Homemade Pizza

Living room sofa; mostly cloudy, 27.1 F, 0605

Many years ago, I began a family tradition of making Homemade Pizza every Saturday afternoon. It was a part of family movie night, which is, as the name implies, a night when we would all sit down and watch a movie together. They were mostly kids movies like Cars, Cars II, Cars III, Toy Story, Toy Story II, Toy Story III, etc. Of course, the family unit has since been broken up and movie night is no longer a thing. However, every other Saturday, when the kids are here, the Homemade Pizza is still a hit.

The Dough

Whole wheat bread machine pizza dough

Here is the basic bread machine dough recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 1/2 tsp of sea salt
  • 1 cup of bread flour or regular flour
  • 3 cups of whole wheat flour (freshly milled)
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 2 tsp of SAF instant rise yeast
  • 2 tsp of powered milk

I have a Zojirushi bread machine which works great. The dough making setting takes 1:50 to complete. When the dough cycle is complete, remove the dough, divide into two and make rounds. Place the rounds on the pizza sheets and let stand under a damp cloth for 20 minutes.

Zojirushi bread machine

If you want to make the dough by hand, set aside time for kneeding, rising, kneeding, rising, etc.

Grinding wheat berries for whole wheat flour

A note on the whole wheat flour; I have found store bought whole wheat flour does not work very well. Whole wheat kernels have oil in them, which tends to go rancid (oxidize) if the flour is not used right away. I buy wheat berries in bulk and grind up what I need on the day I use it will the WonderMill WM2000.

When the pizza dough is ready, roll out with a rolling pin or pastry roller. I have never tried throw it up in the air, as the ceiling in the kitchen is rather low and I don’t think I would have a good result.

Pizza dough ready to go in the oven

I normally get two sixteen inch pizzas. Prick the rolled out dough liberally with a fork or use a dough docker. This will prevent large air pockets from forming in the dough when it bakes.

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F.

The basic procedure is to put the rolled out dough in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, remove, unstick from the pan with a spatula, place the sauce and toppings on, return to the oven for 12 minutes, remove, enjoy!

The Sauce

Pizza Sauce

The sauce recipe:

  • 8-12 plumb, Roma or other sauce type tomatoes (or 2 quart jar home canned or 1 28 oz can store bought)
  • 1 8 oz can tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 medium sized chopped onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • fresh or dried basil to taste (many leaves chopped or 1 tsp)
  • oregano to taste (usually 1/2 to 3/4 tsp)
Tomatoes canned from the garden last fall

In a large pot, blanch and peel the tomatoes if using fresh, set aside. Clean out pot and over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion and garlic. Brown and then add the rest of the ingredients, reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

The Pizza

Pizza toppings; fresh spinach, green pepper, onion, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, olives and pepperoni

As far as toppings go, I have made several different types of pizza, all of which are delicious. The types and flavors are only limited by your imagination. Here are a few examples of my favorites:

  • Spinach and artichoke heart
  • Italian sausage, pepper and onion
  • Five cheese (Mozzarella, Parmesan, Asiago, Cheddar and Colby)
  • Fresh tomato, basil and garlic
  • Seafood (white pizza; mozzarella, lobster, shrimp, bay scallops, fresh basil, thinly sliced garlic, fresh tomato on an olive oil brushed crust)
  • Chicken Bacon Ranch (white pizza, ranch dressing or chipotle ranch dressing, mozzarella, diced chicken and crumbled bacon)
  • Fresh salsa, taco meat and cheddar cheese.
Bon Appetit!

How to Cook a Steak

Living room sofa; clear, 55.9 F 0653

My son is hitting his growth stage. As such, he is requesting lots of protein in his diet. I am all too happy to oblige him. One of his favorite meals these days; steak. For this, there are all sorts of ideas, recipes, dry rubs, aged meat and so on. I find simple is best.

The first step, get good meat. Grass fed beef has a different taste and texture. It is always important to understand the differences between grass fed and corn fed beef. Cattle are grazing animals. They take food which we cannot eat and turn it into products that we can eat. They are not designed to eat corn. In fact, eating too much corn based feed with cause their stomachs to get infected, which then requires antibiotics to cure. During their life time cattle are, in effect, giant food processors. They need to be treated humanely.

Next step, get the right cuts of beef. You want some fat, which adds flavor and contrary to popular opinion, is good for you. Grass fed beef tends to be a little bit tougher. For grilling; New York Strip steak, London Broil, or T-bone cuts are the best. T-bone steaks will tend to have the most fat.

Next step, good preparation. The only thing I put on steak is some salt. About 4-5 hours before cooking, I rub about 1/2 teaspoon of salt into both sides of the steak. This really makes the meat flavorful. Prior to cooking, I take the steak out of the fridge for 30-40 minutes and let it get to room temperature.

Steak cooked medium rare

Grilling is the easy part. Get the grill nice and hot, I usually have it on high for 5-10 minutes before putting the steak on. Next, cook the steak about 5 minutes on each side depending on how well or not well done you like your meat. If you want to make fancy crossed grill marks, then you can flip it over three times, once every 2.5 minutes. The internal temperature must reach 160 degrees F.

Yummy!

Finally, enjoy!

There is no A-1 and no barbecue sauce in my house. Well raised, well prepared meat does not need anything to cover up its flavor.

Blackened Salmon

Living room sofa; partly cloudy, 45 F, 0609

I enjoy eating well. As mentioned previously, I went through a period when I was craving salmon. I tried cooking it many ways; broiled, grilled, etc. I found this simple easy to bake blackened salmon recipe to be the best.

