Monday, December 19, 2011

Day 8

This past week has been a blur. So much was going on all at once that I'm glad we were taking photos or I wouldn't have believed that it all happened! It started out with Tom going to Phoenix, AZ to pick up dumpsters and trash cans for the company he works for. It worked out really nicely since we needed to go to Phoenix to pick up the firebrick and the lumnite that we needed for the oven.

The pallet of fire bricks fit just perfect amongst the dumpsters.

Mason Mart in Phoenix, AZ was Tom's first stop.
Bruce was kind enough to hold our order for several weeks.

While Tom was in Phoenix I found myself at a friend's catering kitchen baking bread. The customer had specifically requested Sourdough bread for their catered affair. Fortunately I had taken my starters out of dormancy several weeks ago and they were active and ready to make bread! 

This old behemoth has a way of keeping you very, very humble.
I only used the paddle attachment for a short time.
In the end, with careful monitoring, the dough did just fine.
It felt good to be standing at a bench again - I can't wait to have
my prep kitchen ready to go!
Then it was Saturday. We did have a beautiful day. I was able to unload all the fire bricks while Tom continued to work on the base of the oven. Tom is looking forward to having a full day to work on the oven without having to take part of his day traveling to get the roll off truck to transport all the supplies. 

I had a constant companion in Copper while stacked the fire bricks.

Copper also kept an eye on Tom. 

The days end.

The supplies are stacking up.
As I update the blog today, it is overcast, windy, cold and spitting a mix of snow and rain here in Las Cruces. All of our dear friends on the East Coast would laugh at how soft we all are! We get one day without any sunshine and we're all whining. It's pitiful! So we're not expecting any sympathy :)

Bradley is growing up fast. He's one of the most curious dogs we've ever met.
And he continues to be too cute!
Tom and I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas.
Thoughtfully - Kath

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 7

It started out to be an East Coast Winter sort of week. We thought that Sunday's snow event was it and then Monday arrived. The morning started out sunny and dry, but as the afternoon progressed, so did the snow fall. I guess this is to keep us humble. Las Cruces was basically shut down on Tuesday as many of you might have seen on The Weather Channel. We've become softies.

Our patio set. You can get a tiny glimpse of the cement block way in the  back.
 Fortunately, the sun came out for the rest of the week and dried things up so that Tom could start laying block on Saturday. When the temperature in our backyard reached 55°, the memory of Tuesday had already melted away.

The Man Eater. This saw has been with us for almost 30 years!
It's like a trustworthy friend.
The corners of the oven are established.
Setting block.
The day's end. Tom wanted to get more done,
but the sun was setting fast.

We had to cover the block to protect it from
We added the tarp for extra protection.

Bradley thought the tarp was a game.
He's just too cute for his own good

Tomorrow will be a very exciting day. Tom will be making the long trip to Phoenix, AZ for the company he works for. His boss has kindly allowed Tom to also use the time to pick up the Calcium Lumnite and also our Firebrick. We found it amazing how difficult is was to get these two items here in New Mexico. Fortunately we didn't have to go all the way to California!

We'll continue to keep you posted of our progress and thanks for stopping by - Kath 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Day 6

The weather report stated that there would be snow in the area on Friday night. We woke up Saturday and we couldn't even see the Organ Mountains because of the cloud cover. It ended up being overcast and drizzly most of the day, but then it happened . . . the clouds gently blew over and we were greeted with the view of the magnificent Organ Mountains dusted with snow!

The Organ Mountains 

The snow line is obvious

Tom decided to make the best of the day, and with his employer's blessing, he was able to take a company Roll Off truck over to the local construction supply house and pick up all the Cement Block, Mortar and Re bar for the base of the oven. 

All the supplies needed to start the base of the oven

Tom unloading while being overseen by Copper the Corgi

Copper making sure Tom is doing it right.
Our old wood cart is getting put to good use. 
All stacked up and ready for next Saturday!
The days end. One experience that is amazing about storm fronts that come
through Las Cruces is that we're left with an amazing visual experience once they blow over.
It's as if God has revealed one of His many masterpieces for us to enjoy.

Thanks for checking in and sharing the journey - Kath

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 5 and waiting . . . .

Although we feel as though nothing is happening with the BakeHouse project, we've finalized several very important steps. The biggest one was finding a supplier for Foamglass insulation that Tom wants to use for the Hearth bed and also around the cladding of the chamber. We found a supplier in Tucson, AZ , which is quite fun since I lived there back in the 70's! Who would have thought that I'd revisit this place because of our business all these years later!

Marking out the corners of the Oven
 The next search was for Thermocouplers and a better way to embed them in the cladding and firebricks. Tom wasn't thrilled with how they took a beating and we did have several of them fail after two years. Fortunately an Engineer friend finds this problem easy to solve - so we look forward to working with him on a good solution.

