ICON Solar House Reflections from the Kitchen

Food Maven Patrice Johnson reflects on preparing and hosting the final dinner party at the ICON Solar House.
4008916162_843cecf0fd_m.jpgMonday night's dinner party prep went much smoother than Friday's.  Audrey and I hustled but this time the kitchen was our tranquil friend.  Nothing ruffled us: not the camera crew shooting us as we chopped cilantro and tested the lingonberry salsa, not the group of spectators gathered outside of the kitchen window, and not Audrey's amused reaction as I drizzled melted chocolate over potato chips for our Chocolate Flight dessert.

As our guests arrived the ICON house filled with conversation and laughter, and it was a treat to hear the experiences of other teams.  The engineers swapped tales of parts that arrived broken or didn't fit, the designers discussed the importance of teamwork across disciplines, and everyone was concerned about getting homework done while in D.C.
Following the dinner party we cleaned up the kitchen and stacked dirty dishes in boxes to travel back to the team's hotel room for washing (no access to running water in the ICON house during testing).  I said my goodbyes and headed toward the Metro.  Outside the ICON house lit golden and beautiful on the dark and quiet National Mall.

I came to Team Minnesota late in the game.  The complexities of designing and building the ICON house didn't factor into my research in food studies and immigration.  It never occurred to me that the University of Minnesota harbored brilliant and dedicated students and faculty capable of accomplishing such an impossible task.  It was a privilege to meet them, it was an honor to participate in the Solar Decathlon.

Roasted Winter Squash and Apple Pizza

Pizza Dough
1 1/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoons yeast
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 1/3 cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 teaspoons basil, oregano

Combine water, yeast and honey.  When yeast begins to bubble add remaining ingredients.  Knead until dough forms a nice, smooth ball.  Cover and let rise about 2 hours or until double.  Punch down, form 2 balls and place each ball on
prepared pan.  Cover and let rise about 2 hours.  Form dough into pizza shape of choice.

Top Pizza with the following ingredients:
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Bison gouda, shredded

Bake in 425 oven approximately 20 minutes or until cheese melted but not brown.

Butternut squash, cubed and roasted with fresh sage leaves
One red onion caramelized with 3 garlic cloves
Honey Crisp apple, cubed
Nitrate free bacon
Fresh basil
Salt and pepper

Bake in 425 oven approximately 20 additional minutes.