The Original Pizza Story and The One Ingredient Pizza Sauce

There is a story I was told, time and again.

When the Allied troops were fighting the Nazis in Italy after the fall of Mussolini they eventually approached Naples.

Due to the Volcanic Soil from Mount Vesuvius and other volcanos, the soil there is extremely rich.  The climate in the area is perfect for growing tomatoes that are held to be better than anywhere else.

(Ok, maybe AS good as the home grown tomatoes that are from South Jersey, but I digress.)

However, due to the impoverishment caused by the Fascists and the War, there was very little to go around.

The troops came upon pizzas made with only about four ingredients.  Crust made from Flour, water, yeast and a little salt.  Mozzarella made from milk from the few cows that were left.  A simple red sauce made with those tomatoes and almost always a touch of basil.

Yep, that’s it.  A Margarita Pizza.  Or however my spell check forces me to spell it.

(I have seen it Margherita on Menus as well.  The picture is labeled like that, the article uses the other spelling.)

Crust, Sauce, Basil, Mozzarella Cheese.  Heat in a wood burning oven.  Serve.

It was a hit and brought back to the US and became a favorite here and worldwide.

Mind you, to me, pizza made with Pineapples or Cheddar Cheese are an abomination, but I am quite fond of Mushrooms and perhaps sundried tomatoes on occasion.

About that sauce?

A week or two ago, I went to downtown Miami and went to what was an Italian restaurant.  They had all the prerequisite items on the menu and a simple Marg(h)erita Pizza in their wood burning stove.   I got that and it was excellent.

As I sat there I was pondering the sauce with my lunch partner.  We decided that if there was anything more in that sauce than a little basil and San Marzano Tomatoes, we couldn’t tell.

San Marzano Tomatoes are the name for the “DOP” for that area – The Protected Area.

So we got a can.  I used a 100 year old potato masher and mushed them down to a chunky mash.

Then I turned the heat onto medium low and cooked them down for 90 minutes.

Allowing the sauce to cool and rest until the next day, because tomato sauces are always ALWAYS better “tomorrow”, I waited.

I made the pizza you see in that picture.  It was almost identical to that $16, Serves One, Pizza.

We cracked it.  Simple is best if you want an Authentic Pizza.

Mind you, I will say that Neopolitan Pizza in any of the major NE US Cities is supposed to be better, but this was an awesome pizza with a no fuss sauce that I would put up against anything I’ve had elsewhere.

So much for artisanal, you can be an artisan too!

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 1 26 Ounce Can of San Marzano Tomatoes, peeled, with Basil.  (800 grams)

That’s it.

Recipe Process:

  • Open can into sauce pan.
  • Use potato masher to rough-mix the Tomatoes.  If you use a blender, you want chunks so just pulse.
  • Warm the sauce pan to Medium Low – 3 on a regular American Stove.  (You know that Iconic one that goes “Lo”, then 2 to 8, then “Hi”?)
  • Cook the sauce, stirring frequently, until the desired thickness is achieved – it took me 90 minutes on a slow simmer.
  • Set the sauce aside in the refrigerator until tomorrow to allow flavors to rest and meld.
  • Use promptly.
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My Clock Has Four Legs and Fur or how Rack gets me to inspect the sprinklers

Most people have a very stable schedule.

Oh sure, you leave the house five minutes this way or that, go a different direction once in a while.  What I mean is that if you pull back and look at things at a “One Thousand Foot Level” instead of being specific, you do roughly the same things every day at about the same time daily.

This effect can be seen while looking at pollution levels at a city for example.  Saturday and Sunday has cleaner air.  Monday traffic is a little less than Tuesday because you and a couple hundred people in your city had a case of The Mondays that week.

That sort of thing.

I think that I’m in that sort of a relationship with my dog.  A bit of a feedback loop.

In my pre-dawn haze, almost every single day, I look over at him when I open my eyes.

Rack is almost always looking right back at me.

Ok, so it’s 5am, so let me sleep in.  Dawn comes two hours from now in winter, ok?

Didn’t think so.

If humans have a semi-rigid schedule, so do dogs.

