How to Build a Wood Burning Oven- Part One

At times, my husband Richard can be a little over the top. When the new Italian restaurant in our neighborhood failed to deliver on it’s promise of serving authentic wood-fired Neapolitan pizza, he decided to take matters into his own hands. “Let’s build our own pizza oven” he said. Having been married to him for many years, I knew he wasn’t kidding. But I was skeptical. How often would we really use an oven that sits outdoors, when we live in Ohio? I’m talking a lot of snow! But he assured me we would use it often enough, and described all the wonderful dishes that we could make in it. Eventually I succumbed, and it wasn’t long after that the UPS man was wheeling a large wooden crate up our driveway from Forno Bravo.

The steel base is assembled

Crate with the oven

The base is covered with backer board and a firewood box is formed. Now it’s time to mix up 600 lbs. of concrete for the oven platform. Are we having fun yet?

Pouring the 600 lb. top

With a little help from our friend Linda, who by the way, did an excellent job!

The oven dome is in place and wrapped with 3″ of ceramic insulation

Applying the base coat of stucco

And the final coat

To Be Continued….

Aspen

I’m taking off my apron for the next 2 weeks. I arrived in Aspen, Colorado on the 4th of July, with my husband and dog in tow. We’ve been frequent visitors to this little gem of a town for the past 10 years, and although Aspen is famous for being a world class ski resort, summer is my favorite time to visit. The blue skies, abundant sunshine, and cool mountain air, compliment the natural beauty that is Aspen.

The other day we set off on my favorite trail. Hunter Creek is a picturesque 3+ mile hike, with twists and turns, bridges and rushing water everywhere.

Starting out nice and easy

The creek is flowing

Getting steeper

And rocky

Until finally the trail levels off

We walk through Aspen groves

And see a bridge to our left

It’s looking promising

Until finally, the view!

There were beautiful wildflowers

And huts. This was the training camp for the 10th Mountain Division, which fought in the mountains during WWII.

One of the huts

Interior View

Time to head home. What a great hike it’s been!

What an easy and delicious way to use summer tomatoes!

From The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Missy’s Marinated Tomatoes

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My sister-in-law Missy brings these marinated tomatoes to our Fourth of July bash every year, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re essential to my emotional well-being. Amidst all the grilled steaks, warm corn casserole, and potatoes, the cool, fresh flavor of the tomatoes always, always hits the spot.

What also hits the spot is that Missy, for reasons unknown to me, insists on transferring her tomatoes to a food storage container and leaving them with me at the end of the night. Maybe she knows how much I love them. Maybe she doesn’t want to clutter her fridge. Maybe her tomatoes are some kind of ministry…I don’t know. But I will tell you that as good as these tomatoes are at the Fourth of July get-together, they’re even better the next day.

And the day after that? Also known as today? This is what I did:

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Made bruschetta.

I sliced a baguette, brushed the slices with olive oil, then grilled them on a grill pan. Then I rubbed a peeled garlic glove over the surface of the bread and topped with the tomatoes, using a spoon to allow for some extra juice to drop onto the bread.

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Divine, and you can leave it as is or top it with goat cheese if you’re feeling extra naughty.

Here’s the recipe!

Recipe: Missy’s Marinated Tomatoes

Prep Time: 4 Hours  |  Cook Time:  |  Difficulty: Easy  |  Servings: 18

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup Canola Oil
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 whole Green Onions, Sliced
  • 1/4 cup Chopped Parsley
  • 18 whole Basil Leaves (chiffonade)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Thyme
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced Finely
  • 2 pounds Tomatoes, Cut Into Quarters (if Big) Or Halves (if Small)
  • 1 whole Baguette, Sliced
  • 1 clove Garlic, Peeled

Preparation Instructions

Combine all ingredients except tomatoes in a large glass bowl. Whisk to combine, then add tomatoes. (You can up the quantity of tomatoes if need be.) Use regular red tomatoes, or a mixture of red, yellow, heirloom, etc. Use different sizes of tomatoes, too–pretty!

Allow to marinate for at least 3 to 4 hours, several hours if possible. Tomatoes will give off liquid as they marinate.

Use leftover tomatoes to make bruschetta: slice baguette and brush slices with olive oil. Grill on a skillet or grill pan until golden. Rub slices with garlic cloves. Top with tomatoes, allowing juice to drip on the bread.