Pizza and propane problems

My diet tends to be pretty monotonous – I eat a lot of bread. I could do better, I have a lot of ingredients and access to the Internet. But I’m lazy and in general food isn’t really all that important to me. It’s just fuel.

But once in a blue moon I look at a couple of random ingredients on a shelf or somewhere, a few disused synapses fire, and I think, “I could do that.” And so it was that yesterday I decided to try my hand at pizza.

Guilty secret: There are two (and only two) things I remember fondly about southern california: The weather, and the knowledge that ham and pineapple actually do go together very well. Seemed like abomination when I first heard about it, like unto the way people there like to smear pulverized avocados on everything. But it works, and it became one of my two favorite ways to eat pizza.

But I’d never made pizza in my life. I’m just not much of a cook.

Yesterday I gave it a try. Looked up a pizza dough recipe, not to my surprise it’s very simple. Bread is something that doesn’t intimidate me, and pizza is just a really big flat piece of bread with stuff on it, right?

I didn’t have to improvise the bread, but everything else was catch-as-catch-can…

Big Brother had sent me a couple of big cans of “canned ham,” really compressed pork bits with lots of salt. Between you and me I prefer spam for sandwiches, but this stuff goes to pieces very well and so except for the saltiness it makes an acceptable pizza topping. I had one single can of pineapple chunks, I believe also from BB. Of course I keep at least a dozen cans of spaghetti sauce on hand. And that’s it for this foray, really.

Pop it in the oven at 400o … and it came out ten minutes later warm but very gooey. No sooner had I put the pizza in the oven, it seems, than the propane bottle ran out of pressure.

It happens.

It happens.

Yeah, but I hate when it happens while I’m baking, you know? It always ruins the bake, and while it’s hard to go very wrong while baking something this simple, dough with a whole can of spaghetti sauce on it really ought to be baked quick. This…wasn’t. I brought it out of the oven after ten minutes and it was still gooey. So I had to replace the bottle, take the pizza and the rack out of the oven, re-light the pilot, heat the oven, then do the bake again. The results were imperfect.

I couldn’t scoop it up and eat it like a sandwich, as with proper pizza. And the dough really didn’t profit from that second impromptu rise. But pizza is its own reward.

Cold pizza in the morning, BTW, has always been a favorite breakfast. 🙂

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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10 Responses to Pizza and propane problems

  1. If that’s how you like it, then that’s how you should make it. Having said that, see the four pieces of pineapple around 6 & 7 o’clock on your picture? The amount of pizza sauce under those is about what I’d use for a whole pizza. We make pizzas on a half cookie sheet (10″x15″?) and use half of a half-pint jar of homemade canned sauce per sheet. Just a few tablespoons, then smear the sauce around with the back of the spoon. Took me years to figure out that less is more in this case.

    Also, I know you don’t have much in the way of refrigeration (this requires mozzarella), but anyone interested in a super low carb pizza that you can’t tell from flour-based “real” pizza should check out “Fat Head Pizza.” My son came up with it, I posted on my brother’s blog (, and it swept the interwebs! If you google it there’s tons of reposts, but here’s the original write-up.


  2. Joel says:

    Yeah, there’s definitely way too much sauce. I was faced with the question, “what do I do with half a can of spaghetti sauce?” Turns out the answer shouldn’t be “use it to ruin your pizza dough.”

  3. Judy says:

    Joel – have you looked at a ‘refrigerator’ set up like this guy’s for left-overs? Starts at about 3:50 mark.
    Would it work in your climate in the winter?

  4. Andrew says:


    You can soak overly salted ham in water to leach the salt out. Practice makes perfect, but at least an hour or two, probably more like 6. You may lose some flavor, but you’ll lose more salt.

    Learned this neat trick watching a show about the ‘new’ Bounty and it’s maiden voyage around Australia. They found actual suppliers for salt pork, salt beef and hard tack. Following the proper recipes, the cooks fixed ‘period’ meals. The crew loved them, those that weren’t vegan, as the meat portions were huge for a common sailor of the time.

  5. Brass says:

    Pizza. Mmm. Looks pretty good for your first time!. Pre-baking (2 to 3 mins) the crust with regular tomato sauce, Italian spices, garlic powder and parmesan cheese liberally added on, will really help. Then take it out, add cheese and toppings, and bake. Oven temperature for pizza should be HOT: at least 450, if your oven can do it. 8 to 12 minutes should be perfect. Adding a tablespoon of powdered milk to the flour before making dough will make it better.Gluten, you have any, will help, too.i

  6. Ben says:

    “No sooner had I put the pizza in the oven, it seems, than the propane bottle ran out of pressure.”

    You know, they make a gadget for that:

  7. Joel says:

    Yes, I had one in the RV trailer I lived in before the cabin. I might get another when the current regulator craps out.

  8. R Brown says:

    Ever think of trying to build a wood fired pizza oven? Since you got wood from pallets, you could fire it up, cook a pizza, and duct the hot air under the floor of Chez Joel.

  9. Ruth says:

    I prebake our pizza crusts too. Into the oven for a few minutes (upwards of 8 minutes, but it depends on temp), with nothing on the crust, and then pull it out and put everything on, and back in the oven. Makes for a sturdier crust.

  10. Joel says:

    That’s a really good idea I’ll do next time. Kind of had the same idea when I saw how badly mine came out, but it’s good to hear.

To the stake with the heretic!