by: Bob Poliquin
You saw something beautiful. Tried to recreate it. And failed spectacularly. We have all seen the Pinterest memes with the photo of what something is supposed to look like juxtaposed with the photo of how it actually turned out – “Nailed it!” the caption reads. I guess if you are going to post your failures on social media, you must have a good sense of humor because the joke is on you.
Okay, I’m not dumber than a rock, but the other night I was outsmarted by our new pizza stone.
One of the benefits of retirement is you can try things, like cooking something new, for no other reason than just because. And I’m not a bad cook. Nothing fancy, mind you, but I can whip something edible together pretty fast. With enough forethought, I can whip something together pretty slowly as well because everything tastes terrific after simmering all day in a crockpot.
When our boys were younger and my wife and I were in the middle of our careers, cooking responsibilities fell to whoever was home when the boys needed to eat. When our sons asked what was for supper, the joking answer was often, “Two things. Take it or leave it.” And once in awhile, we had Yo–Yo for dinner – “You’re on your own” – as in find something in the fridge or cupboard and make it yourself. One of my regular recipes was Frankenchicken, which was grilled chicken mixed with whatever else was immediately available from fridge leftovers.
But back to the pizza stone: What could be easier than preheating a rock in an oven, assembling a pizza on a pizza peel (paddle), and cooking the pizza? It turns out there is a lot more science to using a pizza peel and pizza stone than I thought.
Newton’s First Law of Motion basically states that an object at rest will remain at rest until something bigger or stronger moves it, and an object in motion will keep moving in the same direction and at the same speed until something bigger or stronger redirects it or stops it. Pizza obeys the laws of motion.
The uncooked pizza dough wanted to remain at rest on the pizza peel, but the ingredients on the pizza wanted to keep moving as I tried to shake the pizza from the peel onto the stone. Yes, I had put flour and cornmeal on the pizza peel, and I watched a YouTube video of a woman who, with a slight flick of her wrist, transferred the pizza from the peel to the stone with casual ease.
My beautiful pre-cooked pizzas looked like lasagna by the time I got all or most of it from the peel to the stone. The cooked results are below. The photo on the left is the entire Hawaiian pizza, not with slices out of it; sadly, it is the finished product. I tried to eat the mostly-veggie pizza on the right. It was both overcooked and undercooked. I felt guilty about throwing the pizzas away, but that’s what I did. They tasted as awful as they look.
My wife said I need to practice. I said, “With what? Tortilla shells?” As I said that, I realized tortilla shells might just work for practice. I’ll let you know if I work up the courage to try again.
I’m not sure what I learned from this experience or how I can improve the results, because I made so many mistakes I don’t know where to begin correcting.
Anyhow, send us photos and a short description of your “Nailed it!” moment. With your permission, we will publish your best failures.