Cookfire

Zigzag Black

Yes, I know this is the third post we’ve shared about these two, and all I can say is I hope it won’t be the last! Any invitation from Christiann Koepke and Eva Kosmas Flores is one we couldn’t imagine not accepting, because seriously – their plans do not disappoint.

This time Christiann and Eva had devised a bit of a challenge for themselves: a weekend full of cooking over an open flame in Hood River, OR. We were again hosted by the incomparably generous folks of Tumbleweed Farm, Andrew and Taylor Beamis, who if you remember also relinquished the farm to Eva and Christiann for their most recent Secret Supper.

The menu – as you can imagine – was brilliantly tailored to a camper’s palate. After setting up camp together, we pitched in with kindling a healthy fire to last us for the evening, and brewing the first pot of coffee. While we were busy brewing and stoking, Christiann whipped up a gorgeous pile of her latest Pumpkin Mascarpone Whiskey Pancakes (recently featured on West Elm!) with rosemary compound butter and an ample dose of maple syrup to keep us warm and our bellies snug out in the crisp air. Ever prepared with tools of the trade, Eva supplied the scene with an array of camp-fitted cookware: a vintage set of cast iron skillets, as well as a brand new design by Portland’s own Finex Cookware. In them she roasted a plateful each of sausages and seasoned slabs of bacon, mingling their flavorful fats in a rich, slow sizzle. The pancakes followed them on the fire, emerging amber brown and begging for rosemary buttered tops.

When we’d had our fill (and a few swigs of whiskey to keep the chills at bay) we set to work clearing and cleaning. In between waves of these incredible fire-cooked dishes, we finally and completely relaxed. It was the weekend leading up to launching our Kickstarter campaign, and the tension was beginning to mount.

Moving towards your dreams and flexing your values always sounds romantic, until you start making real progress. Amidst all the excitement and hope, you somehow find yourself in the mire of logistics, finances, and the most effective adversary: time. Worry creeps in to steal your joy – if you don’t take an active role in squelching it’s nagging voice. For us, losing cell reception and an uncharged laptop for an entire 24 hours in the woods were the best combatants. I could sense Jeremy’s shoulders relax as he started speaking in an overt Southern accent and declaring complete and utter nonsense. I’ve noticed over time that this is the truest form of relaxation in him. Bringing joy and laughter has always been his chief form of service, best expressed when he is at ease in the present moment. Whenever I hear this tomfoolery sneak into his tone, I know that only good can follow.

As the sun began its descent, Eva was already ladling supper out of a bubbling pot of stew. The smoke and swirl of aromas from the day hit us in a rush, and suddenly our stomachs twinged again with hunger.

Eva’s chili was the stuff wintry dreams are made of. Warmed to a gentle boil by the flames that licked beneath, the ingredients quietly transformed from simple autumnal staples like butternut squash and chunky beans into an incredible feast. I don’t usually overdo it on a single meal because I just want to keep eating, but I confess having happily “overdone it” on this chili. Bowl after delicious bowl.

With the sun almost completely evaporated from the sky, we once again took a few moments to honor the effortless peace of the day. No emails, no Instagram, no checking the clock, even. Just awaiting the next soft rustle of leaves to roll across the fields in the distance.

And then it came: the crown of the evening – or any evening well-spent in the company of friends no matter how new. Drinks and dessert! The drinks part were mugs of a spiced cordial Christiann concocted, made with local apple cider from the orchards a few miles away, dotted with the spices of the season, like the ever-festive star anise, and spiked with an amber rum. Sadly we lost ourselves too long in relaxation and lost much of it to the scorching fire. Nevertheless, the cup I had will not soon be forgotten. Finally when the stars were peeking through pitch black, Christiann’s Apple Cider Poached Pear Cranberry Crisp swelled and popped in the cast iron.

Over stories, theories on the whodunnits of the Serial podcast, and sweet, crispy morsels, we and those gathered around the fire collectively sank deep into our seats, unhurried – content with the day’s work.

Many thanks to sponsors of the day: Bridge and Burn for the cozy apparel, Schoolhouse Electric for the fitting utensils, enamelware and blankets, and Finex Cookware for the cast iron skillets we would have been lost without. Again thanks to Tumbleweed Farm for having us, and Christiann and Eva for the invitation! Be sure to get your copy of Woven Issue 1 where you will find exclusive interviews with these two.