Archive for April 2009

Celebrate Summer-Grilled Pizza & Cold Beer

Last night MadJack & I celebrated NEPA’s warm spring weather by making our first grilled pizza of the summer season. When I tell people they can make pizza on the grill, the look at me as if I asked them to perform some sort of magic trick. It seems a lot harder than it really is and the results will leave you turning you noses up at fast food pizzas forever.

A great grilled pizza starts with good dough that will hold up to being turned on the grill or pizza pan. Preheat your grill on high for 10 minutes while you prepare your dough. I found it easiest to spread the dough out on a well oiled pizza pan and brush the top side of the dough with olive oil. Turn the grill down to low and place your pizza pan on the grill to let bake for approx 5-7 minutes. When the dough begins to firm up flip and bake the other side for 5-7 minutes, flip again. At this point your crust should be slightly brown and now it’s time to add your toppings. I use homemade tomato sauce, freshly grated mozzarella cheese and sautéed peppers, onions and mushrooms. Grill for another 7-10 minutes until your cheese melts and the crust as reached your desired crispness. There you go… grilled pizza and cold beer, a great way to celebrate summer!

CAPTURE THE CLOUD JUICE

My Rainwater Collection System

My Rainwater Collection System

Rainwater collection is certainly nothing new, humans have been doing it for thousands of years. Rainwater is relatively pure stuff. What you see falling from the clouds starts out pretty clean. It picks up particulates, pollution, pollen and dust as it makes its way to the ground, but even those contaminants become less of an issue if it’s been raining for a while and the air is cleaned with a good water scrubbing. Stored rainwater also is a good standby in times of emergencies such as power outages or during periods of extreme drought when wells dry up. In some areas where water supplies may not be available or dependable (or may be prohibitively expensive), collected rainwater is sometimes the least expensive option and can easily be less expensive than bottled water. Rainwater harvesting reduces the impact on aquifers, lessening the demand on ecologically sensitive or threatened aquifers.

Benefits and Uses of Rainwater:

  1. Is free; the only cost is for collection and use
  2. Naturally soft water
  3. Use it to irrigate your lawn & garden
  4. Can be used for laundry, bathing and toilet flushing
  5. Lessens demand on the municipal water supply
  6. Saves money on utility bills
  7. Makes efficient use of a valuable resource.
  8. Diminishes flooding, erosion, and the flow to stormwater drains
  9. Adds life to equipment dependent on water to operate, as rainwater does not produce corrosion or scale like hard water.
  10. Use it to fill your pool or hot tub

Want to know how to build your own rainwater collection system? Here’s a link to get you started: How to Build a Rainwater Collection System

The Spaghetti Factory

The Spaghetti Factory

The Spaghetti Factory

Making your own pasta is at home is easy and lots of fun. All you needs is some flour and eggs; a pasta machine or you can use a rolling pin and a large cutting board and you’re ready to start the “Spaghetti Factory”.

To make pasta, start by combining two cups of flour (I use 1 cup regular flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour) with three large eggs, a teaspoon of salt, and a tablespoon of oil. Mix the dough with a fork until it has started to combine, and then work with it by hand to form a ball of dough. If the dough seems dry, add a few drops of water, but try to prevent it from becoming moist and sticky. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic. Then let the dough rest for 15-20 minutes, covered with a damp towel. This is an important step when you make pasta, and it will prevent the noodles from being gummy or rubbery.

Now for the fun part. Divide your dough into several balls, flatten the dough ball with your hands and run through each of the settings on your pasta machine–taking care to dust generously with flour each time. Keep doing this until the dough has reached the desired thickness. Attach your pasta cutter to the other side of the machine, and carefully roll the dough strip through, separating each of the strands. Hang on dowels, the back of a chair or like me using my clothes bar. Repeat the entire process with the other ball of dough. If you don’t have a pasta machine, roll it out by hand with your rolling pin on a generously floured surface and use a knife to cut your strands. You can either use the pasta right away (it should only take a minute or two to cook up in boiling, salted water [use a tablespoon or two of salt]) or leave it to dry, about three hours (now the pasta will take about five minutes to cook). Freeze whatever you don’t use. It will remain good for up to 3 months.

That dried, boxed-up, plastic-wrapped pasta of an uncertain age can never compare to the sleek and slippery pasta that you lovingly and carefully prepared. Just seconds in boiling water and these glistening, ultra-slender strands are ready for your favorite sauces or a slathering butter and olive oil, a touch of garlic, sprinkle of crunchy salt, and a twirl of the fork before sliding across your tongue and over your teeth to . . . bliss. Yum!