That which is Pizza, Part 1: Can a $199 Pizza Oven Perform Like a $6,945 One?

The real deal: A Napoli pizza oven in all its glory.

The Tuscan Outdoor Oven. The name says it all; Italian flag waving, huge brick ovens with delicious pies being whisked directly from under the flickering flames, still steaming and bubbling directly to the plate in front of you. But why not The Napoli Outdoor Oven?  After all, the pizza was invented in Naples-or at least its most famous one, the mozzarella, basil and tomato pie named after Queen Margherita. And the people of Napoli are nothing, if not deadly serious about their pizzas. Where else would you find a Comission, the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, which defines pizza for all the world, down to each ingredient and where they are grown, each preparation technique-what’s allowed and not allowed-its exact dimensions, etc.?  Our little oven is not so lucky to be in that league so I am sure that calling it The Napoli Outdoor Oven would have sparked an international conflict of opus proportions. Moving a bit north but staying within the Italian border we can still have some association, so The Tuscan Outdoor Oven, our $199 wonder it is-even if Tuscany is more famous for other things. Continue reading “That which is Pizza, Part 1: Can a $199 Pizza Oven Perform Like a $6,945 One?”

Masterflame 8000


The Masterflame 8000 with the updated thermometer. The useless Charbroil green-to-red thermometer has long since turned completely black with smoke.

It’s Turkey Day, and what better way to prepare the bird than let it spend a bit of time taking in the vapors in the ‘ole Charbroil Masterflame 8000! Yeah, the 8000. When we moved to Villa Mantua back in the late ’90’s we needed that penultimate guy accessory, a barbeque grill. At the time I knew nothing more than “gas or charcoal?” Naturally I opted for the easy way out from Home Depot and the Masterflame 8000 became our weapon of choice for hot afternoons next to the pool. And she did the job well. Fast forward to about ’06; The old 8000 was getting long in tooth and was replaced by a our beautiful new Pinnacle stainless steel wonder at about six times her cost. The Pinnacle was our darling for quite some time as we experimented with every new cooking technique we came across. Meanwhile the old girl languished. Too good to throw out she was only to be pressed into service on those occasions requiring more cook space that the Pinnacle had to offer. Then smoking moved into my culinary vocabulary. It quickly became apparent that the Pinnacle while great for searing steaks, etc., was lousy for smoking. Like all of its contemporaries it was heavily vented for its high BTU output. Sealing the long opening across the back and the vents on the top proved to be impossible. Yes, she was great for grilling and high heat searing but hold smoke? No way. Continue reading “Masterflame 8000”

Oven out :-( Oven fixed! :-)

So the wall oven went out a while back. Well, sort of. It would work, then the digital display would code with an “F3” and start beeping. Then it would not turn on until it cooled down. With Thanksgiving looming it needed to get fixed. So onto the internet I went and after much searching came up with a couple of help posts and pinpointed the problem as either a bad thermostat sensor or a bad control board. I replaced the sensor, no luck. Still got the dreaded F3 after about 10 minutes. So then I tried to order the control board from Sears (it’s a Kenmore oven but made by GE) but the website said that it could only be replaced by a technician. Really? I can plug-and-play with the best of them! Then I found out why: The replacement board-or module-was wired up different. OK, so off I went searching for the alternate wiring schematic. After pouring through many fuzzy posts I finally came across a rather long-winded one that put me on the right direction. I located the part from a non-Sears vendor for about 2/3 the Sears price and popped it into the oven. It didn’t work right away but with a little fiddling Dean and I were able to sort it out. In the end it was a very easy fix. I don’t know what all of the mystery and fuss is about and so in the interest of clarity I’ve decided to post the proper hook-up, complete with pictures. Continue reading “Oven out 🙁 Oven fixed! :-)”