Search Results for 'lovo'


Three years ago David and I dug a lovo – that is, and underground oven. By doing so we killed two birds with one stone. He had to cook a “foreign” food for school, and by doing it this way, the two of us earned the Pathfinder Cultural Food Preparation honor. I wanted to eventually do this with the whole club, and our chance came last weekend.

My friend Ken hosts an annual harvest party at his farm sometime in October. Or September. This year, he was constrained to host it while the Pathfinders were at a Camporee. To make up for it, he invited the club to his house for another one.

I did not get any photos of our lovo this time. It was dark. We had some “yams” – at least according to the grocery store. Most of the time in the U.S. yams are really sweet potatoes. But the two are actually distinct. I don’t know which one I really had. I also bought something labeled “sweet potatoes,” twenty ears of corn, a package of Brussels sprouts, and two butternut squashes. We were going to use banana leaves to wrap them in, but that didn’t quite pan out. We had the banana leaves – but they were in Worcester, MA, and my staff member who secured them for us did not have time to fetch them from there. So we used foil.

What I learned this time was that four hours is not enough time to pull this one off. The hole took longer to dig than I thought it would. We had pine for wood, and that doesn’t get as hot as hardwood, nor does it burn as long. So the rocks didn’t get as hot as they needed to. The final stroke was that we didn’t have time to let the food sit buried in the hole long enough to fully cook. We dug it up at 8:30pm, realized that it was not quite done, and put it in the bonfire we had going next to it.

All of the food was pretty good, but the Brussels sprouts were particularly excellent.

While we waited for the food to cook Ken took us for a hayride.

Ken on his tractor

Ken on his tractor

The kids had a good time, and that’s what I was going for. So we can chalk it up as a success even if the lovo didn’t quite work out. We’ll try it again sometime when we have more time.

On Sunday I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. I hadn’t been there in a while, so it was nice to take that stroll. I cut through the mowed-down forest on the way. I used to think it was terrible that they did that, but I have come to realize that the field as it is now is an ideal habitat for the Eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) – which is threatened in New Hampshire. Fish and Game have been incenting landowners to create cottontail habitat just like this. I don’t know if that’s what happened here or not.

But what I do know is that I saw some lowbush blueberry plants (Vaccinium angustifolium) in bloom. Yes, in November.

Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)

Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)

I had been thinking that if you looked up the word “unusual” in the dictionary, it will say something about blueberries blooming in New England in November. But this is not exactly the only place it has happened. Fellow blogger New Hampshire Gardener saw the same thing last week.

I took several shots of the one I’ve posted here, because I thought it must have been something else entirely. After all, blueberries don’t bloom here in November. I was going to try to identify it. But it is without a question Vaccinium angustifolium. We live in strange times.

Last night (and this morning) we had a Nor’easter blow through here. We got about an inch of snow at my house. It’s gone now (the snow turned to rain). I like that winter is starting to show its face. I think Penny was glad too.

Penny waiting for a stick

Penny waiting for a stick

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For David’s history class, he had to cook and serve an ethnic food. I suggested that he go Polynesian, because there is a Pathfinder honor called Cultural Food Preparation that he could earn at the same time. This honor requires that the food be cooked in a lovo, which is a pit dug into the earth to serve as an oven. He agreed, so today we did it.

First he dug the hole.

First he dug the hole.


It was about 30" across and 10" deep.

It was about 30 inches across and 10 inches deep.


Then he laid a criss-cross fire and lit it.

Then he laid a criss-cross fire and lit it.


Once the fire was going, we piled some rocks on top of the wood.

Once the fire was going, we piled some rocks on top of the wood.


Then we let it burn.

Then we let it burn.


After 90 minutes, we removed the mostly-burnt wood and spread the rocks out.

After 90 minutes, we removed the mostly-burnt wood and spread the rocks out.


...covered the rocks with corn husks.

...covered the rocks with corn husks.


Added some sweet potatoes

Added some sweet potatoes


Covered them with more corn husks, and buried them.

