Who Is Compu Robo?

The littlest robot made of discarded computer parts,

Compu Robo takes great delight in life’s simple moments.

Inspiration comes from the most random places. It’s unpredictable and spontaneous. That’s why it’s critical to put yourself out there, in new situations and places, allowing new culture, ideas, and experiences to seep into yourself.

The story of Compu Robo is such a tale.

I’ve never been into the hardware of computers – my expertise resides as a designer/developer of code, not of the machines themselves. But I do find them fascinating; and over the years had accumulated quite a collection of outdated gear, of which one day I chose to dismantle for sheer curiosity’s sake.

I was mesmerized with what lived inside. Tiny gears, coloured wires, semi-conductors and screws and chips and bits of all kinds, all at a scale Barbie would consider petite. It requires a real stretch of the imagination to look solely at these simple physical components and to know exactly what magnificent digital creations we can construct using these mechanical parts.

All these little pieces passing back jolts of electricity, turning 0s to 1s and back again, they’re what make up the magic of technology. One could very well say electricity is the soul of the computer.

And that very second, as I held a little cooling fan, the idea for Compu Robo breezed into my mind. Grabbing my closest sketchbook, I captured the idea as best I could:

It lived in a sketchbook for a number of days after that, until a few months ago when I began digitizing my sketchbooks and bringing pieces through to completion.

Nowadays, Compu Robo is the star of two limited-edition woodblock print sets, and has appeared in a number of sketches in 2016 and 2017. Each piece brings forth another aspect of its personality – turns out this little one really enjoys the simple things in life, and has almost a toddler’s curiosity for the world in which they now find themselves in!

Compu Robo really is the world’s cutest robot, but being as I’m completely biased as its creator, I encourage you to make up your own mind 🙂

If you’d like to bring a piece of this little bundle of joy to your office or home, you can do so! Handmade wooden block prints of “I <3 U” can be found in my Etsy store. With Compu Robo living on your wall, you’ll always crack a smile when your gaze meets his <3

I have a feeling Compu Robo is getting a bit curious about the rest of the world, so keep your eyes on this blog for a future contest involving this little one!

The Quest For Pizza, Part 1

Much has been written about creating the perfect pizza at home. Here are some of my personal pizza-creation notes you may find entertaining.

Dough

My go-to recipe is basically this one – a very easy yeast-based recipe, with the addition of olive oil for added crispiness. The mixer is optional – without it, you’ll get a great upper body workout.

2 1/4 tsp yeast, 1 cup warm water, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp olive oil, ~3 cups flour. Mix all but 1/2 cup of flour in a stand mixer, adding the remaining flour until the dough reaches the ideal texture.

One interesting note of this recipe is the absence of yeast-proofing time – simply add the ingredients to the mixer (albeit into a warmed bowl). Perhaps some proof time may help develop a deeper crumb to the dough. One more thing to experiment with in future pizzas.

This dough lasts wonderfully in the fridge for 3-5 days. One recipe above makes 3 personal-sized pizzas.

When it’s pizza time, shape out the dough into a bit bigger than your pan’s size – this will give you extra dough for a crust. I have a great crust creation technique which I’ll share in a future post – a quick and easy way to add pop to your pizza!

Toppings

This is where home pizza shines – ever wanted to try strange combinations? Now’s the time!


Sorry to get your hopes up. I went a bit more traditional with this pizza – bacon, pineapple, pepperoni, and corn, with mozzarella and tomato sauce.

Yes, corn. It’s the secret pizza ingredient you’ve never considered. Try it sometime. You’ll thank me!

Wait, is that an egg on a pizza? Sure is! Let the pizza cook a bit then make a tiny well in the ingredients and crack in a fresh egg. One possible format of breakfast pizza!

Don’t limit yourself to tomato sauces – one of my best pizzas was basically dough topped with olive oil and homemade salsa. What about an alfredo sauce pizza with chicken strips? Or a barbeque sauce pizza with barbeque toppings?

Cooking Method

The key to homemade pizza is having a hot hot hot cooking area, which can be accomplished in one of three ways:

  1. Break your oven’s lock and engage its self-cleaning mode to exceed 500F. I don’t terribly recommend this method, for obvious reasons, but the dedicated pizza purists see this as the easiest and tastiest solution.
  2. Use a pizza stone. If you’re looking for a toasty crust and like wood-oven style pizzas, you’ll want to explore using a pizza stone. They’re relatively inexpensive, though a bit of a pain to store.
  3. Crank your oven as high as it will go and hope for the best.

Not surprisingly, I tend to go with option 3. However, I do have a secret tool which makes the WORLD of difference:

A pizza pan. They’re available online, or at your local restaurant supply store.
I tried it all: the upside-down back of a cookie sheet, the oven’s racks themselves, the pizza stone. This pizza pan wins.

Just look at the crust it creates:

Makes me feel like I’m enjoying restaurant-quality pizza right there 🙂

Why use a pizza pan versus a baking sheet? It’s easy to see how done the crust is, it requires pretty much no flour/cornmeal to keep the pizza from sticking, and it makes the pizza very easy to handle. If you’re cooking a family’s worth of pizzas, this is the only sane way to do it.

OK, we’ve got a hot oven. We’ve got a pizza pan, with dough and toppings. Time to cook!

Into the oven for 8-13 minutes depending on your toppings. You can broil the top for the last minute or two if it’s not golden enough. Cook it until it’s golden brown, let it cool for a few minutes before cutting and digging in!

Easy Peasy Pizza

For remote workers like myself, it’s handy to have something easy and somewhat healthy to quickly cook up. By making the dough ahead of time and selecting good ingredients, this pizza can make for a delicious lunch or a hearty dinner, and certainly saves a lot compared to delivery 🙂