After last winter, our first order of business in May was to create a wood support for the hearth. Although it is to be a suspended hearth, we built a center pillar with cement blocks to provide additional support. The pillar top had to be in the middle of the hearth insulation layer so we had to build up the height a bit. Unfortunately, the corner broke when we removed the form, but it will not affect anything as it will ultimately be inside the insulayer layer.
The bottom of the insulation layer is build with pieces of plywood we recycled from the yard; we could have done it in only 2 pieces but the smaller pieces meant for easier removal.
At the far end of the photo,you can see we built a shape to create a void for the ash slot; you will see it better in the next steps. The ash slot will allow me to rake the ashes out of the oven and let them fall under the base; much easier removal.
At the forefront is the wood frame that will be used for the next step: the hearth slab, and the grooves at the top of it will support some rebars and create a 1" air gap between the hearth slab and the cement block walls, so that the hearth slab has some room for expansion. It's easier to prepare for the next step right away because the hearth slab should be poured the same day as the hearth insulation layer to help the bonding between the two layers.
Do I have a lot of updating to do!! I haven’t posted anything on the build since last August but that’s not an indication of what’s happening: I’ll try to speed-up the updates in chronological order to get you as fast as possible to the current status. In September of last year, we raised the cement block foundation to 4 ½ courses. I decided at the last minute to add half a course because I wanted the floor of the oven to be at a comfortable height for me; I suspected that the plan I was following was a tad too short. I’m glad I did that. We used type S mortar for the cement blocks and we filled them at the end with regular concrete mix with some small pebbles from the beach, as well as vertical ½” reinforcing bars at every corners and every other foot or so. As you can see, we put some recycled metal screen before the last course to avoid filling every cement block core all the way down to the slab. The spaces without the screen pieces will have a vertical re-bar in the cement block cores. The lintels or iron angles are to support the last course above the front opening of the block base. I should mention now that the opening of the block base is NOT where the fire will be! Most of my visitors get confused but you will understand much better when the project is more advanced. Right now, it looks like a big square pile of cement nothings! Stay tuned!
Time to de-stress and enjoy the surrounding beauty! Very hot & humid today and probably not the best time to enjoy piping hot chipotle & cheese quesadillas, but oh boy, where they ever good!! So simple to do: the idea comes from my friend, chef Pat Forster, and they were a favorite menu addition to my BBQ party this summer. Take one can of chipotle pepper in adobo sauce and puree in food processor, smear a thin layer on a soft tortilla, fill half with your favorite grated cheese and then fold in half. You could make it a meal by adding roasted chicken pieces in it. Lightly oil the quesadilla before putting it on the grill to warm up. They can also be done successfully on a panini press and that's how I enjoy them, at work for lunch. And it's a margarita hidding in that tall lemonade glass, the perfect companion to spicy quesadillas!