I don’t know about you, but one of the things I love about summer is the good ole’ grill. I love the smell of other people’s grilled delights as I’m strolling the neighborhood, and I love my own! Summer is made for grilled hot dogs, burgers, kabobs and barbequed chicken, complete with the picturesque black grill lines and smoky flavor. Yum.
Recently, we were invited to a dear friend’s home for a summer evening dinner on the back porch. I assumed we’d partake in the summer tradition of barbequing, but they instead surprised us with something just as delicious and even more fun for the whole family, littles included.
We passed through the sliding doors onto the back porch only to find an awesome outdoor pizza oven (this one, although there are others: OOni Fyra Pizza Oven) with flames leaping, ready to bake some pizzas to bubbly perfection. The red-and-white-checkered table was set up with homemade dough balls for us to all try our hand at throwing, stretching and kneading – my friend’s husband was the official dough shaper; we just got to give it a try (it’s tricky!). There were bowls of sauce, LOTS of yummy, shredded cheeses, sausage bites, pepperoni, diced peppers and onions.
We had SO much fun building our pizzas. We like to make homemade pizzas regularly anyway, but getting to watch them bubble and bake in the oven definitely made the experience even more enjoyable. It was so neat to watch the pizzas slide into the oven on the pizza-slider-tool-thingy (I googled, it’s called a “pizza peel” – I never would’ve guessed!) and then watch it come back out, melted, golden, bubbling and piping hot.
To add even more fun and authenticity to the moment, my (adorable) friend had personal-sized pizza boxes (something like these: Mini Pizza Boxes) for each of us to eat our pizza from, and easily take the leftovers home in.
The whole experience was such a great time. Not only did we have a beautiful summer night in the fresh air, dining al fresca with wonderful friends, but we all got to participate in the meal prep in a fun and purposeful way. My kids loved it, and so did I.
While I’d still say that the “official” cooking appliance of the summer is the tried-and-true grill, I can now say that that an outdoor pizza oven is something I’d love to add to my family’s warm-weathered food traditions. I’d better start practicing my dough shaping skills!