One pound salmon filet

The following is required:

  • 1 lb filet salmon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • pinch ground red pepper or to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the filet salmon skin down on aluminum foil lined baking pan. Mix the remaining ingredients together and sprinkle on the salmon filet. Place on middle rack of oven and bake for 16-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the salmon.

Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice and garnish with parsley.

Some people like to wax on about how good salmon is or how healthy it is for you. If you are here, you likely already know these things. You can research the health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids by starting with the Wikipedia article: Omega-3 fatty acid. As noted in that article, it is better to eat natural sources of Omega-3s than to take supplements.

LCHF diet

Living room sofa; overcast, 30.1 F, 0437

My health is very important to me. For the last 10 months or so, I have been on a Low Carb, High Fat diet. Also know as a Keto or Ketogenic diet. How I came to this point is an interesting story, but I will save that for later. I did not start this diet to lose weight, but rather to lower my serum triglycerides, which were high.

Fructose is the enemy
Fructose is the enemy

Cells in the body can use three things for energy; Glucose, Ketones and Ethanol. The basic idea of this diet is to switch from using Glucose (sugars) to Ketones (fat) as the primary energy source. The reason is that excessive intake of carbohydrates causes insulin resistance, which in turn causes excessive levels of insulin to control blood glucose levels, which creates a host of problems known as “Metabolic Disorder.” Some features of Metabolic Disorder include high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, high serum triglycerides, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, dementia, poly cystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and others.

The dietary recommendations by the USDA are generally confusing. In previous years, the recommendation was for 55-75% total carbohydrate, 10-15% Protein and 15-30% total fat. My feeling is that this is a combination of initial ignorance on human physiology and ongoing bureaucratic intransigence. There is absolutely no dietary requirement for carbohydrates in human beings. A person can survive on a zero carb diet and do just fine. However, fat is required and cholesterol is vital. If a person is not taking in enough cholesterol, then the liver will synthesize it. The current set of USDA recommendations lists calorie intake recommendations then lists types of food by volume, but does not really break down the food groups by ratios.

My theory is that diet should be tailored to the genetic makeup of an individual. One size fits all does not take into account many thousands of years of environmental adaptation. My ancestors are mostly from north northern Europe. As such, they likely ate very few carbohydrates. Instead, they ate mostly oily fish and fatty meats. A few years ago, I had a piece of salmon for dinner. After that, I was craving salmon. I had if for dinner at least 2-3 times per week for almost a year. Clearly, there was something in that fish that I needed.

Shrimp avocado salad

What is not to love about fresh, homemade food? Highly processed foods and prepared foods almost always have a lot of added sugar. They also tend to use dodgy ingredients like vegetable oils and have artificial flavors and colors.

I cannot make any dietary recommendations for others. For myself, I can say that since starting this diet; everything got better. I feel better now than I have in decades. I lost 20 pounds without even trying. My blood pressure returned to normal and I have discontinued taking BP medication. I no longer feel achy every morning when I wake up. My lower back pain has gone away. My mental processing has sped up. I sleep much better. All of this is likely due to reduced insulin in my system and it likely means that I had hyperinsulinemia which was driving inflammation.

I am not going to get into theories on why the USDA recommends a high carb low fat diet. That is for other people to work on. What I will say is, if you have any of the features of metabolic syndrome, then you owe it to yourself to look into it. There are many resources available but to get started, you can search for Ivor Cummins, Dr. Ken Berry, and/or Low carb down under.

Morning Coffee

In the home office; mostly cloudy, 59.9 F, 0555

I was going to try and write these things at night, at the end of the day. However, by the end of the day, I am usually wrung out. I will be in no mood to write anything when I get home tonight. Besides, most of this creativity is driven by my morning coffee.

Speaking of that, I have been drinking cold brewed coffee for the last several months. When I mention that, almost invariably, someone will say “But I like my coffee hot.” Yes, I do too, which is why I warm it up in the microwave before I drink it.

Cold brewed coffee is a wonderful thing. You know that great coffee smell when the pot is brewing? Those are the volatile oils from the coffee beans evaporating into the air. Imagine what that coffee would taste like if all those aromas are still in the coffee. In addition to that, brewing coffee with hot water makes it bitter. Cold brewed coffee is not at all bitter and requires no sugar. As I discovered last year, I am a type two diabetic, thus reducing sugar and carbohydrates is very important to my long term viability as functional mass of organized cells.

Well, how do you make said cold brewed coffee? Good question. You will need the following items:

  • One mason jar with lid
  • A bag of fresh whole bean coffee from your favorite coffee company
  • A coffee grinder
  • 24-26 oz (800 ml) of cold water
  • A 1/2 cup measure
  • A strainer to pour the brewed coffee though
  • Approximately 18-22 hours of time
Cold brewed coffee ingredients

Instructions:

  • Fill mason jar with clean cold water
  • Course grind approximately 1/2 cup of whole coffee beans
  • Place the ground coffee in the mason jar with the water and put the lid on
  • Let sit on the counter, out of the sunlight for 18-22 hours. The ground coffee will slowly get wet and fall to the bottom of the jar. At some point – eight to ten hours into the process, it is good to slightly agitate the jar to make sure that all the ground coffee is wet and falling to the bottom of the jar.
  • After the brew period is over, pour the coffee through a strainer or sieve into a bowl or pot. Some people like to use a coffee filter while doing this.
  • Enjoy hot, cold, etc.
Wonderful bean

I like my coffee warmed up with some heavy cream, unsalted butter or ghee. Also, be aware that the cold brewed coffee seems to have more caffeine per cup that regularly brewed coffee. Lighter roasts even more so.