Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Grid-Down Dining

Electricity has done lots of things, but it has not necessarily resulted in better food. After a decade of refinement, here is the best food I’ve figured out how to make:

1. Build the oven pictured to the right. The only tricks are (1) making the wooden arch templates, which you can do by placing the bricks in an arch face-down on a piece of paper, and tracing out a template; (2) use refractory brick and mortar near the hot parts; and (3) the ratio of door height to oven height should be 0.62 (this is for airflow and heat retention). The materials cost around $600.
2. Pizza dough: 1000g flour; 600g water; 3tbs yeast*; 3tbs olive oil; 1tsp salt; 1tsp sugar. *Yeast is critical and the best I’ve found is at Sam’s Club (the yeast that comes two large bricks per package and needs no activation).
3. Pizza sauce: 4 parts tomato (either crushed or diced); 1 part olive oil; 1 can tomato paste; lots of basil. Simmer for 30 minutes.
4. The pizza above cooked in about 75 seconds as the fire shown is pretty hot. As the fire dies down, the pizzas take a few minutes. Rotate pizza during cooking to prevent edges from burning.
5. Switch from pizzas to bread when you can keep your hand inside the oven for ten seconds.
6. When done with bread, switch to an overnight roast and cap the chimney and door.

We entertained yesterday, and it was so good we cooked outside again tonight. I have a refrigerator full of pizza.

If cooking during an actual long-term, grid-down situation, don’t forget to carry a semi-automatic rifle. The yummy smells travel far.

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