Pizza, pizza: Non-pizza in the pizza oven!

Our pizza oven is awesome. It’s especially awesome for pizzas, breads and skillet cookies and a couple of weekends ago we tried our hand at some more standard dinner fare.

Brandon’s dad was in town, so we heated up the oven TWICE. Joe helped us build the oven and hadn’t seen it in action yet.

We started with a trip to the Pike Place Market and QFC to pick up our supplies: Uli’s sausages (French Onion, heavy garlic chicken, and mild Italian), a sweet onion, zucchini, tomatoes, asparagus, a pork chop, and a seasoned flat iron steak. Dicing here, chopping there and voila! We had our veggies ready to roast and our skewers skewered!

We paired oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and herbs from the garden for the marinade.

Meat, meat, meat! Don't get the meat sweats!

Meat, meat, meat! Don’t get the meat sweats!

 

Veggies ready to be roasted!

Veggies ready to be roasted!

We heated the oven floor to approximately 800 degrees.

Sizzling dinner

Sizzling dinner

Veggies: roasted

Veggies: roasted

Final product: DELICIOUS!

Final product: DELICIOUS!

My compliments to the chefs! A wonderful Father-Son team!

My compliments to the chefs! A wonderful Father-Son team!

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2014 in review

After a nice little break from the blog, spending time with friends and family, I’m BACK!

Here is our year in review: 2014 was a great year for the us, a year full of great wine, great food, great company and a whole lot of adventure.

2014-year-in-review

We started of the year with a New Year’s Day flight north. Way north. We spent the first few days of the year in the Arctic Circle, in the town of Bettles, to see the Northern Lights. (More here.)

Watching sunrise (about 11 a.m.) inside of the Arctic Circle, in Bettles, AK. (Sun set around 1 p.m.!)

Watching sunrise (about 11 a.m.) inside of the Arctic Circle, in Bettles, AK. (Sun set around 1 p.m.!) Yes, our jackets are lines with wolf fur. No, they’re not ours.

From there, we had many more travel-required adventures for wedding celebrations: to New Orleans, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Flathead Lake, Montana, and Portland!

It wasn’t just wedding travel this year. We just returned from a pleasure trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. The trip was the perfect mix of relaxation and adventure: we tanned ourselves on the beach, snorkeled with manta rays, photographed a lot of Green Sea Turtles, opened the second-largest telescope (at nearly 14,000 feet on the world’s tallest mountain!), hiked the lava flows at the national park, and used our Northern Lights training to take night time photos of the world’s most active volcano. (I’m working on the blog post now!)

Here are some photos from the trip, to start your thinking about traveling someplace sunny and warm on this dreary winter day:

We spent the first part of our trip here, at the Mauna Lani hotel. It was gorgeous!

We spent the first part of our trip here, at the Mauna Lani hotel. It was gorgeous!

Our first sunset on the Big Island

Our first sunset on the Big Island

Sunset from our manta ray snorkel tour boat, outside of Kona

Sunset from our manta ray snorkel tour boat, outside of Kona

Sunset from almost 14,000 feet, at the Mauna Kea observatories

Sunset from almost 14,000 feet, at the Mauna Kea observatories

One of many turtles (and turtle photos) we saw on our trip

One of many turtles (and turtle photos) we saw on our trip

Black sand beach on the sound end of the Big Island

Black sand beach on the sound end of the Big Island

Macadamia nuts for days

Macadamia nuts for days

In August, I was featured as a ‘lifestyle blogger’ on one of Seattle’s morning television programs on Q13. Watch the clip here. It was another great adventure and hopefully the first television appearance of many.

Q13 tailgating segment

In addition to this blog and my day job, my part-time baby business, Little Britches Bakery, is flourishing this year. I shut down the website last spring and instead started selling via Etsy, seeing a great jump in orders this past year. Now it’s time for the shameless plug: if you’re shopping for new parents, check out Little Britches Bakery!

