Around here, we subscribe to the little mantra, “good things come to those who wait.” I mean, we were 35 when we got married, I was 38 when my son was born, and we love our slow-cruising pontoon boat life. If we don’t Sous vied almost all our meats, we smoke them. I love a crock pot over the insta pot or (aaahhh) pressure cooker.
Today? Finally, it’s bake day for my sourdough bread! Tonight? Slow smoked beer can chicken on the Joe.
But what am I always ready for? What do I get a wee bit impatient about? (Yep, those ended in prepositions, y’all. It’s called colloquialism!) Fall, cooler weather, and all things pumpkin! I am fortunate to be a native, lifelong Floridian. I already have my pumpkin towels out. Front door wreath. And tomorrow? I will sprinkle the house in pumpkin fairy dust, and come Oct. 1st? A little cutesy-spooky Halloween!
So, I’m a little bit of both. Aren’t we all? The important thing is to admit when you’re impatient and work on it. Like me. What makes you impatient? When are you able to maintain patience without issue?
We love to cook on our grill and smoker! We had two of our smokers go out on us, and this last one was a real problem. It was an electric smoker, and it only lasted us a year. Since we have plans of building an outdoor kitchen in the future, we decided to go ahead and get what will hopefully be our lifelong smoker: a Kamado Joe. It’s a ceramic smoker, similar to the “Green Egg,” but not as expensive. We love our Joe!
This smoker runs on charcoal and it’s also a grill. We have plans to do more baking on it, but up to now, in addition to smoking fabulous meats, we’ve only baked pizzas on the Joe.
The best and easiest pizza dough recipe I have found is on sugarspunrun.com, the recipe is here. It only needs a half hour to rise. I add dried basil to the dough, and when I roll it out, I brush it with melted butter or olive oil and garlic powder, otherwise the dough is bland.
I love how this dough cooks. It holds toppings and isn’t at all flimsy. I have not baked it in the oven, but I imagine if a pizza stone is used, the effect would be the same.
We live in a fairly rural, coastal area. There isn’t a Mellow Mushroom anywhere around us, so we cook to recreate some of our favorite restaurants’ signature dishes. This pesto, chicken pizza is my husband’s favorite!
We set our Kamado Joe to 450 and set the stone in 10 minutes before the pizza. Then, we cook the pizza 7-10 minutes. Then, it’s pizza perfection!
My husband loves pesto. He could eat it by the spoonful, I think. So, I recruited my Sous Chef, my son, to help me surprise his dad and make pesto so that we could make our first homemade, pesto based chicken pizza.
I had Mac help me pick pesto leaves from our basil plant, and we had fun! The best part for him may have been getting to push the button on the food processor.
Mac the chef picking basil.
Pesto is so simple: basil leaves, olive oil, walnuts or pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and lemon zest all blended in a food processor. Check out this recipe I found on The Suburban Soapbox here. A simple and straightforward recipe. My grandmother Lois used to say, “You do the best you can with what you have.” So, I used what I had in my house. I used walnuts, and I used processed, grated Parmesan cheese, but next time, I will buy a wedge of Parmesan and try pine nuts.
We love chicken pesto and we love it in pasta. I can’t wait to try it on our pizza, tonight, and I’ll create a pizza post, after. (We love to bake our pizzas on our Kamado Joe, and this has been a new thing for us, but the oven is great, too.)
I would highly recommend that if you have kids, get them in the kitchen, early! Obviously, give them “safe” jobs – pouring, measuring, etc., and keep them from stoves, ovens and sharp objects. Practice common sense and caution. However, creating those lasting memories, and teaching your child how to be clean and practice food preparation is priceless. Both my husband and I have fond memories of being in the kitchen at a young age, and it certainly has influenced our love of cooking, today.
Well, I did it! I did “me” and boy, was it a doozie. I thought I could handle overlapping my sourdough bread process. I had company coming in and wanted to bake a trial batch and the actual to iron out any problems. Timing worked out that I truly didn’t have time to do a trial batch and a real batch, but I wanted the same “trial run,” so I jumped in and thought I could do it all.
