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5 Budget-Friendly Tips for Decorating a New Home

by Mick Marsden

While there are plenty of reasons to feel stressed about a move, there are at least twice as many to get excited about — especially if this move means living with a partner for the first time. Moving in and of itself is a big life change, so it almost goes without saying that moving in together is an even bigger step. On the one hand, focusing on decorating your new space is a great way to keep that excitement alive and bond over common likes, goals, and comforts. On the other hand, it can cause some friction at times, from clashing styles to lack of cash.

 

 

You can help keep the enthusiasm of cohabitation alive by checking out these four budget-friendly home decorating tips.

 

Painting

 

Painting is a relatively inexpensive way to dress up a new home or apartment. Plus, it’s fun for many couples from start to finish, from picking out a color palette (blending different temperatures, for example) that charms you both. Picking a theme is one of the most entertaining parts of the painting process. However, keep in mind that you don’t have to just toss up one color and one color only. Professional designers recommend balancing your home with a dominant color that fills 60 percent of the space, a secondary color that covers about 30, and an accent that helps the remainder really pop. You can save money on paints by checking out the “oops” tables at Home Depot — these are paint colors that didn’t come out quite how the customer expected and they decided not to buy. You can also save money to taking advantage of in-store specials.

 

Organizing

 

You are going to have a lot of stuff to comb through and combine, which is why getting creative with your storage is a critical first step when moving in together. Kitchen and bathroom storage is especially important when it comes to keeping these frequently used spaces neat and tidy. Storage can actually reflect style, from keeping hand towels in woven baskets to a hanging pot rack in the kitchen. Remember to use online coupons and promo codes for stores like Bed, Bath, and Beyond to help keep these purchases within your budget.

 

Upcycling

 

Two people coming from two separate homes means you’re likely to have double of a lot of things — at least in the beginning. Instead of throwing out or donating, see what you can upcycle, which involves taking unused items and giving them new life as something else. For example, you can take the headboard of an extra bed and make a stylish dog bed, cozy bench, or raised flower bed. Speaking of flowers, old pots can make great planters, muffin tins can help you organize small items like sewing supplies, and a little spray paint can transform a scratched up cookie sheet into a portable magnetic memo board. Best of all, if you’re using items you already have, you don’t have to spend any money!

 

Emphasizing Shared Activities

 

Moving in together means much more than sharing your space; it means sharing your life. Whether you live in an apartment or house, you create a home by doing things in that home together — cooking meals, gardening, listening to music, reading, building or crafting, cleaning, and watching movies. Living with someone can be stressful, which is why it’s important that you make time for positive activities that kindle feelings of appreciation, hope, compassion, and love. You’ll find you can fund your fun simply by using coupons from sites like Coupons.com.

 

We know that in the midst of all this change, decorating as a couple can be a path to either great joy or great strain (and sometimes both). These four cost-saving tips will help you keep it light, loving, and lively.

Once all the papers are signed and the moving truck wheels away, you can officially say that you are a homeowner. Well, at least a house-owner. You’ve probably heard the old saying, “A house is made of wood and stone, but only love can make a home.” In many ways, this saying rings true today. Even though the house is yours, you still need to make it a home. Here are some things you can do to make this house your own and transform it into your own home.

 

Give Your New House a Deep Clean

 

Before you start unloading your boxes and moving your furniture into place, you should consider giving your new house one big clean from top to bottom. Look at it this way: Your home will never be this empty again, which makes right now the right time to give it a deep clean. Scrub the floors and baseboards, wipe down the insides of cabinets, and clean those spaces that will be difficult to reach once you’re completely moved in. Not all houses you move into will be spotless, so at least give it a brisk cleaning to start you off with a clean slate.

 

Add a Fresh Coat of Paint

 

Speaking of tasks that are easier done before you’re completely unpacked, painting is another essential activity you should do to make your new house a home. Adding a new coat of paint can transform the mood and dimensions of a room. If your living room feels a bit small, adding a light color can make it feel more spacious. Since the majority of your items are still packed away, you’ll be able to paint more freely and quickly knowing that you won’t get fresh paint on your furniture and personal things. After an afternoon of painting, all you’ll need to do is let each room dry as you start unpacking and moving everything into place.

