Artful Ice Shanties in Brattleboro, VT

Here's a sign of spring in Brattleboro: when the ice fishing shanties start to disappear from their winter home on the frozen "Retreat Meadows." The spot, more properly called Wantastegok (the original Abenaki name for this area), looks like a small lake or pond, but it's actually part of the West River. In the wintertime, ice fishing shanties appear on the white expanse--these are the same shanties featured in the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center exhibit we saw in January.

Then in March, when warm weather starts (sometimes only for a few hours at a time before going back to cold), I start wondering how long the shanties will stay out on the ice. There's often a weekend day when the shore is a cluster of trucks and people and shanties being moved around. And there always seem to be some holdouts waiting for one more cold spell... still out on the ice until the last possible moment before the meadow is truly thawed and on its way back to lake-like tranquility.

This year we had something extra to look at--the Artful Ice Shanties exhibit that took place last month at Retreat Farm right on the outskirts of Brattleboro.


Inspired by the museum's exhibit mentioned above, this was a Design-Build competition that took place in late February (on land though, which I was grateful for). The art shanties were very cool and all quite different from one other! Here's a quick tour of what we saw.

This colorful shanty with paper 3D tentacles was inspired by the documentary "My Octopus Teacher."


This shanty was called "No Justice, No Peace" and made to confront systemic racism by recognizing the huge problem and its effects, and that black lives matter.


Breonna Taylor. No Justice, No Peace.

This gothic arch shanty is called "Icy Hue."


Icy Hue has a spacious and inviting interior with chairs, table, tiny woodstove, cooler, and pre-cut fishing hole. I wanted to get inside and cuddle up with a hot fire and a good book.

Here's the other side of "Icy Hue."


This shanty called "Curiosity" is decorated with natural materials like branches and bark and features a skeleton peering into a fishing hole. Presumably it is taking a while to catch a fish? Or maybe this is one enterprising skeleton.

 


This wood shanty resembling an ornate pallet project is illustrated inside and out.

 

You can see there are scenes and images burned into the wood on the sides.

This red and white shanty is called "The Wishing Well" and is intended to be a way to cast spells and set intentions by casting a stone into the well. By the way, each shanty had a unique award printed on its sign, and this one got the award for "IMPRESSIVELY OVERCOMING MERCURY IN RETROGRADE."


The black shanty with moon images is called "Moon DieTM." I didn't actually figure out that it was a giant die until I read its name on the sign. This shanty is definitely the most noticeable from the road!



 

Here is Moon Die with Icy Hue in the background, and Retreat Farm behind that.



We really liked the Artful Ice Shanties! There was a nice number of shanties to look at, and each was thought-provoking and very creative.

Afterward we walked out on the ice itself. I've never been here in the wintertime, though I kayak here often in the summer. It was amazing to STAND right where I am used to floating. It was beautiful.

I ran past Wantastegok two days ago and it looks like the shanties are gone. The ice is still there though (it's been cold again) and someone was out on the ice in the bright sunshine, flying an enormous red kite.

Gratitude for Tea

February is... not my favorite. I think, "When will winter end?" And I think, "I guess never." And then I think, "Well, I'll have another cup of tea." 
 
In wintertime, tea is my placeholder for many other things. Like going outside, or having any kind of inspiration to get something accomplished (maybe working on my knitting project, or cleaning something). Instead, I have some more tea. Tea gives my hands and my heart something to do, and makes me feel warm outside and hugged from the inside. I think tea is getting me through the winter, really. As February finally draws to a close this weekend, here's a little tour of my tea shelf and some thoughts about this wonderful substance.

Let's start with caffeinated teas. I have learned from trial and error that I should only drink this kind of tea before noon, or else it will keep me awake past midnight. My favorite black tea is Red Rose: such a classic. Red Rose has been the go-to tea in my family for as long as I can remember. Remember when they used to put little collectible figurines in each box? Apparently you can still get figurines in specially marked boxes or if you order directly from Red Rose. I think Red Rose (Original) has a nice, soft mouth-feel--similar to a Darjeeling tea (it's actually Orange Pekoe). I like it with milk and sugar.