Covered them with more corn husks, and buried them.


After 90 more minutes, we dug them up.  They were soft and gooshy.

After 90 more minutes, we dug them up. They were soft and gooshy.


And here they are.

And here they are.


I was the only one in the family brave enough to eat them.  They were good!

I was the only one in the family brave enough to eat them. They were good!


I slathered them with a bit of butter and sprinkled on some cinnamon. They were as good as any sweet potatoes I have ever had.

We had a bit of luck at the grocery store too. After we selected the potatoes, we went in search of some corn-on-the-cob, and in-the-husk too. They had some, but what was even better, was that they had a garbage can right next to them where people could shuck their corn right there in the store. So I fished several husks from the barrel. The cashier let us have them for free, but I’m pretty sure she musta thought we were a couple of rednecks or something. Maybe we are. Anyhow, we were able to get corn husks for free. Bonus.

We are both going to claim the Pathfinder honor too. I helped dig, financed the whole operation, gave advice, and in general participated in every step. Especially the eating part. I still have two sweet potatoes left too. Maybe I’ll have one for lunch tomorrow.

Last weekend the Pathfinder Club had the first campout of the spring. The Milano family had invited us to camp at their place, and I thought that was a grand idea. They have a small stream running through their property, and Warran (one of the staff) wanted to teach the Gold Prospecting honor. He wanted us to camp near a stream, and the Milanos had one. Done deal.

There were two problems with that plan, but we overcame them both. The first was that we could not get the trailer closer than about 300 yards from our camp site. The second was that those 300 yards were very wet. And by that, I mean that it was basically a swamp. I arrived early Friday with Beth and Ana, and we set about the task of building a small bridge over the first major puddle. Then we started hauling stuff to the site in a wheelbarrow.

A couple hours later, the Stokes clan arrived, and they helped haul stuff too. Everyone else arrived in waves. We got everything out there and set up before it got dark, but it was an awful lot of work making that happen. I can tell you that I was one tired dude.

Which made for good sleeping. I don’t usually sleep much when camping, but when I get tired enough, lying on the ground doesn’t get in the way of sleeping. Much.

We got up around 6:30, and made breakfast. After washing up, we began our church service. The kids led the song service and told a Bible story. Then I taught a short lesson using False Hellebore and a Dandelion. Then Jean Cadet, a guardian of one of my Pathfinders arrived, and he preached a short sermon.

Jean Cadet led our worship service

Jean Cadet led our worship service

After that, we began working on our supper. The plan was to build a lovo – a pit in the ground which we loaded with food (mostly root vegetables) and hot rocks. The food was wrapped in banana leaves.

Veggies wrapped in banana leaves in our lovo

Veggies wrapped in banana leaves in our lovo

And then we buried it.

Burying the lovo

Burying the lovo

We actually lined the bottom of the hole with quart-sized rocks, built a fire on top of them, and added more rocks to the fire. Two of the girls lit the fire using a magnesium fire starter (simlar to a flint and steel). They were pretty stoked when that fire got going. The pit had been dug and the fire had been started right after breakfast. We added the food after our church service.

Once the food was buried and the fire was out, we drove out to Mount Kearsarge. One of the older Pathfinders had never been to the top of a mountain before, so I thought we could not finish the year without hiking to the top of one. That was a problem we could fix.

The gate to the park was closed, so we had to hike almost a mile up to the regular parking lot. It was steep too. We took several rest breaks, and then hit the trail to attack the summit.

Up Mount Kearsarge

Up Mount Kearsarge

Climbing mountains can wear you out!

Rest Area

Rest Area

Along the trail we saw this rock. I suppose it marks the halfway point from the parking lot to the summit. Of course we had started out hike well before the parking lot, so that meant we were more than halfway when we reached this point.

Halfway mark

Halfway mark

Ana takes in one of the views well below the summit.

Ana takes in one of the views well below the summit.

At one point, the snow and ice was pretty thick on the trail. It was slippery in places too!

