Had some friends last night – the ones that helped me build the foundation/base of the oven – and we fired the oven up and made the first pizza’s! We also had some tasty bourbon and beers
For toppings, I put out bowls of :
- fresh basil
- fresh rosemary
- hot chorizo sausage
- oven roasted red onion
- oven roasted red pepper
- smoked gruyere
- a tomato sauce (with olive oil, salt & pepper, garlic)
- and some olive oil to drizzle over the pizzas prior to sliding them into the oven.
Worked great having a few wooden pizza peels for everyone to prepare their pizza’s on.
Learnt a few things :
- Be fairly liberal with the cornmeal on the pizza peels.
- Don’t prepare the pizza’s too far in advance of getting them into the oven.
- Keep your eye on the edges closest to the coals.
- I need some more tools to manage the fire and coals, as well as manipulate the pizza’s while in the oven. Tools with longer handles!
- Need to set up some sort of rack/shelf near the oven to keep tools and heat proof gloves handy.
Also, I think that I’ll be reworking the oven entrance, and remove the 3 fire bricks. In their place, I want to put in a larger, single slab of granite or soapstone.
Made a door up, using 2×6 cedar, some leftover dryer duct, and scavenged handles from an old Hibachi
Applied the top coat over the straw insulation today.
Used a full bag of clay, a quarter package of iron oxide colouring, and a couple heaping spadefuls of sand to start – mixing that all with enough water to get the consistency of thick peanut butter. I then mixed in about 1/5 of a bale of straw, all cut up pretty fine. Talk about a workout!
After applying the finish coat, I applied a layer of red/black aquarium gravel that I had (and no longer needed) – kind of like a stucco. Worked pretty good I think – we’ll see how the colour is – right now there are a couple thin spots that have dried, and they look more pink! I might just mix up a thinner layer with more colouring to apply again
I’m also thinking that I might have more of the clay applied over the foundation down from the top – kind of like wax dripping down the side of a candle – still deciding though
I’m still working on a design for a steel roof structure to build over the oven – and protect all this hard work from rain and snow!
Well, after getting the main dome of the oven completed a few days ago, I let the oven sit for a couple days, then carved out the door, and pulled out the sand – and it didn’t collapse!
I let the oven sit for another day, and then couldn’t resist building a small fire, to move the process of drying out along.
And no cracks!
Today I started applying the insulation layer – a fairly wet mixture of clay, sand, and straw. I used fairly equal ratios of sand and clay, mixed with water until I got a consistency that was similar to a medium thick milkshake. Then I kneaded in handfuls of straw.
Once the straw was completely coated in the clay/sand mixture, I added more straw, and repeated. I wanted the straw clumps to hold together – so once I thought the clumps were just about not staying together, I quit adding straw, and kneaded a splash more water into the mix.
I then threw big clumps of the mixture around the base of the oven. I want to try and build up a 4 – 6″ layer of insulation. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough clay to make the insulation mixture cover the entire oven. So I’ll be off to Plainsman Pottery this week to get a couple more bags! I’ll buy extra so that I can put a final finishing layer over the insulation.
Well, this weekend was a bit of work!
Saturday I formed the sand dome, which acts as a form for the actual oven. Used about 500 lbs. of sand! The floor of the oven is an elliptical shape – 32″ wide x 36″ deep. The height is 17″. After shaping the dome, I covered it up with junk mail flyers – soaked in water.
The following day, I built up the oven itself, making a lot of baseball sized balls of sand, clay and water. The mixture wasn’t too wet – just enough to keep the sand and clay together.
I did manage to get the form covered over completely – with a brief interruption by mother nature and some much needed rainfall. In a couple days, I’ll lay out the oven door, and cut it out. Then the moment of truth when I get to remove the sand form! I’m planning on making the opening around 11 1/2″ tall, and 16 – 18″ wide. Once the opening is made, I’ll build a door, and then add 3-4″ of straw and clay insulation to the exterior of the oven.
The other evening some friends and I gave up an evening of cards, foosball, and whisky drinking to instead demolish a stone and concrete planter in our front yard, and using the rubble from it, and a large brick planter in our back yard, built up the base for my pizza oven. We still had some whisky, and enjoyed a great evening around the fire pit as well
Only bad part was me getting stung in the eye by a wasp that I upset when digging out the gravel from the demolished planter in the back yard. That was a couple days ago, and the swelling has come down – so I don’t look like Igor anymore!
I didn’t use any cement/mortar for now – everything is just laid in place and we’ll see how it works out! I ended up pouring all the bags of play sand onto the base and just lightly tamped it down. I might be able to add more sand once I tamp it down a little harder, and level it out. Next step will be to lay out the insulation bricks, and then the kiln bricks that will make up the actual floor of the oven.
The New Democrat Party of Alberta has been voted into power with a significant majority. After 44 years in power, the Progress Conservatives are now the 3rd, with only 12 – er, 11 seats (Jim Prentice quit the party, and despite being elected in his riding, quit that too). The Wild Rose party is the official opposition, winning 21 seats.
Hopefully this means positive change for the majority of Albertans, and not just corporations. Hopefully we’ll see real improvements to the quality of health care in our province, and real progress in getting out of the boom/bust cycle of the oil industry, and diversifying our provincial economy.
The New Democrats have been given a great opportunity, and a big challenge by Albertans – they have the opportunity to prove that we can be prosperous and fair to all, and demonstrate to the rest of Canada that there are choices…
This past Christmas, Chef Michael Smith showed a great looking bread board in a prize package he was putting together. The board was a demi-baguette board, made by Apple & Acorn Woodworking, in Ontario.
I ordered one as a birthday gift for my Mom, and she loves it! the craftsmanship of these boards is excellent, with a flawless finish, and there are rubber feet on the underside, so that the board doesn’t slide around on you. The board was well packed, and shipped via Canada Post, which was very reasonable. A nice added touch is that the board is inside a burlap bag, which will be useful if you need to store the board in a cupboard. My mom is going to find a spot in their kitchen to hang the board up and display it though – it’s really too beautiful to tuck away
Saw this on the Jamie Oliver site, and had to try it out – whole family loved it!
The only thing I didn’t have on hand was some bean sprouts, and the prawn chips. I wanted to use up some mushrooms that I had, so I sliced them up and fried along with the tofu.