Brick Oven Baking .... and explosions

Thursday, April 15, 2010


    I arrived home from my last class over an hour ago, with nothing left on my to-do list for the day except writing a blog.  Since then, I have checked facebook, read through e-mails, listened to a podcast, and considered writing for a forum that has nothing to do with brick ovens.  I have procrastinated. 
    This morning, sitting in my morning classes, it occurred to me that I needed to do something with the oven, in order to actually have a subject for a blog post.  Quick sounded good, easy sounded nice.  My last few efforts having been lowered in quality due to smoke flavor, I brainstormed for something quick and easy that would not be harmed by smoke flavor.  The obvious choice, at least to my mind, this morning, was s'mores.  Not gourmet, not historical, not something that actually needs an oven, I couldn't actually convince myself that s'mores were something I ought to be making.  But the very idea of them was so enjoyable, that I stopped at an Albertson's on my drive home and picked up chocolate bars and a bag of huge marshmallows. 
    I could have taken another route, reminding myself that the smoke flavor was being caused by baking with the fire still burning in the back of the oven.  And the reason I had to leave it there was due to not planning ahead far enough to heat the bricks through, allow the fire to die, clean the oven out, and then do my baking.  It would be, will be, character building, I am sure, when I force myself to exercise patience and planning in conjunction with my blogging homework.  Today, though, the idea of s'mores was too good to pass up.
    I poured marshmallows into a plastic bowl, broke the chocolate into squares in another, and laid graham crackers in a third.  As I carried them out through the greenhouse sliding door, the sun gave out enough warmth to cause the faint smell of potting soil to permeate the air.  There was a tiny breeze, but lighting this fire, with dry, rattling wood and no blustering wind forcing itself through the door to blow out my flames, was delightfully easy. 
    My younger siblings took a break from their studies to join me.  We slid the marshmallows onto roasting sticks and poked them inside the oven, the narrow door making it so only one or two people could roast at once. 
    Second to youngest sister quickly finished her s'more, but couldn't resist coming back outside with the camera.  Ian, our Taiwanese exchange student, had stuck his first marshmallow directly into the flame, and as I pulled the ashy sugar off of his stick, the camera wielder directed me to turn and smile. 
    "You've got marshmallow on your cheek." 
    I licked it off.
    "Now you've got marshmallow on the other side."
    I tried again.
    "Maybe you should just use your hands."
    I did as instructed, then posed with the black marshmallow, as more s'mores were constructed behind my back. 
    The sun was just warm enough the melt the milk chocolate squares in the bowl, making the edges of the bricks pool into softer curves.  Our dog wandered about under the table, hoping some random accident would flip it over so that she could ruin her teeth forever with the sugar.   We roasted the marshmallows, breaking the toasty crust to let the warm goo inside ooze out over the chocolate and graham crackers. 
    It was one of those moments when you realize why words like halcyon  and blissful exist in the English language.  We weren't done with our work for the day.  I was, perhaps, putting off math homework for a little while longer.  But taking the time to get marshmallow on my face and discuss with my brother the merits of a golden brown roast versus a dark brown roast was advantageous as well.  Certainly, taking breaks from constant study will help the mind relax and refresh.  This type of break, though, is different from the one I was taking a few minutes ago.  Reading e-mails and browsing web-sites is relaxing enough that it can make me fall asleep, but it has never been something I would term halcyon.  Halcyon was more than a sugar-rush or a job accomplished, even though those may have been part my experience today.  It was more than doing the unexpected and making s'mores in a place that was perhaps more inconvenient than useful for the task.  Halcyon was some of this and some of the strange comments,
    "The best part of s'mores is the sweet part."
    "The principles of marshmallow expansion"
    "I want to burn my own marshmallow off."
Some of this and some of the intangible.  Something that can't be recreated, even though it was not the best or worst of its time.  A halcyon moment, in the warm air that said spring might finally be barefoot, blossoming weather.


Mom said...

Great memories being made, relationships being strengthened. I love to watch it all. And I think I still need a s'more...

Mom said...

BTW, I think it was nicely written, too.