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.