We get out of bed and get prepared for a lap around town.  Fifteen minutes later, like furry clockwork, we’re on our way.

When we’re back, he fiddles around doing those Dog Things that he does, but he knows that when the microwave door opens, 40 seconds later, he gets food.  “Come on over” is something I rarely have to say.

Food, coffee, Spanish, online stuff, and all the sudden he’s at my elbow again.  I check the clock, it’s just turned 7 and someone else is getting up.

“Go see ’em!” I say.  It rarely works but I try anyway.  Time for a little attention, and he’s back in his corner.

I go back to my own routine and after a bit he’s back at my elbow.

It’s 7:31am.  My sprinkler systems have kicked on for a quick watering of the pots.  He’s looking at me, he knows, it’s time.  I have to do the yard inspection.   That’s a pretty rigid time there even if the clock there needs to be adjusted.

We’re in the yard, I dump my first mug’s coffee grounds in the plants because “It’s Gardener’s Gold!” in this sandbox that we call soil here, plus it can reduce the number of mosquitoes and feral cats that wander through the property.

Dumping the pool scoop in the can, I’m being herded inside.

I think Rack manages my time as effectively as any cellphone, Palm Pilot, or Secretary ever could.

He does know not to ask for an ice cube on the second mug of coffee, he gets one and that is fine by him.

Similar things happen around lunch where he knows to check what I am making.  I learned that if I tell him that it is chicken or “there’s onions” he won’t bother me.

I’ll give him some homemade yogurt instead.

At 440, he gets up to wander into the kitchen for his dinner and our second yard inspection.  Oh sure, I may be deeply involved in something, but if I am, he’ll nudge me along.

Not at 4:35 nor 4:45, but promptly at 4:40.

“Dog?  Can you read a clock?”

Brown eyes lasering a hole through my head.

When we get back inside, I try to reclaim my own schedule.

5PM on the dot he gets up and walks to the front door.   The house is about to fill up again, I am having more holes sintered in to my head.  Twin brown laser beams are telling me that someone is on the way.

I see the white SUV pull past, then back into the drive.  Time once again to go for a walk.

Yep, dog walk time.

It’s almost cause and effect.  He knows what is going on, and has a good understanding of what he is being included in.

Rack, being a McNab Dog, is so intelligent that I have learned just to accept that he will understand what is going on.   If I get up and move for the keys in a certain way that indicates that a car is being used, he tries to invite himself.  If it is a Skate Day instead, when he sees me put my skates or pads by the door, he backs off.

Intense little black and white dogs can’t run as far or as fast for as long as I can skate, although the ride would have him beyond excited.

But a herding dog, especially a McNab, is a special thing.  They will manage you if they can, and will understand what you are saying even if you can’t see the clock!

In Florida, If Car > Iguana, and Buzzard > Iguana, then Buzzard = Car?

Welcome to Mutual of Florida Wild Kingdom where Native Species sometimes win out.

Once upon a time there was a pristine land where Puma roamed free and nary a hibiscus was found.

This was South Florida.

Then “we” moved in and changed things.

A few “swamp rats” of various kinds moved into the land that was dry enough to support us.

People.  We changed the place.

We have all put a heavy thumbprint on the land, no matter which group of people you are referring to.

Clearing the land to allow for homes of various ilk.  Then someone got the bright idea to drain the forests and the river of grass to create more land.

Sure, it worked but when the North emptied out into the place after the Second World War and the invention of practical air conditioning, we brought what we thought should be in this climate.

South Florida is an artificial landscape.

Those Palm Trees we plant everywhere don’t belong.  Nor do the Hibiscus, the Orange Groves, and the Bottle Brush Trees.

Most of this stuff comes from Asia and Australia.

We also brought our animals.

There are roving packs of dogs and cats, of course.  Large amounts of Razorback and other feral hogs living in the forests.  There are flocks of parrots that visit from time to time that chatter at me and mine while I am out working on the swimming pool that does not belong, either.

Someone got the foolish idea that having an Iguana as a pet would be great until they started escaping.

