Monday, 25 June 2007

Pizza Tuesday

Once again, it is pizza season here on Gunflint Lake! Each week, we fire up the bread oven to bake some tasty treats. It takes about six hours of stoking to get the oven hot enough for the bread and pizza. Late in the afternoon, we gather outside around the oven.

First we put in the ciabatta, a sourdough bread that is similar to foccacia. This bread generally bakes in about eight minutes, if the oven is hot enough. We still haven't hooked up the computerized monitor that will tell us how hot the oven really is, but we estimate it to be in the high 500's to low 600's. Once this bread comes out of the oven and has cooled slightly, it practically disappears off the table. We cut it in to chunks, eat it plain, put butter on it, dip it in olive oil with fresh herbs---anyway we do it, it is so delectable. If there is any leftover, we use it over the course of the next week to make panini sandwiches, or as buns for our venison burgers. And if there is any left after that, if it has gone stale, Moses and Jethro, the donkeys, absolutely love it. They have been known to try and take my sandwich out of my hand, because they love ciabatta so much. They don't get it very often, because it usually is long gone.

Next we gather up the pizza dough, and start to roll crusts out. We like to pre-bake the crusts in the oven for a few minutes, and then pull them out to put on the toppings. Once they are covered in sauce and other fixin's, they go back in to the oven to finish off. All told, it probably takes five minutes per pizza. They get cut up right away, and those, too, disappear in no time. We joke that if you help to make a pizza, then walk away while it is in the oven, you may miss out on it.

It is always interesting to try new toppings for the pizzas. We make a fair share of the traditional ones, with cheese and pepperoni, but we also like to experiment with new ideas. Some of the best taste sensations have come out of this casual creativity. Last week we tried one that went over very well with some folks, while others would have nothing to do with it. Instead of traditional red sauce, we spread a thin layer of peanut butter on the crust. Next we sprinkled crisp bacon bits, carmelized onions, chopped chipotle chiles (only a few--they are hot!), and some asiago cheese on the crust. Two minutes in the oven, and back on the table. I thought it was fabulous. Sure, it wasn't one that would entice me to eat several slices, but as an appetizer, it was great! I love the mix of savory flavors on one like this. Many others agreed, and we ended up making a second one.

I have no idea what kind of pizza we will be making this week, as it all depends on the ingredients on hand at the time, and the creative minds around the preparation table. No matter, it all gets eaten, and often in a blink of the eye. We are firing up the oven on Tuesdays this summer, so if you would like to taste the wares from the oven, give us a call! 1-800-338-7230

Monday, 18 June 2007

Oceanfest 2007

This years Oceanfest was a bit hit and miss as far as the weather goes, but we were lucky and hit all the good weather! Friday (schools day and free for everyone right into the evening) was a complete wash out - we gave that a miss and went in on Saturday afternoon. Lovely. We were going to camp there but by the time we thought about it everywhere was booked, so my advice for next year is too book early.

The ground was packed and there's plenty to keep everyone occupied - bike and skateboard displays, lots of stalls selling everything from jewellery through to surfboards, and of course my favourite, the music stage and beer tent. There is nothing better than sitting in the sunshine with beer and listening to live music (I might have mentioned that last year.) The Lantern FM Radio people were there with their big purple bus, they had a dalek with them and Dr Who even came out to have his photo taken with my children.

Other things for children to do include the climbing wall, trampolines and bouncy castles.

This year you could even paint a bus!

A favourite occupation of many teenagers we saw, mine included, was to see just how many freebies you could collect from various stalls. We managed a t-shirt, four bags with various goodies inside courtesy of the Devon recycle people and EA games, a magazine and a frisbee.

My husband enjoyed the ladies volleyball on the beach!

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Northam Burrows

OK, technically this is still Westward Ho! beach, but we're at the Northam Burrows end. Entered via a toll road in the village of Northam between Appledore and Westward Ho! the burrows are now a site of special scientific interest. Behind the pebble ridge is a large expanse of grass land peppered with sheep and golf courses.

We went to Mum's today to say 'Happy Birthday' to my grandad. Blink and you missed him: so after a cup of tea and a slice of cake, minus the birthday boy, we headed off to the beach with my sister and her family. The tide was in so the only possibility of finding sand was to go to this end of the beach. It was lovely - nice and warm, with a cooling breeze and the sea just a stroll down the sand, not a five mile hike. The water was even nice, once you got used to it. And when the kids had had enough of jumping waves, digging in the sand and climbing the pebble ridge, it was off to the other side for Hocking ice-cream. Excellent!