How to Make a Pizza on the Grill

pizza_grillPizza is one of the most commonly consumed meals for the average American. However, when it comes to using a grill, it seems that most people shy away from the idea of grilling their pizza. Whether you think it is too complicated, or you feel you won’t get your desired results, both of those assumptions are way off when it comes to preparing a pizza on the grill. In fact, if done right, pizza can come out extremely well when cooked over an open flame to the point where you may be turning towards your grill for your next homemade pizza.

If you have ever made a good pizza, then you know that it’s all about using good ingredients, and this of course starts with the dough. If you have the time and recourses I always recommend making your own pizza dough, however you can still achieve very good results using a store bought pizza dough. If you are using store bought dough, steer away from that stuff in a can, or anything that has been previously frozen, as you will need hearty dough with a lot of elasticity for the grill. Most grocery stores sell fresh pizza dough in the bakery section. Once you have settled on the dough you will use, and gathered your other ingredients, the hard part is over and you can start grilling your pizza. If you are planning on grilling any meats or vegetables as toppings, then you will need to do that first as the dough cooks rather quickly on the grill compared to a normal oven.

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Quality Control

firemagicWhile you were out last weekend shopping for grills, you may have asked yourself what is the difference between the premium grills that Outdora carries versus the grills that are in your local tin can store. In this article I hope to shed some light on this shady subject in order that you will be able to make a well-educated decision on the next grill you purchase. In this article I will talk about construction, innovation, and warranty.

The first thing I do when I look at a grill is what I call “the shake test”. The shake test is when you grab the handle on the hood with both hands and shake the grill back and forth. When you try to shake a premium grill like a Lynx, Twin Eagle or Fire Magic grill it doesn’t shake. You can feel the sturdiness of the grill. When you go to the tin can store and do the shake test you find your self having to slow down your shake so you don’t rip the lid completely off sending nuts and bolts flying down isle 7. Premium grills are much more solid because they are welded together, which means they will be more durable, easier to clean, and hold a more consistent heat. Premium grills are constructed out of thick gauges of 304 grade stainless steel which prevents them from rusting as opposed to low grade steel grills that will likely began to rust within the first year. Construction is the difference between Superman and Clark Kent.

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Fall Garden Maintenance – Part II: Container Gardens

fall-garden1Whether you garden directly into the ground or grow your plants in a container, there are tasks that need to be done in the fall as far as a maintenance program.  Container gardens have unique needs that when addressed will extend the life of the container and make gardening more enjoyable.

The first step in any fall garden maintenance program is to remove all annual plant material.  Depending on the type of plant, place the vegetation in the composting bin.

The next step deals with the soil.  In general, the soil in planters needs to be replaced every two years when possible.  If the whole planter cannot be emptied, simply remove half of the soil and replace it with compost or an all-purpose fertilizer.

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Great Tasting Kebabs Made Easy on the Grill

kebabsWith the holidays quickly approaching, it’s that time of year where I try to find some fun and creative meal ideas that differ from the traditional staples that one would expect to see on the dinner table. With that in mind, I have decided that my contribution to my family get together this holiday season will be a kebab medley prepared outside on the grill while the rest, my family crowds around in the kitchen.

Kebab may refer to various meat dishes originating in the Middle East, but for simplicity reasons in this article when I say kebab, I am referring to shish kebabs that are prepared on skewers.  Kebabs can be as easy or as complicated as you would like to make them, and most meats, marinades, and vegetables are suitable to work with, so there is a lot of room for creativity when putting them together. One of my favorite things about kebabs is that they are very easy to make if you follow a few simple guidelines.

Regardless of what meat and vegetable combinations you are planning to use, the key is to make sure everything is cut into uniform pieces. Nothing is worse than your first bite of chicken being too dry and then biting into a piece that’s raw in the middle on your next. Try to cut your meat into approximately one inch square pieces and do the same with whatever vegetables you decide to use.

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Turkey Day Traditions Around the World

cornucopiaSince the first Pilgrims at Plymouth joined the Wampanoag American Indians for Thanksgiving in 1621, food remains the centerpiece of this all-American holiday. Not only do we gather around the table to give thanks with our family and friends, but we feast on a cornucopia of home cooking. Traditional American Thanksgiving tables include over-stuffed turkeys, creamy gravy, buttery mashed potatoes and the often reviled cranberry sauce. Top all this off with a slice of pumpkin pie for desert and you have a room full of family and friends primed for a couple of hours indulging in America’s favorite pastime – football.