 

Decorate to Your Taste

 

Now that you’ve painted each room to your liking, you can start thinking of other ideas to decorate and make this house a home. Decoration is how you will leave your own stamp on your new home and make each room an extension of your personality. How you decide to decorate is completely up to you, but you should know that you don’t have to burn a hole through in wallet in order to give your home the style you desire. There are plenty of decoration ideas you can find online, and with a little DIY crafting, you can make your own cheap decorative pieces that will wow your friends and family. 

 

Perform Some Maintenance 

 

Settling into your new home isn’t all about painting and decorating. There are also several maintenance tasks you should complete to ensure that your new home is in tip-top shape to provide comfort and protection for you and your family, as well as save you some money in the future. Start from the inside out. Check your pipes and make sure there are no signs of leaks when turning on sinks or your shower. Tighten what you can and make sure your water heater is working to your liking. Next, check your HVAC and filters. Once you know everything inside is squared away, you can move to the outdoors and clean out your gutters, touch up your shutters, and repair any fencing that encircles your property.

 

Change Your Locks

 

Another important task you need to complete when moving into a new home is changing the locks for your exterior doors. Most realtors will tell you to change your locks immediately, and you should in order to protect your family and things when you’re still adjusting to your new neighborhood and home. You would be surprised how often previous homeowners believe they are entitled to drop by even after they’ve signed the papers and handed over the key. 

 

It may take a while before you are completely settled in. Remember that it takes love to make a home. The more you put into your new house, the more like a home it will feel to you. 

 

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

Photo by Pixabay

Home Improvements That Actually Increase Your Property Value

Whether you’ve decided to sell your home or are just considering an update for your own personal enjoyment, you probably want to make sure the upgrades will add value to your property. After all, homeowners don’t want to sink money into something they may never get back. That being the case, there are several improvements you might consider that can greatly improve the resale value of your home.

Get a New Roof

You might have the most beautiful kitchen potential home buyers have ever seen, but if you have a leaky roof, they will automatically assume the house isn’t well kept and that they could be standing in a money pit. And they’re not wrong. Leaky roofs can cause all kinds of interior damage, such as mold and deteriorating ceilings.

 

A new roof can add value to your home. That could mean a huge difference in the price you sell your home for. But how do you know who to hire to replace the roof? You may not realize it, but according to Angie’s List, there are several roofing scams to look out for, including inadequate repair, overcharging, and unneeded repairs. In order to avoid some of these scams, here’s what you need to do:

 

● Get references. Don’t be afraid to ask around town and everyone you know. Chances are that if they’ve scammed someone else, you will hear about it quickly.

● Get several estimates. Talk to more than one roofer and get estimates and opinions from all. If one out of five roofers you talk to gives you a quote that seems unreasonable, chances are they are either out to scam you, or they don’t know what they’re doing.

● Take care of your roof. Don’t wait until the damage is out of hand to hire a roofer. At that point, you may not have the expertise to know if the repairs they suggest are unreasonable or not.

Plant a Tree

According to the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers, “A mature tree can often have an appraised value of between $1,000 and $10,000.” This is huge all by itself, but the USDA also states that the cooling effect of one of these trees equals about “ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.” Imagine the energy savings it creates!

Replace the Front Door

It’s amazing the impact a nice front door can have on a house’s curb appeal. And according to U.S. News, it is one of the most significant updates you can do when trying to increase the property value of the home. But if your door is already in good shape, sometimes a new coat of paint in a complementary color may be all it needs.

Paint the Walls

But not just any color will do. According to Business Insider, there are certain colors for each room that make your house more appealing. For example, light blues and soft grays make a kitchen most appealing, whereas light beiges and taupes are the preferred colors for living rooms.

 

If you are planning a home update or renovation, make sure you focus on the projects that add the most value. Many people make improvements that don’t make much difference when it comes time to sell, and end up being disappointed at the time and money they spent on them. Take for example a swimming pool. In most areas, a pool does not significantly increase the property value compared to the cost to install it. So make sure you are putting your resources to the best possible use.

