It’s not exactly news to anyone that by now we’re all getting thoroughly sick and tired of being at home. There’s only so many times you can walk to and from the couch to the fridge before you might start to suspect that you’ve completely lost your marbles. Well, dear reader, what if I told you that there was a way to make such a perilous voyage to the fridge not just a mundane way to pass the time but the beginnings of an exciting, purposeful journey. I have been fortunate enough to team up with the good people at Oven Brothers and just received and assembled my very own Original Bro wood fired oven. No longer do I open the handle of my fridge just to stare into the abyss, I open my fridge because I’m excited (for what feels like the first time in months) to cook.
I want to make this abundantly clear before we go any further. I’m not a professional chef by any stretch of the imagination, nor do I have any experience cooking with fire. I do, however, love to cook and love a good challenge. I’ve had my oven for less than 48 hours and I can say with full confidence that my life has changed for the better. 2020 was miserable and so far 2021 hasn’t got off to a much better start. I’m a touring musician most of the time and being grounded to the confines of my house hasn’t been fun, as I’m sure you can all relate. As the winter months drag on, with a provincial wide stay-at-home order it’s hard to find the motivation to get off the couch, let alone be creative. Needless to say when Oven Brothers sent me my oven I was excited to have a project to work on that would get my lazy ass off the couch and at least into my back yard.
I’m going to start with the basics. My Original Bro was delivered right to my door and off the truck in a wooden protective box. I eagerly set about taking out the parts and organizing them prior to assembly. I cannot stress to you how easy it was to get it up and running. I’m the kind of idiot who struggles with Ikea furniture, not with the Original Bro. Other than a Phillips screwdriver to open the delivery box you can assemble your oven with no tools whatsoever. A rubber mallet did come in handy at points but with the help of my eager roommates we could have done it with nothing but our brains and a bit of elbow grease. The instructions are clear, easy to follow and there’s a handy parts sheet to make sure you’re putting the right pieces where they belong. The instruction guide says to allow 90 minutes to build it and we managed to put it together in sub zero temperatures in just under an hour. It’s design is not only good looking, it’s smart. No screws or proprietary tools, each piece slides and locks into the next, making a beautiful and sturdy structure. I would recommend getting someone to help with the assembly. Some of the parts are heavy but the only heavy lifting happens at the very beginning and once you’ve got the sides together it's a breeze all the way to the finish line. Not only is it helpful to have an extra pair of hands, it’s great fun. I am fortunate enough to live with some awesome housemates, all of whom love to cook so I was fortunate enough to have an abundance of hands and brains superior to mine on the job.
THIS IS IMPORTANT. Don’t be like me and get so excited you rush past step 22 without reading it carefully or you’ll reach completion and have to revert back a few steps. Seasoning and cleaning your oven. Once your oven is in the home stretch of completion you’re going to give it a good clean with some warm water and a bit of dish soap inside the oven cavity. This ensures that any chemicals or sediment from production and transportation are taken care of and don't end up in your first oven cooked meal. Once you’ve given it a once over with your soap and water, dry it off thoroughly and with a rag soaked in vegetable oil, give it a good season! This does a few things; it protects the metal from rust and creates a non stick surface once you’ve got your oven fired up. These absolute units will last a long time if you take the extra few minutes during set up to give them the care they deserve! One last thing, before you cook your first delicious meal, you’re gonna want to burn a fire for an hour or so to A, get your oven up to temp and B to allow for the vegetable oil to be absorbed in the pores of the metal. Fun science fact this process is called polymerization. (yes I did have to google that)
Now, you’re ready to cook. It really was that easy. I am useless with tools, Ikea furniture and generally anything that requires more than 3 brain cells but I managed to set up my oven with ease. From getting it off the truck to eating my first oven fired pizza it took 4 hours. That includes a run to the beer store, LCBO and grocery store to acquire ingredients for pizza. We’re massive lord of the rings fans in this household so we christened our Original Bro as Barad-dûr, the eye of Sauron, the Fires of Mount Doom. Naming is optional. I cannot tell you how damn good that pizza was. It was great for a number of reasons: 1. We had worked ourselves up quite the appetite. 2. I learned very quickly within the first few bites that pizza cooked over a roaring hard wood fire tastes WAY better than in a conventional oven. 3. We had so much fun.
For me that’s the sticking point. Since the beginning of the pandemic I’ve struggled with finding motivation to be creative and finding ways to enjoy myself. It’s hard when you’re limited to where you can go and who you can see. I can safely say that putting this oven together and cooking on it for the first time was the most fun I’ve had in months. It’s a communal experience that's brought myself and my housemates together during a miserable time, it’s also a great way to get creative with your cooking and try new things. It felt like I was at the cottage, a roaring fire, the smell of good food cooking and playing cards while we waited for dinner. I can’t wait to share what else we come up with over the weeks and months to come. Long story short? I no longer stare into the empty abyss of the fridge, I stare into the flames of mount doom as it cooks me something delicious!
Written by Jonas Lewis-Anthony