Our Blog : Posts by Andrew

Welcome to the Medomak Camp blog, a place for us to share with you, our campers, all sorts of goodies that you might be interested in.  From food and living off the land , to what Medomak looks like in the off-season and a behind the scenes look at our winter office, check back often for all new posts.

An Experiment in Slab Pizza

January 19, 2012

Micucci’s makes the best pizza in Portland.

I enjoyed Flatbread quite a bit before I made the move to Portland and I still do.  Brick oven pizza with some pretty quality toppings, cooked hot and fast.  The atmosphere at the Portland Flatbread is also pretty unique and cozy.  It gets my vote for the best place in Portland to go out and eat a pie (or share one if you aren’t as gluttonous as me).  Not as good as Micucci’s.

Even though it is good I haven’t really heard to many people talk about Flatbread.  The pizza I hear the most about in Portland is Otto’s.  I have tried a couple of their slices and was pretty happy.  I really liked their crust and they offer interesting combinations that you won’t find in most pizza places.  It is a really good crispy crust pizza.  Still not as good as Micucci’s.

Micucci’s pizza is about as plain as you can get.  Crust, a simple sauce, cheese, and a bit of dried herbs sprinkled on but I have never met a pizza that surprised me as much as this one.  The dough is like a pillow, ridiculously soft and chewy.  The sauce is surprisingly sweet which can be a little weird but it’s just enough to get your attention and it’s perfect on this pizza.  They sell it separately as well.  Crushed tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and cane sugar.  That’s it.  They don’t skimp on the cheese and the whole things is a little too gooey to pick up and eat.

This is not the kind of pizza I usually go for and they don’t offer any variety.  The whole setup is a little weird.  The pizza can be found in the back room of Micucci’s Grocery.  There is a shelf which blocks the kitchen from the *dining area*.  If you are lucky that shelf has a slab of pizza on it.  If there aren’t any there is usually a paper plate with a time scribbled on it estimating how long you have to wait for the next batch.

*Two tables and seat-less bar against the wall.

After you eat, head to the grocery store register and let them know what you owe them for.  This place would be extremely sketchy if their pizza wasn’t amazing.

 

So…next time you are in Portland around lunch time and wanting some pizza head to this place…

…and look left.  That is actually the building across the parking lot from Micucci’s but it looked cool so I took a picture.

 

For anyone interested I did try to recreate the pizza with mixed results.  I ended up with a pizza I enjoyed but not one I would ever crave.

The dough was pretty close with only a couple minor things I would tweak next time.  I couldn’t get the sauce right though.  If/when I try again I will just make it from scratch and hopefully get the cleaner flavor I was missing.

Dough:

  •  4 1/2 c Bread Flour
  • 16 oz Water
  • 1 Package Active Dry Yeast
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 c Olive Oil

Throw it in a bowl.  Let it double in size then punch it down and let it double again.  For me this involved putting it in an oven with a bowl of steaming water on the rack below it.

Almost every time I think of writing or saying "dough" I think of Homer Simpson. I think I was exposed to too much TV as a child. D'oh!

While you are waiting you can work on your puzzle, hang out with friends, or do whatever else people do when they aren't puzzling.

The Sauce That I Don’t Recommend Replicating Since It Wasn’t Anything Special and You Might As Well Use Whatever You Like:

  • 28 oz Crushed Tomatoes
  • 3 Large Garlic Cloves (minced)
  • 2 Tb Olive Oil
  • 3 Big Pinches of Salt
  • 3 Big Pinches of Sugar

Sauteed the garlic with the olive oil then just tossed it all together before throwing it on the pizza. (obviously not all of it since that’s quite a bit of sauce)

So simple yet so wrong...

I used a 9×13 sheet to bake the pizza on and the dough ended up being a bit much for that space so I removed about 1/4 of it.  After the sauce I layered on 1/4 lb of mozzarella and a 1/4 lb of provolone then sprinkled with a bit if oregano.  Baked it at 425 degrees.

The pizza came out looking pretty good and having a pretty similar feel to Micucci’s.  I was pretty happy with the dough but would definitely cut back to at least 2 oz of olive oil next time. The sauce needed some work but shouldn’t be too hard to improve.  The cheese wasn’t as salty or flavorful as Micucci’s and so I think I would either salt the top next time or just use better cheese.

So, Micucci’s is still king and for better or worse I will have to travel over there again when I get the itch.

Often I see things that remind me of Emma.

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Posted by: Andrew
Topics: Uncategorized

Pirate cake? Yarrrrr!

December 27, 2011

If you ask a 7 year old what he wants on his cake and he asks for a pencil DO NOT give him one.

Chances are you will end up with a drawing like this and a kid with high expectations.

I was never terribly good at decorating but working at Medomak has given me the opportunity to practice and develop in that area and I think I have come a long way from one of my first birthday cakes for Emma…

… to some of the cakes I got to make this past summer…

 

…but clearly there is still some room for improvement.