 

To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is truly an art...

by Mick Marsden

Everyone I think at this point knows the saying “you are what you eat”. Take a look around and you’ll see lots of folks who’ve chosen to go for the empty calories. What you observe is that more than half of those you’ll see walking around the mall are overweight to morbidly obese. What you can’t necessarily see or know in this crowd are the health problems that go along with being overweight like hypertension and other heart diseases, joint and back problems yet you’ll see them lined up at Cinnabon. If these conditions are not Part of their lives now, it’s more a matter of when than if they contract one or more problems like that. 

 



 

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. 

Hippocrates

 

It’s tough to maintain your health and a healthy lifestyle if you’re not eating right. But what does eating right really mean? Did you realize a change of diet, the right diet for YOU, could help cure what ails you? It can restore your energy and give you a brighter outlook on life. Perhaps you’ll keep your chronic conditions at bay as well. But where do you start?

 

There are folks dedicated to helping you get it right and on a path to long lasting health and well being. I’d like to introduce you to my friend and master nutritionist!

 

 

Brigitta Jansen, MS, practices Functional Medicine Nutrition in Connecticut. As a nutritionist, she aims to address the root cause of disease. Her nutrition philosophy is to address the root cause of disease and support the body’s innate ability to heal itself. All disease begins in the gut, including autoimmune disorders, autism, depression, skin issues, overweight, diabetes and more. Brigitta focuses on healing the gut using the 5R program, as well as detoxing and addressing nutrient deficiencies. She uses careful analysis of blood chemistry, metabolic testing, GI panels, food sensitivity testing, genetic testing and hormone testing as well as a thorough diet and health history to determine what her clients' individual needs are. She then designs personalized diet and supplement plans to rebalance biochemistry and help her clients achieve optimum health and vitality.

Our bodies are our gardens our wills are our gardeners.      

William Shakespeare


Brigitta Jansen is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Bridgeport where she obtained her Masters in Human Nutrition. Additionally, she holds a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience from University College London, UK. She is a member of Phi Kappa Phi and the American College of Nutrition. As a nutritionist and longtime local food activist, she is passionate about helping people discover the healing power of real food. Besides nutrition, her interests include biodynamic farming, hiking, yoga and playing music. For more info and free nutrition workshops visit jansennutrition.com.

 

 

Couples put strain on their relationships for a variety of reasons, but the most common sources of strife tend to center on money. Buying a home together is a big, exciting step for many couples, but it does put a lot of money on the line, both for now and for the future. It’s understandable that home buying has the potential to put anyone’s relationship—no matter how strong—in potential jeopardy. Here are some home-buying tips for couples.

 

Get on the same page about your wants and needs

 

The above could be good advice for any part of a relationship, but it’s especially important when it comes to home buying. Suzy, for instance, may want an older house in an older neighborhood. Sam may have always dreamed of living in a brand-new house in the country. Suzy may prioritize safely in her neighborhood, while Sam may prioritize proximity to work. As a couple, you must talk honestly about what you want in a house—from how many floors, how large, the backyard situation, etc. Until you come to some sort of compromise, you shouldn’t even begin to look for homes. 

 

Find your optimal budget and then shoot lower

 

Purchasing a home without doing a thorough audit of both of your incomes, debt, and other financial obligations is crazy (for more on debt-to-income ratios and affordability calculations, check here). Figure out what you can afford, and then look for homes that price a little lower than that. Give yourself some wiggle room.  If you go into the home-shopping process with a strict budget in mind, it can help you avoid arguments and force you to make logical, non-emotional decisions.

 

Also make sure you discuss the payment load. Who is going to pay for what? Are you going to split things 50-50? 70-30? As Realtor.com says, you can’t plan for things with a hug and a kiss. Spell it out. Put it in writing if you must.

 

Don’t make everything about house hunting

 

Looking for a home can quickly monopolize your entire life. It can consume every moment of free time you have—searching online, talking finances, going to open houses, etc. It’s fun most of the time, but it can wear on you. You must not let it get out of hand. You will find the perfect house. It doesn’t have to happen in a couple of weeks. 

 

Make sure you take a break from looking for a home to focus on your relationship. Have fun outside the realm of house hunting. Focus on being healthy together. Eat right and exercise together. Take a short vacation. Anything you can do to make your relationship a priority will help you come out the other side of this stressful experience stronger and happier. 