The first batch was great save an overly crunchy/overly cooked bottom. I found a solution on a bread baking forum online: crumpled up tin foil, stretched back out and layered to make an insulator under the cast iron Dutch oven. I tried it on my second batch, and it worked like a charm!
However, I forgot the salt! Salt! The flavor of life…and bread. So, with a sprinkle of salt, and a spread (or two or three) of butter, we managed to salvage one loaf from that batch.
The other, however, was terrible. I forgot to put the lid on the Dutch oven, and the loaf didn’t pop on the top, where I had scored the dough, but it did pop on the side, and looked like it had a tumor. Or some odd side-growth. A hernia. And because of the side poof, it was dense and doughy. Not edible. Not even as French toast.
However, on an upward note, after about a week, I attempted my third batch. The dough texture was like silk. I didn’t forget the salt. The sour in the sourdough “popped” through, according to my husband and my tastebuds. The bottom wasn’t over cooked. It was the most perfect batch I have made, yet. I was happy to share a loaf with new neighbors who move in, two houses down, and to serve when a friend came to dinner.
Like all good things, well baked bread takes time.
I did it! The test was my 4 year old son – he wanted seconds. My husband wanted seconds. And my friend who gave me the starter said the pic I sent him looks great.
So, now that I’ve baked once, I get to try again tomorrow and fine tune my dough-ball shaping skills. I wanted a “practice run” before some of my family come to visit this weekend, and circumstances sent me into overlap with the 3-day process. Trial by fire. Go big or go home. Dive in head first. That’s my nature, so here I am, baking again tomorrow.
I was able to walk my second loaf over to my neighbor’s house, and my friend, S, popped her head out the back door a little while later and said they love it and were eating it right then.
That’s why I bake. I love doing it, but I love to gift the goods to friends and neighbors. It always brings a smile to their faces.
And to see the buttery grin on my son’s face, and know my husband has a treat to enjoy after a long work day. I am looking forward to baking the next batch, today, and continuing to perfect my sourdough! Many thanks to my neighbor and friend, Shaun, who gave me the starter and recipe!
In the beginning – there was a girl who loved her mama’s homemade honey wheat bread. Girl grows up and begins making the bread. Then she branches out into making French bread, pizza dough, and now…that which she’d never had the guts to try because she heard it was so temperamental…sourdough bread.
I have written about quite a few topics on this blog – parenting, boating, surfing, outdoor activities and coastal living, but one of my favorite and first loves has been sadly left out: food.
Fortunately, I married not only a “foodie” but a pretty amazing chef. He isn’t a chef by trade, but he could be. My husband started cooking in restaurants when he was a teenager. He has since taught me to cook beyond my “southern style” I grew up learning. I have always been a baker, however.
So, sourdough. Yum! My knowledge of sourdough didn’t extend beyond having this doughy alien in your fridge that you had to run home and “feed” to eventually turn into a magical slice of warm, soft bread with a distinct flavor and crispy crust. My friends and I in high school all had delicious sandwiches for lunch made out of sourdough bread, for our moms all shared the starter.
Fast forward to a neighborhood party a month ago, where our hosts served gorgeous artisan sourdough bread. It was delectable. My kind neighbor gave me the starter, and here I am, feeding the alien.
1. Get a kitchen scale that measures dry goods and liquids. It’s more accurate. I thought I could do without and convert measurements. Now that I have my scale, I’ll never go back!
2. Name your starter! Very important. Name the alien. Ours is Little Joe. We smoke and Grill on our Kamada Joe a lot, and we refer to him as “Joe,” so, our starter is “Little Joe.”
3. Don’t give up! Follow your directions and if something goes awry, keep at it, research, read, check out YouTube. My starter first just bubbled, but it didn’t rise. How disappointing! However, I read that I could add more flour. So, I did. That’s exactly what it needed.
I will bake later today and will post pics from the day 3 process. Wish me luck!