Making pizza like a potter.

Making pizza like a potter.

​I know, that’s a really crazy headline but I was making pizza dough the other day and realized that I used one skill I learned from being a potter and it made all the difference in the world.

When the pandemic of 2020 hit hubby Ben and I decided that instead of having a date night out, since all the dine-in restaurants were closed, that we would start having a special Pizza and Svengoolie Night!

We started out by ordering Pizza from the many take-out places around town but that led to arguments about toppings. I like Pesto Sauce, mushrooms, olives, and Ben likes Shrimp and Pineapple on a traditional pizza sauce.

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Since I had been making pizza for years and years it was only a matter of time before I took on the job of making our Saturday night pizzas, including the dough. I have a dough recipe that I have used for years but it seemed that it was never consistent in how it came out. Sometimes it was dry, sometimes it wouldn’t rise, sometimes it would rise too much.
Making Pizza Like a Potter

Like many of us when we were shut inside our houses for months on end, I decided to learn how to make sour dough bread. Most of the bakers I followed didn’t measure their ingredients with measuring cups and spoons. They used a gram scale.

In the Pottery Studio, we use a gram scale to weigh out our glaze material so I knew ALL ABOUT grams but I had never used it in baking.
I actually had a kitchen scale at home that I used for some stupid diet I was on. A tiny button on the bottom changed it from ounces to grams.
Once I began making bread by measuring out the ingredients in grams and  I began to have consistent loaves of Bread.

Weighing (vs measuring) does that.

The other super, awesome part of baking using weights is there are so many fewer dishes to clean afterward.  When I make my Bread dough and Pizza Dough I only use ONE BOWL!!  And you can do that by Taring between ingredients. 

To Tare or Not to Tare. That is not the question.

When you cook with a scale, like when you make a glaze, you TARE the bowl before you put in the next ingredient. Tare means setting the scale to Zero, no matter what is on it. All of the cheap $15.00 kitchen scales I have, have this ability but double-check just to make sure.

So you set the bowl on the scale and hit TARE and the scale shows 0. Add the first ingredient until the scale reads the desired weight. Tare again, add the next ingredient, Tare again, add the next ingredient, and so on.
 
When I make glazes I weigh the chemical, dump it into another container, weigh the next chemical, dump it into the container, and so on. Lots of the material I use when making glaze look alike and I just want to make sure it’s spot on. You can do the same thing with baking if you want but I find I don’t have to.
 

So give it a try. I will share with you my two recipes. Everyday Sandwich Bread and Pizza Dough

A loaf of hot homemade bread

Everyday Sandwich Bread

There is nothing better than freshly baked, just out of the oven hot bread

 

This is an excellent, soft, slightly sweet bread that bakes beautifully and slices perfectly when cool.  ( I left the cup measurements on this recipe )
Ingredients – Makes two loaves
  • 440 ML (2 cups)  warm water 110 degrees F/45 degrees C
  • 110 G (1/2 cup) white sugar
  • 11 G (1 1/2 tablespoons) active dry yeast
  • 8 G (1 1/2 teaspoons) salt
  • 44G (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
  • 750 G (5-6 cups flour)  You can use all-purpose flour OR  bread flour!
Instructions
In a large bowl, dissolve the 13 G of the sugar in warm water and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam, about 5 minutes.
Mix remaining sugar, salt, and oil into the yeast. Slowly mix in flour. The dough should be tacky and clean the sides of the bowl. Don’t add too much extra flour or your loaf will end up dry. If you think you added to much flour add a bit more hot water until you get the correct consistency. It should be slightly sticky to your hand.
Hand Knead dough adding flour as needed until it’s no longer sticking alot and is smooth ( 7 minutes.} I find myself kneading the dough like I wedge my clay!!
Place in a well-oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth.
Allow the dough to rise until its doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Knead for 1 minute and divide in half.
Shape into loaves and place into two greased 9×5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until the dough has risen about 1 inch above the pans.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30-40 minutes.
This bread cuts beautifully when cool but who can resist it hot out of the oven!  Of course, having soft butter ready to spread is a plus. Check out my Butter Keepers!!

