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On Friday, Albie, my kids and I headed to Belfast to the Maine Fare, local food event. The morning was busy with food preparation and gear gathering for a full day away from home with three kids and a mobile oven. We arrived in Belfast with the event in full swing, the town looking festive and well attended. The sun was shining and there was a feeling of fall in the air. Albie expertly maneuvered the oven trailer into place and we went into action setting up our demonstration area. It was my first time using our newest mobile oven and I was pleasantly impressed with the ease of set up. Oven necessities- tables, wood, tools- are now all nicely tucked in under the oven in a compartment and drawer. So nice and efficient!

With Calder on my back and Oliver by my side I readied the various food samples I had for those attending the demonstration. The doughs that I mixed at home were ready to shape and proof and the oven, lingering at around 575 degrees, would be perfectly ready for the start time. Scott had the oven firing for a good part of the day on Thursday to fully saturate the mass. On Friday morning he again lit a fire to make sure there was enough heat for me to bake with at the event. In an attempt to display the full range of cooking possibilities, we decided that I would first bake with residual heat, then light the oven and cook with a live fire. As the attendees gathered and took their seats, I slid the tray of sticky buns into the oven.

Making Sticky Buns

The oven was a little hotter than necessary, but from experience I knew they would bake fine and fast. The stickies emerged from the oven a few minutes later, hot and glistening with melted buttery, sugary, cinnamon-y goodness. Oliver, at my side throughout the whole event, eagerly handed out the treats to the crowd. I have to say that the response to the stickies was less enthusiastic than I had anticipated. Those things are usually a BIG hit. Later Thalia informed me, in her very caring and honest way, that they were a little dry and could have had a little more goo. Note taken for the next time around! Always good to have a food critic on hand. And she’s incredible with her baby brother, too. She spent the first while in the truck reading but as soon as Calder protested his position on my back, she scooped him up and took him for a walk through town. Man, I love those kids!

Throughout the demonstration I baked the stickies and some bread, then after lighting the oven, I cooked chorizo sausage with roasted root vegetables and a variety of pizzas. As the food went in and out of the oven there were some lulls in the presentation. Albie filled in the gaps with interesting stories, history and information about the ovens. The participants seemed enthusiastic about the food, knowledge gained and the oven in general.

We stayed on in Belfast through the evening to attend a Maine Farmland Trust sponsored, David Mallet concert. My evening began standing in the back of the tent, swaying to the music, hoping the very sleepy Calder on my back would doze off. Once that mission was accomplished, I sat down and snuggled in with Thalia on my right, Oliver on my left, as Albie sat next to Thalia and Calder slept in the stroller. I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude. Gratitude for an amazing day, spent with my family at my side, helping, learning, enjoying and loving.

(All photos by Thalia and Oliver Barden)

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Maine Wood Heat