Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Pizza Pleasure and Passive Power

Gorgeous little snowbells

Who doesn't love pizza?  I have yet to meet someone who does not love the flat-bread delicacy!  I have a great easy-peasy, yeast-free, fail-proof pizza base recipe to share:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lukewarm water
pinch salt
Place all ingredients into a tightly-closing plastic container and shake vigorously for a minute or so, until all ingredients are blended.  Turn out and knead till smooth, press out onto a  greased, floured pan and bake at 180deg C for about 7 mins.

Place toppings of choice on top, bake further 10 -15 mins till ready.  Limit toppings to 4-5 to avoid flavour confusion.

Pizza base first baking

Siblings work side by side to place toppings on

Anyone for pizza??
Better still, in my bid to make my children more leaving-home-with-vital-skills-savvy, I have taught both my teens to make pizza from base up.  Firstly, Cameron became a deft hand at pizza-making, but he left home, so I promply taught my daughter.  To hone her skills, Thursday night is Pizza Night.  She makes a darned good pizza!  Full of flavour and the taste of the Mediterranean.  Deliziosa!  
A bit of Pizza Trivia - Did you know that Americans eat 100 acres of pizza per day???  Amazing, considering this used to be a peasant food, designed to use up left over dough and fresh toppings or  even leftovers........
The next step in our Italian evolution is to actually build an adobe pizza oven!  When we get to build our Solarium, we intend to build a pizza oven inside - to keep us warm on cold nights or simply to bake a couple of pizzas or breads. I think we could actually roast a tagine or bake inside it too.  I will have to drum up a couple of friends to help get the adobe oven shape just right.  Am thinking garlic-bulb shape.

The chooks have gone off the lay - a blessing really, since they tend to be quite noisy layers!!  We gave some eggs away, Cam enjoyed a half dozen or so, and there are still about a dozen left over to feed our cat.  She loves the egg yolk and apparently yolks are good for cats.  Talking of wildlife in the backyard, today Mike and I were treated to the most incredible sight ever!!  I saw 2 kotuku or grey herons fly over the garden and I was amazed at how low they were flying over me.  Then I heard Mike urgently yell to come and see - there they were at the bottom end of the garden, perhaps 2 and a half meters above Mike, swooping at one another - not sure if it was a mating prelim or a dominancy fight, but it was stunning - it lasted perhaps only a minute but what a blessing to have witnessed such an unusual and truly amazing sight!  And in our own backyard!!

Our ring-necked doves have returned; - over autumn/winter, we had one regular straggly visitor but in the weekend we were graced by not one, but a half dozen doves cooing and laughing all day in the garden.  They hung about on the rotary washing line.  We also seem to have attracted a lonely piwakawaka - or fantail, who chirrups and flits around us every day.  Seems to be at home in the garden, or just a regular visitor.

Zooming in to spot the 6 ring-necked doves on the washing line
Harvests in the garden are limited to leeks, NZ spinach, limes, carrots, radishes, lettuces, mandarins, oranges and lemons.  The grapefruit seem to be swelling daily, with a ripening flow of colour.  We like to leave our grapefruit on longer than most - seems to heighten their sweetness index.

And on the marriage front, Mike and I just celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary innings!  Not a bad score to clock up!  He organised a night away in Rotorua, where we had a wonderful aromatherapy-infused spa soak, an invigorating sauna and great "home-cooked" food in the motel.  Came back with the most gorgeous Hassan Baba-style brass light fitting for the cottage - still have to arrange a fitting - need to get a length of chain to hang it from the ceiling.  Who could ask for more?

Anyone for a sauna??

Simple construction.... wonder if I could make one?
All I need to make is a box -  a BIG one!
The Alpin  Motel  where we stayed has an amazing heat exchange system.  Underground heat transfer warms the radiators in all the units, as well as the hot water supply.  It apparently saves $3000.00 per month in power bills and the system will have paid itself within 2 years.  Great sustainable system!  Harnessing earth's own natural energy systems.  Wonderful stuff!  Makes us excited to think of our project ahead, building a Solarium for passive heating, solar electricity generating panels and a pizza oven...............Bring it on!!

Geothermal Heat transfer system

Information outside Alpin Motel - Brilliant!

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