The Roof is Done

Well, surprisingly, it was a lot more difficult to find the corrugated steel that I had initially planned on using as a roof material.  I ended up going to a local building supply recycling shop called Home-Reuse and came across some metal roofing tiles.  They have a rounded Mediterranean look, and were very easy to install.  I ended up going back and purchased extra tiles to use next spring when I intend to build a covered prep area.


roofing tiles

A roof for the pizza oven

This past weekend I started to build a roof for the pizza oven.  I was debating whether to use pressure treated lumber or cedar when Home Depot made up my mind for me putting cedar on sale (15% off) – making it the less expensive option.

I just used cement post blocks to mount the 4×4’s on – was quite a pain trying to get them all plumb – thanks to Keith for the help!

A couple more beams to add to the roof, a couple boards on the side, and then the actual roof remain to be done.  I’m hoping to find some old (as in rusty and weathered) corrugated steel siding to use for the roofing material – will see how that goes.  Might end up having to use the plastic stuff.

pizza oven, and roof structure in progress

Prime Rib in the Wood-fired Oven

For my son’t birthday dinner (14!), we had lots of family over, and I decided to try doing a roast in our new pizza oven.  I stopped in at Acme Meat Market, and received some great help in selecting a roast.  Ended up coming home with a 5 bone Prime rib, weighing in at just over 11 lbs.

Prime Rib - Before

I started the oven fire at about 11:30 Saturday morning, and by 1:00 in the afternoon, the oven floor was pushing 800*F!  I spread the coals out to the rear of the oven and let the fire burn down a bit, and 30 minutes later the floor temp where the roast would soon be sitting was down to about 675*F

I prepped the roast by threading stalks of fresh rosemary through the butchers twine, every few inches all around the roast.  I then salted the outside, very liberally, and also rubbed some cracked pepper all around.

I put the roast into the oven on a baking sheet, facing the bones to the rear of the oven for about 30 minutes, and turned the roast every 30 minutes to get it seared all around.  Finally, I set the roast in the pan with resting on the bones, and placed a strip of foil on the backside of the roast (facing the door), and let the roast cook for an hour with the door closed (put a piece of 1×2 under the door to let air circulate into the oven – didn’t want to smother the coals completely).

Prime Rib - During

After the hour, I turned the roast pan 180*, and moved the foil to keep the door side covered.  The temperature in the oven was 450*.  I let the roast continue cooking for another hour.  When that hour was up, the floor temp was down to 350*, so I added a few small sticks of birch onto the pile of coals at the back of the oven, to add some more heat to the oven.  I also popped a meat thermometer into the roast, and got a reading of just over 100*.  Gave the pan another 180* turn, and closed the door for another hour.

At the 5 hour mark, I tested the internal temperature of the roast and it was sitting at about 127* – so I pulled the roast out, wrapped it up in foil, and let it rest in the kitchen.  I then went back out to the oven, and added a few more small pieces of birch, and added a small roasting pan full of par boiled new potatoes, tossed with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and another roasting pan with carrots, beets, and red onion, all drizzled with olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.  These sat in the oven for about 50 minutes – I thought the beets may have been under cooked, but they were tasty – and everyone else agreed!

Prime rib - After

First Pizza’s from the new oven

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 :)


first pizza'sFor toppings, I put out bowls of :

  • fresh basil
  • fresh rosemary
  • hot chorizo sausage
  • bacon
  • oven roasted red onion
  • oven roasted red pepper
  • smoked gruyere
  • pecorino
  • bocconcini
  • 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.


Finish coat on the pizza oven

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!

pizza-oven-finish-coat1x600After 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!

Insulating the Pizza Oven

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.


More Pizza Oven Progress

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.

Pizza Oven Progress

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!

Pizza oven base 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.

Home Made Beef Pho

Home Made Beef Pho
Recipe type: Vietnamese
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • 6 cups water
  • 1½ lb ground beef
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and quartered - divided use
  • 5" ginger piece sliced thinly - no need to peel
  • 6 star anise pods
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 4" stick of cinnamon
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 1 Kaffir Lime leaf
  • ½ cup fish sauce (divided use)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp plain sugar
  • 1 lb thin rice noodles, soaked in hot water and then quickly boiled
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 3 scallions, green parts only, cut on the bias
  • 12 oz rib eye meat, very thinly sliced - easier done if frozen a bit before.
  • 1 jalapeno pepper sliced thinly, maintaining seeds and ribs
  • 5 oz bean sprouts
  • additional fish sauce (to taste)
  • 1 bunch Thai (or in a pinch regular) basil
  • 2 or 3 tbsp srirarcha (to taste)
  • Lime wedges from 2 limes
  1. Place the ground beef into a large dutch oven and barely cover with water. Bring to the boil over high heat, turn heat down and simmer for a further 2-3 minutes. Strain off and discard the water (and associated scum). Rinse the beef, clean the dutch oven and return the ground beef to the dutch oven. Add the onion, aromatics, fish sauce, salt and sugar to the pot, followed by the beef stock and water. Stir to combine as well as possible. Bring to the boil and then simmer for at least 45 minutes.
  2. Strain the beef and other solids reserving the liquid. Discard the solids. Strain the broth again, this time through cheese cloth until clear.
  3. Soften the noodles in warm water for about 10-15 minutes, then boil them for 1 minute.
  4. Layer the noodles, some thinly sliced onion (from the remaining quarter), the scallion tops, cilantro and beef into preheated soup bowls. Fill the bowls with steaming hot broth
  5. Serve accompanied by sliced jalapenos, basil, srirarcha, fish sauce and lime wedges.