 

If unmarried, decide on how you take title

 

Once you’ve found a home, you’re going to have to figure out how to take title. This is easy if you’re married, but if you’re an unmarried couple, this can be confusing. There’s sole ownership, joint tenancy, or tenancy in common, all of which have their benefits and challenges. Yes, this means having a healthy talk about the future. As a loving, committed couple, you surely aren’t thinking about breaking up anytime soon, but having the talk will actually help you to de-stress.

 

In the end, remember to have fun. Yes, it’s a big commitment. Yes, you’re throwing around a lot of money. And yes, you will be forced to make decisions about your future as a couple. But this is one of those life events that you don’t get to experience that often. Take a step back, realize you’re in this together, and go from there. 

 

Photo by Kristina Litvjak on Unsplash

My wife tagged along with me one day last week when I was showing homes in Old Saybrook. It was around 2pm and asked her what she’d like to have for lunch before we headed home. Because we both are known to be pretty fair scratch cooks and bakers choosing a restaurant is always a challenge. She was loath to choose a burger place, one of the ubiquitous seafood restaurants or asian food and was undecided. I decided looked at my Yelp in the hopes we find something new and fresh and did we ever hit a pay dirt. 

 

 

Opened just 7 months, I found Himalaya Cafe…slated as an Indian Bistro & Lounge. It had a menu that lined up with our sensibilities and mood! We headed that way…they were open just 30 minutes more.  

 

 

Himilaya Cafe, the vision and creation of Sanjay Odedra, is conveniently located at 1456 Boston Post Rd. in Old Saybrook. Don’t let the modest façade fool you…when you enter you’ll be impressed! Sanjay created an inner sanctum that’s both interesting and unique. It’s a space that is true to his vision which is a destination where people could come to relax, be casual, memorable and a departure from restaurant norms. In my humble opinion he made he more than accomplished this.

 

He designed all the furniture that was handcrafted in India which used reclaimed lumber from a decommissioned fishing boat. The finishes vary from clear finishes over uber-thick Koa wood juxtaposed with the whimsical & wonderful tropical colors of the bygone fishing boat that provides a warm, well-worn patina that only time and the sea could provide. I loved the lower table height at table for two by the window where I could take in all the wonderful artifacts Sanjay has collected during his travels...each telling its own story. 

 

  

I stopped by one day to talk to Sanjay but he was out for the day and instead had the pleasure to speak his sister Sima Odedra who clearly runs the show. One can tell Sima loves whats she is doing as she just exudes a happy and welcoming energy. She works tirelessly to realize the vision Sanjay had for Himalaya Cafe. 
 

I quickly learned during our conversation that the Himilaya Cafe as I experienced it in month 7 was more an evolution than the original plan:  a cozy, warm, inviting space where one could come relax and converse over drinks and small plates. 

 


Deepak Sanap, Chef Extraordinaire

 

Enter Deepak Sanap (my new best friend;) and the executive chef! With 20 years experience, Deepak is the creator of the very wonderful menu that changes often and never disappoints. He just didn’t fall into the culinary world he pursued it beginning with graduating as pastry chef at just 17 from YWCA Mumbai. He got lucky at age 18 with a 5 year stint at Taj, the 5-Star Hotel chain owned by Sheraton. He was then head chef and baker on a British cruise line before migrating to the USA. He’d then spend his next decade plus honing his skills and talents owning and operating his own restaurants alone and n partnership in Ohio and New Jersey until he returned to India for a short hiatus. When he returned to the USA he came to be Himalaya Cafe’s venerable, talented and deft executive chef. 

 

Deepak Sanap making papadam 

 

The menu is admittedly limited so they can concentrate on the quality and scratch preparation of each dish using the finest local and imported ingredients. Oh man is it the right game plan. As I returned for a third time eating off both regular and their specials menu I was transported to another world yet again. Sima spoke of their plans to slowly expanding their fair into gluten free offerings as well. They do so much in such a small space. 

 

Everything we tasted was over the moon and unlike any other Indian restaurant we’ve had the pleasure of trying. Starting with the simple papadam normally offered at such restaurants you’ll Immediately you notice a difference. 

 

Theirs are prepared on premises as they arrive to the table rolled, not flat, with some flame charred spots for extra flavor. It’s with a mango chili pepper chutney to dip as opposed to the trite trio of tamarind, green sauce, and pickled onions offered elsewhere. The Paneer Tikka, a seasoned cheese and baked in the tandoor oven was unique. The onion appetizer special incredible! 