 

Leona Italian Cusine

So Back to making Pizza Dough

Like I said earlier, originally I made dough by measuring out in cups and teaspoons but my dough was inconsistent. Once I recalculated my recipe in grams my dough is SPOT ON every week.

 I use pizza screens but this recipe will work for any way you want to cook your pizza. Just monitor the cooking time to make sure the bottom gets nicely browned.

This recipe makes four 10″ Pizzas or two 14″ Pizza
Ingredients
  • 667 G Flour
  • 24 G Sugar
  • 11 G Salt
  • 7 G Yeast
  • 35 G Olive Oil
  • 367 G Hot Water (120 F Degree) About 1 1/2 C
The total weight of dry ingredients will be approximately  1057 g

To cut into 4 sections – 264 g per ball

INSTRUCTIONS:

-Mix all the dry ingredients together and mix well.
-Add Oil and blend into dry ingredients
-Add water and knead in machine until a smooth ball forms

OR if kneading by hand (This is how I do it most of the time, sometimes it is like spiral wedging)

Stir the ingredients as much as you possibly can. Then dump the dough and remaining flour onto a clean counter. Hand knead until all the flour is incorporated into the dough.  Continue kneading until the dough is smooth.

For 10″ pizza, make it into 4 equal balls. Knead each one and form into a small oval disc.  Lightly dust with flour, cover and refrigerate until an hour before needing it.  Remove from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature before rolling out and using.

TO FREEZE: This dough freezes very well.  As soon as the dough is made, divide it into the sizes you need.  Put into a floured covered plastic container or ziplock bags and immediately place into the freezer.  When you are ready to use it, remove it from the freezer in the morning and let it thaw in the refrigerator.  An hour or so before making your pizza, remove it from the container and the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.
When ready to use:
Roll out the dough starting from the inside and pushing out. Use a rolling pin if needed.  Place the rolled out dough on the pizza screen and cover it with your favorite toppings.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Cook pizza in the preheated oven for 12 minutes.

Remove, cut, and enjoy!

I would love to hear if you try making these using the weighing method and what you think!!

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Cabin Fever & the pottery glaze that goes with it!

Cabin Fever & the pottery glaze that goes with it!

When dreams become reality 

In 2018 my hubby excitedly showed me a Facebook Marketplace ad for a lakefront lot on Sugarloaf Lake in Arkansas.

It was always my dream to own a place on a lake. To set the record straight, I am not a swimmer, a boater nor do I even like the taste of fish, but the thought of having a place on the lake was just something I knew would soothe my soul.

The lot wasn’t a big one, I believe its .75 acres but it was a mess. The original house had burned two years earlier and although most of the debris was removed there was still a lot of cleanup needed.

An old stone fireplace is all that remained.

One thing I fell in love with was this stone fireplace. I have always been intrigued with ghost fireplaces. It stayed!

The clean-up was mostly cinder blocks….and there were a lot of them. And broken glass ripped out carpet and leftover roof trusses. What the lot did have was electricity, septic, water, several concrete pads, and a privacy fence surrounding the lot. It also had a run-down dock and a boathouse!

It was hard to pass up, so we bought it.

We bought it as a place to leave our very small travel trailer (21 ft) and spend weekends there with our three dogs. It was only 30 minutes from home (and 20 minutes from my studio) so that worked out perfectly.

Quality time in a tiny camper with another Human and three dogs

Chilling outside of the tiny camper is great when the weather was nice but rainy days were hell!

The First Year

The first year we spent cleaning the lot up. It was an awful lot of work for these two old folks but we incorporated the 20/40 rule. Work 20 minutes, rest for 40! (See above Photo of Ben during that 40 minute period)

It worked and eventually we got all those damn cinder blocks gone. The land was leveled out, old timber was burned and trash loads of broken glass and tile were hauled away. Three years later and I am still picking up glass after a rainstorm.

Sunrise over Sugarloaf Lake, Hackett Arkansas

The Gorgeous sunrises were not something we were expecting. But they are amazing

As soon as the place was cleaned up enough we moved the travel trailer into place and started to enjoy all our hard work. It did not take us long to figure out that, although we loved the lake lot, two adults and three dogs in a 21 ft camper on a rainy Arkansas day, was not going to work.

