{diy project} High Achieving Slothfulness

We make maple syrup by tapping neighborhood trees every year and boiling the sap down in our driveway on a make-shift cinder block fireplace.  This year our syruping partner Lin suggested that we try using the fire to cook while we sat around all day drinking rum and watching the sap boil; a kind of high achieving slothfulness.  My husband Michael had the idea that we could build a pizza oven into the bottom of the firebox and made some adjustments to our basic and ever-shifting fireplace construction accordingly.

First he built the usual base for the fireplace out of sixteen 2” x 8” x 16”  patio pavers laid on top of cinder blocks.

constructing the base of the oven

constructing the base of the oven

Next he laid cinder blocks around the edge of the base.  He asked a friend if he could borrow eight steel right-angle posts that he saw lying around in her barn.  Each is four feet long.  He used those to create the supports for the roof of the pizza oven.  He used one at each edge of the oven and three sets of two wrapped together in heavy aluminum foil across the middle of the roof of the oven.  The supports have to be steel because steel won’t buckle under the intense heat of the boil.

the first steel bar is in place next to the cinder blocks at the back of the base

the first steel bar is in place next to the cinder blocks at the back of the base

He placed a covering of aluminum foil under the edges of the pavers that make up the roof of the oven because we did not want ash to fall down from the fire onto our baking pizza.

aluminum foil over the first steel bar where the bricks of the roof will meet

aluminum foil over the first steel bar where the bricks of the roof will meet

The roof of the oven is nearly complete.  You can see how we placed the aluminum foil to keep ash from falling into the oven

The roof of the oven is nearly complete. You can see how we placed the aluminum foil to keep ash from falling into the oven

He laid 12 patio pavers on top of the steel bars to form the roof of the pizza oven and the floor of the firebox.  The resulting hollow space “oven” was 4 inches tall; tall enough to slide in a pizza.

After the oven was constructed, we built our normal jerry rigged cinderblock fireplace on top of it.  The photo below shows the opening to the pizza oven underneath the fireplace.

The opening to the oven is the hollow space below the firebox

The opening to the oven is the hollow space below the firebox

We placed our pizza stone in the oven, and “closed” the opening to the oven with two patio pavers.  We then built a fire in the hearth, which rested directly above our pizza oven, and went about our business of boiling sap for hours.

bricks to make an oven door

bricks to make an oven door

The oven door is closed

The oven door is closed

In mid-afternoon, once the fire was good and hot, Lin brought over a pizza she had assembled at home.  We removed the door, used a pizza peel to slide the pizza onto the stone, put the door back on and left it for about 20 minutes.  The oven was a little cool for pizza, so we put it back in for another ten minutes, and then removed it with the peel.

Eureka! Pizza!  We felt so accomplished.

Yum, pizza!

Yum, pizza!

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Categories: DIY, How To, Syruping

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11 Comments on “{diy project} High Achieving Slothfulness”

  1. March 28, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    WOW – Mr. Craves cannot see this or he will want to build one – already have a gas grill, charcoal grill and UDS in the back yard with all the accessories and propane tanks.Thanks for sharing – Have a Great Day:)

    • Dianna
      March 29, 2013 at 7:43 am #

      We burn wood in this fireplace on the theory that you can scrounge it for free and it is a renewable resource. Having successfully baked pizza on our fireplace, I can now confidently assert that we are ready for the zombie apocalypse.

  2. March 29, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    BRILLIANT!

  3. thebeadden
    March 30, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    My husband wants to build a pizza oven. Thanks for sharing!

    • Dianna
      March 30, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

      You can do much better for a pizza oven! This was a cool oven, temperature wise, but it worked, more or less. I wouldn’t recommend the design if I was trying to actually build a pizza oven. I’d be interested to hear what you come up with in the end.

  4. April 2, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    We have a side ring that runs off of our gas grill where I cook a huge pot of corned beef and cabbage slowly for a complete day… my hubby does not realize that the entire neighborhood can smell it and that is why they show up with bowls lol…he is always curious how they know… Love your idea. There was a family in Tennessee who were turned in as a Meth lab and the swat team arrived to leave with maple syrup and no arrests lol…it was on the local news.

    • April 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

      That is hysterical re the meth lab. We have had the police stop by but have never been raided.

      • April 2, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

        They had to do a public apology on camera live with the local news station lol

        • Dianna
          April 3, 2013 at 7:56 am #

          That is a great story.

  5. April 18, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    Very cool. I want one.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. {diy project} Open Hearth Cooking | FROM SCRATCH CLUB - April 19, 2013

    […] year we decided to try cooking on our temporary outdoor fireplace while we boiled our sap into maple syrup.  Cast iron is perfect for cooking on coals.  Being pack […]

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