Snow and ice on the trail

Snow and ice on the trail

Here we are at the summit. Or very close to the summit. It’s kind of flattish up there making it hard to tell.

Group shot!

Group shot!

We decided the summit must be by this cairn.

We conquer!

We conquer!

It took about three hours to get to the top, and only one hour to get back down. Nobody stopped to rest on the way down. One kid twisted his ankle though, so it was slow going. I was going to carry him out, but he is one stout kid, and my legs simply refused to lift him. So he had to hobble down on his own. I stayed with him though.

Root plus tent.

Root plus tent.

The kids were way too tired to do anything too physical when we got back to camp. We unburied the food, ate supper, and made S’mores. Then the kids went to bed without complaint. They let me sleep until 7:00. I started waking them up around 7:30.

We ate breakfast, washed the dishes, and knocked out our Camping Skills honors. At 10:00am Warran showed up to teach Prospecting.

Warran teaches Prospecting

Warran teaches Prospecting

He took a look at the stream and decided that there was almost no way there would be any gold in it. There was no sand at all in the bed, and the stream did not originate in the mountains. If he had told me that ahead of time, I could have chosen a different stream, but sometimes that’s the way it goes. He had a backup plan though. He brought some pay dirt (which he had spike with some bits of silver and a little bit of gold). He dumped it into a kiddie pool and added water from the stream. Then showed the kids how to pan.

Panning for gold

Panning for gold


They were pretty stoked to find silver, even though they knew it had been added artificially. He explained that this pay dirt was way richer than what you would find in nature. Still, it’s good to find what you’re looking for so that if you ever do need to find it, you know what it’s like.

With that wrapped up, we struck camp. This time there were plenty of kids there to help haul it all back through the swamp to the trailer so it went a lot faster.

I slept in the backyard in one of the new tents last night with Beth. She went to sleep around 9:00 or so, and I went to sleep around 9:30. That’s pretty early for me, so to make up for it I woke up pretty early. Like 4:00am. I couldn’t get back to sleep, and the biggest part of that tragedy was that I had convinced myself it was 5:00, not 4:00 (an analog dial in the dark will do that). At 4:45 I realized it was not 5:45, but that didn’t help me sleep any better. I may have dozed off a couple of times, but when 6:00 finally did roll around, I got up, and that woke Beth.

We went to the back door and found that it was locked! When we went out last night, we exited through the basement so Penny wouldn’t know we were in the backyard. If she had known that, she would have spent the whole night barking out the back door. That’s why the door was still locked. Of course when I jiggled the door, Penny went into a barking frenzy, as someone was trying to get into the house! Red Alert!

We went around to the basement and came in that way. Penny just about wet herself when she was we were not killers. Actually, she did wet herself, but I didn’t notice.

I made some waffles for Beth (no big deal – freezer to toaster to plate, not from scratch or anything like that). Then I washed the dishes. By then Va came down and saw Penny’s puddle in the hallway. So I cleaned that up. Then I had an egg sandwich for myself (egg, cheese, veggie-sausages, and mayo on an English muffin). Then I went to bed and slept for real until 10:30 or so.

After I got up I took a shower and got dressed, and we went out for lunch. What a life! Sleep, eat, sleep, eat. When we got home again, I started cleaning the family room. I bagged up all the newspapers for recycling too. Then I drove to town to drop off some overdue library books and went to Lowes and bought a tarp.

I wanted the tarp so I could make a custom-fit ground cloth for this new tent. I laid it out and dragged the tent onto it. Then I marked it off with a sharpie, pulled the tent off again, and cut it out. I still need to add some grommets to the corners where the poles and stakes go.

David got full credit for his ethnic food assignment. I knew his teacher would like that, because it was a little more involved than microwaving a frozen burrito. She wrote something to the effect of “That was the most authentic example of ethnic cooking I have seen. Ever!”

Yay! Maybe he’ll realize that ol’ Dad occasionally gives some good advice.