I'm also working my way through a box of Lemon Lift black tea and a box of Chai black tea (which is black tea with spices in it). I like the latter with a big spoonful of sweetened condensed milk.


If it's afternoon, a nice fruit tea is good. I recently got two Bigelow teas--the Perfect Peach is great (it says that it's supposed to taste like peach pie, and I'm a fan of that). The Red Raspberry is OK but it has a bit of hibiscus-y tartness that's not very raspberry-like.
 


Next, inspired by the peach pie tea, I started looking for other interesting fruity or dessert-y options, and found these two from Tazo. The Wild Apple Sarsaparilla claims to be "Inspired by the Midwest" which I think is hilarious. It's a little apple-y but also has a spicy-woody twist that is nice. The Glazed Lemon Loaf tea is lemon-y but also has notes of liquorice or anise, which I presume is to make it more robust and... loaflike.
 
 

If it's evening and I'm still craving black tea, I really like Twinings' Lady Grey decaffeinated black tea. It has that same "soft sip" that I enjoy in the Red Rose. I'm also a big fan of Nighty Night Extra with Valerian in it from Traditional Medicinals. I swear it really does help me get to sleep. One of my favorite weekend treats is a mug of Night Night Extra and a slice of cake.



I do have some tea goals. I would like to get my hands on Strawberry Cheesecake tea (made by Red Rose), to see what that's like. I'm on the lookout for white peach tea and mango tea. I also found a Sweet Rhubarb tea by Taylors of Harrogate that sounds pretty delicious.
 
There are some teas I don't like--I'm not a fan of rooibos. I also don't love teas that are essentially a base of chamomile or green tea with other flavors added.

If I ever get to Japan, I'd like to get some Karel Capek tea. (Yes, it is named after the Czech writer who coined the word "robot.") Karel Capek tea packaging is gorgeously illustrated by the founder Utako Yamada, who opened the Karel Capek tea and sweets shop in Tokyo in 2002. The flavors are fascinating like Milk Caramel, Fruits Party, and Girls Tea (Strawberry), and I would love to learn more about Thank You Tea, Birthday Tea, and Pancake Tea. Please watch this Rainbowholic video about the store and Utako Yamada if you'd like to learn more!
 
 
 



So tell me about you and tea. Do you love it? What flavors do you like?



Ice, Hair, Shoes, Words: Brattleboro Museum & Arts Center visit, January 2021

Maybe you recall the "specials" that I blogged about last spring (the first in the series is Mammalogy Lessons, from March 2020). This was when my two children and I did various projects and went on various adventures during the time when they were remote schooling and I was working from home because of the COVID pandemic. 

Well it's months later, and our circumstances are much the same. Both kids are still going to school remotely, and I'm still working from home. And we still do some specials! Here is an exciting one we did recently. We put on our facemasks and went out for a socially distanced trip to the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center. I loved it, even though it seemed that I was dragged through at high speed by my children who wanted to get home again as soon as possible. (Not because of virus concerns, but because they get to have screentime at 3pm and apparently did not want to risk missing one moment.)

Here's a little bit of what we saw. If you're interested and live nearby, the shows are up for a few more weeks. (They vary, so do check online. Also you can see the shows virtually if you do NOT live nearby--just visit the link above and start clicking. You do need a certain type of browser like Safari or Chrome.)

Ice Shanties: Fishing, People & Culture by Federico Pardo

Every winter when the ice is solid, people put up ice-fishing shanties on the shallow waters of the West River. I have driven by this area for years and wondered about the people who put them there and what they're up to. Filmmaker Federico Pardo did more than wonder--he spent two winters photographing the shanties and the fish bounty, too. The shanties are ingenious constructions and each is unique.



The Vermont Folklife Center also interviewed members of the fishing community that gathers here. Each shanty photo has an information sheet that includes excerpts from the interview. You can dial a phone number to hear even more audio. (We think this feature might be due to social distancing--you don't want to have communal headphones during a pandemic.)


Ice Visions by Erik Hoffner

Photographer Erik Hoffner noticed that when fishing holes start to ice over, it creates interesting designs, and he has been documenting this phenomenon for 20 years.


