Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

I’m pavement locked. I’m surrounded by a sprawling wasteland of pavement, condo’s, congestion, and trees that grow in a straight line. The vegetables at my local safeway/lucky/etc are horrible. I also have a strong history with food (and it shows in my waistline…). As soon as I could eat something other than breast milk, instead of buying baby food, my mom was pureeing vegetables from the garden. She was/is a dietitian (she now teaches at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo), and a firm believer in “good food”. That means good tasting food, with lots of seasonal variety. Our eggs came from the chickens in our barn. Every year a head of cattle would disappear, and a week or two later, the freezer in the garage was full of white packages. Apparently my parents once decided to butcher their own chicken. 26 years later their stories conflict, but someone didn’t have the heart to dispatch the chicken in traditional ways , so my dad shot it. With a 20 gauge. My mom picked buckshot from a chicken once, and from then on, the Peterson family chicken dinners came from the super market.

The result of these forming years of my life, is that I like good, fresh food. I am ALSO a firm believer in spending your money like you’re voting with it. So I do my best to buy locally. I’m not a zealot, or obsessive about this practice, but when its possible, I do my best. One way that I do this is by supporting my local farmer through their CSA (Community Support Agriculture) program.

Every week, I get a box full of organic seasonal fruits and vegetables . Strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower, peas, carrots, onions, beets, squash, baby salads, big salads, spinach, potatoes, etc. Anything that grows in California between April and November. Its a great way to get fresh fruits and vegetables into my diet, which is obviously good for me. I send my check directly to the farmer, eliminating the middle man, which is good for the farmer. These types of programs are available all over the place. A good place to start your search is LocalHarvest.org

Periodically Mariquita farms (half of two small farms), will have a U pick tomato day. For 50 cents a pound, you can pick all the tomatoes you can carry out of there. Its fabulous. You’re not limited to tomatoes either. Peppers, pumpkins, tomatillos, or anything else you can get your hands on is fair game. 50 cents a pound is great. But I’m a really inquisitive person, so to ME the best part is that you get to pick the farmers brain , and ask him all the dumb questions you want. He’s HAPPY to answer them! Its an excellent experience.

Mariquita is having one of these U Pick days tomorrow, Sunday September, 23rd. If you get a chance, its worth the drive. Just make sure you wear a good pair of boots, its going to be wet out there :)

Here are some pictures of my bounty from the last U Pick day.

Update: Heres my bounty from the second U Pick day :) Can you tell I like salsa? I preserved most of it for the winter :)

This is quite possibly the best pizza I’ve ever had. Its certainly the best pizza I’ve ever made, and I’ve made a lot of pizza :) I developed this during the summer when I quite literally cook every single meal except for breakfast on my grill outside.

Because the pizza isn’t sitting on a baking sheet, the crust gets nice and crispy on the bottom, while still being soft and doughy on top. That to me is the PERFECT combination.

Sprinkle your portable working surface with corn meal. The corn meal will help you slide the pizza dough from the working surface onto your grill. Make sure you use a flat working surface, so you can slide the dough instead of having to lift it. I use the bottom side of a baking sheet.

Turn the heat to Low directly underneath your crust, and high or medium/high near your crust, but not directly underneath it. Your pizza is going to be on the grill for a while, and you don’t want it to burn. I have a $59.95 several year old end of the summer super sale cheapo Gas grill. Your settings mileage may vary :)

While the lid is obviously open so I could take photographs, in general the idea is to leave the lid closed so the heat from the opposite side of the grill will heat the grill up like an oven.

Tip: You should try your best to get the dough flat onto the grill. Fixing a folded over pizza crust can be a challenge. Corn meal is your friend here. However, if you don’t get it placed perfectly the first time, and you wish it was in a different part of the grill, just let it cook for a few minutes until its a little firmer. The dough will not stick and will be easier to move around after its a little cooked.

You should pre cook as many of your toppings as possible. This will help cook the water out of your ingredients (mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, pineapple, etc). Moisture is a pizza killer. Warmer ingredients also help the pizza cook faster once you pile all your toppings on top.

The dough is ready to be topped when its puffed up and full of air. At this point, the bottom should be less than golden brown, but firm. The top should be soft, but cooked through.

Prep all your toppings, and put them on your hot dough. For this time around, I used mushrooms, feta, olives, onions, grilled peppers, sausage, basil, pepperoni, and mozzerella. Almost all of which were sitting in my refrigerator as left overs.

mmmmm this looks good. ready to go on the grill again. Remember, low heat underneath, and high or medium/high heat on the other side.

Lid closed for about 10-15 minutes. Let all those toppings heat up, and let your cheese melt. I usually rotate it at least once so that the one side of the pizza up against the high heat doesn’t burn.

I added some cilantro at the very end (again, left over)

Mmmmmmmmmm….

I used Trader joes pizza crust for the above pictures, but pizza dough is really easy to make in a breadmaker if you have one. Sometimes I’ll use pesto instead of a tomato based sauce. Experiment with different cheeses too. I often use pizza as a repository for “left over bits and pieces of cheese” of all kinds.

Let me know if this inspires you to make grilled pizza! :)