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Archive for October, 2008

Progress to Share

I’m back from my trip to NC, and as the pictures below will testify I’ve made some real progress on my Georgia Brick Oven in the last two days.  Oh, need to mention that during my road trip I stopped by the Lodge cast iron outlet store in Commerce, GA and bought a large cast iron dish (picture another time) to bake “whatever” in. The “Whatever” could be bread, a roast, a small turkey, two chickens etc. etc.  And, it will fit through my oven door – something I can’t say for some of my other cookware.

First, I want to thank my Dad and sister Linda for giving me some fine hardwood fuel for the oven. When I got to the house in NC no one seemed to be home. Finally I noticed the sound of a chain saw, and when you can hear a chain saw in the middle of a 300 acre farm, it’s hopefully someone you know. Sure enough, there they were cutting up a black walnut tree that had fallen at the edge of a field. Linda cranks the chain saw and then hands it over to my 89 year old dad to do the cutting. AMAZING! As for the pecan wood, that had been cut previously and was stacked in the barn. It was in pieces that were too chunky for my oven, so they cranked up the log splitter to make kindling size pieces.  That pecan wood is extremely tough, and when the splitter finally did its thing you wouldn’t believe the POW noise as the split pieces of wood went flying! I’m so glad I was standing far far away.

After I got home, the wood was stacked to dry out. I meant to cover it with a tarp but procrastinated. Therefore, it immediately rained all the next day.  When I got started with the oven again, the first thing to do was continue with the side and back walls and cut bricks for and around the archway over the oven’s wood storage area. That went so well (using my recently purchased Black & Decker Storm Force hand-held cutter/grinder with diamond blade) that I decided to go ahead and mortar those bricks in place.

I had previously made an arch form out of foam core board with foam blocks glued between. I would normally have made the form from plywood and lumber, but I read a post where someone had used cardboard to make an arch form and I decided to give the slightly sturdier foam core a try. Just for the record, this lightweight and seemingly flimsy form worked extremely well. It was easy to cut out and was definitely rigid enough to support the six bricks in my arch. This form is the white half circle seen in the photo.

This is as far as the outer brickwork will go until the actual oven chamber is complete. Any higher and the walls would just get in my way as I’m placing the oven chamber brick.

Last thing I did today was mortar the hearth brick to the top of the hearth slab. The hearth brick turned out pretty well. Not as smooth and seamless as perfection but with that front arch in place the oven really starting to look like something! Click on the pics to embiggen.

Raincoat for the oven

Raincoat for the oven

I’ve covered the oven with a blue tarp to keep it dry from now on. Previously, if the brick got rained on, it was just a good way to keep them clean. However, now I want the core of the oven to start drying out.

Last comment is a thank you to two Mormon missionaries who helped me pick up brick from the side of the road. I had seen some abandoned brick from a demolished mail box post and went back today to scavange it before some other oven builder got them. They don’t match perfectly but will be OK to use for the back of the chimney or accent brick around the next arch which will be the oven door. I was loading them into the back of my truck when these two guys jumped out of their car (no, they weren’t on bikes) and asked if I had “lost my load”. At first I thought they might be cops come to arrest me for stealing bricks (ask my husband sometime about a previous bad day). However they were just nice young guys, helpful, interested in my project and even knew a place where I could get more free brick if needed.  I took their phone info just in case and then we went our separate ways with the day made a little more interesting for all of us. They are a long way from home and I wish them well.

The Mormon Brick

The Mormon Brick

Progress before NC trip

Progress before NC trip

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Movin’ on Up

It’s been raining steadily all day today, so it’s a good thing that I finished using the mortar on hand yesterday. The outside brick work is getting very close to the level of the hearth slab especially around the back and left side.

I’m taking a few days off (yes, I know I just got back from vacation) to visit my dad in Yadkinville, NC. Friday is his 89th birthday and I don’t get to see him often enough. I’m taking a slide show of pictures of the oven to share with him and other family that will be at the Birthday Party.  Most everyone in the family is pretty handy with tools so it will be fun to show them how the oven is coming.

Tried to add some pics for the record. However, something isn’t cooperating, so I’ll edit them in later. The rectangular slab of stone is pink granite salvaged from the Atlanta UAW meeting hall that was demolished. My father-in-law had been saving that for “something” and when I expressed an interest in it he was glad to pass it down as his Union Legacy.

Pink Granite slab for oven entry

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Back from a nice trip to the beach – St. Simons Island to be exact. If you’ll remember from my last post, my back was giving me some trouble, so it was a good thing to have a week long forced layoff from mixing mortar and laying brick. Rest, Tylenol and Bloody Marys did the trick but it was disconcerting how long it actually took until my back wasn’t giving any sharp twinges.

We stayed at a condo complex right in the Village, so had lots of time to browse the shops. One of my very favorite shops is a hardware store – I think the name is Strothers. We browsed the aisles and found several brick laying tools, among which is my souvenir from the trip – a mortar hoe!

Souvenir Hoe from the Island

Souvenir Hoe from the Island

As you can see from the picture, a mortar hoe is different from a regular garden hoe in that it has two holes in the blade. These help mix the mortar efficiently and more easily than a solid blade hoe. This blade also has a slick coating on it that doesn’t let the mortar stick to it. That coating may come off with continued use but by that time I won’t be using it any more. I justified the $23 for this hoe by the pain in my back. If it will make the job easier, it will be worth every penny!

Also thought I’d share a picture of Vaughn relaxing on the condo porch and one of his pelican buddy on the pier with our condo in the background. We had some fabulous food, took some leisurely bike rides, I did some knitting, and we both read and enjoyed the aforementioned Bloody Marys. 

Vaughn in relaxation mode

Vaughn in relaxation mode

If you want a super Bloody Mary recipe, first make your own flavored vodka by soaking a couple of split jalapenos, a habanero, and a poblano pepper in a jar with a fifth of vodka overnight. Strain the peppers and seeds out, replace the vodka in it’s original bottle and keep the vodka in the fridge. When you’re ready to make the BM, mix a jigger of the vodka with an 8th teaspoon of horseradish. Add tomato juice and maybe a half jigger of water (to dilute thick tomato juice) to a tall glass of ice. Finish off with a grind of black pepper and enjoy! This is a Guy Fierie recipe from the Food Network so I can’t take credit – I can only pass along a very good thing.

Moocher the Pelican on the St. Simon's pier

Moocher the Pelican on the St. Simon

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