These green dinosaurs run all over the place eating up the plants that we brought with us like they’re candy.

You can’t share with an iguana, don’t even try it.  They won’t leave your hibiscus or your orchids in peace, if they can get to them.

Every so often one of these creatures meets up with a car.  They run at full speed across the streets in front of my house looking for choice bits of plants.

Until, Crunch.

Then you get to watch them as they move onto their next existence.

After they finish thrashing, they’ll become food for whatever animal chooses to visit.

In the case of the last one, it was a buzzard.  It had just about a six foot wing span when it landed.  Or rather I should say when they landed because they’re quite skittish.  Once one gets there, another tries to run it off so it can get to the choice pieces of Iguana before the other and they trade off.

Not a problem for me, I’m all for the Buzzards, after all they belong.  Green Iguanas do not belong in this ecosystem and anything that gets rid of them I’m all for that as well.

Even if it is a Ford or Goodyear and it ends up on my neighbor’s driveway.

Fascinating to watch.  If you have to watch a dinosaur get eaten, may as well be on your neighbor’s driveway!

I’d just rather not clean up after it all.

Happy Holidays From Rack and Ramblingmoose.com

So sure, I could mess with my schedule and put this picture up, when, next Tuesday?

What fun is that?   I really do like how this picture came out.

Besides, that’s for New Years.  Thanks Calendar Cartel for not straightening out the dates!

Harrumph!

What this was is actually the end of a dog walk.

I have three dog walks per day, as you should if you have a dog.  Rack being the superior McNab SuperDog, (TM), that he is, he has plenty of quirks.

He speaks English,

He tells time,

He has a map of the neighborhood in his brain.

He may even be learning Spanish – I have to be careful with the phrase “Estoy Listo” because “I Am Ready” is a phrase I may want to keep close to my chest.

Here is the story as I see it.  Even if I am reading too much into it, well, I have been told that I can tell a story well.

We left, as normal, from the house, and went out to walk the block.

“Rack, this is your walk, take me where you want to go.”  Wag Right.

When a dog wags right, what you said or did pleases him.  He feels in control of the situation and confident.

When a dog wags left, he may still be pleased but he isn’t completely in control of things.  I get that when I tell him “Go Poop” and he’s not ready.

He really does like to be talked to.

Rack did take me on a “modified” walk.  I have a very set pattern of blocks I walk at that time of evening.  Probably because I try to avoid the bars, don’t want to disturb the patrons at the Italian Restaurant, and I want to avoid noise and other distractions.

No, really, if I walk past Bona Italian Restaurant, it causes a ripple of people talking and pointing at my dog.  There is a waitress in there that loves him, as well as one or two of the owners, and I really don’t want to stop business just for a walk around town.

He does, however, and he took me past the restaurant.

After a few cookies and some attention, we wandered on a different route until we got back here.

As we approached, I said “Rack go wait at the door and let me get a picture”.

He did … Just That.  Walked to the door and waited.  Ok, he knows more English than I thought.

I got the picture you see, however, any photographer will tell you – always take a second.  I wanted to play with flash and settings and re-compose the shot.

This one isn’t perfect, I could have adjusted settings, but this is as close to perfect as I could get all the way to the palm trees hiding above the house.

He thought I was fussing too much and he came over to see.

 

Looking up at me as if to say “are you alright?  Did you get this figured out yet?”

I responded “Why don’t you go back to the door so I can get another?” in a conversational tone.

He did!  Wow that is one smart dog!

I ended up using the first shot but this dog always impresses me.

Now that he’s gaining confidence, he’s getting a bit too assertive at the door.   We have to work at that bark, he’s authoritative enough to have me jump out of my skin inside!

So Happy Holidays to one and all, no matter where in the world you are, no matter what holidays you celebrate.

Thanks for stopping by over these years.

Rack and the rest of us at Ramblingmoose.com

Skating with the Goodyear Blimp at the Pompano Airpark

A couple miles north of me, a couple miles in from the ocean in Pompano Beach, FL is the Pompano Airpark.