In 2020 we made the decision to build a small one-bedroom cabin.

I scoured the internet for floorplan ideas and eventually found a floorplan blueprint on Etsy that was really close to my vision. There is only so much you can do with a one-bedroom, one-bath and this floorplan fit the bill, both space-wise and budget-wise. This was the plan we purchased. It was well worth the $30. We did not build exactly like the plan but it was a place to start and a way to find out if it was something we could afford to do. We started this process well before lumber rates went haywire due to the pandemic so it WAS something we could afford. If it was a few months later, I doubt we could!

After a few hand-drawn modifications, our very handy house-building friend built our little dream place. 

Our Lake Cabin

It’s simple but absolutely perfect

Once the shell of the cabin was built it was now up to Ben and me to put “us” into the place. Ben was tasked with building the kitchen and bathroom and I was tasked with wall painting and decorating. 

Which meant POTTERY!!!!! 

One of the things I wanted to do was make all my kitchenware. I knew that was going to be a challenge when it came to plates because they are all that easy to make. They warp, crack, out of round, and all kinds of weird things. But I was going to try.

Ben Building the Kitchen Cabinets

Ben built the entire kitchen in the kitchen!!



And to match the rustic look that Ben was putting into the cabin with his shelves and counters, I needed something equally as rustic looking!

Cabin Bathroom

We wanted the cabin to look like a cabin so Ben built the cabinetry rather rustically.

Plates have never been something I made a lot and they are not as easy as they look like they would be but somehow I managed to get some through the “making” process!!! I really only wanted 4 plates of each size but I made 5 of each “just in case”.

Pottery Plates waiting to be glazed

Pottery Plates getting ready to be glazed

Now came the REALLY HARD part… finding the perfect pottery glaze.

I have never really felt good about traditional pottery glazing and am pretty much self-taught.  Since I make my own pottery glazes in my studio I don’t have the resources available that the commercial pottery glaze users have on what glazes look like when layering, so everything right now is experimental 

I knew I wanted rustic and I also am someone who loves spontaneous and unique. After experimenting around I found a pottery glaze combination that I loved. It’s comprised of three glazes and they look wonderful together!!

Finished Pottery glazed Plate

The Perfect Pottery Glaze. I love how the three glazes all look together and flow into one another

My experimental Plate above came out beautifully and I was super stoked. I moved forward with the rest of the plates and ran into a WHOLE LOT OF pinholing with the pottery glaze. It was so disappointing. Pinholing is a bane to potters and I got a lot of wonderful advice from other potters which I am working through now. That will be the subject of another post.

Meanwhile, we are using and enjoying our cabin and our plates. My hubby has finished the bathroom and the kitchen, and I have everything painted, the walls are full of my artwork and my kitchen is filled with my pottery. 

This cabin is all about US! 

 

In summary, 2017…in the studio

In summary, 2017…in the studio

As December ticks by, while most everyone is out decorating for the holiday, baking sweet yummies and buying gifts, I have been reflecting on the past year as well as where I hope to go in the new year. It seems the older I less I have to stress over Christmas. At first I thought the magic of Christmas disappeared from my life but finally realized it has just changed a bit.

Ben and I don’t exchange gifts anymore. Truth is we really don’t need to. Our lives are simple enough and we are in want of nothing. When we need something we get it for ourselves when we are able to. All we crave now is a calm existence and the time and energy to devote to our crafts.

2017 ushered in retirement for both of us. We finally screwed up the nerve to let go of our e-commerce tool business that lovingly supported us for the past 18 years. What a hard decision that was to make but we do not regret it. With the money we received from the sale of the assets and inventory we were able to pay off all debt! Oh, what a wonderful feeling that was.

I now completely own my studio.

That took a huge weight off of my shoulders! With monthly bills at a minimum, I can now look forward to experimenting in the pottery and that is exactly what I plan to do in 2018!

So watch out world! Things are changing!