We saved the Temp Gauge from the original oven and will reuse it in our new oven

And we pulled out the original wood cart and did some maintenance on it.

Tom made the cart from the base of an old Wheel Barrow!
It looks like we'll not be able to make any outside progress this weekend since we're suppose to get some nasty weather over the next few days. Right now it's very, very windy and the Organ Mts are disappearing from the rising dust. So we'll patiently wait to start the next phase which is constructing the cement brick base. I can't wait to share it with you. Thanks for stopping by - Kath

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 4

Today the cement pad was poured. We were the only job that the mason could get done today since the weather turned stormy and wet! This caught us all by surprise.

The smell of the Creosote Bush, which is in the foreground, after it rains, is wonderful.
The Organ Mountains are in the background.

The plan is to start placing the cement block this coming weekend.
Thanks for checking in - Kath

A hard day for Bradley, he was neutered today.
He's not too happy about the cone either.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 3

The digging is done and now we wait for the cement pour. It will either be tomorrow or Tuesday.
The complete footing

The Oven footing

Tom has been spending today laying out the oven. One of the things that is making this project extremely easy, even though it's late in the year, is the Las Cruces weather! The mornings are chilly (don't laugh my East Coast friends, we've become softies) starting out at around 35° to 40°. The afternoons get up around 75°. There is absolutely not a cloud in the sky and it's very, very dry. In fact we've had to keep wetting down the ground where the cement is going to be poured. Hopefully I'll be getting pictures on the blog showing the newly poured pad - thanks for stopping by. Kath

Creating a complete layout of the oven.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 2

The morning started out with looking at all the construction photos we had taken of the original oven. Since we are making a larger oven for our New Mexico BakeHouse, Tom wanted to review the work he had done. I was glad that we took as many photos as we did for it's proved to be extremely helpful now.

Reviewing the construction photos of our original New Jersey Oven

Now that we knew the size of the oven, it was easy to start laying out the floor space of the BakeHouse.

The final forms are set and digging can now begin. In order to avoid having to go for a permit, we're only allowed to have a building that is 12' x 10'. By doing it this way we can avoid all the waiting, fees and inspections that are involved with going bigger. And since the prep room will be attached to the home, we don't have to worry about having anything but the oven, proofer and bench in the building.

After all the digging is done around the forms and rebar and mesh are added, we'll be ready to pour cement. Our goal was for this coming Saturday, but we're thinking that the following Saturday will be more realistic since we have day jobs to go to.

Thanks for stopping by

Our personal inspector approves.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day One

The BakeHouse project started with replacing the entry door that would be the entrance to the prep room. We think the door that was on the house was an original and you could see daylight around the edges. Tom was hoping that it would only be a 4 hour project, but we all know how those types of projects go! But he had great success and now the sand isn't coming through the bottom of the door!

Then it was off to Lowes to purchase the lumber needed for the forms for the cement pad that the BakeHouse building and oven will sit on along with the rebar and mesh.

 Making a list and checking it twice.

Loading up                          

Thanks for checking in - Kath

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The BakeHouse Project Has Begun!

The rebuilding of the BakeHouse in Las Cruces, NM has begun! We are so excited. Today we'll be ordering all the Fire Bricks and also the high heat cement, Lumnite from Phoenix, AZ.

Tom and I will do the prep work for the concrete pad and the concrete contractors will come in about 2 weeks.

I'll be posting more often once we start digging and building. Thanks for coming along for the ride!


Our new puppy, Bradley is checking out our work.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Trying something new . . .

BakeHouse Golden Corn with Hatch Green Chili!
Along with planning the BakeHouse in Las Cruces comes a time to test out new bread formulas. When living in Las Cruces, there is no choice in the matter, you MUST fall in love with the famous Green Chili from Hatch, NM and the Mesilla Valley. They've made there way to the Food Channel and a variety of special shows that showcase this regions most famous celebrity. It's going to take a couple of bakes to work out any kinks in the formula. I'll keep you posted on how it develops.

Three very sour & sleepy starters

This time of being a "home baker" has been a great journey of discovery. One of the things that I've enjoyed is getting to really "know" my three starters.
When I get ready to bake - I take them out of dormancy about a week before I actually need them. They are a bit sleepy and very sour, but they faithfully come back to life within two feedings and by the weeks end, they are bubbling and ready to go.
The main observation I've learned from my starters is that they prefer the 12 hour refreshments and only tolerate being forced in to dormancy. There seems to be an element of "stress" that the starters experience and it takes several refreshments for the stress to get worked out.

All this to say that the best part of baking bread is that the bread is always teaching the baker!

Thanks for checking in

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It's a Winner!

The Apple Pecan Sourdough won the hearts of the Judges at the Western Pecan Growers Association! I even have a Pecan Grower wanting to barter his Pecans for Bread - now THAT sounds like a tasty deal!