In the exhibit program Hoffner writes that he sees these as eyes, galaxies, stars, cells... what do you see? He has also noticed a difference in the way the ice has been forming recently (it has bubbles, like the photos above), perhaps related to climate change.


Overboard by Andy Yoder

Andy Yoder discovered the story of 5 shipping containers blowing off a Pacific vessel back in 1990, and their cargo of Nike shoes started washing up on the beaches of the Pacific Northwest. I regret not getting a wide-shot of the installation that he created from this starting point. It was floor-to-ceiling shelves of shoes in a shipping-container-shaped space. There were also gentle ocean wave sounds. Each shoe is made from reclaimed materials, such as cardboard for recycling. These photos were some of our favorite shoes.
 


 

Hair Portraits by Rachel Portesi

Through tintypes and other techiques, Rachel Portesi explores identity, commemoration, and mourning through hair. I was interested in her reference to the practice of keeping locks of hair as mementoes, particularly during the Victorian era. Most of the exhibit were much larger tintypes than these, but I was drawn to these little album-type images.


Our Storied Landscape: Revealing the Brattleboro Words Trail by Cynthia Parker-Houghton

Did you know that Brattleboro has a rich literary history? We have an annual literary festival, yes. Maybe you've heard that Rudyard Kipling lived here for a few years. But there is much more! A book has just came out called "Print Town" about the legacy of this place in both writing and physically producing literature. (Did you know the first American edition of Harry Potter was printed in Brattleboro? I just learned that!) You can visit the Brattleboro Words website for information about the book, about local writers and spots of interest, and for an audio tour of the area. 

There's also a brochure-type map that you can pick up at various spots downtown, and it is not any ordinary map--it is photographs of a map carved and fired in clay by local artist Cynthia Parker-Houghton. She uses a sgraffito technique that has the look of a woodblock print. It is very cool! In addition to the maps, she created portraits of some famous Brattleboro writers, including Kipling as well as Tasha Tudor, Saul Bellow, and others.


Figuration Never Died: New York Painterly Painting, 1950-1970

Finally, the large gallery that is the front hall of the museum was dedicated to Figuration and Painterly Painting, a New York movement through the 50s and 60s that was a reaction to or evolution from Abstract Expressionism. Artists like Robert De Niro Sr, Wolf Kahn, and Lois Dodd painted actual people, scenes, and objects, which was seen as a departure (or throwback) at the time.

This painting is by Lois Dodd. I was attracted by the "caca d'oie" green color. You can watch a video of her recorded this month in connection with the exhibit: A Conversation with Lois Dodd.

Honestly I had no idea there would be such a wealth of interesting stuff at the museum itself, and online in relation to the work (not to mention the ability to tour the museum virtually if you wish). It seems that the museums and artists are getting better at taking advantage of multimedia experiences, and I like it!

Have you been to a museum lately? If it's a virtual one, will you leave us the link below?




Coming Out as a Planner Nerd

It's an age-old story on my part--I take a hard stand against something, then think about it some more, and then realize that I'm actually a total fan of said thing. This year it happened with PLANNERS.

First, the backstory. I like to think of myself as happy-go-lucky and commitment averse. I dislike giving a precise window of time for anything. Instead I will try to hedge as wide a range as possible in which to MAYBE do something. Or even better, avoid it completely. And when it comes to writing things in a planner, I went on record in front of a Zoom call full of new acquaintances to say that I don't like planners. (The Zoom call was about liking planners.) I went on to claim that if I do have a planner, I prefer it to stay blank, and if I do write something, I write it in pencil so it can easily be moved or completely erased. I even held up my favorite pencil (a black Dixon "Tri-Conderoga" that has 3 sides and a soft-touch finish) to show how insouciant I am.

However. I was wrong. The Zoom call turned out to be a very interesting and inspiring look at the world of planners, led by Joanna Devoe aka The Hippie Witch. A number of people held up their planners and explained how they use them. I was fascinated! Planners look so... useful! And satisfying! Joanna Devoe then followed up with a podcast episode also partly about planners, and recommended trying a 12-week Legend Planner. And after I thought about it some more, I did get myself a Legend Planner. Just to try out. Just in case. 

