October 31, 2018
Wishing you and yours a Happy and SAFE Halloween! Read our articles below for some not-so-frightening information!
4 Non-Pizza Ideas for Your
Wood-Fired Outdoor Pizza Oven
You may love the crispy crusts and perfect pies from our pizza cauldron – but if you’re only using it for pizza, you’re missing out!
Wood-fired outdoor ovens bake “spooktacular” pizza. The gooey, creepy cheese, the warm doughy crusts with exactly the right amount of crisp on the outside. It really can’t be beat. But if we’re beyond our college days, pizza can get old quick.
The secret is to view the outdoor brick oven much like your indoor oven. A live flame inside the oven is a high-heat source, and that heat is stored in the dome of the oven after the flame is diminished. The oven floor can be used as a stove top. Anything you cook inside can be done in an outdoor pizza oven, sometimes with even better results. Some of these meals can be made after you’ve made a pizza or two. Don’t be afraid to experiment, you may just hear your ghosts cacklewith delight!
Unlike an indoor oven, a wood-fired outdoor oven is designed to maintain the heat. Pop in a casserole for tomorrow night’s dinner. Bake some bread. Get the most out of it while it’s hot.
Here are some haunting ideas to get you past the pizza and into a whole new world of wonderful wood-fired fare.
Fish and Seafood
Love fish but dread its lingering cooking aromas? Move that fish outdoors. The Wood-Fired Oven Cookbook by Holly and David Jones has a chapter of fish dishes. You’ll need no new equipment or potionsto bake a beautiful meal. For example, the book demonstrates how casserole dishes can hold red mullet fillets and tin foil can be used to wrap up sea bass and herbs.
The grill isn’t the only way to cook those savory sizzlers. A wood-fired oven is one of the best and oldest ways to make a steak. Wood-fired ovens were used by ancient Greeks to cook and dry their meats. Cook filet mignon in a cast iron pan or on grill grates until the internal temp is about 142 degrees F. Flip and cook for another minute or two, then let it rest for about 5 or 10 minutes. Your local steak place won’t be able to top it, and all of the neighborhood monsters will howl about it!
Wood-fired ovens come in different designs. Some are made to hold heat longer than others. The ancient Greeks designed ovens specifically for the types of breads they would be baking. If your oven maintains warm temperatures (over 400 degrees F) after the fire dies down, you may have a great oven for breads. The wood-fired oven produces denser and chewier crusts on more flavorful breads than the traditional oven. Check out this quick tutorial for basic artisan bread even a beginner can bake. It’s scary how easy it can be!
The outdoors lifestyle doesn’t mean you’re stuck with s’mores for dessert. Pizza isn’t the only kind of pie these ovens can turn out. How about a cast iron dutch oven caramel apple pie? Or a pineapple upside down cake or strawberry rhubarb crisp? You can make this recipe for cinnamon apples. After the meal has been set out, get the dessert in the oven to bake while you eat. Imagine how wonderful your patio will smell with sweet aromas wafting from the oven!
Pizza is delicious, but man cannot live on pizza alone. Your wood-fired oven offers much more. Fall is a great time to get out there and fire it up. It’s not a trick! Your bats and ghouls will love this treat!
Published: September 26, 2018, EP Henry
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Fireplace and Fire Pit Accessories you Didn’t Know You Needed
The crackle, the woodsy aroma, the flickering light. Nothing is quite the same as an open wood fire. But remember, don’t use your broomstick to stoke the fire!
Before you know it, it’s October. Where did the summer go? No worries. A lot of outdoor enjoyment is still in your future. It’s time to get cracking on upping your fireplace game. Here are a few accessories that go beyond the pokers and long-armed shovels that come in a standard fireplace toolkit. Consider a few to help you build that warmth and inviting atmosphere safely and with panache.
This isn’t the most glamorous choice, but it is a necessary safety addition. Embers can burn for many, many hours after the fire seems extinguished, and they can ignite plastic and paper bags easily. While it is important to discard ashes before they get blown around your patio, it is more important to make sure the embers are totally extinguished or safely contained. An ash bucket is a fireproof metal container for ashes. The safest bet it to choose one with a lid to prevent the accidental spread of lit embers or dusty ashes. Your ashes can be used as fertilizer in the garden or in your compost pile. Choose a good sized, metal ash bucket with a carrying handle and a lid. Bonus features: a dumping handle (near the bottom of the bucket to help empty it) and an accompanying shovel.
Pie Iron and Cast-Iron Skillet
Cooking over an open fire feels historical, like walking in our forefathers’ footsteps. Or perhaps it’s just plain fun. Hot dogs and marshmallows aside, cooking a real meal over a fire isn’t an activity most of us have experienced. There are two pieces of equipment that can fix this: a cast iron pie iron and a cast iron skillet. The pie iron looks a bit like a waffle iron with long handles. It opens wide and lies flat as you put the ingredients in the sides. When closed, the pie iron works as a small oven by containing the heat and cooking the food inside. Flipping the pie iron will ensure the food is thoroughly cooked. Pie irons come in all sizes. Some are just big enough to make a grilled cheese sandwich, others can hold a casserole. Perhaps start small and work your way up. Cast iron skillets are making a comeback in indoor cuisine, but they’ve always been an open-fire favorite. These workhorse skillets require “seasoning” before the first use. A fan community has built up around cast iron, so turn to them when it comes to hints and tricks. Check online for different recipes and cooking times, and with any cast iron cookware, follow directions to “season” the surfaces before first use.