My squash has sprouted, yay! I did not count the sprouts, but it looks to be over half of them. We’ve had some hot weather with afternoon thundershowers, and I guess that’s pretty much ideal for germinating seeds. I will replant any that refused to come up probably on Wednesday.

The forecast today was for thundershowers galore, so the church social was canceled. That means no lovo, and no Cultural Food Preparation honor. Maybe some other time. We did go ahead with the Pathfinder summer planning session. We made a few adjustments to the calendar, all for the better in my opinion. We are currently projecting four new members, and there’s the possibility that we may reclaim two old members. I expect to retain eight of the nine we had last year, so if all that happens, we will have 14 members. There’s also the possibility of picking up another four or five kids. We will be running five classes this year: Friend, Companion, Explorer, Pioneer, and Guide. The staff accepted my proposal for who would counsel each unit too, and I couldn’t be more pleased with that.

If the social had not been canceled, we would have finished up on time for it to start. But since everyone had blocked out that time anyhow, most everyone stayed and we talked about fund raising plans. We’ll be adding three or four fund raisers. The best one, I think, is Saturday evening babysitting from Late October through December. The staff will take turns manning this one so no one has to dedicate every Saturday night for two months to Pathfinders. We’re also going to collect used ink cartridges, do a couple of car washes, and maybe add a bake sale to the yard sale. We will also press forward with the citrus fruit sales, parking lot sweeping, and Memorial Day yard sale. Hopefully, we’ll be able to make a huge dent in the funding we need to go to Oshkosh in August 2009.

I was about ready to leave when Melissa suggested we clean out the closet. It did need to be cleaned, so we dove in and did it. I guess that took an hour, but we tossed all kinds of trash and found a few things we forgot we had. We would like to move the cubby-hole cabinet into our closet (if we get the OK from the church) so that each Pathfinder can have a cubby as a place to put their work in progress. That should add some accountability to the mess anyhow. We’ll see.

We were about 15 minutes late getting out for church this morning. We wanted to get there 30 minutes early but instead got there only 15 minutes early. That was enough time for me to hang the forest painting though. I also dragged the full-sized model Moose into the room. Praveen Meesarapu built a pair of moose for Spring Escape back in May, and we decided to hang on to them for this Forest Program.

After Sabbath School, Michelle mentioned to Va that this program was providing some education to some of the foreign-born parents in there. Many of the animals in the program are endemic only to North America (raccoons for example) so these people had never learned about them.

I forgot to take a picture of the backdrop, but I’ll be going back again tomorrow. We are having a Pathfinder planning session starting at 2:00, and before that (if it is not raining), we plan to build a campfire so we can cook some sweet potatoes and perhaps some corn-on-the-cob in a lovo (an earthen oven). We want to do this for two reasons: 1) That’s basically all you need to do to earn the Cultural Food Preparation honor, and 2) we’re having a church social at 4:00pm, and this fits the theme.

Today we celebrated Pastor Cliff’s birthday. Several people brought him birthday cards (including my family). I had the children’s story for the worship service, so I told one about a kid who asked for money instead of birthday gifts so he could send it for mission service in Alaska. I also led the kids in singing Happy Birthday.

We got home around 1:00 and had some lunch, and then I took a nice little nap. Beth woke me up after 90 minutes of that, and I sat down on the couch and fell asleep sitting up. Apparently, I snored a little, and that alarmed Penny who jumped up on me to see what was going on. Or so say my sons. I do remember her jumping on me and waking me up.

When I finally got more awake, David and Beth wanted to go to Sandogardy, but about that time a thunderstorm rolled in, dropping the temperature from close to 90 down to 70. I checked the radar after it slowed down and it looked clear enough, so we drove down there (Penny came too). I did not want to get caught in another downpour. I walked around with Penny and snapped photos of whatever was blooming while David and Beth played at the playground. I saw a new-to-me flower growing in the water, and I still have not identified it. The pictures I took were craptastic, so I won’t post them. If I have time in the next couple days, I’ll go back out and try again. I think I need to clean the lens of my camera or something.