Pizza Oven Bread & Cheap Sunshine

I don’t know about you, but the colder days prompt me to hunker down at home to nest and create things by hand.  Mr. U and I have always talked about trying to make a loaf of bread in our pizza oven. So, one cool autumn afternoon a few weeks ago, we decided it was the perfect day to give it a try.  We did a little google research to learn how hot to have the oven, where to place the bread and how long to let it bake. (How did we ever try our hand at anything new prior to google and YouTube?)   I threw together a vegetable beef stew to simmer in the crockpot for the day and then pulled out my old stained and tattered cookbook that we got as a wedding gift and found the french bread recipe.  There is something deep and soul satisfying about making bread, waiting for it to rise, punching it down, shaping it and letting it rise once again before baking. 

It turned out pretty darn good for our first try, other than the cuts on the top were not as aesthetic as I would have liked.  The research we did warned us that the biggest rookie mistake in baking bread in a pizza oven is not getting it fully cooked in the middle, so Mr. U was careful to cook it slowly and turn it frequently. Our loaf cooked through, but next time we will let it bake a little longer to crisp the outside more.   It tasted so good with garlic butter slathered on top.  A perfect complement to a bowl of soup on a crisp fall day.

Cheap sunshine

I absolutely love that, in retirement, our weeks can be as diverse as we want them to be. The day we made bread in the pizza oven was one of the last beautiful fall days we had. So glad we got outside and enjoyed it. Now the pizza oven is put to bed for the winter, and I am lighting candles and ordering Christmas presents online (before things are no longer available). We are already dreaming of warmer weather, so Mr. U and I made a quick cheap inexpensive get-a-way to enjoy some sunshine before the dark gray days of winter set in.

Some travels are the big macro trips that you save up for and plan months in advance. And others are wonderful, little last-minute delights that you do on a shoestring. Since we are retired, we can quickly throw our bags together on a weekday and make a run for the airport. No having to request time off weeks in advance. Son #4 has a condo in Scottsdale, and he had an opening last week, so we leveraged our parental rights and spent a week basking in the sunshine, laying by the pool, eating al fresco and riding cruiser bikes around. I have to admit that it was a little hard to come back to cloudy 30-degree weather. Still considering the snowbird thing…hum.

Cheers to the Diamondbacks.

It just so happened that the World Series game was in Phoenix while we were there. We did not want to dish out the money for tickets. After all, this was supposed to be our low-cost trip. So, we decided just to head down to the stadium and enjoy the festivities and fans. The funny thing about sports is that it gives you a common bond with complete strangers. Well….that is, if you are rooting for the same team. We enjoyed watching the game outside the stadium with a couple we met that afternoon.

Travel doesn’t always have to be a big expense, if you are willing to look at your options. Over a year ago we decided to switch to the Southwest credit card and use it for almost all of our purchases. I am not a big fan of using credit and it was hard for me to see the credit card bill rack up over the month. But, as long as you pay it off on time, there really is no reason not to take advantage of the benefits. After using the card almost exclusively for a few months, we were eligible for the SW companion pass. If you time it right, for a year and a half you can travel anywhere Southwest flys and only pay for one person. Your designated companion travels for free. (Lucky for Mr. U that I chose him as my travel companion.) This has saved us a lot of money on flights. So, between the companion pass and staying at our son’s place, this was a pretty inexpensive trip.

And last, but most definitely not least, thank you to all of our veterans. We enjoy the privilege of living here because of what they gave.

Land of the free because of the brave.