I look around my gallery right now and I see almost empty shelves. This past year my pieces sold almost as fast as I could make them which made my artistic heart soar. You have blessed me by liking, wanting and gifting my pottery. As I usually do this time of year I think about all the pieces I have sold in the last 30 days that are now wrapped up in pretty paper with someone’s name written on it. I try to envision the delight I hope they feel when they open their gift and see it’s something special, handcrafted and purchased with love.

What’s in store for 2018

As you know, I started playing with a technique called sgraffito which I love. I love carving in clay and I will be working more and more in this technique. I also plan on experimenting with glazes more, coming up with new colors. I will be treating 2018 like a year in school, reading books on glazes, watching YouTube until I am blind, making test tiles, expecting to fail and then finding success.

Last January I set a goal to purchase a new kiln by the end of the year. My kilns were old manual kilns and they worked but so many of today’s glazes work so much better when temperatures get held at a certain degree for a certain amount of time. This is almost impossible with a manual kiln. So my goal was to get one with all the bells and whistles and computer programmable.

I am so excited to tell you that…

L&L Kiln I hit my goal and I ordered my new kiln yesterday! It should arrive mid-January. That ties in with experimenting with new techniques, and new glazes. I will be learning it all with a new programmable kiln. I feel like I am almost starting over in a way.

Oh my goodness, I feel like a kid again.

My life is blessed and although things can happen, at this moment I am enjoying every second of every day and loving my life. Retirement fits me well. My studio is my happy space.

Thank you all for your support, for loving my work enough to buy it, for following me on Facebook and Instagram and for all the encouragment you have given me throughout the year.

I am in Utah and out of Ketosis

I am in Utah and out of Ketosis

My trial run of whether I could do this diet was a great success and I look forward to enjoying it more when I return from Utah. It was my hope that I would last a little longer before I carb indulged but I never even made it out of Fort Smith Ar, the first leg of my journey!

The Fort Smith airport is one of thos wonderful tiny airports with comfortable living room seats and very little hustle and bustle, it’s close to home and even though it costs a tad more than flying out of Tulsa, it’s worth being relaxed on the first run.

The weather was horrid in the morning but our fight was at 2:30 pm so we piddled around at home and leisurely made our way there. Expecting to have a rather long layover in Dallas I packed nothing but Kale Chips.

Note to self- Kale chips smell aweful in a baggy in a back pack.

We are told at the ticket counter that the plane was delayed a bit but not enough to miss connections. That’s cool. So we found some comfortable chairs and sat.

And sat

And sat

And sat

Checking the American Airlines online flight status our flight was still on time but now it was a half hour late.

And we waited.

Flight to UtahFort Smith is so small that it doesn’t have planes of its own, so the plane we were waiting for was coming in from Dallas. Word came in that our plane was finally leaving Dallas to come get us. Opps. Not looking good.

By now I should have been in Dallas picking out a restaurant. My breakfast was two hard boiled eggs but that was long gone. My head was beginning to pound and I was getting grumpy. The only restaurant in this airport was outside of the security area and they only open that when they had too, and all passengers were already checked in. Off to the machines I went.

First on my list was water. I didn’t have any $1.00 bills so I threw a $5 spot in there to pay for a $2 bottle of Dasani. The machine gave me my water and then started chachinging like I hit pay dirt at the casino. My lucky day, I thought! But what I got was $3 in dimes! Great. So I tried to use the dimes in the food machine and it wouldn’t take dimes and it wouldn’t take $5 bills so I was basically screwed.

Fortunately the lovely lady in the chair next to me heard my sad story and worked for a peanut company and had Peanut/oat type bar which I ate.

Eventually our plane arrives and whisked us to Dallas. Our next flight still showed on time at 5:10 and we weren’t going to hit the terminal until 5.

The Airline app now showed us rescheduled to the next flight leaving at 7:30 pm. Thank you American Airlines.

I thought of a lovely dinner at one of the top notch restaurants at the Dallas Airport. I knew that I would be throwing my diet off kilter but hey what the heck, I was on vacation and I deserved a reward for not blowing up and ranting and swearing and all kinds of nasty things I really wanted to do!

