Thursday we had our first June rainstorm. The wind picked up about midnight, and by 4 am it was pouring. When we went out to walk the dogs about 7 am it was what I would call a hard sprinkle. There were small tree limbs scattered in the driveway and sycamore bark everywhere. Sycamore sheds this time of year, the papery bark looks like sections of a jigsaw puzzle.
All the flowers are so happy.
I’ve been collecting all those downed branches and sticks and piling them up on a shelf next to my grandpa’s old camp stove. As long as it doesn’t sit in the mud and get rotten, downed wood is great for a fire, it’s already seasoned and ready to go. It’s nice to sit around the fire at night, even in Summer.
And I’ve been practicing with my dutch ovens.
I’ve had smaller pots for a long time, I’ve made muffins in a tiny tin, cornbread, even brownies in the Dutch oven. But I wanted to see if I could turn out a good loaf of everyday bread. So, I stoked up the stove, then threw in about 25 charcoals. When those got hot, I arranged them on the lid of the Dutch oven and let them sit for about 10 minutes. Then I threw more charcoals in the wood stove.
Yeah, it was hot in front of that thing, I watched it from the shade of my patio.
When the pot was almost ready (the coals were white and I held my hand about 5 inches over the pot to see that it was good and hot) I had to go and get my dough, which was rising on my breadboard in the kitchen upstairs. That’s when it got tricky. I have to learn to do this by myself, my husband can’t always be there to open the door or raise the pot lid for me. I have to remember to run downstairs and open the door, field two excited dogs, and I have to have a place to set the board down where Badges can’t get it while I raise the lid on the pot.
So I put an old gas can we had next to the stove (!) and used it as a side table.
The dough felt good, it went into the pot with a little “sssss!”
I kept a watch on the coals, and every so many minutes I lifted the lid and gave the bread a little squirt from my mister bottle. Within 15 minutes it was getting pretty brown on top, so I moved the coals to the edge of the lid.
This loaf took about 45 minutes, only 5 minutes longer than the conventional oven. It was almost perfect, but could have been a little browner on the bottom.
The pot is smaller than my oven, so I had to divide the dough. The second loaf turned out even better – browner on the bottom.
It’s always good to learn something new.