2014 was the year of the pizza for those of us on Megan’s Island. We finished Fatto a Mano (our wood-fired oven) in August and love, love, love it. We’ve perfected our foccacia and pizza crust recipes and will be trying out other dishes in the oven this year.

Finished pizza oven with Geroni-gnome, our watch'gnome'

Finished pizza oven with Geroni-gnome, our watch’gnome’

A wonderful shot of the flames leaping toward the pizza

A wonderful shot of the flames leaping toward the pizza

That’s about it for 2014. We’re closing the chapter on another stellar year for us and we’re looking forward to an even better year in 2015. I hope it’s a great year for you too!

Cheers to 2015! Thanks for reading!!

Happy birthday to me!

I’ve been celebrating my birthday month and over the weekend celebrated the actual day of my birth. We had friends over for a pizza party on Saturday to watch the Huskies win (yeah!), spent some quality time relaxing on Sunday, along with brunch at Roux (I wasn’t as impressed as I had hoped to be) and my annual family birthday dinner at Voila.

Here are some photos of my (first) weekend of birthday fun. I’m looking forward to continuing the celebrations this week and into next weekend!

Beer ping for the Husky game

Beer ping for the Husky game

My personal pizza chef hard at work

My personal pizza chef hard at work

Cupcakes from Stephanie & Parker

Cupcakes from Stephanie & Parker: Delicious!

Birthday cupcakes!

Birthday cupcakes!

Homemade focaccia

Homemade focaccia

Our first skillet cookie: so good!

Our first skillet cookie: so good!

Scallops and beet risotto from Voila! Seattle

Scallops and beet risotto from Voila! Seattle

More desserts for this happy 32 year old!

More desserts for this happy 32 year old!

Pizza, pizza: We named the oven

Our glorious backyard pizza oven

Our glorious backyard pizza oven

We capped off a wonderful summer with a big, ‘ole party. It was the prefect weather and we invited all of our friends for a full-on Italian feast, complete with a make-your-own pizza bar.

Backyard pizza party toppings bar

Backyard pizza party toppings bar

Brandon and I thought up some unique Italian names for our pizza oven and narrowed the list down to four:

Names for the oven

Name ideas for the oven

We had our party guests vote (I love elections!) and we chose the winning name…

Oven's got a name: Fatto e mano!

Oven’s got a name: Fatto e mano!

Since the oven is short and stout, we think Fatto (or Fattie, as we like to call it) is perfect.

Now that we have the name I’m working on a fun logo (it’s a pizza place, right?!) and a fancy door for the oven. More to come on both of those fronts soon! Have a wonderful week!

UPDATE: It appears as though Google translate failed us! “Fatto e mano” isn’t the correct, rather Fattie’s new name is Fatto A mano. Thanks to Sarah for catching it! 

Fattie in action!

Fattie in action!

 

Pizza, Pizza: We made pizza!!

WE DID IT! We made pizza in our backyard wood-fired oven!

Up to temp!

Up to temp!

After weeks of curing the oven and focusing on things other than delicious, delicious pizza, Brandon’s brother, James, and sister-in-law-to-be, Jessica, joined us for our inaugural pizza cooking event last weekend. We got the oven up to temp, approximately 800 degrees, in about 45 minutes.

Feelin' hot-hot-hot!!

Feelin’ hot-hot-hot!!

A wonderful shot of the flames leaping toward the pizza

A wonderful shot of the flames leaping toward the pizza

James brought homemade dough up from his house that he made the night before; it was chewy and fluffy and turned out so well. I’ll share the recipe when he sends it up. Until then, this is our favorite dough recipe.

Our first wood-fired pizza!

Our first wood-fired pizza!

We made four pizzas total, topped with different combinations of tomato sauce, mozzarella, prosciutto, salami, minced garlic, onions, black olives and fresh herbs (basil, sage, and rosemary from the garden). We devoured them while pairing them with my favorite kale salad and a bottle of the 2011 La Previa from Robert Ramsay Cellars.

My favorite meal: Pizza and kale salad

My favorite meal: Pizza and kale salad

In addition to James’ pizza experience (he used to work at a pizzaria), we’ve been using “The Art of Wood Fired Cooking” to help us understand how the oven works and for some great recipes.

