Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cooking in pottery over coals

There has been some discussion on ClayArt recently about how pottery was used on fires in history for cooking. These are some pictures of how my friends and I cook in pots on coals now days. In general this is done for a reenactment group, but often just because it is fun to do and with no costumes involved. These pots are made of cone 6 clay, but I usually fire them at about cone 4.

Supper tonight. Chicken, garlic, and cilantro stew, the ingredients are all in the pot, which is being eased into the coals. The pot gets turned regularly to keep the heat even.

This particular shape was called a pipkin in the West. I saw the same style vessel in the Field Museum in Chicago from ancient China. I glazed the interior of this pot but didn't glaze the exterior to emphasize the red clay. The stew is now simmering in this picture. I kept it simmering for about 3 & 1/2 hours.

Pottery is very efficient. To keep the stew simmering, it only needs a coal under it. Not all pipkins had such long legs, but I like the long legs to slide coals under and for balance because my brazier is dished out at an angle. I use a bellows for the coals, which is why ash is on the pot.

My friend is making cheese in a pipkin over a campfire rather than in a brazier. She says she appreciates how much easier it is to clean glazed pottery than any other kind of camping pots. In the upper left hand corner a simpler cooking pot is heating water. Fat is being rendered in the iron pot.

In this photo pork is seared for a pork-asiago cheese dish in the yellow & green pipkin. The smaller pot with the mismatched lid behind simmering behind the pork is rice. The rice cooked very well, the grains stayed separate and fluffy.

Here is another friend cooking a pork roast in his pipkin. This time using a flat bottomed brazier. Again you can see how few coals are needed for cooking in ceramics. This is the same pot that was used for making cheese in the photograph above.