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Building Your Own Earth Oven

A few years ago, my kids' homeschool charter planned a field trip to Sutter's Fort in Sacramento.  It went down in history as one of the coolest field trips ever.  All the children and adult chaperones dressed in costumes from the 1850s and we spent 24 hours living as people did during the California Gold Rush.

The kids got to make candles, rope, watch a blacksmith work, cook over a fire in a 19th century kitchen.  After the sun went down we danced to fiddle music and listened to stories around a fire.

But my favorite, favorite, part of the trip was baking in an outdoor earthen oven.  I was lucky enough to run the bakery (partly because I really wanted to, mostly because no other mom did).

Inside a little room, with wooden bowls and tin cups, the children and I made bread, cinnamon rolls, and molasses cookies.  Then, we headed outside to bake them up in the huge, round earth oven.  Seeing the little girls carry hot-from-the-oven loaves in their little aprons, with braids hanging down their backs, was too cute for words.  I mean, what little girl doesn't want to be Laura Ingalls for a day?  And I, in my bonnet and swishy skirt, got to be Ma.

I guess it's the memory that made me jump on this project when I saw it on the Mother Earth News website -- build your own earth oven.  I nearly swooned.  I knew I needed to build one.  And, since I would need help, I told my husband it was a pizza oven (he likes pizza, and it's all in the presentation).

He still isn't as on-board as I am because a.) it will take time and money to build, and b.) we already have dozens of projects using up said time and money.  Where will we put it? he asked.  Would you really use it all that often, he wondered.

No matter.  I will get my earthen oven.  Someday.  I'll use it any time I want to feel like Ma again.

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