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The promised cheeseburger

Christmas around the house started early this year.

The Carnivore has been all about his gift and getting it early. I am a traditionalist: You don’t get presents until Christmas Eve, or the first day of Hannukah, whichever is first.

His is sniffing out his gifts early — no matter where I hide them.

His fondest dream is a wood-fired oven for an outdoor kitchen he will build at Herding Cats Ranch.

These things start at $2,000. I nearly crossed the Rainbow Bridge looking at the prices for home-size ovens with fireproof bricks, a proper bottom stone and hearths that rival the fires of hell.

Then I got a lead on a small pizza oven with an equally small price that sits on a counter or table and uses wood pellets (which actually burn hotter than regular wood) to reach the requisite 900 degrees. It was designed by some fellow in Finland. They must know something about fire and ovens.

I casually mentioned buying it for him for Christmas.

That was when I was transported to: The Promised Cheeseburger Zone.

Most moms know what I mean. Tell a small child ( or The Carnivore) they will get a cheeseburger after (fill in the blank) and it is non-stop chatter about the cheeseburger until the child gets it.

First it was that the oven got good reviews. Next, he mentioned we owned 24 pounds of applewood pellets. The computer started playing pizza dough videos.

He discovered accessories: a second peel to put the pies in the oven, a cover, and “sizzler” pans — to do steaks and roasted vegs.

Had I ordered it? When would it arrive? Why was it being delivered to a friend’s home. When was it arriving? The FedEx guy delivered proofing boxes for the dough to the ranch.

I prayed for a cheeseburger to appear as I checked the calendar and, unfortunately, found Hannukah starts on Christmas Eve.

Friends got the oven and the fellow, a pizza afficionado, put it together. Thank you!

“It looks really small,” the wife observed. “Do you know how small it is?” It can handle a 13-inch pizza and has a 4-5 inch high cooking chamber. I know, The Carnivore checked the specs and told me.

I finally relented on Friday and picked it up. By then we already had fresh mozzarella in the fridge along with other assorted pizza-looking items.

On Saturday, we sprinted to buy more items, including a basil plant, because the pizzas needed it.

A metal table was brought out of the pole barn and assembled. (How it got there along with other assorted items is another column.)

I went off to cover an event. He went to work prepping ingredients, sauce and dough. The dough spent the night in the proofing box.

Sunday, one of his brothers volunteered to be a guinea pig for the first pizza.

The oven was fired up and 25 minutes later we were all in pizza heaven.

He was like a kid with an Easy Bake oven on Christmas.

Now the carport looks less like my coffee spot with patio furniture than an Italian outdoor kitchen.

Come to think of it the carport needs a new espresso machine for his birthday in January!