HANNAH NEEDS TO KNEAD
LOADING THE OVEN
One of the most important things we've learned on this trip is how to be flexible eaters. Every where we stay, everyone is accustomed to different eating habits. Our diet was stable in Brooklyn but since January we've been all over the map; meal sizes, times, and regularity all vary greatly from farm to farm. At times it's been wonderful and we've picked up new recipes and techniques we'll take with us after our journey ends. At other times, however, we have worked hard to make due. On our trip there was rarely a shortage of fruits and vegetables but the variety didn't often change until we changed locations. Even in the midst of some of the best summer produce, we had to figure out ways to cook eggplant in a different way every night. When eggplant, or any other food, is in season it is overabundant and we have to figure out ways of cooking and preserving it so we still want to eat it the next day. Here the main ingredients we've been working with are squash, carrots, chard, garlic, and apples. Of course we've harvested green beans, tomatoes, and onions which we've been steadily cooking but it's tough to come up with a new squash recipe every day. Especially since we're spending more time in the field than in the kitchen.
But the truth is, none of this is a major issue at Threshold because we eat a very European diet: two very small meals usually consisting of not much more than bread, butter, jam, and cheese and a large lunch. Really, we're only cooking one meal a day so we've managed to keep creativity alive. Alas, with bread for breakfast and dinner, and several mouths to feed, we must keep a good supply of bread in the house. Hannah has been baking her own bread for years and today happened to be baking day.
Hugh spent a few hours readying the outdoor brick oven he and a friend built by lighting a fire inside and letting it heat up for four hours. Hannah kneaded and kneaded the dough she made, which consisted of a sourdough starter and freshly ground whole wheat flour. When the time came, the fire in the oven went out and in went the pizzas. We cooked the pizzas first because they cook at a higher temperature than the bread. The oven was already that hot and had to cool a bit before the bread could go in, so it seemed perfect to utilize the hot oven to the max. The pizzas cooked quickly and once they were done in went the 12 loaves of bread. 45 minutes later they were crispy, aromatic, and delicious. As the oven continued to cool there was plenty of heat still trapped inside, so we cooked three clay pots of beans, two trays of squash, and garlic. It was a brick oven baking extravaganza!