Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pit cookout

[PhotoRoot veggies waiting to be steamed.  Squash
and onions  (ok, not roots), potatoes, yams,
and sweet potatoes] 
Last weekend friend Trudy (longtime nickname 'Carbon'...for reasons you will soon understand) had a pit cookout. This is a method for steaming root vegetables that the Pacific Northwest First Nations used. Nancy Turner, an Ethnobotanist and neighbour, couldn't make it but she sent instructions which went something like this:

[PhotoAdding the veggies]

  1. Dig a pit two feet deep, line it with rocks and build a fire in it.
  2. When the rocks are red hot, remove the fire and wood.
  3. Place a wood pole about 6" diameter into the middle.
  4. Cover rocks with dirt, then layer salal and sword ferns, 2" deep.
  5. Place veggies on the greenery, add more slal and sword fern.
  6. Cover everything with a wet burlap or old cotton pillowcases, or cedar mat.
  7. Remove the wood pole and pour two litres of water into the hole left by the wood pole.
  8. Quickly shovel the dirt onto the burlap to stop the steam from escaping.
  9. Go for a walk for and hour or two.
[PhotoRemoving dirt and burlap]
It worked and the veggies were wonderful! The salal and swordfern added, a je n'est sais pas, a little smokey, a little woodsy, and a lot of flavour!

[Photo:The cooked to perfection veggies]
After the successful dinner, Trudy sent out an email 'And in the lost and found department: Found, one gray wool hat. Lost, one wireless home phone.
Did you look in the pit? replied one attendee.
Apparently, they had. A cell phone dialed and they put their ears to the pit, but alas, no ringing.
It wasn't until the next day, the pit was dug out again, and there was the phone.

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