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January Blooms and a birdhouse abuser

  We are having a string of warmer and dry days this week. Just in time for a new deck (more on that later). I did a walk-about yesterday and noticed several blooms - Arctostaphylos ' Sunset' (Manzanita) Galanthus nivalis (Snowdrops)   Hellebore 'Merlin' And something not so pleasing - I discovered a birdhouse that was just put up last fall now looks like this! - This has happened before so I wasn't completely surprised. I posted this photo to a local birding group and got a multitude of answers but most of them stated that it is likely a squirrel. That makes sense as we have a lot of them. Flickers and woodpeckers was also a common answer. That would be a possibility but I only see flickers and woodpeckers at our feeders periodically so I don't know. I was advised to attach a metal ring around the hole.   Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Cast Iron Pizza


We've had a lot of rain lately which means I've been in the kitchen a lot. I've been experimenting with pizza recipes and we've found one that we really like. This is from America's Test Kitchen (they have a video on YouTube demonstrating how to do it).  It is compared to the Pizza Hut pan pizza. The first time I made it, I used a regular sized cast iron pan and it was thick and tasted good. We like our pizza thin, however, and found a larger sized pan that is actually called a pizza pan. In this pan, the pizza is thin and just the way we like it. It is delicous!

Cast Iron Pizza

11 oz. bread flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. instant or rapid rise yeast
8 oz. water (105-100 degrees)

Whisk together the flour, salt and yeast. Add the water and mix until the dough just comes together. Knead in the bowl for a minute and form a ball. 

Place the dough in a pie pan (or similar) and spread it out into a 7 inch circle. Spray the top of the dough with oil spray. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 12-24 hours.

When ready to bake, let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes.

Spread 3 tablespoons of oil over the cast iron pan. Transfer the dough to the pan and spread it out to 1/8 from the edge. Cover with plastic and let sit for 1.5 hours. 

Thirty minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 400 degrees.

Cover the pizza with sauce and toppings and bake for 25-30 minutes. Transfer to stovetop and let sit for 3 minutes. Check the bottom of the pizza and if it needs more browning, cook on the oven for 3-5 minutes. 

The sauce recipe is available on the America's Test Kitchen website. However, we just use a bottled sauce and add the toppings we like.









Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Looks delicious! It's lunchtime but I'll be making do with soup and salad ;)


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