However, Americans aren’t the only ones using the fall harvest as an excuse to indulge in family feasting. A number of other cultures across the globe have festivals of thanks, leaving in the culinary gluttony while passing on the pig skin.

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Fall Garden Maintenance – Part I: Traditional Garden Space

Garden-Maintenance-1As the leaves fall from the trees and the last produce is harvested, one needs to consider preparing the garden space for winter.  The traditional garden space can be defined as an in the ground garden or a raised garden bed.  Regardless of what kind you may have, the recommendations and process is the same for fall cleanup.

Clean the Garden

Cleanliness is very important when it comes to gardening during any season.  Many pest, including plant diseases, fungi, and insect problems, could be avoided if the garden space was clean.  This means that all plant material needs to be pulled up and removed from the garden area.  Overgrowth around the garden also needs to be removed or at least cut down.  Keeping plants in the garden and around the garden can act as a nursery for many different types of insects.

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Topiaries: A Classical Design of Plant Sculpture – Part II

SpiralTopiariesTopiaries are not limited to the indoor environment, but can also be found in the outdoor garden space.  These types of topiaries are typically stuffed into some type of form and pruned to enhance the shape and add detail.  The following guidelines provide the gardener with a basic understanding on how to create and maintain this classical design in their own garden space.

Three-Dimensional Topiary

This type of topiary can be used indoors, on a small scale, and outdoors.  The process is the same for both except for the size of the project and the plant material used.  Plants that do well in this type of topiary are those who vine and root easily.

Three-dimensional topiaries are wire frames that are filled with sphagnum moss.  This moss acts like soil and in doing so the plants are planted directly into it.  Pruning and guidance of the plant material helps to fill in the form and create the shape.

The first step in this process is purchasing or creating the form.  Many pre-made forms exist, but for a true work of art one may consider making their own.  This is easily done with chicken wire or light gauge wire and wire cutters and/or pliers.  Homemade forms come in three types and include free form, wrap around, and sculpt.  The free form type consists of spheres, cones or simple animal shapes.  The wrap around form consists of using an object as a base and wrapping the wire around it.  Detail is added to this type of form by pressing the wire into the base.  The base is gently removed once the form is shaped.  Simple bases that are used for this type of form include stuffed animals, toys, and even garden sculptures.  The last form is a wire sculpture that is shaped by cutting away and adding wire for more detail.

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Feng Shui Gardening – Creating a Balanced Landscape: Part I

feng_shuiFeng Shui is an ancient Chinese art form that has been around for over 300 years.  The basic premise of this art form is that balancing the natural, physical and astronomical energies around us can help us live a happier life.  This is achieved by understanding that the environment is alive and full of energy (chi).  Balancing this energy can result in personal harmony.

Before your garden can be designed with harmony, one must make their garden’s energy map.  This map can be known as the feng shui bagua, pakua or bagua.  The design of this map consists of eight areas or trigrams that are then divided into an individual element, color and life area.

A traditional feng shui compass is normally used to create this map but a common outdoor compass will work just as well.  Since one’s home is part of the landscape, the front of the home is a good place to start when discovering the property’s bagua.  To begin the process, take a direction reading while you are standing inside the front door.  Write down this number; repeat this process in two other locations in the home that face the front yard direction.

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Landscape Design – Planning an Energy Efficient Landscape Part II

xeriscapingOne element of landscape design that is overlooked but is part of any energy efficient design is water conservation.  While in the past, only arid areas of the country were concern about water conservation.  Today, water resources and conservation are a concern across the United States.

Landscape design that deals with water conservation is called xeriscaping.  This type of landscaping is based on seven principles that are generally used in all landscaping projects.  The difference though is the plant material that is chosen.

The first principle is one that all projects should start with and that is planning and design.  Many mistakes are made when planning is done off the hip and haphazard planting occur.  If your landscape already exists and you want to convert it to a xeriscape type of design, start slowly and do your research.  If you are starting from scratch, again start slowly and do your research.

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Landscape Design – Planning an Energy Efficient Landscape Part I

shadetreeEnergy efficient homes are ones that utilize efficiency inside and outside. While many homeowners concentrate on energy efficient appliances and maintenance, a little known technique is ignored and that is landscaping.  Utilizing landscaping to change an environment is an old technique that our ancestors used for thousands of years.  To understand how to use this technique, one must first explore their home’s surroundings.

Regional Climate

The United States is divided into four regional climates.  Each climate has its own conditions that can be manipulated by landscaping.  Knowing what regional climate applies to your living space is the first step in this process.

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