As I hit the terminal I happened to glance at the board and our original flight was delayed…. with just enough time for us to get to it, if we moved fast. So we did. We hoofed it. We speed walked. We got there just in the nick of time!

Back on track and still hungry as hell. My choice for dinner on board the plane? Pretzels or cookies. Since I had pretzels on the first flight I opted for cookies on this flight.

By the time I got into SLC my head was swimming.

My dear sweet daughter in law had a huge pot of Tortilla Soup waiting for us which I drowned in Tortilla Chips. I was beyond hope at that point.

And ya know what happened? I felt awful, bloated and guilty!

So maybe my mindset is being changed, we shall see. We have vacation, bbq’s eating out and pizza yet to contend with!

I almost did ok…Keto Diet Day 2

Yesterday was my very first day and I must say I did good. Not great but I did my best. As you know breakfast started out with two Duck eggs and Kale Chips. Believe it or not that actually kept me satisfied until about 2. I was in the studio with limited food so I had to be careful. My cabinets are filled with cookies, crackers and chips for the painting parties and my brain never lets me forget that.

Yesterday was my mother in laws 80th birthday and we wanted to take her out to dinner, to anywhere she wanted to go. With that in mind, knowing I would be eating out I munched on two small turkey sausages. 

Still doing great! 

My hope was that my mother in law would choose a place where I could get a roasted chicken breast and some fresh veggies. That would have been perfect and all day I set that intention. I played it out in my mind over and over. 

“I would like the roasted chicken and fresh broccoli please”

You have probably figured it out that this isn’t exactly what happened. My mother-in-law decided she wanted to go to the “Catfish Barn”. Catfish Barn is one of those All You Can Eat Fried Catfish, fried chicken, fried shrimp, fried okra, canned green beans, over boiled corn on the cob, , corn fritters,  sugary cole slaw and  banana pudding Oklahoma favorites topped off with sweet tea type of places. The salad bar was purely an after thought. 

Not the best place for someone watching carbs. 

But I did my best with what they offered in the way of salad, with ranch dressing which is all they served. I ate the coleslaw which was pretty sweet. Canned green beans are still a veggie. I did have some Catfish and some shrimp but not that much. Oh, and some fried Okra (which I love). I did stay away from all the fried potatoes which I forgot to mention above, and the chocolate pudding.

So I did get some control in there for which I am proud. 

Today will be better!

Keto Diet for Weight loss

Keto Diet for Weight loss

This time I am going to do it!!   Lose Weight, that is!!

Gads, how many times have I said this to myself and had all the right intentions only to fail miserably after a few days of hardly eating.

It seems the older I get the harder it is to lose weight, plus I am not all that active because of the problems I have with my back.

I think a lot of you can really relate to that last sentence!!

I keep hearing about the Keto Diet where you get yourself into a state of ketosis and the fat burns away since your glucose is depleted.  On the Keto diet you give up carbs but get to eat wonderful things like bacon and cheese.

Sounds like a great diet. 

So today I am going to go for it and I need you all as my support team! Are you game? You really don;t have to do anything (unless you want to cheer me on) but for me its all about accountability!

So I am going to be accountable not only to myself, but to you.

I am using a free app called MyFitnessPlan. You set it up on your PC but you can log what you eat from your phone or tablet using the apps. Sounds like my type of program.

Kale ChipsDay 1 

Breakfast-  I had some lovely, fresh kale in the fridge that I really needed to eat before it wilted so I made kale chips.   I also hard boiled the duck eggs and had two!!  YEAH ME!!

How to make kale Chips –

  • Clean the Kale under cold water.
  • Cut the fat stem out if your leaf has it.
  • I like my chips on the large size, they will shrink in the oven so cut or tear them about 2″ long
  • With the Kale in a bowl pour in some Olive Oil (Around 2 tbsps)
  • Gently massage the Kale and the Olive Oil so that the oil covers the kale
  • Lay out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  • Sprinkle with your favorite seasonings.  At our house we adore Santa Maria Seasoning from SuzieQ. I buy the non-MSG one. Its a staple in our home.
  • Bake at 275 for about 20 minutes or until crisp
  • Enjoy

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