When they carved up the flat swampy ground and drained the soon to be populated area of South Florida, there was this large plot of land that was once out where nobody lived.

People eventually back-filled their lives into the area, there are homes surrounding the park in the large sprawl that is what is the metropolitan area.

Goodyear got there first and bought that plot before we all moved in.  They put in an airport, landing strip and the hangar for the Goodyear Blimp.  There are two that I know of, the other being in California.  San Diego I believe but I could be wrong.

It’s more than a square mile of land serving light aircraft and the worlds largest flying billboard, the Goodyear Blimp.

When I was growing up in South Jersey, we only ever saw it once or twice so it was a curiosity.

Moving here, I have put that plot of land to my own uses, skating on the “black ice” trail that encircles the Hangar and the civil airport.

It is 4.6 miles around, if you are needing a place to skate here that you won’t get hunted down by the ferocious drivers.

If Boston has the reputation where driving is a contact sport, they need to come down here and see how hunting down others is really done.

That is why I went back to the Airpark.  I had some moron from Townhouse Isles in Wilton Manors pass me on NE 7th Avenue more than once in an all fired rush to get out to whatever their lives had in store for them, and as a result nearly take my own life with them.

Trust me, don’t skate or bike on the roads in South Florida, it’s dangerous.  This coming from someone who has ridden a motorcycle in Manhattan, drives a Jeep Wrangler, and skates a lot.

But, the Airpark and its trail is safer.  Even if it is a bit short at 4.6 miles, and totally flat, you can get miles in.

I needed to get back skating because, while it is not fashionable, inline skating is probably the best sport for me that I can come up with.  You might have a different one, go and enjoy, but after skating 21,000 miles since 1992, this is mine.

I did notice that when I started that workout, the blimp was practicing maneuvers, and that can be entertaining.  Once sitting on a bench near the end of the landing strip, I watched that giant cigar coming in for a landing at what looked close to a 45 degree angle.  In the wind.

Snapping a picture, I started skating around the trail.   The hangar sits at the midway point, 2 miles in, and there’s a shaded portion at mile marker 1.  When I came out of the shaded portion, I noticed the blimp hanging overhead coming into the approach for landing, along with a small civil fixed aircraft.  At that same time, there was a bird heading into the view.  Most likely flushed out by the fans that push that blimp around, no doubt.

This was not going to be a fast workout.  I had for all intents and purposes, stopped skating a few years ago, rolled to a stop.  It was much more fun to skate with the team, and there just weren’t any people around.

Life moved on and, Life is better on 8 or 10 wheels.  Someone else in the neighborhood knows that too because slowly more people started dusting off their skates and are skating around town.

By the time I got to where I wanted to turn around, after all this was a “Get Reacquainted” workout, I got to the back of the hangar.  I’m right around 2 to 2.5 miles anyway, and I wanted to see what was going on.

Well really, I was trying to skate at my old competition speeds and my fitness levels weren’t up to cruising at 16 mph (4 minute mile) so I slowed to stop at the back of the Hangar.

Sitting there on the ground, visible through the fence and the back door of the hangar was the blimp being stowed after a landing.

Cool!  Firing off a couple more pictures, I left with a grin.

I needed that pause.  While I did finish the lap plus a half mile, this workout told me I slacked too much, too long.

So Instead of doing my usual training workouts of 33 miles at a shot, yes, three times a week, I am doing a 5 mile loop, and starting over.

After all, you can’t skate 100 miles in a week if you don’t skate 5 first.  I’m back at a steady pace, skating the airpark and wearing out my wheels.

We all need a sport, this is mine.

Who gets your digital pictures when your gone if nobody can find them? Back up your data.

Who knew FPL would be responsible for my thinking this through.

I take a lot of pictures.  I mean a LOT of pictures.  Anyone who dabbles in Photography does.

The last time I looked, between video I shot, intermediate edits, final edits, pictures, and so forth of things that made it through my hands, there are gigs worth of them.

Just a ludicrous amount.

I like looking at my pictures.   Some of you do out there too.  This blog is photography heavy.

My dog, my family, trees, birds, my engine bay of the Jeep.  Just things I like, just things that caught my eye.