 

The Korma is other worldly packed with flavor, texture, complexity and depth. The long grain jasmine rice is delicate, fluffy, aromatic, moist…perfect.  There delicious naan a perfect companion to the aforementioned offered plain, garlic or sesame seed,  my personal fav.  

 

  

 

The mango lassi is not out of a jug as I’ve caught some other places pouring…it too is made from scratch. The chicken vindaloo is also remarkable in its depth, flavor and texture. 

 

When I returned to do the interview for this blog I had to have the Chicken Korma again. If it could be, it seemed better than the last time as did every bite I enjoyed. I am swept away when dining there. Even Deepak’s kheer, their rice pudding,  is over the moon with it’s rich, creamy texture, and the wonderful addition of chewy blonde raisins perfectly sautéed into chewy candies and nuts makes it all that more memorable.

 

I loved eating at the bar and seeing Deepak work in the open kitchen as Alyse, our friendly and competent waitress, met our every need. For me I never once needed to ask for at thing. 

 

 

If you love Indian food and seek a different experience along Connecticut’s shoreline I whole heartedly recommend Himalaya Cafe. You will not be disappointed. I noted a Salvatore Dali quote on the wall...”Don’t fear perfection. You’ll never achieve it!”  Deepak has shown Dali he was wrong. If Deepak’s food isn’t perfection it’s as close as you’ll ever experience.

 

 

When you go please tell them Mick & Lizzy sent you!

If you do Sima promises you a free desert!

 

Don't you love their sense of humor? Being married it's more correct than a joke!

Marc Nadeau is one of the most reputable and competent appraisers I know. He's done great work for me in the past and in properties that were daunting to appraise. When I read his recent article: Demographic shifts and the impact on real estate values - by Marc Nadeau I felt the need to share his perspective. They sound, articulated in anyone grasp. 

So if you're seller or buyer you need to read this. 

How a stray cat upstaged my church pastor!

by Gigi Giordano

St. Mary’church in Clinton has been like the hub on a wheel in my life with many spokes radiating from it’s center: Mom and Dad were married at St. Mary's and buried in the cemetery. So it’s no surprise that my brother and I were baptized there, took catechism our first communion there and became confirmed. 

 

Who knew we’d all be upstaged by a stray cat?! One of our wonderful priests, Father Michael Sequeira, and the now famous stray black cat that would later be known as Roman CatHolic has been memorialized in a book titled: “Stories of an Outstanding Cat”  

 

Since the cat emerged onsite back in 1997 Fr. Mike had no idea of the positive impact it would have on his life. Roman the cat passed away in 2015.  I think you’ll this self-published book I think you’ll find uplifting and insightful. While every one had thought he had rescued him it had turned out that the cat rescued Fr. Mike. 

 

Visit: https://anoutstandingcat.com to read more about this wonderful story and to buy the book. Here’s 

 

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORIES

 

 

If you have a furry friend, feline or otherwise, you talk to it, right? Probably even have conversations with it. (We all do.)

 

And so it was when the pastor of a church in Clinton, Connecticut encountered a lost cat several days in a row on the grounds of the rectory he called home. A pact he made with the cat for a one-night living arrangement came undone when the rescued cat did not live up to his campaign promise to be gone after one night.

 

It soon became clear to everyone who knew them, that it was this cat he had named Roman Catholic who rescued Father Michael and not the other way around. And what followed was fifteen years of their sometimes conflicting needs coalescing into a relationship of devotion to one another and to the parishioners to whom they ministered.

 

The life, adventures, musings, and lessons learned from the beloved, sassy cat became stories that Father Michael would tell to his congregants. In retirement from his busy ministry, he has written them down in a treasure of delightful vignettes. And like Levy’s secular rye bread, you don’t have to be Catholic to enjoy them!

 

Here’s a couple of sample pages and excerpts for you to get a sense of what he put together. It’s beautifully illustrated.

