Archive for July, 2011

It’s Not Too Hot for Wood-Fired Cooking!

It is 90 degrees  in a mid-summer heat wave and you’re thinking about firing up an oven? Absolutely! We enjoy a Forno Bravo Casa2G 90 wood-fired oven which is built next to our deck far from any air conditioning. Basically, the heat is kept outdoors and will not heat up your home that you invest in keeping cool. This is an energy saver in itself.   It’s perfect for summer evening cooking as well as the harshest winter months. The actual time spent cooking in a Forno Bravo wood-fired oven is very intentional and generally fast compared to cooking with a gas grill.  You develop the art of timing when cooking  with wood and it takes a little finesse but it’s sooooo well worth it!

Perfecting Timing with wood-fired cooking

Fresh Fresh Fresh

Summer is all about eating outside when it’s cooling down, enjoying your yard, and eating  FRESH! Fresh everything. The tomatoes are actually red and juicy, the squash, eggplants, herbs, corn, are either fresh from our own garden or from local tailgate markets.

Support Local Farmers

Supporting local farmers feels great as we know it feeds the local economy.  When you own an oven you can cook light fare or cook up a feast, but the best part of all is when the sun has set you’re on your own deck or patio with friends savoring some of the finest flavors that could otherwise cost you a pretty penny.  Around 6pm fire up the oven and occasionally feed it a few pieces of dry hardwood  to increase the heat.

Not much longer and the coals will be perfect

The exterior of the oven doesn’t put off high heat. It’s better than a thermos. The exterior may be warmed naturally from the sun, but the oven is so well insulated it is never too warm to touch. If the oven hasn’t been used for a good week or more, the interior behaves much like a cellar as it maintains what seems to be the same air temperature as outside if not a below ground cooler temperature.

Roasting carrots

After forty-five minutes to an hour, you have a fabulous bed of coals to push the heavy cast iron grill over.  I put a cast iron fry pan nearer the entry but in front of the fire to caramelize  summer carrots as we wait for perfect coals for the salmon filets.

I can do this

As we were entertaining for a birthday party (and the crowd  magically grew), we put ten salmon filets on a single heavy duty cast iron grill which took between 4-7 minutes tops to cook with the intense convection of the oven. Combine this with delicious cooler summer salads, corn,  a fresh peach pie and homemade vanilla ice cream for dessert and  you have some very happy campers.Dessert time As the oven will still have retained at least 300-400 degrees overnight, we’re cooking a light fare meal tonight of eggplant with freshly made pesto, fresh tomatoes, fine bread with garden herbs.  Forno Bravo wood-fired ovens are designed for year-round use and the enjoyment of wood-fired cooking unlike any other kind of cooking.

A Facebook comment we received from David Horn just today (during this heat wave):

“Great selection of your many products and services. Thanks again for the great job by Jim and Tom on our Forno Bravo oven in Lenoir. We have had lots of pizza and lots of guests over- more tonight!”   This says it all.

Some links of interest:

ASAP Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project  Facebook

ASAP Local Food Guide and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) web

Buy Local NC Facebook

Slow Food Asheville Facebook

Slow Food Asheville web

Asheville Grown blog

North Carolina Organic Bread Flour Project blog

Carolina Farm Stewardship Associations web

Jim’s Wood Fired Ovens  Facebook/ gallery of oven installations (please “like” Jim!)

Jim Erskine Masonry and Applications web/ masonry services at The ARCH


The ARCH Shares Examples of Framed Art Tiles and Recommends Studio B

Little Bird sgraffito black and white tile framed in a simple black frame

I’m not a professional framer, but I have a business neighbor and friend who is- and she is excellent.  Patti Bell with Studio B Custom Framing and Fine Art has been there for customers of The ARCH that want tiles framed (or other types of art pieces).

Framed woven textile by Jean McGrew. Another fine example of enhancing the piece. Currently available for 186.00.

Many of the tiles at The ARCH are carefully considered as focal pieces in installations. They are set in back splashes, behind ranges, bathrooms, garden areas,  you name it. Though, a number of pieces are simply collected and appreciated individually as collectable art. They’re not installed, just purchased by those that appreciate and love  art tile. Some of these tiles aspire to be displayed in a safe simple manner. I say safe, because the hanging methods of tile by themselves are often a little dubious. Personally I do not trust most of the small indentations on the tile backs meant for a nail or hook. They are just too shallow and I cringe at the thought of one dropping off the wall when the wind  catches it or a door slams shut.  If you would like to consider framing a tile the frame shouldn’t overpower the piece as with any other art piece. The frame should compliment it.

Ravenstone tiles in complimentary frame

Shown here is an example of a burled wood frame effectively picking up the glaze tones of the trunk of a triptych set of Ravenstone tiles. Patti has the experience and eye for recommending what will work well with a piece.   This frame has a movement and character that works perfectly with the tiles.  I’ve seen many Ravenstone tiles framed, but I must say this is one of the most complimentary frames I have seen with these tiles. Presently this triptych is availble in The ARCH gallery for only 250.00.

Grouping of three framed sgraffito tiles

This collection of black and white sgraffito tiles works well with  simple black frames.  The frame does not compete in any way with the piece.

Heron sgraffito tile

It’s  a simple affordable frame setting off an  eye-catching collection of tiles. These are just a few examples. My biggest regret is that so many tiles that were framed over the years didn’t get photographed!  I’ll work on this and you may see some additional framed pieces added to this blog or a future blog. Meanwhile, come visit us!

Showroom with assorted tiles from The ARCH. Lower right has two craftsman framed tiles with oak frames.