Others may say that they’re boring.  After all, how exciting can it be when my dog even yawns at me.

I know many of you out there are exactly like me.

We have our family pictures.  Birthdays, Weddings, Thanksgiving pictures.

If you’re old.  Well ok, over a Certain Age, if you’re being kind, you even have them on paper.

You know, actual Photographs.

Believe it or not, they will last longer.

Why do I say that?  Think of it this way, there have been house fires where the “Family Album” or the wedding album of Aunt Grace and Uncle Jeremiah back in 1910 in front of their flivver featured prominently on the fireplace, survived.

A Flivver I have been told is a Ford Model T where as a Jalopy is an old car from that era.  Jalopy is still used if my arteries to my brain have not hardened and I am not halucinating due to lack of blood flow.

Oh look!  A Shiny Object!

Ahem.

So what about that wonderful digital thing, the digital camera.

Great things aren’t they?  You can take them anywhere because they’re smaller, a little more sturdy, and even these days fit on the back and front of most cell phones.

Give me a Digital SLR any day, they’re much more flexible, and you can get removable lenses.

No, I mean it if you have a spare…

Never mind.  Some day…. Hmmmm….

Anyway.  You have your beautiful DSLR that took the award winning photograph that went viral.  It’s really a weed but looks like a giant flower.  It could be the dimple in your two year old’s cheeks.  Even could be your dog playing.

All those thousands of pictures.

Remember that fire I was talking about?  It doesn’t have to be that drastic.

I had a friend.  Had.  He passed away.

His pictures won’t be making it back to the family.

They were on a computer because he was as gadget mad as I am.

Half of his pictures were undoubtedly on his phone.  Those pictures that were left on his phone are lost forever.  By now, his iCloud account has been purged along with whatever photographic treasures that he had set aside.

Family may want those, are you sure that picture you took might not better be used as a memory of you once you’re gone?  You’ll need to make sure you put it where they can get to it.

The remainder were splattered between a number of laptops that I maintained for him remotely.

He came up here once and I dropped his pics onto a CD-ROM.  Remember those?

They won’t survive a fire but having one here means that a few of his memories will escape onto facebook for whatever good that may bring.

In my case, I found out that I had a problem.

My power here is shoddy.  Sitting in the living room chair, lights dim, power may surge and hum, relays snap on and off and back on again.

I get up from the chair and turn off the breaker on the air conditioner…

 

Yes, it is October, yes I am in Florida, yes I will be air conditioning my house to 24C/76F in January, it’s part of the deal.

… and wonder what I lost.

This all comes out of a data recovery project.  How I preserve my pictures is to have them on an “external hard drive”.  Since I have an android phone, I can copy them to my server or my laptop with ease.  Specifically that is why I don’t have an iPhone, whether or not it is safer on their iCloud or whatever i’s have been left for access and not poked out with a pointed stick.

Just look to the //router/share/pictures directory and have at them.

Why was it a problem?  Those pops and snaps.  Any time your computer or your hard drive is subject to power irregularities, your data could get ruined.

So why am I suggesting keeping them on a fragile hard drive here at home?

For redundancy of course.

Sure you could get an account at one of dozens of online storage sites, but there’s a certain something about keeping the data close at hand.

Yes, even for my pictures of my dog.

I cleaned out the corrupt files, lost much less than I expected, decided that I really did not need that third copy of a linux operating system I stopped using years ago, and gave “the rug” a good vacuuming in order to get rid of the chaff on the hard drive.

So consider once you’re gone, your family won’t have those little pictures.  I’m beginning to think that history will be at a loss as a result of what made it so much easier to share memories.

Even if the Fotomat is long since turned into a couple extra parking places after the whole Film Photography thing went almost completely away.

I THINK the drug stores still do film processing… maybe not!

 

Wag Right For Yes, Left For Maybe Not, or How I Talk To My Dog In The Predawn Hours

There was this BBC Article that made a splash a while back.  It said that dogs are like people, their brains are wired with a preference to sides.  Left Hand and Right Hand.

There’s a difference.

