Sauceless Pizza Recipe

My good friend requested this recipePizza, and as it is absolutely amazing and I made it up, I’m going to share it with you. It’s also totally unacceptable for my family as my husband objects to vegetables on pizza and because for my daughter we have to substitute non-dairy cheese alternative for real dairy cheese.  Still, when we have pizza night this is what I choose to eat.

Best Pizza Dough

(Makes 1 large pizza, double it to make 3 mediums)

1.5 c. warm water (approximately 110F)
1 Tbsp Yeast (Or one packet if you don’t buy the stuff by the jar)
2 c. All purpose flour (plus extra for needing)
1.5 c. Whole wheat flour (Do not substitute this of white flour! It gives the crust a crunchier, better texture.)
2Tbsps (plus extra) olive oil
2 tsps salt
2 tsps sugar

  1. Proof your yeast. Combine water, yeast, sugar, and 1 cup of all-purpose flour in a large bowl. Set in a warm location for 10-20 minutes. It should form a frothy, bubbly mixture. (If it doesn’t check your water temp and make sure your yeast hasn’t expired.)
  2. Add the oil and salt, stir in the whole wheat flour and as much of the all purpose flour as you can.
  3. Empty the rest of the flour onto the (CLEAN!) counter, turn the dough out onto the flour and knead in remaining flour until it becomes a smooth, soft ball. This dough should be fairly soft and light. You want to work in just enough flour that it forms a ball and doesn’t stick to everything, but not enough to make the dough stiff.
  4. Once your dough reaches the right consistency, cover it with a dish cloth and let it double in size. (About an hour, two if your kitchen is cool.)
  5. Punch the dough back down and knead it again. The more you work the dough the stretchier the gluten get and the better texture your pizza crust will have.
  6. Preheat your oven to 450F with your pizza stone inside if you have one. (I don’t know how this turns out without a stone, sorry!)
  7. Carefully remove your hot pizza stone from the oven.
  8. Coat the outside of the dough with a thin layer of olive oil (pour about a tablespoon into your hands and smooth it around the dough. DON’T try to work it in.)
  9. Stretch the dough to fit your pan.
  10. Place the dough in the pan and bake in hot oven for 10 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven and add layered toppings.  (Add about half the cheese directly to the crust, layer the vegetables starting with the basil and spinach, then top with more cheese)
  12. Return to oven for 5-7 minutes until the cheese is melty and the crust is golden.
  13. Remove from the oven and enjoy total pizza bliss.

Amazing Sauceless Toppings

Fresh basil leaves – washed, stems removed, patted dry
Fresh spinach – washed, stems removed, patted dry
Two Roma tomatoes – Sliced Thinly
Pickled Artichoke hearts –  Get the good kind in the glass jar
Onion – Sliced Thinly (optional)
Mushrooms – Sliced Thinly (optional)
Shaved Parmesan Cheese, Crumbled Feta Cheese, Shredded mozzarella Cheese

This is absolutely delish and totally not health food. It is possibly the yummiest stuff on earth.

Creep

(Warning: This post contains vomit.)oreo

I am blogging at three in the morning again (please forgive me if I’m less than articulate). Fiona is sleeping fitfully on the couch. And I am contemplating the idea of creep.

I think it’s interesting how we let things that have no business in our lives creep into them. I mean the stuff we all know better than to indulge in, self-pity, jealousy, an attitude of entitlement. Still we all do it from time to time. What motivates us? Is it that those things provide us with pleasure. Is it that they meet needs that we’re trying ignore? Are we just lazy?

I don’t have any answers (It’s 3 in the morning!), but I notice that I allow creep in our world in other more tangible ways.

Take Fiona’s food allergies. It has seemed for a while like she really has been doing fine on corn. She could handle a little in baked goods.  A little in french fries. A little in bread. And I’d allowed more and more of it to creep into her diet. Then I realized that she was having tummy pain again. And I kind of brushed it off. One of those, kids get tummy pain. She’s probably fine.

But I noticed myself doing it.

So, last night, in the face of a dreadfully hot day I bought pre-made chicken for dinner and Oreo cookies for dessert. Oreo cookies are not a “little bit” of corn. They are the whole freaking field, they have cornstarch and corn syrup. And I told Fiona she could have them (controlling for psychosomatic responses).

Now, I am blogging at three in the morning.

Because I knowingly gave my daughter something that she cannot tolerate. And at 1:30 this morning she started vomiting.  The exact contents of her stomach were undigested Oreos.

Creep. We start to let things in. A little bit doesn’t hurt. A little more. A little more. And we don’t realize how much we’ve allowed in until we’re eating things that make us sick.  (Or worse, feeding them to our children.)

On a frustrating, but more self-forgiving, note, we’ve just trialed corn and it was an abysmal failure.

How’s the Weather

Some days it rains in the living rlivingroomrainoom. And she hides under her umbrella, shutting out the cacophony of the storm.

Some days we let all of the time be the down time, the cuddle time, the snack time, the rest time, the screen time, the laze about time. Because trying to change the time is like trying to change the weather.

After a while, you just learn to carry an umbrella.