 

 

 

 

Making Pizza Napoletana in your home oven!

by Mick Marsden

 

There's such gratification to sit down to a meal you make from just ingredient and not from a box. The taste, quality and nutrition best any restaurant (unless they're cooking from scratch too) so you save a bunch of money and you may even lose a few pounds. That said...my sister wanted me to make my home made pizza for her and to watch a movie.  She loves it because it rivals the best you'd get in New Haven! Being a lover of Sally's and Pepe's pizza since my teens I HAD to learn to make pizza napoletana. This was to be one of the last oven cooked pizza's we will do until Fall. If we do pizza in summer we cook in on the grill which is a different approach.


No...I don't own a pizza oven. The pizza pictured was made on a pizza steel followed by a brief stint under the broiler to create the caramelization that occurs in the 600+ degree coal and wood fired ovens used commercially. 

So let's being with making the dough. It's simple but you must think ahead for the best tasting crust. I proof my dough in a refrigerator for a minimum of 24 hours to as many as 3-4 days ahead. If you wait 3 days the flavor is off the hook! Here's the recipe. Hey...if you've never baked in your life or never once made dough...don't be intimidated. I can't believe how easy it is and not sure why I didn't convert to a "scratch cooking" house way sooner. For this pizza dough you need just the 4 basic ingredients for any rustic good bread: Water, Flour, Yeast and Salt. 

Before I lay it out...it's great to buy a cheap $30-40 food scale with baker's percentage feature. It will allow you to scale up or down any recipe you're making quite easily. It's one way to garner predictable results each time you step to the bake as well as a time saver. 

Napoletana Pizza Dough
(The following portions will make 4 pies)
.5 liter water (500grams...isn't metric wonderful?)
1.9g Instant Dry Yeast (Pay Attention here...this is the Rapid Rise variety)
27.5g salt
850g flour
10g olio

Bakers Percentages for Scale Users

60% hydration 
3.2% Salt
1% Oil 
.5 % IDY 

Process

Weigh our your 500g of flour and add the yeast. Distribute yeast by mixing dry with whisk. 

In a large bowl add .5 liters luke warm water then add the salt and dissolve by agitating with your fingers. Once dissolved at the 10g of olio and agitate that into the water. 

Now add half of the flour mixture and mix with your fingers until fairly smooth. Once there add the balance and mix into the bowl until it's pretty much a ball of sticky dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface with will floured hands. Knead this dough for 10-15 minutes until its a soft, pliable dough. Wet a cotton tea towel and cover it and let it rise for at hour or so. 

Remove the towel and slide your dough scraper under the edges to free the dough from the work surface  and cut the dough ball in half. (By the way if you want a video on how to do these steps go to https://www.youtube.com/user/maestrovitoiacopelli; While I have been an accomplished home chef for years I just started baking and doing all from scratch for about a year and I learned how to bake by watching masters on youtube. The recipe above is a derivation of Vito's recipe which I've made. Fresh yeast is not so easy to come by and has a short shelf life so I created the equivalent for Instant Dry Yeast you can by by the jar and save a bundle.)

Using this recipe you can simply divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. (a 14" pizza the dough ball should be about 300g) If you scale it up or do Vito's full recipe then you'd approach it by eyeballing a just under the size of a baseball. Use the scale and you'll develop judgement. 

Put the balls in a proofing box if you own one or on a floured full size cookie spaced apart so they can rise as separate units.  Once on the cookie sheet flour the balls with a little flour and cover airtight with plastic wrap (not doing so will result in a ball with a dry outer crust...not good!) 

Put the tray in the refrigerator. Go have fun doing something else until tomorrow or a couple days later when it's time to stretch them and bake them up. 

Once proofed remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it come to room temp. Once at room temp sprinkle flour on and around the ball your going to take. Get the dough scraper (you can use a paint scaper if you don't have a dough scraper) under the ball pushing the flour with it. Get it up and out on to your work surface. 

Stretch the pie NOT by trying to toss over your head in the air. Not that kind of dough. Instead simply press from the middle out gently on a well floured surface in a circular motion (Vito's video is tops showing you how!).

Once you formed your 12 to 14 inch pie move it to your  pizza peel that you sprinkle some semolina or flour so it will slide off when ready.  

Ladle on some milled or crushed San Marzano (Quality important!!) tomatoes, sprinkle some olio, and your other toppings. The photo shows a pie made with Parmigiano-Reggiano, Luizzi's of New Haven Mozzarella, and Vermont Smoked and Cured pepperoni I hand-cut thick. 


