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James Otis

Baking in the New Oven

When one needs to use the oven, a fire is built inside, and kept roaring until the whole oven is heated as hot as possible. Then the embers and ashes are raked out with a sort of wooden hoe, having a long handle, so that he who uses it may not be burned, and afterward swept clean with a broom of twigs.

When the housewife counts to bake bread, oak leaves are thrown into the oven to the depth of half an inch. The peel is then sprinkled with meal, and on this is put the dough. Now one has only to thrust the peel inside the oven to where the oak leaves are spread, give it a quick twist, and, because of the meal, the dough will slip off directly where one desires to have it.


Then the pots or pans in which are meats, can be shoved in wherever is the greatest space, and the door of the oven not only closed, but banked up with the embers that have just been taken from the inside.

After that has been done, whatever is within must of a necessity be cooked, if you leave the oven closed long enough. It is a great convenience in any house, and I can but smile as I think of how mother puttered about trying to cook first this and then that in the Dutch oven, when now she can have everything under way at one time with little or no trouble.

After the oven had been built, I was given the task of making the shed to cover it, and this at a time when all was excitement in our town because of the governor's being with us.

It gives me no little pleasure to say that I kept about my work despite the merrymaking on every hand, until I had built for mother what she was pleased to say was the neatest and most convenient room for making ready the food, that could be found either in England or America.

It was fortunate for me that I had kept sharp at my tasks, otherwise they would not have been finished on the day when William Penn had a meeting with all the savages who could be summoned from far and near.