Saturday, June 24, 2006

Fire It Up!
Dan came up from Berkeley and we did a nice ride up a hill (Soda Canyon Road) said to be the third-toughest climb in the valley by one source. It's amazing how much more fun it is to ride with a friend rather than alone. Instead of having the same old conversations in my head in order to distract me from the grade or the heat, I can babble on to an actual human being. For those of you who didn't follow the link: we ascended 1,340 vertical feet on this ride, with 720 feet in one especially gnarly 1.2-mile stretch. Nothing to write home about, but good enough to blog.

Later, after showers and smoothies, Dan helped Niko and me break in the earthen oven we built this spring. That's right, we fired it up! As Niko said to Dan, "My dad didn't want to invite a lot of people over the first time because he was worried the oven might collapse. But it was OK to have you over."

Dan was the fire-tender extraordinaire:

For kindling we used a couple small sheets of newspaper and small dead branches that had fallen from our sycamore trees. For real fuel, we busted up one of my old oak wine barrels. We were all amazed at how well the fire burned. You wouldn't think there would be enough air. But just as Kiko said it would, the air wooshed in the bottom portion of the opening and the smoke went out the upper portion. And the fire burned.

I hadn't thought about dough until it was too late, so I ran down to Trader Joe's and picked up a variety of prepared pizza doughs. Niko whipped up a sauce and we were on our way:

Yes, as a matter of fact the "pizza peel" you see there is a metal dustpan with a broomstick attached to it. Our regular pizza peel wouldn't fit through the 13-inch oven opening. Here is the historic first pizza to emerge from the oven:

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