Wednesday, July 24, 2013

4 Easy Steps

4 Easy Steps for Starting a Fire in a Backyard Wood-burning Pizza Oven:


IMPORTANT SEASONAL NOTE:
Before starting your first fire after winter, verify that the oven is free of hibernating Eskimos.



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cheeseburger Pizza?!


Tuesday nights are pizza nights. An evening when Tom fires up the pizza oven he built and gets creative with a palate of flavors instead of paints.


In the beginning the pizzas were standard sausage and mushroom, goats cheese and black olive and the classic marguerite.

Then one week something seemed to be afoot. Tom asked me if we had an extra bottle of ketchup, Heinz of course, and how about a jar of cornichons (French pickles)? And  would I please be sure to slice some extra onions this week. 

Tuesday evening arrived and as the Pizza Night gang gathered around the picnic table Tom declared he had a special surprise for us this evening. Based on the “special” ingredients that I was aware of I was a bit wary.

To start with there was hot, crispy focaccia and cold beers. Followed by several piping hot, delicious pizzas. So far all the standard weekly fare.

Then there was a little lull in the arrival of pizzas. With his back to us at the work counter Tom seemed to be extra engaged in the production of the next pizza. Anyone looking over would have noticed the bright red bottle of ketchup swirling around, followed by what could only be mustard?! in that bright yellow jar, and then a final flourish of pickles??

I watched in horror as Tom lovingly placed this concoction into the furiously hot oven. At 900 degrees (Farenheight) the pizzas cook in a minute and a half. So quickly in and quickly out. A quick roll of the pizza cutter and Tom turned to the table with a flourish.

And voila - “Cheeseburger Pizza!”

All conversations came to a stop, puzzled looks were exchanged and one brave soul pipped up, Cheeseburger pizza!?

There was nothing to do, but dig in. And right away with those first bites there was a wave of yummmm! Grins came across each face as the genuine taste of a cheeseburger was discovered. Pizza cheeseburger, who would have thought? 

Now on Tuesdays there is a patient impatience around the table as Tom serves up this and that standard pizza until he is ready to make his piece de resistance. With the arrival of the The Cheeseburger there is a general oooohhh yummm that comes from the gang as everyone appreciates the combinations that Tom has selected from this culinary palate.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Catching Up



Around 10:30 the other morning the road stretching from my house to the bakery looked like a runway at Charles de Gaul airport. But instead of planes taxiing, there were people on the move. One by one the neighbors were walking out their garden gates and heading to the bakery for their daily bread. They seemed to have exited at 2 or 3 minute intervals and were spaced out evenly all the way down to the corner. As I stepped out to join the parade I could just see Francoise catch up with Jackie, their heads tilted together as they dropped into conversation. Then these two were stopped by Annie coming from the other direction and then one by one the rest of the line up caught up as well. Now there was a lively neighborhood gathering. Hello kisses all around, complaints about the weather and exhilaration about this rare moment of sun and warmth.

If the sun is shinning everyone is out making the most of it. It’s time to leave the car in the garage, fling the household windows open and hang out with a good view to watch the world pass by. We are all finding extra moments to soak up some warmth, both the sunshine and companionship. It may take a little longer running errands on foot or we may give up watching our favorite evening program in exchange for that magical time called summer. It has been elusive this year.
On the other side of the river the neighbors watch for Madame Catherine to take her seat on the bench in the park. The neighborhood has been waiting for this moment of evening repose and soon the bench is full, the younger folks stand close by, everyone joining in the evening’s conversations. Just a half hour or so of small talk, but contact with others. 
Up the street at the cafe another group forms. The tables fill up with the younger generation and passing tourist out for a bit of social warmth. This group might get a little rowdy and will definitely stay out later into the cool of the evening.

If you are out for a stroll and listen carefully you can hear the lilt of voices and sparkle of laughter coming from terraces around the village. Out in the countryside evening, folks sit in their front yards. As you stroll by, there’s a good chance you will be invited to stop in for a end-of-the-day glass or two.
Even as the sun begins to set the groups linger as the glow and warmth of companionship soaks deep into the soul.