A few Holiday suggestions that I’ve been enjoying this year, for the science geek/builder/pizza fanatic in your life.
Flexible shaft precision screwdriver: Don’t tell Apple but I’ve taken my Macbook apart plenty of times, made easy with this mini-screwdriver. It has 6 double-ended bits: standard, philips and torx. The shaft can be extended out of the body to snake it around those tricky corners, great to remove that one metal strip that the RAM modules hide behind. I got mine at OSH.
Canon 7D: I don’t have this but I want it. Bad. Like, I might sell my Nikon gear because of this camera. Its the next step in the game-changing video enabled DSLR realm. And at $1699 for the body, you get access to film like effects that were only available on cameras costing over $100,000 a few years ago. Check out the sharpness and rich color.
Kodak Zx1: The Zx1 is Kodak’s response to the Flip. 720p HD video, and shoots 30 or 60fps. The video is sharp and clean, but like the Flip, the lack of image stabilization and optical zoom made me want something more. I got mine for about $100, but it needs an SD card so factor that in to the price.
I used it to film this clip of a catapult launching a bowling ball. Here’s another good example of its quality.
Panasonic FX37: I bought this directly from that desire for image stabilization and optical zoom. I dig this camera because it’s got a wide-angle lens that is fairly fast – more useful for low light conditions than the Powershots that I always buy, although not as impressive as the amazing Panasonic LX3. This FX37 is being phased out, so you can get some good deals on it. I got mine for $169 at Sixth Avenue Electronics.
A side-by-side comparison of these two cameras is on its way.
This is a great, low-cost project for someone who wants to test out the ins-and-outs of brick oven cooking. Super fast and easy to build, and with minor modifications, it can be assembled semi-permanently and get you through a season of baking delicious breads and pizzas.
I attended a fantastic pizza making event at Machine Project (instructor: Michael O’Malley) that included the construction and firing of a DIY temporary brick pizza oven – the ultimate in pizza cooking. Hugely educational and inspiring, even for a committed pizza fanatic such as myself. The oven, built, fired up, and torn down over the course of an afternoon, worked amazingly well – I cooked the best pizza I’ve ever made, by far.
Here’s a basic rundown on how the pizza oven was assembled. Firebricks and fireclay are available at kiln and pottery supply stores. Use these over standard red bricks as the red bricks tend to pop or explode when reaching extreme temperatures. The metal table might be the most challenging/expensive component used – watch Craigslist for used welding tables. Pavers are found cheaply at Home Depot, Lowes, or gardening/hardware stores.
(Note: bricks are heavy, and brick ovens generate a lot of heat. Please use proper precautions to ensure that you don’t burn or crush yourself while making or using your oven.)
Finally, here’s a video of the oven we built in action. Enjoy!
Don’t forget, you’ll need to get a pizza peel and a decent slicer. I like to use a wood peel for preparation and inserting (dough doesn’t stick as much to wood), and a metal peel to take the pizza out. This design doesn’t need a very long handle, but larger ovens will warrant it.
The Mario Batali pizza slicer is the best slicer I’ve found. Cleaver-like satisfying heft, oversized sharp, smooth wheel and comfortable handle. It cuts through anything without dragging the pizza across the plate. I actually bring this with me to friends’ pizza parties now–it’s spoiled me.
If you have any questions, comments discoveries or discoveries, please post them in the comments.
Suppose you like to make pizza, so much so that you cook it a few times a week. At that point, you’re probably exploring all the tips and techniques to make all the ingredients fresh and delicious. Which is exactly why I decided to start a tomato garden.