FUN WITH FOOD: FEAR AND LOATHING ON PIZZA NIGHT
Around here, we love crispy pizza crust. The kind that is so thin you’re not even sure how it’s holding all that cheese. We also love pepperoni, though half our pizzas have sauteed kale and onions or mushrooms and feta. I like to experiment, and I love veggies on pizza, but as a whole, the family loves pepperoni best and I will suffer if there is none.
Homemade pizza sounds like one of those meals that should be easy to throw together, but around here it always becomes complicated. We make the crust right after breakfast so it can sit and rise and get a little sour. We stir the sauce together and let it simmer on the stove. We grate the cheese ourselves.
The first step though, is always the crust.
I love making homemade crust, rolling it, stretching it, letting it dangle from my hands, throwing it in the air pretending I’m a real Italian chef, watching gravity do it’s work. I love making homemade sauce, too. A can of crushed tomatoes, oregano, garlic, red wine vinegar. I usually use the basic recipes found on The Fresh Loaf.
Before finding The Fresh Loaf, I had tried to make pizza crust so many times, each one an accomplishment because we hadn’t dialed a number to get pizza on the table. When I made it at home, though, it was always lacking. It was chewy and thick, and just not that great.
Then I learned some things about making pizza. The most important thing I learned is that you have to preheat the pizza stones while you preheat the oven, and your oven has to be hot. And not just hot, but HOT HOT HOT! 500 degrees is just about perfect.
Have you ever cooked anything in a 500 degree oven? Smoke goes everywhere, creating this thick fog in the air, and no matter how many windows and doors are open, no matter how many fans are blowing, it’s never enough, and I’m always nervous because I’m trying not to let anyone’s skin come near the heat.
Oh, the things we do for good food!
I’m trying to let my kids help but also intermittently screaming for them to back up and raise their arms in the air. We need to make sure no one gets set on fire. It’s truly stressful. (Please note that I’m dramatizing this a little. Though my kids get excited and a little rambunctious when it’s pizza-building time, I have enough common sense to ensure that my kids aren’t playing with things that could burn their skin clear off. When I do let them help, I pay close attention and am often guarding their arms so they don’t accidentally drop their precious skin onto the fire stones.)
Then, the pizza gets topped and I stick it in the oven and everyone breathes with anticipation.
Because about 10 minutes later, this slides onto our plates:
And everyone smiles and everyone chomps. I’m happy because almost everything we’re putting into our bodies is made from home.
Here, we value homemade foods and we often strive for them. When you live like that, though, even the easy meals become difficult. But for us, it’s still worth it.
What kinds of “easy” meals do you make? Have you ever tried homemade pizza?
I recently discovered How to Make Skillet Pizza. This has made pizza night a little easier. I’ll start tiny pizzas in skillets, then top the pizzas and let the cheese melt in a 425 degree oven. Those 75 degrees don’t seem like they would make a huge difference in the realm of smoke creation, but they really really do.