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Pizza crust, sunsets and good conversation

August 31, 2010

Wood fired pizza. Pepperoni, mozzarella, basil.

When I have the opportunity to talk to new people I’m excited to mention this website and tell them just what food means to me. It’s fun hearing different people’s stories & perception of foods. When you have a website or a blog any event can be an opportunity to learn, write and share. I have found though that people realize this and are happy to let you know that if there is food involved, you should write about it. I can’t help but feel silly at some dinner or event when someone asks me, “are you going to blog about this.” Well, in this case, yeah I guess I am, But when I do blog about it will you read it? Writing about things that happen is not too hard, making it something people want to read about is a different story.

Divit's crust recipe (written below)

Last night I went to Vickers vineyards in Caldwell Idaho to sample pizza crust. There were 6 different pizza crust recipes made by just two guys. My father and Kirby Vickers. Given the way they were cooked it would have been nearly impossible to have a bad crust. Kirby has a brick, wood burning oven that fires the pizza at around 800˚. It was stoked by pruned grape vines from his vineyard where he and his wife Sheryl grow and produce a rich buttery chardonnay just a few miles outside of Boise. It seems silly to describe the nuances of each type of crust. The one made with Caputo “00” flour versus the King Arthur flour that was left to rise for 18 hours? My fathers six day crust with yeast he made by leaving raisins in a glass of water for three days and flour he ground himself was amazing, but being amazing didn’t make it better or worse than Kirby’s Afghan wheat Naan with goat yogurt and sesame seeds, they were not to be compared. Both just amazing.

The oven

As will happen, I did get involved in a conversation about the power of the local food movement. I was asking about an especially beautiful apple orchard up the road. Nancy, one of the Vickers’ neighbors said the orchard had been at risk of being cut down. They were being undersold by the cheap apples coming from China and couldn’t really afford the competition in the big market. They had however started making some new ground in a local market. She was telling me that some land out there around Sunnyslope/Marsing had been in danger of being torn down and sold to strip mall developers. When the housing crisis came down it put a hold on any farmer trying to sell his land to a developer. She made a great point when she said, “That will always be a threat unless we can make the food that the land can produce more valuable than the buildings we can put on it.” She’s right.

Love and a Sunset

When will a beautiful orchard have more value than a combination pizza Hut and taco bell? Sooner than later I hope.

Standing out there on a cloudy evening with great people and a family of Swainson Hawks calling each other from the trees around the house was amazing in itself. A light rain came in a bit later in the evening but broke just in time for us to watch the sun setting over the clouded valley. To think that we could then try to deduce the value of one pizza crust over another would have been missing the point entirely. The only thing I can say about the way the crust tasted is to say that you should have been there. And if you do ever have your own such tasting of any foods that you see fit, you should definitely blog about it.

Divit’s classic pizza dough recipe

Start by mixing:

2 cups warm water

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp yeast

let stand 5 minutes for yeast to react.

Add:

2 cups flour

mix all together

cover with plastic & let set over night.

next day

add 1 tbsp salt

2 cups flour plus up to half cup until dough is soft and a little sticky. You don’t want the dough to be too firm.

let rise a few hours until doubled in size then punch the dough down and divide it into thirds for three small pizza or halves for two medium sized pizzas. At this point you should let the dough rest 15 minutes before rolling or stretching out.  In a home oven the dough should be laid out on a pizza screen, topped with your choice of cheese and sauce and baked on a pizza stone that has had plenty of time to preheat in a hot oven. about 450˚. If you don’t want to bake right away You can also wrap the dough balls in plastic and let them sit in the fridge for up to 48 hours. The dough will rise a little more if it rest in the fridge, but you can just roll it out as it is.  Have fun.

If an overnight rise is a bit long for you, you can also try the recipe in The Best Recipe Cookbook by cook’s illustrated. It is a good dough with just a 2 hour rise.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. August 31, 2010 11:19 am

    The crust looks and sounds amazing and the arena it was being served in looks even better. What a wonderful evening. You are very lucky. I have a newish baking blog if you have time to stop by.

  2. Eric permalink
    August 31, 2010 12:21 pm

    Small orchards need to plant burrito or pizza trees, then offer drive throughs and delivery services respectively to stay competitive.

    • learning life from scratch permalink*
      August 31, 2010 5:04 pm

      Yeah, I’m actually working on a hybrib Cherrizza tree and strawberrito plant. Then you can drive by the farm and the workers will just throw them into your car window.

  3. Laura K permalink
    August 31, 2010 12:45 pm

    Your writing is getting very good.

  4. Aly permalink
    August 31, 2010 5:01 pm

    Amazing, I must have one of those ovens! Did they build that themselves?

    • learning life from scratch permalink*
      August 31, 2010 5:05 pm

      No, but it could probably be done. they had a professional build it.

  5. September 1, 2010 7:07 am

    I would kill to have a brick oven in my backyard!, I can’t wait to visit you out there man.

  6. September 3, 2010 8:51 pm

    Alex – You’re right. Working out the differences between best efforts in pizza crusts is beside the point.

    We helped a friend build an adobe oven just a few weeks ago, following the guidelines in “Build Your Own Earth Oven,” by Kiko Denzer with Hannah Field ($18). Now he’s serving up pizzas and I’m thinking about building one in our own back yard.

  7. September 6, 2010 9:40 am

    Beautifully written post, Alex! Just the right way to start my day, and I’m inspired to head down to the farmer’s market to pick up some things for my breakfast.

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