So it is kind of nice when the chance comes along to work on something interesting.

So, with the help of a friend I set about trying to recreate the drawing in cake form.  The original idea was to create the creatures using a hot sugar mixture that seemed to dry pretty well.

Unfortunately this turtle and a few pieces of plant life were the only things that dried the way I wanted them to.  I didn’t really have time to figure out exactly what went wrong and try it again so we decided to just make the cakes and use a more familiar decorating method.

We used five 8″ cakes.  Four stacked to create the base and one cut in half and stacked for the ship.  We frosted with a white chocolate buttercream dyed light blue for the base.  Then we decorated using a shortening based frosting dyed a bunch of different colors.  I tried to keep the artwork as close to the original as I could.

We covered the ship in a chocolate buttercream then put on some sails made from paper and straws.

Then for the final touch we put some of the candles in the port holes to mimic cannons.

The whole process was pretty rewarding and it was great watching the kids reaction to the cake.  If only I had this much time during the summer to work on fun projects like this…

 

 

 

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Posted by: Andrew
Topics: Food

Sunday Brunch

December 21, 2011

I have some friends in Portland that host Sunday brunch at their apartment whenever they have the opportunity.  They have a pretty good thing going.  Crossword puzzles, coffee, a crazy assortment of food, and a crazy assortment of people.  This past Sunday I wasn’t able to go at 10 when people usually start showing up but I was free earlier so they invited me over to assist them in preparing some of the food.  Thankfully I was able to stick around long enough to get an amazing cinnamon roll (maybe the best I have ever had?).

 

Should have taken more than one when I had the chance...

 

Another essential.

 

Here are some more shots of what went down including some production shots from the cinnamon rolls:

 

 

I am going to be trying to recreate those cinnamon rolls at some point in the future.

IF

I am successful or even close I will post the recipe.

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Posted by: Andrew
Topics: Family, Food

Beet and basil jelly? Okay!

December 19, 2011

 

Hey everyone, I helped host a small holiday party today and made some jellies to put out with crackers.

I wanted to make something a little unusual just because it is more fun for me and I get  a kick out of watching people eat something unexpected and new to them.

The three jellies I made were Beet/Basil, Ginger/Carrot, and Cucumber/Lemon.  I think the winner was the beet jelly, it was the one I was most worried about but it turned out pretty great.

 

Beet and Basil Jelly

  • 3 Medium Size Beets, boiled, peeled, and shredded (was about 2 cups)
  • 1 Tb Minced Basil (or ~1 tsp dried)
  • 2 Pinches of Salt
  • 1/2 c Sugar
  • 1 Tb Corn Starch
  • 3/4 c Water
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice

Wisk the cornstarch into the water then put everything in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat, keep on a low boil for 5 minutes stirring regularly.  Chill and serve.

 

 

Cucumber Lemon Jelly

  • 1 Large Cucumber
  • 2 Tb Corn Starch (although I would try with 1 1/2 Tb if I made it again)
  • 1/2 c Water
  • 2 Tb Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 c Sugar
  • 2 Pinches of Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Crushed Red Pepper (was a pretty mild heat but you can add more or not use any at all)

Same directions as the Beet Jelly!

 

Carrot and Ginger Jelly

I used ground ginger for this because it was on hand but I think fresh ginger would be infinitely better if you remember to buy it.

  • 3 Carrots peeled and shredded (was ~ 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 c Sugar
  • 2 Tb Corn Starch (again, I would reduce this if making again to 1 Tb)
  • 1 c (would reduce to 3/4 c if making again)
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Ginger (would use about 2 tsp fresh minced)
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 3 Pinches of Salt
  • 2 Pinches of Pepper

Same directions as previous jellies!

You can make jelly out of basically whatever you want and it’s pretty simple.  A fun thing to experiment with if you have people around to taste test for you!

**There are more beets and carrots seen in the pictures than used in the recipes.  Don’t worry, the recipes are accurate, extra vegetables were consumed while waiting**

 

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Posted by: Andrew
Topics: Food

Healthy Gingerbread House!

December 12, 2011

 

Now that you’re here I should point out that by “Healthy” I mean in the way that eating a single donut is healthier than eating two donuts.

When I make gingerbread houses I tend to focus on taste rather than practicality.  I don’t like using edible cement to hold it together if I can get away with a softer frosting that is a bit more enjoyable to digest.  I also don’t mind using gingerbread that wouldn’t be up to code for a home inspection.  Going that route makes construction a bit more challenging sometimes AND dramatically decreases the shelf life of the house BUT if you are creating a house to be eaten more than looked at I think it’s the way to go.

This particular gingerbread house is a little healthier only because it has been decorated with fruits and nuts in place of candy.  The colors don’t quite match up to gum drops but it’s a cozy looking house.