And... I loved it. And furthermore, I realized that far from being anti-planner or anti-journal, I actually already have FIVE OTHER similar things in my life. I just hadn't noticed they were part of a system that I use to plan, record, and enjoy my days.

 


So today I'm coming out as a planner nerd. I LIKE PLANNERS. I LIKE DIARIES AND JOURNALS. I am someone who enjoys different types of pens, and little stickers, and pouches to put things in, and washi tape. I also find calm and joy in watching videos of other people doodling in their planners. I'll put a list of those at the end of this post.

 


 

Now that I know this about myself, I can give you a tour of my 2020 journals, diaries, logs, and planner. Let's get started!


These three are my Believe Journal, a bullet journal that I've had for about 4 years, and the legendary Legend Planner. 

I use the red Believe Journal to make quick notes about what happened each day, add a smiley or mad or sad face for my mood, write down what I ate for dinner, and record how many miles I ran that day (if any). This planner was created for athletes and I'd originally intended to track my journey toward a 50-mile race on Memorial Day 2020, but that didn't happen. But it's still a great all-around weekly journal. This is my 4th year using a Believe Journal.

The lime-green bullet journal is a Leuchtterm 1917 dot notebook that I use to hold different kinds of lists and notes. I'd heard bullet journals ("bujos") described as a way to get all your sticky notes and lists in one place, and that's exactly how I use it. Here is one of the fancier spreads I've done (fancy for me), with one page for planner ideas and another for "kids cook" ideas.

 

 

The Legend Planner (no photo of this one) is great--it comes with 3 monthly spreads so you can see your whole month at a glance, then weekly spreads so you can plot goals and lessons learned week by week, and then a page for every day. It's undated so you can start using it at any time. I often get overwhelmed at the end of a given year, so I decided to use this to organize myself from October to December. It worked well, and I even got down to plotting out my weekend chores & wishes on an hourly basis, to keep me on track and help me not forget anything. And I do still like to write only in pencil so I can erase stuff and move things and pretend some things were never on my list at all. I like to plan, but I hate making myself feel guilty. Pencil is great for this.

 

These next 3 are diaries/journals. The Mead Five Star on top is where I write my morning pages (3 pages off-the-cuff written first thing upon waking, as recommended in The Artist's Way). I started this regular habit in July and it takes me about 4 months to get through one notebook.

The black notebook on the bottom is my work-list notebook. I make lists every few days of things that are due soon or immediately, and then work my way through the list until it is mostly crossed out, then start another list.

The green composition book in the middle is for my comics diaries. These are 2-page exercises from Lynda Barry's excellent book "Making Comics." In part, the exercise involves writing 7 things you did that day and 7 things you saw that day on the left-hand page. Then you pick from that side to make a drawing and present-tense story/caption on the right-hand page. I do these only occasionally, but they're really fun to look back on. Here is my comic diary from August 30, 2020.


This is the story under my drawing:

I hear a child yelling and rush into the living room. A cat is sitting on the new-to-us Danish teak mid-century-modern coffee table, placed in that spot mere hours before. The cat does not respond to verbal cues. She is perfectly happy in this new spot and seems not to believe I'm addressing her. I step forward and gently but firmly push her off the coffee table while saying "NO" clearly. I don't know if I have made my point or if this is the cat's new favorite perch.


Now since I have realized my true identity as a planner nerd, I have been having a great time planning for 2021. Here's what I'm thinking for the new year: 

The bullet journal, work-list notebook, comics diary, and morning pages journal will stay the same. Then, I'm finishing my Believe Journal and replacing it with a 5-year diary where I'll try to squeeze in exactly the same information. While you can buy an elegant $60 5-year diary from the famous Japanese planner company Hobonichi, I opted for a simple version from the local bookstore that cost about $15.

It really has more than 1 line per day--here's the inside (random pages). I'm excited to start TOMORROW!

