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Masonry Heaters, Wood-Fired Ovens, Natural Building

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Yakisoba-style Noodles with a Wood-Fired “Wok-et”!

For wood-fired cooking enthusiasts, the wood-fired “wok-et” is a great and simple addition to outdoor culinary celebration.  It has become a summer tradition for us to throw “Yakisoba parties” where the intense heat produced by this unit allows us to quickly cook batch after batch of this tasty complete meal!

Wok-et Stove

There are now quite a few commercial versions of this kind of stove, generally categorized as “rocket stoves” for their lively and clean combustion. Being stove builders ourselves, we had to make our own, of course!  The L-shaped combustion chamber and insulative ceramic materials used are both defining characteristics of a rocket stove. Ours is dry stacked while we continue to study its performance and function.  For now, we have chosen the simplest design given the insulative brick units that we have.  The two rectangular pieces of steel administer heated secondary air underneath the fuel to the front of the fire and provide the coals with oxygen resulting in a very potent burn rate.  It is surprising how little fuel is used and also how easy it is to maintain a constant flame.

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The asian wok evolved to maximize heat exchange between the cooking fire, the pan, and the ingredients cooking.  Wok cooking is characterized by high heat and constant movement of the ingredients.  This is efficient in terms of minimal fuel use and tends to provide an excellent taste to the food which is neither seared nor braised but contains the sensations of both processes.  For Eva’s birthday, we followed this relatively simple recipe: Yakisoba with Pork and Cabbage.

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Photos and video in this article by Alex Rosenthal, except last image by Eva Edleson.

If you liked this article and would like to stay in touch, consider joining our mailing list and/or send us a note to let us know your thoughts!  Also, here is some further reading:

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Testimonials

A few friends and colleagues suggested we try a testimonial page! Here are a few responses we have received in regards to working and learning with Eva. Thanks everybody!

 

TESTIMONIALS
“Eva is fluent with her materials and in my experience her expertise is not just in craft but also in teaching. She is warm, patient, and always has an eye on the process. In the workshop I took I learned so much about the versatility, character, and beauty of natural finishes. Can’t wait to take another workshop soon!” -Eli Stein

I have taken a few finishing classes and have worked with Eva. She has fantastic color intuition and is patient and helpful to clients. As an instructor, her explanations are clear and to the point–she had me making plaster and smoothing it on the wall within an hour.  I have also helped her make natural paints and had the pleasure of painting with natural, clay based paint and it was such a nice experience! The paint spread smooth and thick without the smells of traditional, chemical paints. The best part about using and working with natural finishes is not being exposed to dangerous chemicals. With Eva’s expertise and clear explanations, you’ll learn how to do things yourself, so when you get tired of a color after several years, you can take on the project and make the magic happen!” -Alex Tomaselli

“Plastering with Eva is an amazing and mind-opening experience.  She approaches the walls with such a creative mindset that makes you walk away feeling confident and ready to experiment.” -Emily Jantzen
“Learning from and working with Eva Edleson is simply a joy. Eva’s playful energy, creative artistry, inspiring leadership is supported by her rich depth of experience working with natural building materials and methods. As a student of Eva’s, you will learn about raw materials, recipes and applications. And as a fellow seeker of knowledge she will support your journey to build your own relationship with these materials that will allow you freedom to create your own unique beauty.”
Sukita Reay Crimmel
Author
Earthen Floors-A Modern Approach to an Ancient Practice
Natural builder
Creator of Claylin, a ready mix earthen floor product

 

“I studied natural finishes with Eva starting in 2011, and since then we’ve worked together on many wonderful projects from Portland to Eugene and in between. Not only is she equipped with exceptional skill and knowledge, Eva’s got a magnetic personality, a contagious passion for these materials and techniques, and an effortless way about teaching people to unlock their ability and create high-quality work. She’s a pioneer in this field and I am continually inspired by her dedication to refining her craft–and to having fun doing it.” -Emidio Cantalupo

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OAEC Medium-Sized Professional Wood-Fired Oven

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hover over this!

 

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This oven was built in October 2014 at the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center.  The OAEC has inspired many through its courses and example over the last three decades.  It was an honor to be invited to build this oven which is well situated next to their newly remodeled kitchen facility.

The deck of this oven is 36″ x 40 1/2″ deep.  It features a firebrick core with a vault and steel harness, designed by Alex Chernov, Stovemaster.  High-temp insulation surrounds the entire core, optimizing the oven’s efficiency.  The facing is classic looking recycled red brick with two wood storage arches facing the front and back and keystone for accent.

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(click images to enlarge)

A highlight of the build was getting to help the community to experience their new oven by throwing it’s inaugural pizza event.  We easily fed 75 people.  The oven’s mass-to-insulation ratio is designed to make it efficient but not overwhelming.  We made a fire for three hours before starting our pizza session at about 750 degrees.  We made roughly 60 pizzas over the following two hours with a live fire in the back.  One nice thing about breaking into these bigger oven sizes is the ease of management of the fire and pizzas.  There is not the risk of getting pizzas too close to the fire or mixed up with ash, and it is easy to have 2 to 4 good sized pizzas going simultaneously.

