[Spit-project] raised fire pits and designs

Helen Schultz meisterin02 at yahoo.com
Fri Apr 13 09:41:16 PDT 2007

Thanks for the complements.  I think my spit is an adaptation of that one in the book (which is actually originally in Scappi (16th century Italian)), by the way.  The person who made it for me was a budding metal worker at the time, I would have much rather had a prettier piece, but I settle for this one as it is quite functional... that is a 60 pound pig on that spit I'm cooking there (sorry, I never look pretty on cooking days <sigh>).  Sometimes I get it too close to the flames and the outer skin gets really charred, but inside it is succulent.  I think I might have told someone else this, but I make an apricot cordial about 2 weeks before Pennsic, then put the drunk apricots into the belly before we sew it up with wire,  I then add olive oil and whatever spices and herbs hit my fancy and baste that piggy all day with it... in the end, after cutting up the pig, we take the meat we suspect isn't quite 160 degrees, and add it to the left over baste and bubble it over the
 fire... even more tasty!!  The others in the camp usually come up with the rest of the meal, we've had roasted veggies in foil packets, baked potatoes in the coals, and boiled fresh Pennsylvania sweet corn... great meal.  Go to one or two Pennsic's before the one listed below, the year we did Julius Squealer, you see what fun we had with his head the day after!!
This spit was made, by the way, to be able to handle a 60 pound pig out of wrought iron, so is quite large.  My top pole to the spit and the sides are held together with wing nuts, so it is 100% adjustable to whatever height you want it.It could be made a bit smaller.  You could also make one out of wood, you know, with just your spit pole being metal.  I've seen some great examples of them on some European re-creation group web sites... they don't used them as adjustable spits like this metal one, but mostly for hanging their pots from.  I don't see why pegs couldn't be put into the legs and used for a spit pole!!
I have the 2-volume set of Cindy's book, third printing (1993), the picture in in volume I, page 128.  It has tow large cast iron pots hanging from the top of the spit, and some other game or meat (looks like a leg of lamb and maybe a couple birds) on a spit pole at the very bottom of the rows of spikes (and a young page turning the spit).  in the center is another large cauldron on a wonderful thing that I can't think of what to call at this time with a full fire under it, and there are places on the legs of this "thing" for little spit poles with smaller birds on them all the way around... it has  what looks like 4 legs, but there must be more... or the artist was really bad <grin>.  The scene even has a nice sun shade over the entire cook set up (or maybe a rain fly??).  Way cool.
The page you are describing is in my second volume, and I would bet you that cauldron you see is leather... as that looks to me like it might even be early Egyptian. (is the recipe above it for Lamprey Salted??)
The raised bed I saw used two rows tall of 2"x 8" boards that were pegged together... the metal insert (maybe only about 6-8" deep sits on the top set of boards, is filled with dirt, and then the fire built on top of it.  It would change some of the angles of the meat, but I bet it could be worked out rather well.  This way, no digging of a pit, no bending over all the time (I know the cooks would love that), and the only problem is where to put the dirt when done.  But, if one digs a midden and a shower hole, that would be a perfect place to put the dirt until it needed to refill those holes!! <wicked grin>
Meisterin Katarina Helene von Schönborn, OL
Shire of Narrental (Peru, Indiana)  http://narrental.home.comcast.net
Middle Kingdom
"A room without books is like a body without a soul." -- Cicero
"The danger in life is not that we aim too high and miss.
The problem is that we aim too low and hit the mark."  -- Michaelangelo

----- Original Message ----
From: Charles Netterville ck_netterville at yahoo.com

First of all, I had a chance to visit Meisterin Katarina's web site and I was inspired. This is a wonderful design that's simple, large and most importantly, ( adjustable ) There has been mention made of a raised fire pit that dirt could be put in and the coals on top of that. Meisterin Katarina also mentioned a picture of her spit in Cindy Renfrow's book Take a thousand eggs or more.  I took out my copy, started thumbing through it and although I couldn't find the picture of hers, ( I stopped looking when I came across another one that took my attention ) I came across a design that may be what Meisterin Katarina is speaking of. If so, it's a wonderfully simple design and since the cooks would be putting a layer of dirt down I'm thinking it could be made of 1/8" or 3/16" plate steel, perhaps 2" pipe or angle iron for the legs and uprights that can be covered to hide mundanity, and incorporate Meisterin Katarina's existing spit design shown at 
  http://meisterin.katarina.home.comcast.net/pennsic30.html .
  I have the second edition and the drawing is on page 85. They show it with a cauldron threaded through the spit but it's the same basic premise. What would be some measurements that we could start with and what input does everyone think we need to incorporate into this design? We need to think about how large an animal will be that we'll be threading onto it, weight allowances for the metal so we know how beefy ( pun intended ) to make it, user friendly, compact car or back of a pick up friendly, what to do on sites where we can't drive the uprights into the ground etc. I think if we can put our heads together we can have a working prototype pretty quickly...
   In service, Elrique ( still just the humble welder )

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