We used yogurt covered raisins around the house and for the walkway, sliced almonds for the roof, coconut for the snow, and dried fruit (cranberries and mangoes) for the top of the crest.  The adhesive is a cream cheese frosting.

 

Gingerbread Cookie Recipe:

  • 4 oz Butter
  • 1/2 c Molasses
  • 1/2 c Sugar
  • 2 c Flour*
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ginger

1.  Melt butter, molasses, and sugar together over low heat.

2. In a separate bowl combine whisk all the other ingredients together.

3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until uniformly mixed.

4.  Wrap in plastic wrap and toss in the cold box for about an hour.  (I initially didn’t freeze it because I wanted it to be easy to work with but I tried a bit frozen and it actually wasn’t too bad to roll out so that might be a better/faster way)

 

5.  Create your pattern.

6.  Roll out using a rolling pin if you can find one OR a olive oil bottle if you can’t…

I like to keep it between a couple pieces of plastic when rolling but you could use a generous amount of flour if you prefer.

7. Cut out your walls and roof.  Place on a baking sheet.  Toss in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

8. Trim shapes using pattern while still warm and transfer to a cooling rack. (downside of using a soft cookie dough but I do prefer the taste and you get to eat the trimmings right away)

 

One of the side panels is missing because I had to bake in two batches.

Use whatever adhering substance you prefer but this is the frosting I used:

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 4 oz Butter (room temp)
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese (room temp)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 c Powder Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon

It’s important that you use room temp ingredients so you get a consistency that you know will hold your gingerbread house together when it sits out.

  1. Blend butter and cream cheese.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Add more powder sugar if you want it to be a bit stiffer.

 

Earlier I listed what we used for decorating this house but it’s open to endless variations.  You could even make a fresh fruit gingerbread house if you aren’t planning on holding it too long OR a veggie gingerbread house if you aren’t too fond of the people you plan on feeding it to.

*If you want a stiffer dough that is easier to work with just add up to another cup of flour.

 

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Posted by: Andrew
Topics: Activities, Food

Chili, Chicken Soup, Sweet Potato&Pork Stew

December 8, 2011

 

Chili

It’s funny that as it starts to get chilly we often crave something called chili.  I am sure there is a good reason we have two words, pronounced the same way, that evoke conflicting feelings.

ANYWAY, Eric and I made chili the other day and it was pretty tasty so I thought I would share it.  Some of you might remember Eric from the summer he spent in the Medomak kitchen with me.  Usually when we cook together away from camp we end up making some variation of what we call *Slop in a Pot*.  It basically involves throwing whatever we have available into a pot. and adding BBQ sauce.  So we have a decent base of experience for making chili.

Here’s the ingredient list:

  • 2 lb Ground Meat (we used half hot italian sausage and half ground beef [90% lean])
  • 42 oz Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 Green Peppers
  • 1 Pablano Pepper
  • 2 Onions
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 4 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper
  • 2 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Chipotle Chili Pepper (ground)

Basically just get everything together, let it stew for a while, and it will be pretty tasty.  We browned the meat, added the veggies and seasonings then let it simmer for about 40 minutes.

Chili is open to a lot of variations obviously.  We didn’t use beans but you could just as easily use a couple pounds of beans and make it vegetarian or use 50/50.  Throw in whatever vegetables you want.  Also, I would have probably used half crushed tomatoes if I had them on hand to create a thicker broth.

 

Chicken Soup

Step 1: Buy a chicken.

Step 2: Cook the chicken. (Any way you like!)

Step 3:  Eat half the chicken. (Optional)

Step 4: Throw remaining chicken + bones into a pot, cover with water, and let simmer for a couple hours to make a quick stock.

 

Toss in a few bay leaves, some pepper, and some salt.

Step 5: Remove the chicken, pick clean and put the meat back into the pot with some diced veggies.  Simmer for another hour.

3 Carrots, 1 Onion, 2 Celery Stalks

I cooled the soup at this point because I had to leave.  Later I skimmed off the fat, then I brought it up to a simmer and added about a cup of brown rice.  I let it cook on low for about an hour until the rice was done.

 

Sweet Potato and Pork Stew

I am not a big sweet potato fan but I love how they can break down, become creamy, and thicken a soup or stew while keeping it light and healthy.  Basically the same principle as the chili.  Throw a bunch of stuff in a pot that you like and let it stew for a while.  Unless you are going with ground pork you are going to want to let it stew for at least a couple hours to get the meat past the tough stage.

Ingredients (2 lb. Pork)

Brown Pork

Add Celery, Onion, and Sweet Potato

Add Tomato

Add Peppers

Add Zucchini

Cook and stir on high for a few minutes.

Cover and leave on low until the pork becomes tender (~2-3 hrs)

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Posted by: Andrew
Topics: Food

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