Saturday, January 25, 2014



Not a bad looking pizza

Frozen pizza is one of my guilty pleasures. I like frozen pizza. I eat frozen pizza often. For many years...Tombstone was my favorite pizza (hanging my head in shame). Actually, it still is. But a couple of years ago the Tombstone pizza supply became... unreliable.

I don't know what happened. Tombstone pizzas went from being everywhere to nowhere overnight. So I tried some different pizzas. I found a couple I like and ....reading the ingredients can be oh, shall we say, disconcerting.

The middle of last summer I took on a personal project to master frozen pizza. The trick is to pre bake the dough. So, starting with the dough. I honestly don't remember where I got this recipe but it's my "go to" pizza dough recipe.

100% Whole wheat pizza dough
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 ½ cups of warm water
  • 1 package of yeast (a tablespoon)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 (generous) tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 ½ cups whole wheat flour
I have a bread machine and I make that on the dough cycle. When the cycle is complete I take out the dough, knead it for just a couple of strokes, form it into a ball and cut it into 8 pieces to make 8 individual 8 inch pizzas.

I make each of those wedges into a ball and let them rise under a towel for 20 or 30 minutes.

Hey! I can make rolls out of these!

I slap those balls of dough down flat, bag them and refrigerate them overnight. Believe it or not they'll rise again in the refrigerator.

Then I'll take those balls of dough, roll them out flat (I use a wine bottle) and then here's the secret. Dot the rolled out dough with a fork and bake it at 350 ° for 3 or 4 minutes. It's ready when you start to smell "bread", and the dough is dry and stiffened.

Let this cool completely.

Pre-baked pizza dough

Put a cookie sheet in the freezer.

Add sauce. To your pizza.

I like Hunt's 8 oz. cans of tomato sauce. I mix 4 anchovies and 2 cloves of chopped garlic with one 8 oz. can. I splash in some olive oil too. I get 4 pizzas from a can of tomato sauce. That's 2 oz. for each pizza.

Scatter some cheese and some toppings over the sauce. I use either a shredded Italian blend or a shredded whole milk mozarrella. On a couple of occasions I've used freshly grated Romano and Parmesan. Delicious but that can get expensive.

I find onions and bell peppers make the best toppings. Then I freeze the pizza on that cookie sheet in the freezer.

One frozen pizza ready for a baggie

Then I bag the pizza and put it away.

Now, when I want a frozen pizza? I put one of those on the rack in a 450 ° oven for about 13 minutes. And I find they're actually pretty good pizzas!

The first couple of times I did this I thought well, this is hardly worth the trouble. But having had some practice now I can practically make these in my sleep. The dough is very forgiving. I've let the whole big ball rise, flatten it out and refrigerated it overnight and divided it up the next day. I've let it rise and rolled it out right away. The only real rule? Standard rule for pizza dough: if it "springs back" when you roll it? Let it rest a couple of minutes and try again.

While in the past I've found handling dough a pain I've found handling the dough is a pleasant and satisfying thing to do. And I'm inspired to make some rolls and maybe I'll even make my own hamburger buns! And my ingredients list is a *lot* shorter than the packaged pizzas!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Crystal Woodlands

We had a surprise snow storm yesterday. A few inches of heavy wet snow that stuck to everything!

It was warm enough today to melt the snow but it was the melted snow stuck to all the tree branches. When the sunlight hit it just right it was like all the trees were made of crystal. This is really pretty stuff.

L was a rock star. She really loves this stuff.

Edited to add: We saw a fox on the trail today. An unusual sight! He was way too fast for a picture. Barely saw him and he was gone.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Strange email

If you get a strange email from me...

I swear I didn't send it!

What's this thing about cats squatting on your stuff?!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Heat wave

Some really mild air moved in overnight.

Saturday 11 January 3:30 pm

But I wouldn't say it was a very nice day.

Pond or puddle? 2" of rain!

It rained buckets! And I have one, well, no, two, really crabby horses in the barn. One of them is just always crabby.

It's not going to stay near 60 but the forecast is for unseasonably mild weather all week. L is going to need a good ride.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A certain charm

Even I have to admit that, as much as I hate winter, and nobody hates it more than I, it has a certain charm sometimes. Undisturbed freshly fallen snow is very pretty. This is a classic New England scene.

Barn driveway, 4 January

And then there's these little curiosities.

Little snowball trails

Now how exactly did those little snowballs leave the dotted trails behind? I really don't think they bounced along. And they couldn't possibly have rolled along that soft powdery snow without making a mark. It's a mystery!

And the rabbit tracks! The barn property is lousy with rabbits. There are rabbits *everywhere*.

Wabbit tracks!

The rabbits aren't scared of you when you're on a horse. So the rest of the year they mostly just sit and watch you ride by.

And...there's really nothing quite like getting out on a good horse in this stuff.

It was clear and cold all day. With some wind in the afternoon. Branches sound like gunshots when they break in this cold.

We saw all kinds of tracks in the snow but L and I didn't see another living thing out there all afternoon.


I had a really good time and L? Well. She thinks she's in Florida.

And here's this gem from my archives. The winter of 1980/1981 was very cold. As a matter of fact the local news reported the record cold for this past Friday night was set in 1981 (-4°F in Boston). That's very cold for Boston. Boston takes its weather data from the airport which extends into the harbor where it's warmer than the surrounding areas.

Here's Plymouth Harbor Massachusetts. Frozen solid in January 1981.

If I recall correctly Nantucket Sound froze that season. I can only recall that happening twice in my lifetime.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Looks like winter

Courtesy of a New Year's Nor'easter.

We're close enough to the coast to have Nor'easters give us the occasional blizzard but we're spared the coastal flooding. We got snow. This is New England. It snows here in the wintertime. I mean really, the way the local news carries on you'd think we never saw snow before. And the way people drive. Don't get me started! I don't recall when the thought first occurred to me but there must be a lot of people here came from someplace else.

And when did this bread and milk thing start?! They forecast snow and the supermarket's are out of bread and milk within minutes. And cold cuts! A few years ago I watched in amazement as people lined up at the deli counter buying cheese and cold cuts 2 and 3 pounds at a time. I won't go anywhere near a supermarket when there's a storm in the forecast!

From my office window. 3 January 10:00 am.

I really don't mind the snow so much. What I *really* hate is the cold.

The cold?

The cold! 4 January 7:00 am. -4° F

I absolutely *hate* the cold and some serious cold came in behind this last storm. I do pretty good even down into the single digits but I'm seriously miserable when it goes below 0. This is about as cold as we've had in 3 years or so. *Everything* is hard in the cold. I grow less tolerant of the cold every year.

But remember. Yankees don't move. Not real ones anyway. I think I better go get some soup started.
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