Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Learning to use a new tool

Anyone can build a fire, right?  I am discovering how to use my newly constructed Pizza  Oven and what can be done with it.  It is like any other tool I have acquired in my life, I want to master it.  There is a lot to learn!  I have had four fires now and the first one was a disaster!  Way too cold and during construction I filled the Oven with sand to stabilize the curve of the bricks as they were being mortared into their arch.  I did not get all of the sand out in the cleaning process and we had under cooked and sandy Pizzas!  The second fire was better, I got the oven to 500 f. degrees but it wouldn't hold the temperature and they were "eight minute pizzas".  Not sandy anyway. You can make great pizzas with a two hour head start on the fire but this last, forth try I was after perfection and I wanted to see what this oven was capable of.  I began the fire at 8 AM for a 2 O'clock cook time and did I ever get it HOT!  I used a very dry mix of Oak and Madrone, filled the very back and built a pretty Big Fire in the front.  When the "front fire" was down to a bed of coals I spread them evenly around the hearth and left them there for an hour before pushing them to the back of the oven igniting the logs left there.  By 2 O'clock the fire in the back was a foot deep bed of coals and the oven registered
over NINE HUNDRED DEGREES!  Even four hours later, without adding to the fire it was over 700 degrees. Pretty amazing.  We cooked Pizza in 74 seconds!!!
The Party was a lot of fun.  We had people from 4 months to 74 years old, three guitars and four singers!  It was a fun "old people's party" of neighbors and friends.  2 o'clock to 7 PM.  Perfect!
We made 25 pizzas, two chickens and a fantastic blueberry cobbler all in the Pizza Oven.  We could have cooked all night!
I also cooked a Brisket on the open fire pit with the rotisserie.  Even Jimmy Torres (You can Google him!) said it was the best brisket he had ever had!  Cooked for 7 and 1/2 hours over a bed of coals on a well tended fire.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Cook me something

Next to sex and sometimes more intimate and even better is the sharing of food.  We live in a warm it up and three minute microwave world and too often end up eating by ourselves or hurrying through a meal to get onto something else.  The whole concept of sharing a meal, sharing a process, enjoying a preparation has been lost in our ever busy world.  I am sometimes jealous of dirt poor societies with a single cooking pot, families gathered, strangers invited, talking, laughing, happy, appreciative of the ceremony of sharing a meal.
   The very Best Art can be eaten!  I was once told that you can change the flavor of an onion by the way it is sliced.  Food presentation has been reduced to slop on a plate and we have forgotten how to say "thank you".  Cleaning up and doing the dishes has become a hated chore.  It is a shame that eating has been reduced to feeding the engine and is no longer a social engagement.  We are missing out entirely on the concept of "breaking bread", sharing our Human Existence.
   I like my new Pizza Oven but after two fires and beginning experiments, I suspect it won't get used very much.  For Hundreds of years the Oven was the center of  many households and small villages may have had just one, rivaling a Church as a central gathering place.  An opportunity to share stories, enjoy the bounty and laugh together.  When did we lose the joy in giving away food?
   It takes two hours to prepare the fire in a wood burning oven and then, without adding to the fire, you have heat for 10 hours of cooking.  Maybe Pizza first while the oven is hottest, then a roast or chicken, then maybe, a soup and still hot enough to bake a week's worth of bread!  It can all be done without an I-phone or apt but you have to actually do something! and it seems we have run out of time.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Pizza Oven!

I made a Pizza Oven and now my Outdoor Kitchen is complete!  It is pretty Big, the outside measuring about 3 feet wide, 3 feet tall and 5 feet deep.  The walls are over 7 thick and it can sure retain the heat!  You can make pizzas one day and the next, without adding to the fire, bake a loaf of bread!  This is my design but I watched a lot of U-tube videos to get ideas.  It is really a much bigger job than the 30 minute videos would let us believe!  If you really look at the photos you will see a 5' girl in the oven!!!
I think there is a philosophy behind Pizza Ovens that goes beyond the standard Bar-B-Que.  Both, of course are about the gathering of family and friends but what do you do with an oven that is capable of baking for 24 hours without adding to the fire?  Pizza Ovens are the ultimate in sharing, of cooking a lot of food, and then the fun of eating it and giving it away!
 This  would be a drone view if I had a drone.
I stood at the top of a 12' ladder to get the complete kitchen in view: fire pit, charcoal grill,
propane burner, electric frying pan and, of course, the kitchen sink! and the Picnic Table! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

How to Get Rich!

The advantage of being almost 70 years old is that I know a lot of people.  Some of them are Rich, even 1%er's!  Yes, they have 40, 000 Dollar appliances and don't spend their money as I would, but most of them work 12 hours a day, and some maybe sixteen.  It is like being Lucky!  The Harder I work the Luckier I Get!  My favorite story is my Mexican Friend, story book sneaking across the desert  when he was 17!  Picked apples for nothing a pound and mad a Hundred Bucks a Day!

He found Paradise and was willing to work to keep it.  Eventually he went through hurdles and jumps and became an American Citizen!  I bought him an Apple Pie!  Now he is the lead painter where I get my metal work powder coated and makes decent money with even some benefits.  He started at the very bottom, part time and minimum wage.  And earned his way to the top.  He deserves it. He bought a nice 3 bedroom house after living in a trailer for 5 years, always saving his money!  He works a lot of side jobs, in the evenings and most every weekend.  He is doing this for his children, puts all of his side job money into a separate account for his children.  And considers himself very lucky to be able to do that.

In order to "get rich" you have to have a cause Bigger than yourself.  You do it for the World, your children, community, something extend beyond yourself and beyond the now.  Most of us get money and spend it.  I once gave an employee a thousand dollar bonus and it was gone in a weekend! I am sure he and his wife had fun for the weekend but then it was gone.  Vanished.

Really, the idea about money is to keep it.  When I first started out in the construction business I worked for someone else and got paid every Friday.  One Friday I would buy a book (on construction) and the next Friday I would buy a tool.  When I could afford it, a nice tool and when I couldn't, a dollar screw driver, but always a tool, always establishing a habit.  Tools and books and learning became my investment.  I was just starting out and there was no reason anybody would hire me.  I got some experience by driving around the neighborhood, stopping at different houses and from the street, in my truck I would draw blueprints!  I would draw an addition to the house, then figure out the material list, all the steps involved to build what I had drawn.  When finished I would toss them in the garbage.  It was just practice but I got good at it.  So good in fact that I could bid any job in two hours or less.  No one paid me for this practice.

A friend of mine wants to be the World's Best Horse Shoe Expert.  He is pretty good but every day he makes ten horse shoes on his forge and throws them away.  Practice..

So many people have the idea that if they are not getting paid they won't do it. That is the route to Poverty.  Even to make a good cake you need to make some bad ones.

Next I will tell you the story about a friend of mine who took a notion to build a yacht.  He did and went sailing for five years.  Nice Story.