The next morning at 9 am, I opened the insulated oven door and read an average temperature of 425 degrees.  Without lighting another fire, we cooked 12 loaves of bread… and then followed that up with 2 hotel pans of beans…. and after that whole winter squash and many pounds of potatoes.  At the end of that following day, the oven was still at close to 300 degrees.

Thanks to Alex Chernov of Stovemaster for designing the core and Marcus Flynn of Pyromasse for technical advice on this build.  And thanks to the entire OAEC community for making this project a big life highlight!

“Hey Max! Just a quick note to tell you that we have been using the oven lots, and loving it so much! The oven works perfectly. It is all we dreamed of. We feel you in every brick, and every slice! Thank you Max!

We’ll send some party pictures too. If you need any promo photos or testimonials, let us know – we are your biggest fans! Please come visit when you can.”
-Dave Henson, OAEC Excecutive Director

 

Further Reading:

Photo Credits: Oven with Fire and Pizza Close-up in main spread and 5th, 7th and 8th images in mosaic by Tali Aiona.  2nd, 3rd and 4th images in mosaic by Jim Coleman.  6th and 9th images by Brock Dolman.  Thank you!

The Ultimate Laundry Drying Rack

In our quest to live smartly and well, Eva and I have resisted the urge to use an electric dryer to dry our clothes. Although this common appliance certainly offers some conveniences, it seems a gratuitous use of electricity and energy that is otherwise available to us in free and smart ways. We had been getting along alright hanging our clothes out in the sun during the warmer months and hanging them on expandable accordian-style wooden racks near our heating stove in the colder portion of the year. With the arrival of our new-born daughter and the prospect of many loads of cloth diapers to wash and dry, I figured it was time to up the anti and improve our system or else succumb to the need for an electric dryer. I wanted to build a drying rack that was retractable to the ceiling so that it wouldn’t take up any floor space. This turns out to give it the added benefit of placing it up in the warmest part of the house and exposes all the clothes equally to this rising, circulating hot air.

Watch the video to see more details about how it works.

Materials List:

Qty. Description $/item $
2 2 x 4 (x8′) Lumber 1.39 2.78
8 1/2″ x 48″ Hardwood Dowel 1.58 12.64
4 1 1/2″ Wall/Ceiling Mount Pulleys 9.49 37.96
3 2″ Wall/Ceiling Mount Pulleys 10.99 32.97
4  1 1/4 Pulley Swivel 3.49 13.96
4 1/4 SP Anchor Shackle 1.89 7.56
1  6″ Rope Cleat 3.99 3.99
2  Twisted Nylon Rope 1/4″x100′ 16.49 32.98
Screws
Total 144.84

Let us know what you think and join our mailing list to stay in touch.
If you are interested, we could provide the hardware as a package.

Other great resources:

 

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Barrel Oven Workshop at Sweet Briar Farm

Sebastian and Jeanna are getting married!
This oven will be a part of their wedding celebration and then will live on to cook meals for their family and friends.

COME LEARN HOW TO MAKE A BEAUTIFUL AND EFFICIENT WOOD-FIRED OVEN, AT THIS BEAUTIFUL HOMESTEAD, IN WHICH TO BAKE DELICIOUS BREAD AND SO MUCH MORE!

Join Us For This 2-day, Comprehensive, Hands-On
Workshop on How to Build A Wood-Fired Barrel Oven.

June 16-17, 2012 – Sebastopol, California

Registration/Info: Eva Edleson- eva@firespeaking.com

 

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Oven Building Workshop at Wise Acres Farm

Oven Building Workshop at Wise Acres Farm
Pleasant Hill, OR (August 25, 26 2012)

Learn how to build your own super-insulated, wood-fired, earthen oven!

Learn how to make an oven to cook bread, pizza, cookies, cakes, pies, casseroles, stews, and so much more!

Wise Acres Farm is a beautiful place and home to Dr. Sharol Tilgner, author of “Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth”!
Check out this from her website-

“Wise Acres Farm is an educational farm where the mind expands and the soul is nourished. Our mission is to connect people in the city with farm life.  The farms educational focus is on growing food and herbs. At Wise Acres you can meet and become familiar with over 200 herbs. We teach herb classes for the beginner as well as the advanced student. There is something for everyone at Wise Acres. To get more information on classes click here.”

For more information or to register for this workshop, contact
Sharol Tilgner- class@herbaltransitions.com

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Duckpond Pottery Oven

Oven Building Workshop at Duckpond Pottery
Brevard, NC (April 14-15, 2012)

Join us for this workshop and learn how to make a super insulated,
WOOD-FIRED OVEN oven to cook bread, pizza, cookies, cakes, pies,
casseroles, stews, and so much more!

Click on poster to view.
To register and for more info contact Nick Freidman- duckpondpotter@gmail.com

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A Summary of Recent Research on Rocket Mass Heaters (and Bell Design)

http://www.handprintpress.com/home-heating/rmh-research

I have just posted this article about recent research on rocket mass heaters to Hand Print Press with this same title. It is a synthesis that I have been wanting to write for some time since the experiences at the MHA gatherings have been so rich.  I’ve wanted to make sure that others could benefit from the research and discoveries that we have been making there.

Here is the Article’s Table of Contents to give you a sense of it:

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