Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Take it, take another little pizza my heart now baby

I've had a busy summer. There have been weddings and camping trips and long, light evenings out of the house, and it's been fun. But now Labor Day has come and gone, and I've had a realization: my kitchen has missed me. I used to be good about cooking. I liked to cook. I had recipes and shopping skills, and I actually had fresh things in the house, and I usually had a week's worth of dinners planned at a time. But then I got busy, and I joined Weight Watchers, which makes cooking a little complicated, and suddenly I haven't made anything from scratch in ages. That's going to change. I'm taking back my kitchen.

After work today, I took a walk by the lake and made a lap through Albertson's (Travesty! I can't stand Albertson's. But it's there, so...), and decided to make myself a pizza. From scratch. With yeast and honey and flour, and the rising and the punching down. Simple food. Easy, yes?

For one thing, pizza-making is practically in my blood. My family made pizza from scratch every Sunday night when I was a kid. I spent hours upon hours perched on the bar stool in the kitchen, watching as my mom made the dough, my brother mixed the sauce, and my dad grated the cheese and chopped the green onions, black olives, and salami. I got to help arrange everything on the spread-out pizza (this was before they allowed me to handle knives, which was maybe for the best). I learned at a young age that it's very important to have all of your half-moons of salami facing the same direction. But I'm not anal, or anything.

And it's not like I've never had a relationship with bread. I left home two days after high school graduation and spent the summer working in the Mount Hermon bakery. In ten weeks, I baked countless loaves of bread: white bread, wheat bread, communion bread, cheese bread, onion bread, breadsticks; we even made challah once, if I recall correctly. I measured, mixed, cut, and fought with Carrie to (literally) throw the dough through the loaf-maker. I know my way around dough.

Which is why it was so surprising to find myself standing at my kitchen counter this evening, hands thick with pizza dough and attracting every non-flour item in the room, as I scooped what must have been eight cups of additional flour into the dough I'd made following the recipe. I swear, this dough ate flour. I never did get it quite to that springy, non-sticky stage, but it was close-ish when I dumped it into an oiled bowl to rise. That was an hour ago. It's going to be awhile before I actually get any pizza out of this deal, I think, as it has to rise again post-punching.

But it will be the best pizza ever (mushroom and heirloom tomato with herbed jack cheese), and I will have made it in my own kitchen from my own ingredients, and that's what counts. In the mean time, just...pass the crackers, please. I'm hungry.


Anonymous said...

It is SO important to have your salami slices facing the same direction. I actually still do that on my pizzas to this day! It's also important to put the toppings on in the right order - pepperoni first, mushrooms next, olives last. Anality totally runs in the family, methinks. Need I mention that microbiologist kin of ours who had the whole Howard Hughes thing going? (Ben)

Liz said...

Is that...Eddie? Really? Or am I mixed up? He's the only microbiologist kin I can think of. And he does have a big beard, if I recall correctly.

Anonymous said...

No, no, not Eddie - he's the one who moved to Australia. This was one of Dad's uncles or something. Uncle John? Does that ring a bell?

Liz said...

At first I thought you meant Uncle Bert of the cork-oak fame, but no. I don't think I know who you're talking about, actually. I think there is an Uncle John, though.