So you`ve built your oven and developed a bit of a homesite for your rag-tag group…
You`ve learned you CAN build with only your bare hands and maybe a camp shovel (if you’re lucky enough to have one…)
Now, how do you cook with this thing?
Direct contact. Place your raw food directly on the floor of the oven. This will work best for bread or similar items. You will need to fashion a peel to load/unload the oven, so on to the next step.
Get your axe….you did remember to grab it didn`t you? The tools and utensils you will need can all be made with just an axe, and refined a bit with a hatchet if you have one along…everything can be made by riving (splitting along the grain lines). Even the carving part can be done by a bit of judicious splitting.
Planking. This is an old method of cooking, mainly used for fish or meat. Start with a piece of wood approximately 1” thick, and as long/wide as the food you will be cooking. Typically people use cedar, but many woods are good like alder, oak, maple, cherry or apple. You can make planks rather easily by splitting them down from logs, riving out the size you need. Give the planks a good soak in water for around an hour or so before use that will keep them from bursting into flames when you put them in the oven.
Trencher. A carved wooden plate, the name coming from the Old French tranchier; “to cut”. When you’re splitting out planks, save some of the more straight grained pieces to be carved out for trenchers. They work well for porridges and stews, or you could make them a bit small and make a basic pie using them for the serving dish. If you carve them deep enough you can fashion loaf pans for bread baking.
You will also need utensils, so whoever in your group is handy at a bit of woodworking will be the one to take on this task and teach the others. First item is to make a peel. You`ve probably seen them in the pizza commercials or on the cooking shows, the long handled gadget that they reach into the oven to get the pizza out with. Your probably won`t need to be quite as big right now, you`re working with a smaller oven. You`ll also need a hook, something long enough to reach the back of the oven and pull out planks or trenchers.
By dividing up the tasks, you can make short work of all this, and build confidence in the group by delegating out work to those best suited. This seems like a lot, but your new “family” will need to stay busy. Too much free time and people start to worry about their situation. Keep them busy and productive, at the end of the day they`ll feel like a more cohesive unit, the ties they develop during this work will help to foster the strength to get them through the hard times.
You`ve built an oven, a place to feed the group. You`ve made tools and utensils, and things for people to eat off of. You`ve done this as a group, with hardly any tools. An axe, maybe a hatchet and a shovel are all you need for this.
The heart of every home is always considered the kitchen….guess what?
You just gave your new “home” a heart…
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