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On “Weekend Plans Post: The Pizza Stone

"The crust was crunchy on the outside millimeter and fluffy like a cloud inside."

I missed this before but that is pretty much pizza heaven as far as I'm concerned. And the stone is a big part of it.

You also did -- or, really, did not! -- do something crucial: you didn't roll the dough out. Lots of folks with bust out the rolling pin because it is a quick and simple way to get the pizza spread and flattened. But it squeezes all the air out of the dough and you lose any chance of the inner fluffiness. So, taking the time to "hand stretch" it is so worth it. It can be frustrating. Some times the dough isn't very cooperative. But rolling it out leaves you with some sort of topped cracker abomination that I refuse to call pizza.

Consider this a PSA: Don't roll your pizza dough out!

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...are you from NY/NJ? I'm feeing a kindred spirit in the mix.

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Time isn't much of an issue, as Ozzy notes. But keeping the close eye, which mornings don't always allow for, may become a challenge. There are few things sadder than burnt pizza.

You have to sort of think of the stone similarly to how you think of cast iron (do you have cast iron?). It is just this big hunk of earth that interacts with heat very differently than most other things in your kitchen. And when you can leverage that to your advantage, it opens up so many new doors. HOWEVER, because it is so different, you have to learn about it's downsides and drawbacks and account for them.

I often fail to do this with the cast iron and have burned many a palm forgetting that the handle is an extension of the cooking surface without any of the insulating barriers and what not that my high tech pans have.

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Oh... and in terms of reheating... I am loathe to put pizza in the microwave. But that's me.

Here is where the stone comes in handy again. Put it on the top rack under the broiler. Fire it up for a few minutes... the direct heat is enough to get it toasty again. Slide your slices onto the stone just below the flame. Watch carefully... a minute or two will do the trick. It'll get a crispy crust and bubbly cheese. But beware... like 3 seconds too long and it'll be burnt to a crisp. It's a dangerous game but the results, I feel, are worth it.

This sort of mimics the way that pizza shops will reheat a slice, which is why the individual slices you get there are always better than the slices from the whole pie you order. It's that second pass through the oven that does the trick.

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Glad to hear the pizza stone delivered!

I'd personally recommend parchment paper for the transfer. I like a thin crust that is both crispy and chewy, so I'll get it most of the way there with the parchment paper in place and then whip it out for the last few minutes, letting the crust get just a little char from direct contact with the stone.

I've heard the stones work super well for bread but I've never been ambitious enough to try. And the stones get better over time, absorbing flavors and redepositing them back into the pizza. Or so they say. I've found them consistently delicious once I got the technique down.

Be careful handling it afterward. It retains heat for a good long while. But, realistically, you don't need to do anything with it. Mine lives in the oven, acting as a "heat sink" and helping to distribute heat more evenly (though sometimes requiring a bit more time to get up to temp). Most anything that gets onto it will just cook off over time, but a wooden scraper can help with any big globs of burnt cheese. DO NOT GET IT WET!!! It's like a gremlin. Well, technically it is a porous surface and water can get into it and then heat up and cause the thing to crack/explode. Just let it age and get yummier.

On “From Elizabeth Picciuto: The Real Free Speech Violations

I heard that people were debating whether his decision "hurt or helped?" Um... what? Hurt or helped what? It's a personal decision and should remain as such. He doesn't owe anyone anything.

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I once read a definition of racism that went more-or-less as follows: prejudice plus power. I don't want to get into all the ins and outs of that particular definition BUT... that logic feels a bit instructive here.

The social backlash of any bad behavior should be proportional to both the badness of the behavior and the positioning of the person to realize the negative impacts of that badness. So if my barista at Starbucks wrote an unfortunate Tweet five years ago... he shouldn't lose his Starbucks job. Maybe those who interact with him on Twitter should challenge him or push back on him. Anyone in his personal life who was offended by it should feel empowered to challenge him or distance themselves from him. But does he need to lose his job and be dragged through the mud forever? I'd hope not.

Conversely, does someone who holds immense power in society and who says, "Women shouldn't hold these kinds of jobs," have that power wrested away from them if possible through social means? Yea... probably. Because those words likely become actions or policies that have real world, negative, and powerful consequences on many many people. So maybe that guy's employer should be shamed or boycotted or berated into firing him.

So... yea... maybe we need some kind of metric that looks at the badness potential of the action and the person's ability to realize it and then calibrate our response accordingly.

On “The Well-Made Bed, Ready for Lying: Lady A Edition

Was that real??? Holy smokes!

I will confess to not knowing that Rollerblades were a trademark. I heard the term inline skating but though they were just synonyms.

