June 2012


A lot of the windows in my new house are in need of a little maintenance. In some cases, the glazing putty is mostly rattled out so although the points are still holding the glass in place well enough, I am quite certain there are air leaks. The sashes still seem structurally sound, and the frames are in good shape, so I decided to rehab the windows rather than replace them. Just clean up the joints and smear a little fresh glazing putty on the windows, right?
My house is ~60 years old, and over the years, there were some dedicated interior designers living here. The window sashes all have at least 2 coats of paint, some have 4 or more. If I’m going to fix up the windows, I really should do a proper job of it, so I should strip off the old paint and completely redo the sashes and trim.
I’ve started the job, but I’m starting to have second thoughts. For a couple reasons. First, I had to do a bit of disassembly to get all the sashes out, and there were some pretty tight fits. When I reassemble the windows, I’m not confident that I’ll get good air-tight fits, so the rehabbed windows will be leaky. That’s not a good thing in the winter wonderland of western Minnesota. Second, I’ve managed to break a couplle of the glass panes in the process of taking the sashes apart. In addition, these are all single pane sashes, so again, the energy efficiency of the windows is not great. I briefly considered getting new double-pane glass for all the sashes. I haven’t priced this option, but I suspect it wouldn’t be cheap. Third, I haven’t tested it, but given the age of the house and the windows, I would be shocked if at least 1 layer of paint wasn’t lead-based. Stripping lead-based paint isn’t awesome; heat guns and sanding kick up lead vapor and/or particles, and chemical strippers are messy.
To get around all of these problems, I’ve decided to go with replacement pocket windows. I would do a full-frame replacement, but getting under the steel siding on the house is more trouble than I want to deal with right now. The biggest criticism of pocket replacements is that they reduce the glazed area of the window, and I might be concerned about that, but the first windows I’m going to replace are in the bathroom and bedrooms. I put insulated covers over those windows for 6-8 months of the year, so reduced light levels are definitely not a problem.
I am a little reluctant about the quality (and by “quality” I mean “price”) of pocket replacements, but again, especially for the bathroom and bedroom windows, I’m not all that concerned about appearances because the windows will be covered with insulators or blinds 90+% of the time. Since at least some of the windows are pretty common standard sizes, I should be able to get replacements for <$150 each, so for ~$1000 I should be able to replace windows in the north half of my house. Sounds like a good summer project.

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It’s home-made pizza time of year, and I thought I’d give it a try on the grill. As is always the case with pizza, the crust is the key, so I browsed a little bit and cobbled together a recipe. A number of sources mentioned that they made their grilled pizzas directly on the grates, so I wanted to give that a try and no move my pizza stone out to the grill.

Crust:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • ~1/4tsp salt
  • ~1/2Tbsp olive oil

Combined all ingredients and mixed in KitchenAid with dough hook for ~10 minutes. Turned out to an oiled bowl to rise.
Notes:

  1. I thought I had whole wheat flour, but I was almost out and I had unbleached all-purpose flour. I had just under a cup of whole wheat, the rest was AP.
  2. I always struggle with salt. I have weaned myself off of salt pretty effectively in the majority of my everyday cooking, but bread really needs some salt to make its flavor pop. This was not enough salt for this recipe, at least 1/2 tsp would have been better.
  3. I mixed this up on Saturday night to allow a slower rise and better flavor development. I left it sit at room temperature for about an hour to get a strong start, then moved to the fridge overnight. The starter rose pretty quickly, I could probably have cut down to 1/2 or 1/4 tsp of yeast; at 1/4 tsp I could probably have left it out at room temperature overnight.

After ~16 hours, I pulled the dough from the fridge to let it warm up for ~45 minutes. After 45 minutes, I split the dough into 2 portions. The dough was smooth, silky, and VERY stiff. I rolled each portion into a flat round, less than ~1/4 inch thick and stacked them between sheets of parchment paper to rest for 30-40 minutes.

The grill was heated on high for 10-15 minutes before the first crust was put directly on the grates. The first side was grilled for ~2 minutes with the lid closed. A few significant bubbles formed. The crust was flipped and the second side was grilled for ~3 minutes before the crust was removed. The first side was intentionally underdone so it could finish after toppings were added.

Toppings:
I wasn’t terribly creative on this one. A few dollops of pasta sauce from a jar that I had open in the fridge, a handful of spinach, and a modest sprinkle of italian-blend shredded cheese. These were put on the more done, bubbly side of the crust and it was returned to the grill. After ~1 minute, I turned the flame off to the grill and left the lid closed for an additional 3-4 minutes to allow the residual heat to warm/cook/melt the toppings.
Notes:

  1. The bottom of the crust still got a little burned, not “chewing up crunchy charcoal” burned, but definitely a little more done than necessary. I think that throwing that first side on the grill for literally 30 seconds, maybe a minute, would be enough to set the crust, then it would be able to take a little longer heat once the toppings are added. That might also prevent some of the larger bubbles from getting so large.
  2. I put a little too much spinach on this one, but that’s because I like spinach. When making pizzas in the oven, they can handle a little more spinach because it dehydrates more, the directional heat of the grill can’t handle as much.

The Verdict:
It was OK, but there’s a lot of room for improvement. Some of these are noted above. I think that putting my pizza stone on the grill would be a better option, the smoky grilled flavor was nice, but it would be easier to control the cooking/baking on a stone (or a couple bricks). The crust recipe was also OK, but this was one of the stiffest doughs I’ve worked with, or at least one of the stillest doughs that was still soft enough to roll into a thin crust. I only made one portion into a “pizza”, the other I grilled up as more of a flatbread. Aside from the salt issue, this was a lovely flatbread; there was enough separation that it could function as a pita if portioned out a little smaller. As I snacked on the naked flatbread (I grilled that one up first), I would have loved to have some hummus to dip or tabbouli and yogurt to scoop with it.
On that note, I think I’m going to re-do the recipe, cutting the yeast and increasing the salt, maybe splitting to 6-8 portions and making these as pitas on the grill. I’m all out of wheat flour now, so I’ll have to give that some thought. Either I can do an all all-purpose flour version, or I can pick up some whole wheat flour and try a half-and-half recipe. I’ll remember to take some pictures of the next attempt to include on Everything Under the Copper Sun, it was grey and raining today, so pictures wouldn’t have been great.