Pizza Cookoff


“Listen to this recipe, Squints,” I said.  “No-knead pizza dough that keeps in the fridge for days.  Tastes like sourdough.”  I began reading from the recipe printed in my Mother Earth magazine. 

He wrinkled his nose and grabbed his Bon Appétit.  “My recipe sounds better.”   He listed the various toppings: bacon, some cheese I’d never heard of, arugula, Brussels sprouts…

Squints has gotten to the point in his cooking where he considers himself an expert—certainly he considers himself a better cook than I: He’ll offer to add some spices to a soup I’ve been working on all day or he’ll tell me that I might add a bit of salt to the lentils.  Sometimes I find this endearing.  Often it irritates me. 

“Well, we should just have a pizza cook off,” I said.  All week.  Then we’ll know who’s got the better recipe.”


“Yeah!”  Squint’s eyes brightened.  He scanned the recipe again.  His face fell.  “Oh.” 

“What?”

“We need a baking stone and peel.”  Squints likes all that fancy-pants cooking equipment.  He wants a waffle iron and a fondue pot; he wants real vanilla beans to make ice cream.

I prefer making do.  “We can just use cookie sheets, like we always have.” 

“Those cookie sheets are crappy.” 

They are.  They’re discolored and dented and beat-up from years of cookies and pizzas and French bread.  “They’re fine.”

But one of our cooking friends learned of Squint’s plight and offered the use of a stone and peel.  And now, we’re in business. 

Squints whipped up a batch of dough after dinner tonight: Enough dough to make six pizzas.  Looks like he’s got the first three days covered.

Maybe everyone will get tired of pizza before it’s my turn to cook.

* * *

V and Filibuster had the entire week off from school.  I envisioned days lounging around catching up on my reading; watching movies; sleeping in.

Instead, I ran the kids to various doctor appointments; dropped off their cleaning; picked up their cleaning; ran them to practices and competitions; ran them to work; visited three colleges; ran them to parties; ran them to movies; and spent several hours working on driving lessons.

I hate all this busyness.  With no time to plan, I tend to take shortcuts: We picked up lunch on the way home from one of the college visits.  And after Filibuster’s competition, we grabbed Chinese.  Constantly on the go, we grab take-out coffee and eat lunch in the car. 

And this, of course, makes me incredibly grumpy.

So after the kitchen was cleaned tonight and the dishwasher was humming, Squints and I sat down at the kitchen table to plan our garden.  “Three things, Squints,” I said.  “We can’t get carried away this year.”

And he was good: He selected pickling cucumbers and cherry tomatoes and sunberries: an interesting-looking fruit we’d never heard of.  He slid the catalogue towards me. 

“Now you pick, Mom.  Three things.”  I picked soup beans for drying, green beans for climbing, peas to trellis.  I picked tomatoes for the spaghetti sauce I freeze every fall.  I picked…

”Mom, you picked more than three.”

“I did, didn’t I?”

Squints grinned.  “Can I pick more?”

“Sure.” 

Squints added chocolate peppers.

I added basil.

Squints added another variety of cucumbers.

I added red peppers.

Squints added chives.

I picked Italian parsley.

By the time we’d finished, we’d picked fourteen items to grown in our tiny garden.

But that’s OK: Seeds are a promise of the future. 

Squints filled out the order form and tallied our bill: For the cost of one take-out lunch, we have our garden.

We wrote a check and tucked the order in the envelope

In six short weeks, we will tuck our seeds into the soil and wait for the magic to begin.

Gardening and cooking force me to slow down and notice the world around me.  And I’m happy Squints is interested. 

Because soon enough, other interests—driving and college and part-time jobs—will call to him and my cooking and gardening buddy will move on.

And I’ll be making pizzas on my own on crappy old baking sheets.

And I’ll be planning my garden by myself.

Labels: , ,

Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Pizza Cookoff

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pizza Cookoff


“Listen to this recipe, Squints,” I said.  “No-knead pizza dough that keeps in the fridge for days.  Tastes like sourdough.”  I began reading from the recipe printed in my Mother Earth magazine. 

He wrinkled his nose and grabbed his Bon Appétit.  “My recipe sounds better.”   He listed the various toppings: bacon, some cheese I’d never heard of, arugula, Brussels sprouts…

Squints has gotten to the point in his cooking where he considers himself an expert—certainly he considers himself a better cook than I: He’ll offer to add some spices to a soup I’ve been working on all day or he’ll tell me that I might add a bit of salt to the lentils.  Sometimes I find this endearing.  Often it irritates me. 