The velcro thing does (or at least did) used to cause me problems when ordering school supplies. We often use "hook and loop" fastener in our classrooms. Many school supply websites didn't carry the brand name stuff nor do it have intuitive search algorithms. So you'd type in "velcro" and be told no search results popped up. "BUT I KNOW I ORDERED THIS FROM YOU LAST YEAR!" Eventually you find School Specialty Brand Hook and Loop Fastener and after staring at the picture for 5 minutes you realize that is what you need, make a mental note to search for that next year, and promptly forget.

On “Thursday Throughput: Missing COVID Deaths Edition

Has any definable area seen the pattern described? This is a really thoughtful and accessible analysis. Thank you. My take is that in some ways we are still in Wave 1 but Wave 1 is slowly moving around the country and hitting different areas at different times and with different impacts due to density, demographics, etc.

Have any states or cities or metro areas gotten hit with both humps? I know NY/NJ/NYCMetro are holding steady, even with some re-opening in place and increased testing, etc. We’re not (currently) getting the second wave... and not just because we are still locked down; we aren’t.

Of course, other areas getting hit like we did is a tragedy! So hoping against hope that even if this is Florida/Texas/ETC’s Wave 1, it isn’t like the Wave 1 we endured.

On “The Well-Made Bed, Ready for Lying: Lady A Edition

I remember when Lady Antebellum first got big, there were some minor rumblings about the name. Like, "They know what that means, right?" I don't know if it ever got back to them and, if so, what their response was.

Flash cut to today. Should they have changed their name? I dunno. Maybe it was a good idea. But it seems like they found the only route to making things worse without actually trying to do so. Like, come on guys, this makes you look like assholes and only adds fuel to the criticism from the other side of the aisle.

On “Harsh Your Mellow Monday: Miseducation Edition

Indeed. I’m in NJ, work in NYC, and participate in a FB group of educators from around the world. Teacher feelings are all over the map (including the horror you state).

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Indeed. My sons were with their mom from 4 days before symptoms through day 2 of symptoms. Never got sick. Negative anti body tests.

They then spent 16 days with me. No illness. Negative antibody test.

Weird indeed.

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I’m not wading into the politics of this.

The AAP is “worried” about kids not returning to schools. See their statement here: https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/clinical-guidance/covid-19-planning-considerations-return-to-in-person-education-in-schools/

I’m not saying every school should re-open tomorrow. What I’m saying is that there are ways to re-open schools that mitigate risk and which will shield our children from the immense harm they’re suffering as a result of school closures.

Will we get there? I have no idea. But the assumption that it’s impossible — especially when that assumption is itself built on other assumptions not rooted in science — is simply wrong.

Are you aware many daycares have remained open throughout, serving children of essential workers (themselves at higher risk of exposure) and to date there have been almost no cases of transmission within them?

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Well... yes. He said “most” react with “horror.” You, like I, am seeing a much wider range.

I think there is a way to open schools safely in areas with reduced spread.

Will that happen? Remains to be seen. Nothing is inevitable.

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I will simply say that
A) There are many assumptions baked into your take, not all of them supported by any reliable science
B) We must know different teachers

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What do you base this prediction on?

What you describe is something we haven’t really seen anywhere that Covid has hit.

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Seems to be some pretty thoughtful leadership for the schools. Hoping, hoping, hoping it delivers.

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This is kind of what I refer to below. How successful Jeffco is will depend on expectations. If someone is going to consider it a massive failure the moment a 6-year-old's mask slips below their nose, well, it is destined to fail. If we're going to consider it a success if no one contracts a severe case of the disease while in the school building, I think there is a pretty good chance they realize it.

I've heard a similar idea being bandied about in my town, with the possibility of spreading the young ones out across the 9+ district school buildings to allow for smaller groupings while keeping middle and upper on remote.

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"The American education system is about to have a stress test, one that strips all the buzzwords and preconceived notions away by the brutal reality of a virus that doesn’t play by the rules the carefully constructed leviathan of professional education in America operates on. Administrators that make far more than the actual teachers will suddenly be in the spotlight like never before. Add the amount of “pass the blame” and “cover your ass” when the initial plans in a fluid environment fall short, and politicians, teachers unions, and pick-your-choice-of-educational-groups will be playing musical chairs to not get the blame.

Meanwhile, the kids and the parents are left stuck. Nothing crosses ideological lines like messing with someone’s livelihood or their kids. The coming back-to-school apocalypse is going to uniquely do both at the same time for a huge chunk of Americans."

As both a teacher and a parent, this is a really interesting perspective that I hadn't considered. I had to reflect more on it but I appreciate an opportunity to think differently about something I've considered from so many angles already.