Fatwood is a funny term for easily-ignitable pine sticks, sourced from non-endangered pine tree species. When making food over a fire, it is essential to use food safe wood, i.e., wood left untreated by fire-starting chemicals. The chemicals found on certain wood products can make people sick if the chemicals transfer to the food. Even if you are using a pie iron or other container, you must use food safe wood when starting and maintaining your cooking fire. Fatwood sticks are a good way to ignite bigger, untreated dry wood logs. Look for “all natural” Fatwood like these sticks from L.L.Bean.
Everyone has their camping tricks for making coffee, but not many of those solutions are the ones you want to try out on your patio. A stylish percolator brings that fresh coffee aroma outside. Even if you’re just making decaf to go with your pie iron apple pie, a bit of coffee made outdoors will invigorate and comfort at the same time. If you’ve never had coffee made in one of these, you’re missing out. There’s no rule saying that morning coffee must be made indoors. What better way to start a fall workday than grabbing a blanket and having your coffee by the fire? L.L. Bean comes to the rescue again with this stainless steel pot that will look great as it is getting your brew ready.
Sometimes those marshmallows get a bit more toasted than we expected! Keeping a set of camping plates outside near the fireplace accessories doesn’t sound like a traditional practice, but having something to set a hot s’more on is always a good idea. Primus camping plates bring back memories of the mess kits of yore. Doubling as both a plate and a bowl, these stainless-steel plates can take the rough and tumble life of an outdoors patio man (i.e., they won’t break if they are dropped on the pavers!). They also won’t blow down the walkway or into the fire when a gust of fall wind sweeps through the backyard. Keep a few on hand to share.
When it comes to fireplace accessories, we can fall down a rabbit hole of products. But concentrating your focus on safety and fun will help you collect the ones that will let you feel the luxury a lovely wood fireplace can bring to your life.
Published: September 7, 2018
Don’t have a Fire Pit? We can install one for you, or if you are a Do-It-Yourself kind of person, you can order from Mock Pond and Landscape Supply!
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Tips for Winter Pond Keeping
Silvery ice formations and velvety white drifts of snow create a dreamy landscape with a winter water feature as the magical focal point. If you’re like most people, you shut down your water feature for the winter season. While this is a perfectly viable option for most people, some of you opt to keep your water feature running. To ensure that your pond and waterfall provide all the pleasures of a winter wonderland, be sure to follow our handy winter pond keeping tips.
Check for Ice Dams
Keeping your pond running during the frozen months of winter will allow you to enjoy the beautiful ice sculptures that form in the stream and waterfall. Although beautiful, it’s possible that the ice buildup can form frightful dams that could divert your pond water out of the pond. Check on the waterfall and stream and monitor the water level periodically throughout the winter. If you see an ice dam forming or the water level dropping at a high rate, your pond might be losing water because of the frozen sculpture and it might be time to turn off the pump for the winter. If you decide to leave the pond running until warmer weather however, your main concern is to ensure there is enough water for the pump(s) to operate properly.
Add Water to Your Pond
During the winter months, the usual water supply options are not available. Outdoor water spigots and automatic water fill valves should be turned off to prevent pipes from freezing and cracking. Therefore, pond owners who run their systems during the winter will have to find an alternate water source to replenish their pond. Water can be supplied via a hose run from inside the house or by making multiple trips with a five-gallon bucket. Generally-speaking, it’s not uncommon to have to go out a few times a month during the winter to “top off” the pond. We know it can be bone-chilling, however it is necessary.
Check the Circulation of Water
Pump size is important when determining a waterfall’s ability to operate during the winter. A pump that provides at least 2,000 gph can be operated throughout the winter without a problem, if it runs continuously. Moving water will usually keep a hole open in the ice around the waterfalls and in front of the circulation system. However, repeated days in sub-zero temperatures may lead to excessive ice build-up and can cause the system to operate improperly. If the flow of water into the circulation system is unable to keep up with the pump because of ice build-up, it may be necessary to shut the system down. The system can be run again once the ice is melted and normal water flow is restored.
Be Assured of Filters and Pipes
Most good filters are constructed out of rotational-molded polyethylene and are designed to bow and bend with the freezing and thawing effects of winter. The PVC flex pipe is reinforced and will also not crack unless water is left in the pipe over the winter and allowed to freeze. If you decide to keep the pump running all winter long, there will still be a constant flow of water traveling through the pipe, and the moving water will not freeze.
The Bottom Line for Winter Pond Keeping
The bottom line for winter pond keeping is maintenance. Roughly 70 percent of pond owners in the colder climates decide to shut down their system because they don’t enjoy tending to their water garden during the dark and dreadful months of the winter. The aesthetic rewards of the winter pond are worthwhile so by all means; don’t be afraid to keep the system running if possible. Shutting down a pond during winter is also an option. Just be sure you take precautionary measures to preserve fish, plant, and pump life.
Call Mock Pond and Landscape Supply if you have any questions!
At Mock Property Services, our goal is to provide you with a source for “All Your Outdoorzy Needs” to help you “Love Where You Live”.
We offer many products and services, complete project completion, and consider ourselves a “one stop shop”. Below is a list of services that we offer:
Lawn Care and Fertilization
Commercial Snow Removal
We are currently scheduling for Spring 2019, would you like to make the list?
Beginning November 1st, Mock Pond and Landscape Supply will be operating under our winter hours. If you need something and cannot make it to the store during these times, please call our office and we will help you. We can arrange for pay-by-phone and after hours pick-up.
Monday – Closed
Tuesday – 8:30AM-4:00PM
Wednesday – 8:30AM-4:00PM
Thursday – 8:30AM-4:00PM
Friday – 8:30AM-4:00PM
Saturday – Closed
Sunday – Closed