 

I've also ordered an actual Hobonichi techo (Japanese word for planner--pronounced with a soft "ch") from Jet Pens and can't wait for it to arrive (I decided to get it post-Christmas, so it's coming soon). This will be for random daily creativity and notes and decorations. I want to write down Scottish Gaelic vocab, random quotes, songs stuck in my head, tape in bits of paper and photos and stickers and packaging, add stickers and designs, track habits, jot down worries, and generally try to be more transparent and forthcoming with myself to myself. I'll let you know how it goes.

Do you have planners and journals, too? What are your planner plans for 2021? I wish you the happiest new year possible. I am sending much love to YOU, dear reader.

If you're interested, here are the YouTube creators that I find very soothing and inspiring when it comes to planner stuff.

MyLifeMits

Penguins Creative

Connie Peppercorn Arts

Rainbowholic

Emilou.Arts

💕📚

Potato Corn Chowder with Fake Bacon

 

Happy autumn, dear reader! It is the season for warming bowls of soup, don't you think?

With new potatoes on their way in and some sweet corn still lingering, it's the perfect time right now to make vegetarian potato corn chowder with fake bacon. Potato corn chowder is a delightful autumn meal, with the stick-to-your-ribs heartiness of the potatoes balanced by the sweet crunch of fresh corn kernels. And I assert that using fake bacon is just as good as regular bacon--perhaps even better since you can enjoy delicious chowder knowing that no pigs have been harmed. Since we now have a full-time vegetarian in the family, I am cooking even more meat-free meals than ever before--and quite enjoying it.

I recommend choosing your faux bacon more for the taste than the texture--look for something with a smoky, savory presence. I have found that Benevolent Bacon from Sweet Earth is perfect.


Here's the recipe for potato corn chowder with fake bacon! Avoink the oink! (That is the name of my imaginary vegetarian bacon campaign; I like saying it loudly and often. Feel free to use my hashtag #avoinktheoink)

Ingredients:

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 T olive oil

2-3 pieces Benevolent Bacon (or any kind of fake bacon), roughly chopped

2 cups small potatoes, cubed (can leave skin on or peel--your choice)

2 cups water

1 teaspoon garlic broth base or veggie bouillon

2 ears fresh sweet corn, shucked

1/2 cup milk or cream (or more if desired)

 

Instructions:

  1. Saute the onion in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes until it's starting to look transparent and glassy.
  2. Add the fake bacon and stir together for another 2-3 minutes (or more)... until it's starting to look fragrant and more cooked than it was before.
  3. Add the potatoes, water, and broth base or bouillon. Stir together until the broth is integrated. Then, bring to a gentle boil and let simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. With a sharp knife, carefully cut the kernels off each cob of corn. (I like to hold the cob vertically on the cutting board and cut the kernels downward on the bottom half, then turn it over and do the same with the other half). Add corn to the chowder and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  5. Before serving, stir in the milk or cream. You can also taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired.

I am sending you peace and hugs. May we all have warm bowls of soup when we need them.


Bowl of vegetarian potato chowder with fake bacon

How to Grill Pizza

Once you've had a wood-fired pizza, regular old pizza is just not the same anymore. Even brick-oven pizza does not have the incredible texture of crust that has been cooked extremely quickly at very high heat, and toppings that have been transformed through the magic of flame-cooking. It's like the difference between a real, fresh New York bagel (or a Montreal bagel if that's your thing) and one of those white-bread bagel-shaped things from your grocer's freezer that you've thawed and toasted. Really shouldn't even be called a bagel.

Anyway. We are very devoted to wood-fired pizza. It is a revelation. Our family has been known to drive miles out of our way to procure it. We also like to watch how-to videos of creating your own backyard pizza oven. Someday we'll give it a try, though the very long curing process might be too much for us. (If you heat up your oven before it's completely dried, it could crack and get ruined. Stressful.) You can also spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on buying a wood-fired pizza oven (they make cute stainless steel ones that have a little chimney and everything!)

But until you get your wood-fired pizza oven up and running, here's a workaround that I've been trying at home. You can make pizza on your grill. It is pretty, pretty close to the glory of wood-firing.