“Well, we should just have a pizza cook off,” I said.  All week.  Then we’ll know who’s got the better recipe.”


“Yeah!”  Squint’s eyes brightened.  He scanned the recipe again.  His face fell.  “Oh.” 

“What?”

“We need a baking stone and peel.”  Squints likes all that fancy-pants cooking equipment.  He wants a waffle iron and a fondue pot; he wants real vanilla beans to make ice cream.

I prefer making do.  “We can just use cookie sheets, like we always have.” 

“Those cookie sheets are crappy.” 

They are.  They’re discolored and dented and beat-up from years of cookies and pizzas and French bread.  “They’re fine.”

But one of our cooking friends learned of Squint’s plight and offered the use of a stone and peel.  And now, we’re in business. 

Squints whipped up a batch of dough after dinner tonight: Enough dough to make six pizzas.  Looks like he’s got the first three days covered.

Maybe everyone will get tired of pizza before it’s my turn to cook.

* * *

V and Filibuster had the entire week off from school.  I envisioned days lounging around catching up on my reading; watching movies; sleeping in.

Instead, I ran the kids to various doctor appointments; dropped off their cleaning; picked up their cleaning; ran them to practices and competitions; ran them to work; visited three colleges; ran them to parties; ran them to movies; and spent several hours working on driving lessons.

I hate all this busyness.  With no time to plan, I tend to take shortcuts: We picked up lunch on the way home from one of the college visits.  And after Filibuster’s competition, we grabbed Chinese.  Constantly on the go, we grab take-out coffee and eat lunch in the car. 

And this, of course, makes me incredibly grumpy.

So after the kitchen was cleaned tonight and the dishwasher was humming, Squints and I sat down at the kitchen table to plan our garden.  “Three things, Squints,” I said.  “We can’t get carried away this year.”

And he was good: He selected pickling cucumbers and cherry tomatoes and sunberries: an interesting-looking fruit we’d never heard of.  He slid the catalogue towards me. 

“Now you pick, Mom.  Three things.”  I picked soup beans for drying, green beans for climbing, peas to trellis.  I picked tomatoes for the spaghetti sauce I freeze every fall.  I picked…

”Mom, you picked more than three.”

“I did, didn’t I?”

Squints grinned.  “Can I pick more?”

“Sure.” 

Squints added chocolate peppers.

I added basil.

Squints added another variety of cucumbers.

I added red peppers.

Squints added chives.

I picked Italian parsley.

By the time we’d finished, we’d picked fourteen items to grown in our tiny garden.

But that’s OK: Seeds are a promise of the future. 

Squints filled out the order form and tallied our bill: For the cost of one take-out lunch, we have our garden.

We wrote a check and tucked the order in the envelope

In six short weeks, we will tuck our seeds into the soil and wait for the magic to begin.

Gardening and cooking force me to slow down and notice the world around me.  And I’m happy Squints is interested. 

Because soon enough, other interests—driving and college and part-time jobs—will call to him and my cooking and gardening buddy will move on.

And I’ll be making pizzas on my own on crappy old baking sheets.

And I’ll be planning my garden by myself.

Labels: , ,

6 Comments:

At February 25, 2012 at 7:40 PM , Anonymous Leslicollins said...

Absolutely charming... sob! Tell Squints that Grandma's tomato basil sauce makes an absolutely fantastic pizza sauce. (Or maybe you want to keep that a secret!)

 
At February 25, 2012 at 7:41 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Darn right I'm keeping it a secret. He's got the arugula.

 
At February 25, 2012 at 8:28 PM , Anonymous Elizabeth Young said...

I so related to your plans to have 3 days to relax and then getting rerouted all over creation with your kids. I definitely sung that song countless times in the past, which is why I refuse to rush now. Payed my dues in full! It's also good Squints is so interested in cooking. Who knows if he might make this a career? Or at least he'll know how to feed himself and possibly his family one day. Bravo momma!

 
At February 26, 2012 at 1:55 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. Right now, he says he wants to be a chef. We'll see if that lasts...

 
At February 26, 2012 at 2:27 PM , Anonymous Bella said...

But think of the man you'll be sending off into the world--one that can cook and appreciates good cooking utensils. And good men like that are hard to come by, lady. Squints will make a wonderful husband for one lucky woman. Of this, I'm sure! :)

 
At February 26, 2012 at 2:47 PM , Anonymous kgwaite said...

He's making his pizza right now, Bella. Can't wait to try it.

 

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