Sunday, October 31, 2010

Food! Glorious food!

I love food!

I love preparing it and sharing it. I love learning about food and reading about it.

Most of all I love eating it.

Last holidays I built a Neapolitan style brick oven in my back yard. This has cooked many beautiful pizzas for my friends and me, but I have been really keen to try new things to cook in it. So in pursuit of this, a mate and I went to a sourdough making workshop a couple of weeks ago.

It was great. I came home with a beautiful new book all about sourdough, some instructions on bread making, a bag of sourdough starter and a whole lot of inspiration.

The following weekend I cooked two loaves of tasty bread in the brick oven. It smelt beautifully fresh and a bit smokey; and looked really good! It tasted sensational! As soon as it came out of the oven, I excitedly invited my neighbours over to share it with me.

Since then, I've made a few batches. Today's was the best so far! I was having some friends over for lunch, so this morning I fired up the oven ready to cook up the lamb. To make the most of the heat in the oven, I popped in a couple of sourdough loaves and some rolls. Twenty minutes later, fresh bread to have with the roast lamb!

Smiles all round!

The first page of my teacher's book had the following quote on it. I think it's a corker.

We need the same things to bake bread that we need to build character:

We need the right proportion of ingredients – not too much of this or too little of that.

We need an animating principle, like the yeast or leaven – something to enliven us, a passion.

We need to be kneaded, mixed well by the slow, rhythmic patter of everyday life.

Periodically, we need to rest in a warm place with a towel over our heads.

We need to be punched down, sometimes at the peak of our rising.

And we need to be tested in the fires of suffering.

Ultimately, our lives are without meaning until we’re broken and shared.

We’re not meant to sit on the shelf but to be given away.

Father Dominic Garramone, On Bread and You

Yoke's web page is worth a look.

Monday, July 12, 2010

"Pizza to live for!"

The Pizza Eaters have been and gone! Beaut to share a meal with such a great group of characters. Clancy's sprawled out exhausted by all the attention and with a very full belly having hoovered up all the scraps that have been left at muzzle height.

The oven's performance was all that I'd hoped for. It seems to be even better than the first one I built. I think that this is mainly down to the location. Easy access to the kitchen and eating area makes the experience a much more sociable one for the cook.

While this oven is a bit smaller than my previous one (by about 100mm) it's still plenty big enough. Cooking two pizzas at a time is a breeze. I recon with a bit more skill development I could certainly cook up to three or four at a time. Not that there ever seems to be a rush.

Pizza making enourages lots of talking. As everyone gathers around the bench to create their own culinary master-piece there's a lot of talk about topping selection, the days events, the latest news......

Everyone leaves happy. They've got to create their pizza just the way they like it. No complaints.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

First Fruits

With the chimney up last night, it was time for the oven to start producing.

Regular readers will remember the mistake I made, when finishing the dome, of not covering the sand mold with a non-stick membrane. This resulted in some loose sand stuck to the roof of the dome. A wire brush on the end of the cordless drill seemed to work well to tidy this up. A good fire that creates plenty of air movement should get rid of any other loose bits of sand so that they don't end up in my pizzas.

Oven fired up nicely, chimney worked well. Little bit of smoke escaping out front initially, but once the chimney warmed up and started drawing nicely it seemed to be working very well (phew!)

It seemed only fitting that the first meal produced in the oven should be a Margherita Pizza. The traditional Neapolitan pizza. Cooked perfectly!

This was followed by one of Theo's desert pizza options, the Black Forest. Delish!

Smoke Chamber and Chimney

Made the most of the breaks in the weather yesterday to get the chimney up.

This involved building a smoke chamber in front of the door to capture the smoke and send it up the chimney. I was pretty keen on carrying the curved theme through from the oven to this, but it seemed a bit tricky, so went with a flat top instead. Much easier to lay, and install the chimney.

Was given a beaut, complete, stainless steel chimney by the Lockridge connections. Looks good and had every thing that I needed.

I replaced the sheet of Lazerlight above the oven, with a sheet of Custom Orb left over from a previous project. Reduced likely hood of being affected by heat. Also gave a firm base to fix weather-proof chimney sleeve to.

Next step is slap on final coat of render so that it looks nice and tidy.

Winter Weather

Winter has finally arrived in Perth. Great to see some rain after such a dry couple of months.
The rain has slowed progress down considerably though. I wasn't able to get much done this week at all. Had to postpone the pizza eaters 'till Monday.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Final Render Coats

I got the first coat of render on this arvo. Used 3 bags of mortar mix.
If the chicken wire is a bit loose it makes it's a bit fiddly, so it pays to have the wire as taut as you can get it.
The second coat should go on pretty easily as the it will have a nice firm base to stick too.
The pressures on abit now as the first lot of pizza eaters are coming around on Thursday!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Oven | Community

I went up to Lockridge for lunch today. No Leederville, but entertaining all the same! Some friends of mine have moved to the area with the idea of helping others to enjoy life a little more. They're good people. Real people. Humble followers of Jesus. They have a genuine desire to make their community a better place to live in.

On the first Sunday of each month they run a gardening workshop in the community garden (alongside the local Anglican church). At lunchtime they fire up the wood fired oven in the garden, and cook up pizzas for those that have turned up. This little social enterprise is a great use of the oven. The food it produces, and coffee cart, provide a focal point for people to connect around.

I learnt abit about gardening from Harry the Horticulturalist, got to catch up with old friends, met some new ones, and enjoyed a delicious margherita pizza straight from the oven. The coffee was pretty good too.