And I have all the windows open and the sunshine and the cool summer breezes are floating through our home and I’ve made us humus and pita bread and three cups of chocolate milk and tried to entice her out,  but today its raining.

Even in the living room.

A Tangled Moment

I’Clippersm cheep.

Well, kind-of, I hate to pay for services that I feel that I could accomplish with relative ease. I especially hate to do this with things that repeat frequently. I’m not the sort to employ a cleaning service, or pay for repairs, or call the handyman service.

You’ll understand my frustration then, when every couple of weeks my husband headed off to spend twenty bucks on a haircut, and then came home and told me how horrible it was. I began to get annoyed. You have to understand. My husband has a very short haircut. I mean short. So, it is mind-boggling that any barber or hair-stylist wouldn’t be able to zoom a pair of clippers around his head and be done.

I began my campaign.

See, as much as I’m a Do-It-Yourself-er, my husband is not (unless it’s computers). So, I knew that if I wanted to cut his hair myself it was going to take a while to convince him.

After a few months, we went out to target and bought the necessary equipment. It cost $20. If everything went to plan the clippers would pay for themselves in one sitting. If it didn’t go to plan? Well, hair grows back.

Three weeks later and he was shaggy enough that he direly needed a haircut. He was stalling, but now that we owned clippers, it was hard to justify going to a salon where they would inevitably not give him what he wanted.  Finally he acquiesced with the words, “If it’s bad we’ll just buzz it.”

Such confidence! Such faith!

Saturday became the day. We pulled out the clippers and, with some trepidation, began.

As Fiona watched me cut, she asked, “Are you going to cut my hair, too, Mommy?”

“Sure am!” I responded. She’s been needing a haircut. I’m a firm believer that little girls should have hair that’s easy. Long ringlets are not easy. She was overdue for a trim as her curls were rapidly approaching difficult.

She looked at us dubiously, as I ran the clippers across her Daddy’s head. After a moment she said, “Mommy, I don’t want my hair that short, okay?”

I grinned, “No, Baby. I’ll use scissors on your hair.”

“Okay.” She agreed with relief, “I need to have curls ’cause I’m a curly-headed kid.”

After a short while, we were through.

I shouldn’t have worried. The results were fabulous. He looks great. It took a little longer than a professional, and we had to take a second pass at a little of it to get the fade just right on the sides, but he looks sharp as can be. What’s even better? He loves it. I asked if I could share a picture, but he asked me not to, so you don’t get to appreciate my handiwork in his case.

After that I trimmed Fiona’s hair. It never takes long to get her curls cut back, in part because I know precisely how they’ll bounce and what they do on the good and bad hair days. She looks, as expected, cute. HaircutFiona

Then I had a Tangled moment.

You’ve all seen the Disney Movie Tangled, right? Well, in it there is a point at which all of her long hair gets cropped off by a piece of broken mirror. Yeah. In one cut.  And she’s left with this perfect bouncy, modern short cut that would take an hour to achieve in a salon.  It’s also in that moment that she becomes free of both the physical and social burden of her long magical hair.

Anyhow, I’ve been feeling very trapped by my responsibilities lately. Which I think is probably just one of those normal parts of adulthood that no one talks about, because, hey avoidance.  But, regardless, I was feeling weighed down, and responsible, and honestly, a little staid and boring.

So, after a few minutes of considering. I took the scissors into the bathroom and cut my own hair.

My husband watched in a disconcerting combination of stunned horror and anxious amazement.

First I hacked off the bottom eight inches. Then I clipped a piece at the very front out of the way. Then I began to cut. Leaning this way and that, trying for a choppy, modern short look. Trying for something looser, and freer.  Trying to have a Rapunzel moment at 10:30 on a Saturday morning in my own bathroom.

By the time I was finished the shortest part was near the crown of my head and was only a couple of inches long,  a long lock fell across my face, and I felt giddy and shaky from relief and anxiety.

Who the heck cuts their own hair?

Nobody. That’s nuts.

It turned out great though.

Haircut - Me

I feel lighter and prettier. I feel free.  And my whole family looks great!

Minding Pavlov

We all know about Pavlov, yes? The dude with the drooly dogs.droolingdog

So, really, what happened was this: In the late 1890’s Pavlov was researching digestion and so he had a bunch of dogs and he was measuring their saliva to see how much they produced and at what point in eating. The dogs were doing something weird though. They would start producing saliva before they were fed. Weird.

Pavlov noticed that and said to himself, “Hm.” Here I imagine that he scratched his beard thoughtfully, because that is the gesture that accompanies discovery, “Perhaps they are only smelling the food.”

So, he sent in the lab technician who was feeding the dogs without any food for them. They still salivated.

Being a scientist, he said, “A-ha! Something strange is happening. We will investigate it in excruciating detail and build a life’s work around it.”

The rest is history involving drooling dogs and ringing bells.

Though his work Pavlov became the father of a school of psychology known as behaviorism, which holds that all behaviors are a response to stimuli that are reinforced by a reward. So, in practice, the pattern reduces to: Stimulus -> Response -> Reward. Which eventually will reduce to Stimulus -> Response in the anticipation of the reward.

