I married a fixer. A problem solver. Quite the innovative man. I didn’t realize the full extent of this characteristic until more recently, when Chris put an end to a longing I was having to bake. (The stove top skillet oven just wasn't the same...) No, he didn’t go out and buy an oven or anything like that…he BUILT me one. Nor did he spend any money; he made it with the natural materials around our place. Yes, I'm serious.
When I discovered the birthday surprise he was planning (it's not something easily hidden from view), I couldn’t believe that he was really going to take on such a task. Well, after hours and hours, tons of sweat, many experimentations with clay/sand ratios, endless hauling of sand, sticky digging of clay, mixing the ingredients, etc…voilà! A clay oven just outside our bungalow. As if our place wasn’t cool enough before!
To give you a glimpse of the process, I documented it with photos.
#1: Constructing a shelter (built with bamboo
and string he found on the beach and banana tree leaves)
#2: Making the foundation (rocks gathered
by the bucket from the road to our place)
|#3: Laying the top of the foundation|
(sand, clay, water mixture)
#4: Designing the base (ceramic tile pieces found
on the side of the road or in junk piles)
|#5: Filling it in with "grout" aka clay = awesome mosaic|
#9: Firing it! Building the first fire to complete the drying process
(with wood he found by tromping through the forest)
#10: Building a door (more clay and junky tools for the handles-
leaning on the left side of the oven)
#11: Baking. Our first trial attempt using the leftover heat from the firing.
(Not quite hot enough to brown the bread but it was still good!)
Once he finished this thoughtful gift, it was time to bake. And bake we did! We had a whole day dedicated to it, as it's quite the process- no flipping the switch and sliding in an electrically-mixed dough. No...this is as "from scratch" as it gets. Before we start we decide the line-up; because it's such a process you make several things per time we fire and then the baking is done for the week. Does it work successfully? I'm delighted to say, absolutely! We've fired it 3 times and experimented with several things. Of course...more pictures!!
|As Chris starts the 2 1/2- 3 hour process of firing & heating it up...|
|...I prep the goodies (I have the better job in my opinion! :)|
|We definitely had to eat a decent|
portion of baked goods of course.
|From scratch and delicious.|
|Sourdough-made w/a homemade starter,|
not store bought-thanks to my Biologist Husband
|Banana bread made with bananas from|
the tree Chris chopped down recently.
Can you tell we're having fun? :) It's much more than having an oven and baking capabilities- it's now a hobby. (Some things not pictured: granola, mall pretzels, and lots of loaves of bread) We have time to teach ourselves and experiment with how to make different foods from scratch, which is something we definitely never had time to do in college, nor after we graduated. There are so many things we are learning by just slowing down, getting away, and being curious and creative.
Needless to say, I'm blown away by such a thoughtful and intentional gift from my sweet Husband. Christopher has already made my upcoming birthday (June 27th) so very special, and despite being apart from our friends and family, it'll be one to remember.
Thanks for sharing in my fun birthday surprise!