My BIG Summer project

It’s that time of year.  The time I reveal what my big Spring project is going to be!  Only now it’s summer, so it’s what my big Summer project is going to be!

Last year it was installing a new floor in the kitchen which led to a complete kitchen renovation, the year before it was ripping out the front yard to put in a vegetable garden and the year before that it was building a chicken coop.

It just occurred to me that all of these big projects recently have revolved in some way around my belly.  That bottomless pit of want.  I fancied up the kitchen, created a place to grow food and built a house so I could have birds squeeze out even more food.

And this year is no different.







I’m building a pizza oven!

I mentioned many, MANY months ago, maybe even years ago on Facebook that I was beginning to be obsessed with building a pizza oven.  Now, here’s something you should know about me.  Once I get something in my head it doesn’t leave my head until it’s completed. In other words if I think I should maybe build a pizza oven, I can’t eat, drink, sleep or belly dance until I have built that pizza oven.

Here’s another something you need to know about me.    I’m a liar.  I think I’ve mentioned that before actually.

Because this year’s big summer project?  Is already done.  I completed the pizza oven last summer.  As soon as the fella left I started building a pizza oven.  It gave me something to do and something quite physical.  It involves smashing, pounding and stomping so it’s really the perfect break up project.

Over the next 4 days I’m going to teach you how you can build your very own pizza oven using backyard clay, sand and straw.

Those are the 3 basics ingredients of Cob.  Which is what we’ll be using as our building material. You’ll notice I say “We”. That’s because I’m convinced there’s going to be at least one of you out there who will be compelled to build a pizza oven after reading this series of posts.

Cob has been used as a building material forever and it’s what those cute little cottages with thatched roofs in England are built out of. Cob with a layer of a lime plaster over top.

If you already know you’re seriously considering building a cob pizza oven I’m going to recommend you buy a book right now.  I bought the book, many people who have decided to build a pizza oven have bought the book and there is no greater reference manual for it.

Build Your Own Earth Oven by Kiko Denzer is the pizza/wood fired oven bible.  My copy is currently covered in clay, fingerprints and kisses.

The actual instructions on how to do this will start tomorrow, but in case you aren’t convinced you need a pizza oven, take a look at my oven.


It’s warm and cozy in the fall, fun and sparky in the spring, and filled with pizzas all year long. Even the winter. Yes. Winter. I’ve also filled mine with homemade bread, sausages, chicken, rhubarb crisp, roasted potatoes, asparagus and even rice pudding. Many of those things all at once.

Wood burning ovens like this lend themselves to succession cooking. First you put in the things that are cooked hot and fast like pizza, then in goes the roast, the bread and finish up with a pie. When everything is cooked you can put some wood in the warm oven and leave it overnight for some kiln dried wood. Other than complex equations there isn’t much a wood burning oven can’t do.

In tomorrow’s post I’ll give giving you the list of materials you need,  where I got mine for free, and how to build the initial “form” of your oven.

In case you don’t think it’s worth your time because you don’t really like pizza, keep this in  mind.  Last winter I trudged through the falling snow to where my wood fired oven was warm and crackling.  I threw in a couple of loaves of homemade sourdough bread.  Half an hour or so later, in the quiet that only a snow covered winter day can achieve, I scraped a wood breadboard over the rough surface of the fire bricks and pulled out two hot, crusty loaves of fresh bread.

Still not convinced?

The other night I started a fire in the oven and cooked my entire dinner. I threw in sausages, a whole chicken breast, asparagus, baby potatoes and a rhubarb crisp.

It all came out perfectly.

If THAT doesn’t convince you then I’m sorry to have wasted your time and I’ll let you get back to R2D2 and the rest of the robots.


  1. Robin says:

    I am so envious!
    I worked with wood-fired ovens for years before turning to engineering. One of my favorite appetizers is bubbling hot goat cheese served with a roasted garlic bulb and toast. White wine steamed muscles are also delicious. Both are super easy and quick in a hot oven.

  2. Pati Gulat says:

    Karen, as for the pool my hubby is building me …I was apprehensive about revealing it to you but she asked !! Lolol

  3. Kim says:

    Seriously…how large is your yard??!! It never looks as big as all that you have going on back there. It’s like you twitch your nose and expand your space for whatever you need.

  4. dana says:

    When you went away after the fella left I knew something was afoot. I cant picture you sitting still. That pizza oven is so cool. Love the shape. I wish I had you as a neighbor or had your life for one day, Karen. By the way, my husband knows the names of your chickens and he doesn’t even read your blog. Thats how much I talk about your chickens. Just last weekend I was talking about that bone wreath you made.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I made one of these years ago when I lived in the city. It was a great project and the whole family got involved. I made a lot of pizza that first summer as everyone who came over wanted pizza. I also used it in the winter (although early darkness meant dinner by flashlight)

  6. Jan In Waterdown says:

    So I’m thinking this gets around our local bylaws by being an oven or a fire for cooking. Is that right?

    • Karen says:

      Yup. To the best of my knowledge, because it is a contained fire, and it always supervised and is for the purpose of cooking it’s A-OK. ~ karen!

  7. beth says:

    you should check out my friend Paula Marcoux’s new book, Cooking with Fire! It’s awesome! There’s a write up in the Boston Globe but I’m not awesome enough to attache the link! She worked at Plimoth Plantation for years and baked bread of all kinds as well as stews and meats and sweets in the village ovens she built! She’s as amazing as you! Pizza…YUM

    • Karen says:

      Well that’s funny! I have 2 wood oven cook books on my Amazon wish list. I don’t think that’s one of them though. I’ll take a look for it. Thanks! ~ karen!

  8. LazySusan says:

    Great project and great result! If we were able to pull it off, we couldn’t use it except in winter after a week or more of rain, because it’s a tinderbox around here, after several years of extreme drought. Would love to have one. Too many projects ahead of it, for now. I’ve put a pin in it, though.

  9. Sheri says:

    Stupid question: I see a lovely oven with a fire. Where exactly does the food go in?

  10. That looks like sage and Rosemary off to the right…is it?

  11. Now, some of us live in the Deep South, like Sarasota Florida which is considered a tropical climate. Can a pizza oven like yours be done in this same area? Boy, I hope so, the thought of making a whole dinner outside is always good during the summer as it is much too hot to crank up the oven! I can’t wait for your instructions and humorous details…you rock!

  12. Mel says:

    Oh em gee would I love this… But between city bylaws and my one year old I think this is a no go… I’ll keep dreaming of a house in the country that has room for this and my gardens and for my son to run around.

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