A letter from Nancy Berkson, mother of Soleil.

Hi Jodi,
I thought you would be interested in seeing Soleil’s latest project. This semester we are studying the Torah and for our big project we built a cobb oven, just like the way people used to bake back in those days. It has taken us about six weeks, but today was our grand finale!

The first thing Soleil had to do was build a frame for the bricks. We learned about the importance of cutting the wood straight. Then we tried making bricks with different materials to find the strongest one. Sandy soil was not the ideal material. Eventually we figured out (and remembered that you used) soil, sand, clay, water, and straw. We thought we could mix it in this box, but it was TOO heavy. So we did it Earthroots style.

We stopped by the oven that Earthroots helped make (at South Coast Farms) way back when just to get a refresher on how we should do it…but on a much smaller scale. Our instructions said to just do a few layers and then leave a couple of days for it to dry.

Here we are, starting the 2nd round, and we had a little supervisor watching our progress… no, it wasn’t Sheaden. It was a very sweet tiny lizard! See it on Sheaden’s elbow?

End of day 3

Putting on the final brick!!!! Soleil was so happy and proud of her work!
We lit a fire in it last Saturday night and let it burn for one hour. The directions that I had said to do that to “settle” the bricks, and then today we lit a fire that burned for two hours. It was kind of tricky to get it going in that small oven. I think it took us four tries…but eventually we got it!

I wasn’t really sure what to do about an oven door, so I got a piece of cardboard and covered it with aluminum foil. Now we were ready to make pizza!

We learned some important lessons with the first pie: check it sooner than 10 minutes, and rotate it 1/2 way through. The second one turned out a LOT better.

Soleil was super happy and proud of how it all worked out.

I am so grateful for our experience with you, learning a bit about how to do these things. It gave me the confidence to see this project through to the end. When Brianna was in 3rd grade we were supposed to do this, but it just seemed too overwhelming to me at that time. This was great though, and by the time Sheaden’s turn comes around I’ll be ready to go. Thanks so much for all you have taught us.

Hope all is well with you!
Nancy Berkson

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