Robert Ramsay La Previa + Pizza oven!

Robert Ramsay La Previa + Pizza oven!

We let the fire die down to just the embers and popped in a sage focaccia (from the aforementioned book). We left the oven a little too hot, and it cooked in half the called-for duration, but it turned out great!

The proud chef with his focaccia (before...)

The proud chef with his focaccia (before…)

Focaccia: after

Focaccia: after

This is only the beginning. We need to order a few more tools (a smaller peel for tuning the pizzas, an ember bucket, a fire poker, etc.).   Our theme for dinners for the week is “wood-fired” and we have some great ideas pinned in my “Pizza! Pizza” board.

We (James) also learned the hard way that you shouldn’t stand too close to the fire. I’m sure his hair will grow back…

Crispy hair: Don't get too close to the oven!

Crispy hair: Don’t get too close to the oven!

 

 

PIZZA OVEN!!!!

Remember that pizza oven that we keep talking about? (Here, here, here, and here)

Well…after almost a year, we finally finished it over the weekend!

Finished pizza oven with Geroni-gnome, our watch'gnome'

Finished pizza oven with Geroni-gnome, our watch’gnome’

Our brand new, almost-done pizza oven!

Our brand new, almost-done pizza oven!

It’s not quite pizza time yet. We have to wait for the mortar to dry fully and then start lighting consecutively larger fires, curing the oven. All-in-all it should take another week and a half or so. Then…it’s pizza time! Over the past year, the oven has gone from a pile of bricks…

A truckful of fire bricks

A truckful of fire bricks

To a base…

So it began: Memorial Day 2013

So it began: Memorial Day 2013

More of a base...

More of a base…Firebricks, red bricks, and kiln insulation

To a real-looking oven!

Building up the walls and ceiling arches

Building up the walls and ceiling arches

The arches hold! We're really doing this...

The arches hold! We’re really doing this…

Almost there!

Almost there!

So close to pizza time!

So close to pizza time!

It looks like it was meant to there, right!?

The backyard is READY!

The backyard is READY!

Two big questions remain: When is happy hour?  And what should we name it!? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below! Winner gets invited to our pizza party!

Spring to-do list

The combination of multiple 70+ degree days and record-breaking rain has done a very positive number on our garden. We’ve been maintaining everything pretty well and over the weekend I spent some time cleaning up and taking inventory of what’s next on the to do list. In honor of my favorite Young House Love bloggers, my very own Listy McListerson…

Needed: More moss ground cover

Needed: More moss ground cover

Front yard

  • Clean, stain and seal our bench in the front courtyard
  • Clean and stain fence
  • Drill drainage holes in the front retaining wall
  • Exchange busted walkway lighting for ones that work (Thanks, Lowe’s. Not.)
  • Get a new hose (Maybe one of those shrink-until-they’re-full-of-water fabric hoses?)
  • Import more moss for ground cover
  • Even out the concrete slabs
  • Think about replanting the plants along the walkway
  • Fix light above garage
  • New front door mat (Our Pinterest project gone wrong isn’t cutting it anymore…)

Side yard

  • Remove grass and weeds
  • Build and plant raised beds (It’s time to grow our own kale… and tomatoes, squash, and raspberries, among others…)
  • Drill drainage holes in the wine barrel planters (side and back yards)
Side yard: before

Side yard: before

Back yard

We're so close to finishing our pizza oven!

We’re so close to finishing our pizza oven!

  • Pizza oven! Pizza oven! Pizza oven! We’re so close to getting it done and will this spring!
  • Make a wine barrel cocktail table (on wheels, with a plexiglass tabletop) for the deck
  • Build lower deck bench seat (Ideas here)
  • Have landscaper out to trim the hedges, get rid of the blackberry on the tree

Just a small little list, right? I’m not promising that this is all going to get done this year, but now that I have a list I’ll have more direction for how to proceed. We have a three-day weekend coming up soon. Maybe we’ll tackle this list then.