With dogs, it’s Right Hand is Pleasing, Left Hand is Unsure.

Human says nice things to me and I understand so my tail wags towards the right.

Human says something I don’t like or don’t understand, I’ll wag my tail towards the left because my human is great.

Or something approaching that.

But hey, we can work with that, right, Rack?

Rack being my McNab SuperDog(TM).

The first walk of the day can be as much as two and a half hours before dawn here.  Sometimes I am even awake at that ludicrous hour.  Four-Stupid-Go-Back-To-Bed-O’Clock-You-Moron is what my watch can say.  I almost never sleep in until sunrise.

It seems that the stupid is strong in my head at that time because I tend to talk with Rack at that hour more than I do when it’s a little later.

I may not be as lucid as I would normally be later on in the day, but this works.

I go on about our circuit of the city, walking around in a big loop and I’m muttering along.  Why not, the only person awake at that hour is my dog, and perhaps the cleaning crew in the stores and bars here.

Nobody seems to mind.

I do have to be careful when I’m talking and telling jokes and generally muttering along because Rack listens.

Having read that article while trying to clear out my folder of web links, I will say that this time, it stuck in mind.

Rack is one of the happiest dogs out there that I have ever met.  He’s constantly wagging his tail.  If your dog, whether a herding dog or not, does not have a tail, you are missing something.

We’d be walking along and I’d ask him what he sees.  Sometimes I know already, its’ that cute Border Collie “teen” girl down the way. He’ll wag right because he really likes her even if he’s now a full adult and she isn’t quite.

Other times, I ask, and he isn’t sure, so he wags left.

He heard someone talking and recognized the voice, but heard some banging as well, so it started wag right then left.

There are some incredibly badly trained dogs around here.  He’s now learned how to spot them.  Some are seen every day or so and he knows them by scent.  After all, Dogs are primarily led by their noses.  If he catches that scent or hears their bark, the tail wag stops completely.

Just this morning, an hour and a half before dawn since I slept in a bit, I said “when we get home, we’re going to open up some of that new food.  You like that new food, don’t you?”

Well at this point I knew he was listening.  He looked back and did that dog-smile with mouth agape and wagged strongly to the right.

Trust in Dog, they know what they want.

I am sure it won’t work for everyone.  Some people just never figured out a strong bond with their dogs.  Other dogs are just too happy for words and you can’t really convince them to say “no” to anything.  Not us, he knows.

Last night I wanted a late snacek.  A piece of cheese off that block of Jarlsberg that I use in my Mac and Cheese.  It tastes like Swiss and has a strong scent to it.

Rack was laying down and asleep.  I had carved off three slices of the cheese and sat down in the chair.

About mid way through the first slice, he stood up.  Deciding to come over, he wanted some but was definitely not sure whether he should beg for it.  After all we have a no begging policy here that is unevenly enforced.

Wag left.  Wag strongly left.

Definitely unsure but since I did not chase him off, that shifted to an equal wag, then a decidedly strong wag right.

He had his head wedged between my leg and the arm of the chair.

“Rack what do you want?”

He really wanted that cheese.  Strong wag right.

“You know you should not be begging!”  Wag Left.  Strong wag left.  Walked away practicing Avoidance.

I finished part 1 of 3.  Setting the rest of the cheese on the handrest of the laptop, it was out of sight.  Not that that matters to dogs, mind you.

He walked over to his mat and instead of sitting on it, he sat next to it boring holes through me with twin brown laser beams.  His tail was back to wagging right.

I took a tiny piece of cheese rind and sat it on the arm of the chair.

I had some fool idea that a high value treat like a morsel of Jarlsberg was going to work for training him to stay put.

It was gone in a flash.

“Are you sure you don’t have some Labrador Retriever in you?”

I don’t think he understood that but definite Wag Right behavior there.  He was convinced that he was getting more cheese.

He would be right.  But only when I finished.

I did give him that cheese eventually but this just goes to prove.  If you watch your dog closely, and learn what he is saying to you, you may be able to have a conversation with them.

You just have to listen.

 Wag Right!