How to Cook to Your Pie at Home Without a Pizza Oven

Move your oven rack to the top near your broiler and giving enough room for the pie to slide in and under it. 

Put your pizza steel (best) or stone (2nd best) and turn oven to highest setting. 500° or higher if it lets you. Allow the pizza steel to heat in the oven for at least 20 minutes. I sometimes turn on the broiler to kick that plate temp up as high as I can get it before sliding the pie from my pizza peel. 

When the time is right, make sure your pizza hasn't begun to stick to the peel, open the oven door and put the pizza peel all the way in over the steel and gently shake it to move towards the end and onto the steel. When a little bit of the dough hits the steel pull the peel back quickly...like pulling a table cloth out from under place settings. 

Bake for about 5 minutes on the steel. The springy outer crust will have puffed and risen and it will start to brown up. Next turn on the broiler and keep it there until it looks like it came out of Sally's coal fired oven in New Haven. 

Once you master this...you'll never have to go out to New Haven or a Pepe's location to get a napoletano pizza...because you will have become a maestro!

____________________

My next blog will be on how to make THE BEST hamburger and hot dog rolls. In fact, this dough is so versatile it will be your go to recipe for lots more. Until then...

 

Once you eat a slice of your own warm bread from the oven you can't go back. By the time a loaf of bread hits your shopping basket it was baked long ago. It may be "fresh" but it's not the same. It's also not as healthy, costs more, and has ingredients ("to preserve freshness") in it I'd never put in my bread dough. 

While my favorite "Rustic Bread" recipe is a mere 5 minutes to make (See previous blog titled "Your mother cooked from scratch, now it's your turn") and great to have with say Ravioli di Ovo but not quite the right fit for your lunch sandwich or for traditional bacon and eggs in the AM.



Ravioli Di Ovo: I will do a blog with my recipe on how to make these. It's a cheese ravioli
with an egg yolk on top of the ricotta cheese filling . I serve it with a sage butter sauce with crisp pancetta.
The oozing yolk mixing with the Italian bacon and sage butter is heavenly!

 


Mmmm....a nice start to the day!

Amish White Bread

My favorite go to recipe is an Amish recipe that I tweaked to my liking and increased in volume create two perfect loafs. One I sometime roll up with cinnamon for a wonderful cinnamon swirl loaf or I simple freeze a loaf for future use. Any of the bread you bake can be frozen after it's cool. Once thawed it will be as fresh as it came out of the oven. Here's my recipe both in baker's percentages and measured volume:

Prep time: 20 minutes with 2 hours of rising time
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 2 hours 25 mins

Serves: 2 loaves

Ingredients
* 2 Cups warm water about 110-120 degrees (472g)
* ⅔ Cups white sugar (134g)
* 1½ Tablespoons yeast (2 packages) ADY Active Dry Yeast
* 1½ Teaspoons salt (9g)
* ¼ cup vegetable oil (218g)
* 6 cups flour( 762g / 381g)

Bakers Ratios:
Hydration: 61%
Sugar: 17.5%
ADY: 1.5%  |  IDY 1%
Salt: 1.2%
Safflower Oil or melted butter: 10% 

 

Instructions
1. Place sugar and 40°c water in warmed mixing bowl 
2. Sprinkle with yeast and let dissolve 5-15 minutes 
3. Add salt, oil and half the flour mix together
4. Add remaining flour and mix till its pulling away from the sides.
5. Pull out onto lightly floured surface and knead shortly
6. Place in greased bowl flipping to cover both sides.
7. Top with saran wrap or damp warm towel
8. Set aside in draft free area and let rise till doubles in size. About 1 hour
9. Remove cover and punch down.
10. Lay out on lightly floured surface and cut in half and form into two equal loaves.
11. Flatten one out into rectangle and "jelly" roll into a loaf with cinnamon sugar if you want to make one white and one cinnamon sugar loaf)
12. Place in greased 9x5 bread pans.
13. Repeat with other half
14. Cover and let rise till double in size about 30-50 minutes.
15. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees or 325° convection.
16. Once double in size bake for 25-30 minutes.
17. Pull out and brush top with butter if you like. 
18. Let rest 10 minutes before removing to cooling rack.

 

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