The First Fire
The First Fire

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My first attempt at a Pizza on Saturday was a miserable failure, the oven was not hot enough so they took almost 15 minutes to cook, I found out that you HAVE to wait until the oven dome turns ashen white before you can even think it might be hot enough. I also had problems with the peels and shoved a pizza into the ash, then dropped one on the ground...bad bad day.

The next day, I tried again and did better on the pizza and royally burned the bread because you don't cook bread at 600 degrees and walk away from the oven for 10 minute..duh...

On to better times :)

Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving was my next attempt at making pizza and it worked out better, this time the oven was more or less the right temp but the floor was too hot so I burned the crust bottom.

Turkey is in finallyOn Thanksgiving, we decided to go for broke and try the Turkey in the oven, yikes...I had no idea how to set up the oven and cook with the door open or closed, leave a fire in place or what. So I tried anyway, I got the oven to 500+ degress and while the fire was dying we covered the Turkey with Aluminum foil and put it. I kept some small kindling in the fire to keep the flame going, I think that was a mistake but I was afraid that due to the length of time involved the oven would cool down to much. I kept the door ajar so the fire would have air and the heat would not go away too fast when the fire went out I just closed the door So anyway as you can see the Turkey burned pretty badly on the outsite due to the fire, I should have started with a hotter oven and no fire, but the inside was mmmm mmm good and it cooked in about 2 hours.
Over the next few weeks I worked on my Pizza skills and they are getting pretty darned good if I do say so myself.  It was during this time that I discovered the ash vacuum was a waste of money, it works but its quicker to do it with a brush and scoop out the ash.

I also could not find what I had been told is called "double split" firewood anywhere and was getting tired of splitting it myself so I purchased a MiniSplitter,

Split Woodwhat a great tool...I split enough for the next days fire and throw it in the oven at the end of the day to dry it out more, it is working GREAT. Same Price as the vacuum and a million times more useful, it allows me to make all my kindling and logs in no time at all from the firewood I have for the house.
fire working tools I also found myself needing some tools so the wife didn't yell at me for taking the ones from the house, wanting to keep the theme of doing it all myself, I made them. The "Red" hoe is made from 1/4" steel rod and a chunk of flat steel and file handle. I then powder coated just because well I could
The poker is black high temp powder coated and my first attempt at some "artsy" stuff by twisting the steel. The other 2 items are for moving the fire to the left or right, ok I should have made one straight one for pushing it either way instead of 2, but what fun would that be ? more on the fire working tools
Fire Wood PotatoesFinally back to cooking, I tried some roasted potatoes, nothing spectacular but ok. I don't have a pic of it but I did Hamburgers using the Tuscan Grill, made the whole thing worthwhile when the first words out of my daugher was "Wow, these are GOOD!". Ok, I done good
The Tuscan grill has gotten a good workout on Steaks too.
Mmmmm Pizza2 Pizza's that I cut up to fit on the board...They were good. This oven is really working out to be lots of fun and we have tried lots of different things in it since it is nearly always warm my wife is even using it. Even Chocolate Chip cookies have been made in the oven since it was at the right temp. But

What about the bread ? this is after all why I bought it.
Bread in the oven  Well the bread is GREAT, took me a while almost 2 months to get the technique down but it working great.

I get the oven hot but leave the ashes in contrary to what I have been told I should do. The reason I leave them is I find the oven gets cold pretty darn fast, it is my one disappointment in the oven.

But after many tries I hit bread Nirvanna on Jan 24, 2005 when I made a perfect tasting loaf and ok cosmetically loaf also. And the crust was oh so perfect, I always make "Baguettes" and they are hard to shape but this ones shape was ok. I then turned around on the 25th and made even better bread, I am on a roll now. Cool Pizza/Bread Peel
Note the cool Combo Pizza Peel and Bread Peel, I made :)

Overall this oven has been fun and I hope to keep it fun, I have had fires in it almost everyday since Thanksgiving, at least 4 or 5 days a week it is fired up doing something, maybe that is why it is not tiled yet at the end of January. Maybe I am spending too much time here making these I will stop.  As I practice I will come back here and add some cooking techniques which I found the web is sorely missing on cooking with a wood oven but I still have not learned the techniques myself so I won't put anything on here yet...

I am having some problems with the cooking surface on my oven where the cracks between the tiles is being enlarged due to probably over-agressive cleaning with the brush they gave me to remove the ash when I cook. The stones have gotten rounded and so if you get one of these ovens do be careful when using the brass brush, stay away from the floor seams if you can. (duh, I spoke with John at Mugnaini and he reminded me that I should use a damp, not wet, mop to prep the stones...duh, I remember him saying that the brush is only for hard stuff). I also don't think it stays nearly hot enough even though I built it according to their specs, it seems to cool down quickly. Overall, I am overjoyed with this impulse buy and wish I had done it years earlier.

Steak and Potatoes, what more can you ask for ?


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