Why do I care about a dude with a drooling dog?

Because I do things. Some of them are healthy; some of them are  not healthy, and some of them are totally inexplicable.

See, at the advice of a doctor, I’ve been investigating mindfulness meditation. The basic idea here is to let go of other thoughts and just really pay attention to just what is. Let go of the five trillion things that are stressing you out and just pay attention to exactly how your body feels in this second. You might be surprised what you uncover. Sitting here for a few seconds, listening to my body, it is telling me that I am slightly sore from yesterday’s work-out, I am stiff with tension because I’ve been pulled away from what I want to do (write this post) about a dozen times, and very slightly hungry.   So, with that in mind, I consciously relax my body, and think about what I might have to eat. And breath. There is a lot of breathing. And focusing on breathing.

Most of us rarely really breathe. Especially those of us with young, high intensity children. If you breathe they will ask you for something, so you hold your breath. Don’t, they ask you for things anyway.

Part of this mindfulness though, has been paying attention. To the food that I eat and how I feel when I eat it. To the things that I do and how I feel doing them. To my motivations. To my exhaustion.  To tension in my shoulders and back and jaw. To my habits and responses.

It was at that point in my mindfulness that I remembered Pavlov.

Mindfulness has been allowing me to pay attention and notice (without judgement against myself) my responses.

For instance, I frequently overeat.

Paying attention to the texture of the food, it’s colors, flavors and sensations has led me to pay attention to my body’s sensation of fullness. I noticed something. I frequently overeat. My body will begin to tell me it is full about half way through my average portion. Half-way. That means that I’m eating more than twice as much as I should.

After paying attention for a week, I noticed that I usually do this at dinner.  Stranger still, I wasn’t really enjoying the extra food. I didn’t really want to feel that full and, despite the fact that I cook delicious food, once my appetite was sated, I didn’t really like the taste enough to continue eating. So, why was I still eating?

Dinner is when all of the stress of the day has culminated. I’ve excercised willpower and self-control and patience all day. I am at my low ebb. It is also the witching hour. Fiona is at her lowest, her neediest, her most difficult. She is at this point:

And, the one exception I make to taking care of the dishes, and the bath, and the stories, and the everything, is that during dinner I get to sit and eat.  By paying attention, being mindful, I realized that I wasn’t eating because I want food. I was eating because I wanted to sit and not meet the needs and expectations of anyone other than myself.

Ah-ha! This is why I care about drooling dogs. I had a conditioned response.

Stimulus: Long stressful day.

Response: Overeat at dinner.

Reward: Longer patch of time where I could be still and not hold myself accountable to other people.

Now that I know I can begin to change my conditioning. What if I let myself have that extra time without the extra food? What if I give myself a quiet half-hour earlier in the day? What things can I do to break that cycle?

I’m beginning to pay attention to my conditioning. I’m minding Pavlov.

Voldemort

I am going to shamelessly employ a Harry Potter analogy without explaining it. If you haven’t read the books, go do that instead. They’re way more interesting than this blog.

Avoidance is one of the big features of anxiety disorders. When things scare us, or worry us, we try not to think too hard about them. We try not to talk about them. We try not to focus on them.

If you want to test this, bring up death some Spidertime at a dinner party. Watch as everyone tries to redirect you. They’ll try to talk about almost anything else. They’ll even flatly tell you that they prefer to focus on life.

People avoid what they fear.

As a parent, with anxiety, parenting a child, with anxiety, this is probably more poignantly obvious in our house. We avoid. It was true for me growing up too. There were some things you just didn’t talk about. Illness, disease, death, mental illness, sexuality, or any of a host of other things that are a part of life.

I was thinking about this, as I’ve been reading and trying to figure out how to help my little family build a happy life. One of the fastest ways to break the fear that grips us so often is to face it. Head on and without avoidance.

We can’t pussy-foot around our fears, calling them in so many words “He-who-shall-not-be-named”. We have to face them. We have to approach that queasy, jittery feeling in the center of our chests and chant at it, loudly, “Voldemort! Voldemort! Voldemort!”

So, in this house, we have long conversations about death, about fire, about illness, about choking, about moving, about not being around each other, about not liking each other, about not loving each other. We talk about things that make my chest tight and make me want to tell my daughter to “not think about it” or to “just go play”.  We don’t do that though, because avoidance makes things grow.

Fear grows powerful in the dark.

We shine light on it. We drag the fears of spiders, of being alone, of dying out from their dusty corners and we iterate them. We catalog and investigate and discuss and delve. We talk about probability and inevitability and eventuality. We talk about plans and uncertainty. We talk about that ooky feeling in the pit of our stomach. We talk about avoidance. We talk about reality.

I think that the whole lot of us might need to do this. All of us. Let’s talk about death, poverty, inequality, hate, fear, mental illness, discrimination, war, illness. Let’s talk about it. Let’s face our fears. Not to be morbid or depressing, not to make ourselves afraid, but to see if maybe if we start talking these things begin to lose their power over us. If maybe if we face the world, if we yell “Voldemort”, if we talk about all of the fear and shame and worry, then maybe we can let it go.

It’s always easier to fight the things that you can have a conversation about.