Think of it as a temperature play: A wood-fired pizza oven gets up to 800 degrees. A conventional kitchen oven only gets up to 500. Grilling is fuel-efficient, too. If you're using a pizza stone in your kitchen oven, it's recommended to heat it at 500 degrees for an HOUR before you start baking pizza. That's a lot of propane (or electricity or whatever your oven uses). Is there a faster and more efficient way to get really really hot without buying a specialized piece of equipment or building your own backyard oven? Of course there is. Keep reading for all the details on how to pull off crisp, transformed pizza on your grill.

Here are the steps to grilling pizza in a nutshell: Spread dough onto a piece of parchment paper, place the dough AND paper on hot grill top for 3 minutes (grill closed). Remove the half-baked pizza from the grill and flip it over onto an oiled cookie sheet so the cooked side is up. Place sauce and toppings, then slide the pizza back onto the grill, close the grill and cook another 3 minutes. Gently slide off the grill onto a large cutting board. Slice. Serve. YUM!

 

Grilled Pizza Tip 1: Lots of Work Surfaces

It's true that a lot of prep-work can help make your pizza-grilling go smoothly. But here's another very important piece of advice--make sure you have a lot of surface area to work on. If you have a card table or a larger folding table, set it up next to your grill. You're going to need space for:

  • cookie sheet to make an oiling station
  • your prepared toppings (set them up on another cookie sheet)
  • each pizza to be spread out on parchment paper
  • tools like tongs, long spatula, pizza cutter (or chef's knife)
  • cutting board for slicing your hot pizza (or use another cookie sheet)
  • platter to hold finished slices
  • your beverage--this is thirsty work!

 

pizza dough on cookie sheet on small table, with dishes of topping on another small table
 

Here I'm improvising with 2 small tables and a chair. Using a larger, higher table is MUCH better (see next photo), but improvising works fine if you don't have a big table at the ready.

Grilled Pizza Tip 2: Use Parchment Paper

Do you remember a time, I think it was in the 1900s, when we didn't use parchment paper in the kitchen all the time? I remember learning about foods cooked "en papillote" and it sounded so exotic. Now I use parchment paper for many baking projects, and it's the perfect tool to make your pizza grilling go smoothly. Why? Well this is going to sound nutty, but... you can GRILL THE PARCHMENT PAPER. It makes it so much easier to get a pizza that's close to the shape that you want. It's also super-handy for transporting pizza or resting pizza. Essentially it's like a giant, super-thin tray that can be used or removed effortlessly. Here are the steps for using parchment paper:

First, have all toppings ready. See below for my recipe--I like to mix and match a bit, so I have 2 types of sauce, cheese, pepperoni, olives, and random vegetables all set up. Set these aside.

Turn on your grill.

Cut as many pieces of parchment paper as you will make pizzas. I used two balls of store-bought dough that I divided into halves, so I cut 4 pieces of parchment paper. The rule of thumb is that the pizza must be SMALLER than the surface area of your grill. Seems obvious, but just sayin'. It's OK though if your parchment paper sticks out of the grill when you close it. That's the magic of using paper... it's flexible.

Pour olive oil (or a high-heat oil of your choice, maybe grapeseed) onto a cookie sheet and put your balls of dough in the oil.

Take your first ball of dough and pull and turn it so that it's fairly round and pizza-shaped. It will not be perfect. If the dough is nice and soft it may start to "drip" downward and not stay round--that's fine. Just do your best to make it fairly round, then plop it onto one piece of parchment paper.

Once on the paper, you can push the dough gently toward the edges to try to make it more round or oval shaped. You can try patching holes or folding dough over holes, but it's OK if small holes occur.

 

These are two pizzas ready to be fired. See how helpful it is to have a big work table nearby?

Next is where the magic happens. Check that your grill is heated--ours has a thermometer that goes up to about 650. Open it and put the pizza AND THE PAPER right on the grill. Close the grill. Set your timer for 3 minutes.

Grilling Pizza Tip: Use Parchment Paper
 

 

Now you're going to flip the pizza, but NOT on the grill. You will remove the pizza from the grill and place your toppings on just the way you like them, and only then return it to the heat. 

To do this, pull off or pick up the pizza while it's on the parchment paper (use the paper to help you), and turn it onto the cookie sheet with olive oil so that the grilled side is UP. Set aside parchment paper for now. REMEMBER TO CLOSE THE GRILL before moving to the next step. (I forgot this a few times, and lost all that accumulated heat and then had to wait for the temp to go back up.)


