Tuesday, January 13

efficiency follies

I did it. After celebrating christmas eve and the excitement of christmas morning, a full days bake got underway, the wood oven was used to its capacity.

I also was passed out on the couch by 9 pm.

Lesson No.1 of wood oven management: if you've invited guests over, dont expect to socialise much! It's incredibly hard work and i have discovered first hand the reason why the electric and gas oven was invented. Maybe doing it without a breastfeeding 8 month old kid would also help.

So, the guests had a good time but i spent most of mine 'managing' whatever was in the oven and organising what was to come next, despite having spent the previous day preparing. We did pizza (no pics of those as i figured you're all sick to death of them),

trays of vegetables i picked from the garden that morning roasted inolive oil, garlic and dukka,

the wild kid which had marinated overnight with preserved lemon, homemade verjus, olive oil and rosemary,

loaves of sourdough from a poolish made the night before

a nectarine and red currant tart with an almond meal crust and streusel topping,

Russell Jeavons 12 egg, flourless chocolate cake, complete with ash burns

and dried herbs. I would have managed the meringue (they sit in the cooling oven overnight) but i had no whites, which are kind of required for meringue but I'd misread the chocolate cake recipe which didnt call for just 12 egg yolks, but 12 whole eggs. As for toasting what was left over from last years nut crop... the guests, who obligingly shelled walnuts for the occasion, informed me that fresh walnuts were better than toasted and the hazelnuts were so hard no one wanted that job!

I figure 7 outa 9 aint bad. Not bad for a first attempt at managing a live beast such is the wood oven. But being such a perfectionist, a part of me is miffed that i didnt manage it all AND i forgot to bring out the christmas crackers. damn.

My husband thinks im nuts and maybe just a little obsessed and suggests i think about taking life a little more slowly. Hmmmm. SLOW, slow...hang on...SLOW just became fast and frenzied...will have to think about the inherent contradiction. I think i might just heed his advice but sometimes i find it incredibly difficult to not try and do it all. I am also incredibly pleased that we planned the day yesterday as todays weather is projected to hit 41 C (105.8)!

I can see how much more efficient it is to 'specialise'. If i were just doing bread or cake or veges it would have been easier. It was the preparing many different foods and doing it pretty much single handedly (simon was mainly doing host duties and hot coal moving) that killed me.

Next time, no guests.


Barbara said...

Not just celebrations involving
a wood oven but any celebrations!
We just had 3 parties (1 in
Melbourne and 2 here) to celebrate
my husband's 60th birthday and
I doubt I spent more than 5
minutes at each one socializing
with the guests! You always think
you've got it organzied in advance
and won't have to do anything at
the actual party but somehow it
never happens that way.

wombat064 said...

Well done Kel,
the food looked and I bet tasted great and the overhead table setting...stunning , a million bucks worth. ( was a bit worried about it catching on fire though)..

all the best to You, Si and the beans.


Kerrie said...

What a feast Kel...it looks sensational. I hope that the girls had a lovely Christmas with you.

It's always the way when you are the host, isn't it..?? No matter how prepared you are there is always a huge amount of running around to be done.

Would you be able to send me (or post) your sourdough bread recipe. I have used a poolish before in breadmaking and find it a quick, easy starter to use...yours looks sensational.

Hope you were able to enjoy a glass or two at the end of the evening when all had quietened down...you earned it after all of your hard work.

Rest is not idleness said...

Well done, aren't you glad you don't have to use a wood oven all the time, it would be a killer on a day like today. Your pictures have made me very hungry, especially all the desserts, although that wild kid looks wonderful.
take care

Jen said...

Beatiful photos Kel! I particularly like the home-made Xmas tree in suspension. I know exactly the problem you are talking about: how to reconcile the urges of an A-type personality with the new found belief and NEED to take things more slowly and expect just a little bit less perfection from oneself. As a famous architect said, 'less is more' and this is so often the case.

Kel said...

barbara - yes , you're absoloutely right. i think the 'unknown' was what added to my 'stress' of the day. the uncontrollable heat factor- having to understand and work with it, not being in CONTROL!!!

wombat - thanks, food tasted great, goat sandwiches on that sourdough for dinner! dont worry about the house going up in flames, candles well out of foilage way!

kerrie- a feast indeed, a very 'principled feast! lol. Kids had a great day, and next time, its just pizza! and maybe 1 cake.There is a link in the post to the sourdough recipe but i didnt proof the final dough as long as the recipe suggested and it still worked beautifully and surprisingly for me it was a cup of tea when the house was quiet!

RNI- thanks and YES!!!! its a killer, no wonder the bread oven owner was a powerful person in the community way back then...it was delicious and still is!! lots of cake still left but the tart is long gone!

Jen - thanks, the wreath is so pretty we havent taken it down despite its rather wilted state! SLOW SLOW SLOW..need to remember tomorrow as i drive to work for my first day back...

Rixa said...

Mmmmm...too bad I live halfway around the world from you, otherwise I might be inviting myself over!