Monthly Archives: January 2004

Pizza, pizza, pizza

Trader Joe’s has been making and selling fresh pizza dough for some time and we’ve been buying it for some time – mostly for making grill bread during barbecues. But sometimes I stretch the boundaries of reason and actually make pizza with it. Despite a small mishap this morning I managed to make some very nice salami, artichoke and olive pizzas for the girls.

Minimalist pizzas

One discovery I have made is that with homemade pizzas less is more. So don’t overdo the toppings since it is really about a few high quality toppings rather than lots of crap.

Get a bag of Trader Joe’s pizza dough or make some yourself by making any plain simple pizza dough from a recipe book. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Smear a little olive oil on a baking sheet. divide your dough into approximate thirds. Coat your hands lightly with olive oil and knead and work the dough into a decent sized ovoid shape and lay it on the baking sheet. Decent sized means about five inches across. Repeat for the other pieces. Now put toppings on starting with sauce like toppings and ending with cheese. I tore up a single slice of salami and scattered it on top, then added four nice kalamata olives and two chunks of marinated artichoke heart cut into pieces. Then I scattered on some shredded mozarella – use the freshest you can get and a faint dusting of parmesan and a little sea salt and a pinch of italian herbs. Repeat for the other pizzas, varying to suit individual tastes if you know them or care. Bake for about twenty minutes, but after fifteen minutes start checking for doneness about every three minutes. Serve and eat hot.

Depression

Even in the bright flouorescent lights of my living room

The miserable grey of the depressing winter sky

Seeps through the windows and around the doors

And the icy depression of winter slowly freezes life.

Grey thoughts, grey words, grey actions, grey feelings

Grey ideas, grey shouts, grey fights, grey reactions.

Rain and cold and frost and ice.

Damp and mold and leaks and blights.

Under the ground the cold cracks open

springtime’s seeds and fall’s brown harvest.

In time spring’s bright sun will make them grow

And brighten depression’s grey to yellow.

Brunch can be bad, brunch can be good

I’m not really a fan of brunch. It is hard to wait that long to eat and then if you do you eat too much. If you have a quickie breakfast first then you still eat too much. On the other hand brunch food can be really, really good. We went over to the pim house on Sunday for brunch and Teri made quiches – tasty but extraordinarily fattening. I made hash browns and greens.

Hash Browns

To do these right you need a very big non-stick pan. Grate up however many potatoes you need. Put about three tablespoons of oil in the pan and turn it on very high. For the first batch I used bacon grease and for the second I used olive oil. Put grated potato in the pan to a depth of about a third of an inch and pat it down hard until it is dense. Sprinkle on salt and pepper in generous amounts. No just let it sit for at least ten minutes. No peeking, no prodding. After ten minutes, check if the underneath is properly browned. If so, you should be able to carefully flip the whole thing in one go. Let it cook for about six minutes on the other side. Repeat as necessary to cook all the grated potato. You can add other things like sage, rosemary, garlic, onion, etc.

Happy New Year

To you all. I know it is well past the official new year, but since we were stuck in the snow in the dark at the official time, it didn’t feel real until yesterday when we had a very nice dinner party with friends and lots of conversation and then I read tarot cards for everyone just for the hell of it. You will be glad to know that it promises to be a very good year for those at the party and that with my great and well-practiced fortune telling skills I predict ruin for George Bush’s chances of re-election. Or maybe, as someone pointed out, the cards meant ruin for the questioner who clearly isn’t a Bush supporter.

Time will tell…

I have a few resolutions to share and some to keep private.

First, I resolve to write more. I resolve to spend more time keeping in touch with friends and family. I resolve to get in better shape and exercise more conscientiously.

Work picks up again after the break in earnest tomorrow and the girls go back to school so suddenly it is going to be busy busy.

Snow, Mountains and Lamb

We just got back from the mountains. It snowed heavily, we went skiing, we lost power and we got snowed in. So it was all very eventful. But we got out again safely, if a day late. Jan and the girls got two days of skiing in a six day trip and I got one day in a four day trip. The girls all got pretty good in a very short time and my dim memories of skiing got me back up to their level pretty quickly. Jan also got to go cross country skiing a couple of times. I couldn’t since the bindings on my skis are finally totally shot. Can’t complain after ten years on a pair of skis that cost me ten dollars!

We even managed to have good meals. Jan made a memorably smoky but tasty roast chicken and I made a slow roasted leg of lamb with roast butternut squash on top of polenta and with chard on the side.

Slow roasted lemon tequila leg of lamb

I got the leg of lamb from the same friends we went to the cabin with. They got it from a friend who has a small sheep ranch in far Northern California. It is free range, organic and was very good. I cut slits into the leg of lamb, then I rubbed the whole leg and the slits with the juice from a lemon followed by about a tablespoon of olive oil. I made a mixture of eight cloves of garlic finely chopped and about four tablespoons of rosemary roughly chopped and a tablespoon of ground black pepper and a tablespoon of salt. I added in the coarsely chopped zest of two lemons and about a tablespoon of herbes de provence rubbed together in my hands to bruise them. I rubbed this mixture into the slits on the leg of lamb and also all over its surface. Then I peeled a large butternut squash and removed the seeds and chopped it into cubes about an inch square and tossed these into a little olive oil. I put these aside. I then put the lamb on to roast at 300 degrees. After an hour I turned it over and added two cups of tequila to the pan. I roasted it for another hour and then added the butternut squash to the pan and a little water to make sure the pan didn’t completely dry out. After a further hour (three hours total by now) I stirred the squash around in the pan and added a little more water and mixed all the pan juices together making sure they coated the squash. I roasted everything for half an hour more and then it was ready. During the last hour I also made a big pot of polenta with milk and salt and sauteed some chard with lemon and salt. I served the lamb and squash on top of the polenta with the chard on the side.