Grilled Pizza Tip 3: Go Light with Toppings

Now, top that baby! Sauces, cheeses, toppingses. Apply your favorites. My advice here is to go light--if you put on a lot of toppings, they will start to pool up and get soupy. That is not what grilled pizza is about. You want your grilled pizza to be light and just kissed with all the right toppings. Kind of the opposite of deep dish. So have a light hand, and remember that everything is going to get blasted together in the heat and will be delicious.

This one is a veggie pizza with pesto, cheese, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, fresh herbs, and zucchini ribbons.

OK we're getting close now. The next step is to return the topped pizza to the grill. I find that taking the cookie sheet over to the grill and gently sliding the pizza onto the grill-top worked fine (no parchment paper needed for this step). Shut the grill again and set your timer for 3 minutes. You can let it go a little longer if the cheese isn't melted to your liking. But also don't let it burn--the cheese can keep cooking with residual heat if you need to take the pizza off to avoid burning the crust.

 

To get a piping hot pizza off a grill, I use a long spatula (like a mini pizza peel) and a silicone cutting board. I lift one edge of the pizza and start pulling it onto the cutting board, then I keep lifting and sliding until the whole pizza is on the board. Then I can set it aside to cool a little while I get the next pizza starting to grill. If you need the cutting board for something else, reuse a piece of parchment from when you started grilling as a surface for your hot pizza to rest.

Last step? Cut your pizza! Our rotary pizza wheel is pretty crummy, so sometimes I use a chef's knife to really crunch down and slice through. I don't make triangular slices like a normal round pizza, but instead cut off various polygonal shapes (preferably somewhat pointy ones).

 


That's it! Repeat the process for each pizza. Do keep your pizzas small--like 12-15 inches across--to help with maneuvering on and off the grilltop. You can also pour more olive oil onto your topping station cookie sheet, as it will help oil up the ungrilled side of the pizza and help it not stick to the grill.

 

Grilled Pizza Recipe

Ingredients:

1-2 balls of premade pizza dough (I used 2 balls for 4 12-inch pizzas) 

Sauces of your choice, such as tomato-based pizza sauce or pesto

Cheese of your choice, such as grated mozzarella or cheddar

Toppings of your choice--anything you like! I used:

  • zucchini ribbons that I pre-cooked a little in a grill basket
  • portobello mushroom slices (I grilled the mushroom a bit first, then sliced it)
  • artichoke hearts, sliced
  • fresh herbs--like basil, summer savory, oregano
  • kalamata olives cut in half
  • broccoli cut into small pieces (I used frozen broccoli--it's just easier)
  • pepperoni 

Other topping ideas might be fresh spinach or arugula or baby kale leaves, cooked spinach or other greens, crumbled cooked sausage, crumbled bacon, blue cheese, ham & pineapple, cooked sliced potato, cooked chicken or fake chicken, dabs of goat cheese, slices of fresh mozzarella, prosciutto... OK I am just naming all the possible pizza toppings in the world. And that's kind of the point, this is a method for making whatever YOUR favorite pizza might be.

Instructions:

Get your grill station ready with the pre-cut parchment paper, prepared toppings, long spatula, tongs if you like, large cutting board, knife or pizza cutter, a towel for oily hands, and platter for finished slices. Have your phone or a timer ready, too. Heat your grill to 600-650 degrees.

Then, follow my method of forming the dough into a round, placing it on parchment paper and adjusting shape, then pop the dough AND paper on your hot grill. Grill, closed, for 3 minutes, then flip onto your oiled cookie sheet with grilled side up. Add sauce and toppings, slide back onto grill (no paper this time). After 3 minutes, pull the cooked pizza onto a cutting board (or second cookie sheet) and let it cool. Then cut. Repeat the process for each pizza.

I hope you try the parchment method of grilling pizza if you are a fan of pizza or seeking a semi-wood-fired experience as a home cook. Let me know if you do. Someone recently told me they started grilling their breakfast burritos and they are incredible. Sounds reallllly good.