularly wide mouth so that a grill can fit into it.  Over the years, I've discovered that virtually all foods can be cooked in the these oven if appropriate hardware and cookware is found.

mouth arch form leveled and ready for fitting
Mouth arch done and ready for dome to be spliced

The last chains will close this hole
Finished dome interior

A wider face arch mirrors the mouth opening

Ready for the bricks that will support the damper

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Brick Oven Cooking: the first few firings

"Getting ready to smoke the Christmas ham!"  Customer.
Most of the people or restaurants I build brick ovens for dive right into the cooking.
Since brick ovens are extremely versatile cooking 'devices', this includes a lot of food.

Last fall, just before Thanksgiving, I completed most of a brick oven project for a large family.  As the season was getting cold and a slate roof was due to be installed in the next Spring, we left the oven waterproofed and functioning.

The customers went all out to use it since.

This quote from one customer:
"We had turkey cooked in the oven for lunch.  It was hands down, the best turkey I have ever had.  Our dinner guests even asked if they could take some home as it was the best turkey they had ever had.  We are loving the oven!"