I do think there is a chance... at least in certain pockets of the education leviathan... that things just sort of work. They may not be perceived as working, especially by those who disagree with the decisions being made, but kids and teachers tend to be highly adaptable. Well, kids are pretty inherently adaptable and any teacher worth their stripes has some adaptability as well. I envision at least some places where everyone does their best and no one does perfectly but everyone doing their best is enough to make things work enough that nothing catastrophic happens. Which, to be honest, is how schools tend to work even in the best of times: enough people doing enough to get enough done.

I don't know if that is a compliment or a criticism... :-/

On “Do All Lives Matter?

I've seen a couple helpful analogies that point out the problem with the All Lives Matter response.

Rainforest Analogy
"We have to save the rainforests."
"But shouldn't we save all forests?"
"Well, yea, but the rainforests are under threat of destruction right now and are rapidly being depleted."
"What about pine forests?"

Doctor Analogy
"Doc! I think I broke my arm. Can you help me???"
"All bones matter."
"Uhh... sure. But my arm bone is broken."
"Why do you want me to focus on ONLY one bone when ALL bones matter?"
Etc.

Reading this, I'm reminded of a conversation that often arises with young children when conflict emerges. There is often an intense hashing out of what did or did not happen, who did what, and what their intent was. I always try to shift the conversation to a forward-facing one. "Sounds like Bob doesn't like being pushed. Johnny, I hear you saying you didn't push Bob. Sounds like you don't want to push Bob. I'm not sure what happened before, but seems like we can agree that, going forward, we'll all try not to push each other."

"I hear you saying All Lives Matter. Cool. If you really believe that, then surely you believe Black lives matter since they're a subset of all lives. In that case, I trust I can have your support in taking action to ensure Black lives -- like all other lives -- are treated as if they matter."

Somehow, it never quite works out that way.

On “DC Statehood: 68.34 Square Miles of Constitutional Conundrum

NYC has almost the opposite issue. It has hard and fast boundaries. Water in many directions and political borders elsewhere. Yonkers borders it to the north. Yonkers is like the 3rd or 4th biggest city in NY. It’s very urban. And yet... it’s not THE city. And despite being A city for political purposes, it’s basically considered a suburb. Some New York City folks even consider it “upstate”... though some NYCers consider everything north of 110th Street to be “upstate.”

NJ — being a separate state with a bit of inferiority complex (I’m born-and-raised so I can say that) — is generally loathe to consider ourselves part of “the city.”

We all know where the city stops and starts and which side of the line/river you’re on and that’s that.

Even if everyone else looks at us like we’re crazy.

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Jersey is weird in that the vast majority of its residents consider ourselves to be living in the suburbs. Then we describe our towns/communities to folks from other parts of the country and they're convinced we live in sprawling cities.

And both are sort of true. My town has multiple mass transit options, multiple commercial areas, a population density of 4000+/square mile, high ways that bisect it, traffic lights galore... etc, etc, etc. It's urban.

Buuuuut... like 10 miles to the east is Manhattan. And that's... THE CITY. We ain't that. So we must be something else.

On “They Who Must Not Be Named

Ha! Sorry... didn’t mean to put you on the defensive. Just sharing my own two-cents, which are much more based in what I’m willing to call the team versus what others ought to.

I lived in Maryland for a few years and have many MD/DC-area friends. Many are fans of the team and some use the name. I don’t say anything. That’s their choice, I reason.

I probably HAVE gotten into arguments over it before but similarly have moved beyond that. I make my choice; I let others make their own.

On “From political reporter Theo Keith: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has asked President Donald Trump for a federal disaster declaration

333,333 per business, on average.

That feels high or low to you?

Would be interesting to see what insurance adjusters peg the number at.

On “They Who Must Not Be Named

I have no tribal affiliations which I guess puts me in the second camp. I rarely speak out on the issue because, as you say, it’s complicated and I really don’t have much standing. However, I’m a football fan and the father of a football fan. We talk football... A LOT! But one thing I won’t say as best I can help it is the Washington franchise’s name. So when my son discusses the NFC East, he talked about the Eagles, the Cowboys, the Giants, and Washington. Why? Well, he has asked what their mascot is and why I don’t say it. I answer him honestly: their mascot is the Redskins and I don’t say it — nor do I want you to say it — because many feel it’s an unkind and hurtful way to describe a group of people (he was 6 when these topics came up). It reflects a personal choice. I recognize many folks of Native American background do support and/or appreciate the name. I respect their opinion. But I also know many don’t. Which is enough for me to make the choice not to say it.

Should they change it? Yea... probably. But that is someone (or someones) else’s decision. My choice is clear: I call them Washington (even though that part ain’t right either).

PS: Fly, Eagles Fly!!!

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