A Catholic perspective on the world and all the good things therein, especially books and food. Literature cum chocolate is the order of the day at The Crockery.

Location: A Collegetown, Undisclosed Location, United States

No longer a graduate student, Teresa is now a professional know-it-all.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Mushroomified Swiss Steak

I'm out of town, but I don't want my poor blog to feel utterly neglected, so here's a simple crockpot recipe. This is adapted from Wendy Louise's Complete Crockery Cookbook. My "special" ingredient is fresh (not canned) mushroom. Truly, we ought all to be grateful that the fungus are among us! The seasonings are the other alteration: I like garlic and add it to most recipes, while the addition of Worchestershire sauce was a gift from the muses, adding a bit of "bite" to what might otherwise be a bland dish.

~ 2- 3 lbs round steak or other boneless steak suitable for simmering (often, these steaks will actually be labelled for simmering)
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 large onion, sliced
1 cup of fresh sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

1) Slice the onion.
2) Salt and pepper the steak; you may use salt lightly or use a salt substitute if you are trying for a healthier meal.

3) Layer the onions and steak together, so that steak is surrounded on all sides by onion slices.
4) Sprinkle with minced garlic and Worchestershire sauce.
5) Pour the cream of mushroom soup on top of everything. Cover, and cook on low for approximately 6 hours.
6) Add the cup of mushroom. Give everything a nice stir if you like. Continue to cook on low for another 2 hours.

Serves 4. This is a nice "saucy" steak and the mushroom-rich gravy may go well with your favorite starches, so serve with rice, potatoes, noodles, or other such dish.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Literary Anti-Catholicism: The Problem with Kingsley

Note: I began composing this message some weeks ago; its composition has been interrupted.

In a previous post, I discussed apologetics and anti-Catholicism. Here I want to focus on a second form of anti-Catholicism which is more subtle and probably more common. It manifests itself in negative images of or generalizations about Catholicism in the media. Today, this form of anti-Catholicism most often comes not from other Christians, but from secular or progressive religious sources. People who are much too enlightened to make anti-Semitic comments may still make slurs against the Catholic priesthood. I won't go into this issue in detail either, because there are whole books on it.

A hundred years ago, however, this kind of pop-culture anti-Catholicism tended to come from other Christians: liberal Christians, conservative Christians, you name it. You can find it in quite a lot of nineteenth-century literature, even the "canonical" literature that makes into the academy. Charlotte Bronte's Villette is one of the best examples. Though the worst of the anti-Catholic literature was published by fringe Protestant presses and distributed among religious communities, even mainstream writers like Wilkie Collins weren't adverse to writing anti-Catholic novels. For more information on this subject, I recommend Susan Griffin's Anti-Catholicism and Nineteenth-Century Fiction, which (most unusually) covers both British and American literature of the nineteenth century.

Here I want to talk about a single author: Charles Kingsley, a nearly-forgotten Broad Church clergyman, who served as chaplain to Queen Victoria. Students of nineteenth-century religious history may know him as the man who gratuitously insulted John Henry Newman in one of his book reviews, thus prompting the writing of his authobiography/ conversion story, the Apologia Pro Vita Sua. Kingsley was brought to my attention through this list of children's books. It's a good list on the whole. Many of these are classic children's books. Others are long-forgotten classics. I was pleased to see Charles Kingsley making an appearance, but the choice of book surprised me: it wasn't Waterbabies, his one famous children's book, but Westward Ho!

Westward Ho! is an adventure story for boys. It's a tale of chivalry, fidelity to one's promises, and explorations of new lands. It is also a story about the Spanish Armada and the threat Catholic Spain posed to Protestant England. In Westward Ho! the villains are mostly Catholic and the heroes are mostly Protestant. The novel is, even more specifically, anti-Jesuit, and the worst of the villains are Jesuit priests. There are a few token "good Catholics," but the depiction of some of the Jesuit characters reflects 19th century prejudice against Catholics in general and Jesuits in particularly as lying, conniving, and treasonous. Edmund Campion, recognized by Catholics as a martyr, is depicted by Kingsley as a sneaking coward, who happens to be just not quite as bad as Father Robert Parsons, Kingsley's standard of Jesuit trickery.

One may argue that Westward Ho! is not truly anti-Catholic, because the hero eventually comes to respect his arch-enemy, the good Catholic Don Guzman. However, if the ending argues for tolerance for "good Catholics", there is no tolerance offered for the Jesuit order, and Kingsley never repudiates the stereotypes he employs. In the 19th century, the book would have served simply to fan the already-existing anti-Jesuit sentiments. Today, I suspect the anti-Jesuit stereotypes serve to confuse children unfamiliar with the context of the book's writing. My question of this: is it really wise to recommend a work of anti-Catholic propoganda to Christian children today?

I can see ways in which a book like Westward Ho! could be profitably read by intelligent teenage or even pre-teen children, with instruction, guideance, and correction offered on the part of a parent or teacher. I could not, however, recommend that it simply be handed to a young adult reader who has no understanding of its historical misreprentations or of the complicated reasons for them. Its presence on a list of recommended children's literature thus signals to me the lack of awareness most people -even most Christians- have in regard to literary anti-Catholicism. We've gotten very good at noticing racial misrepresentations in literature. Though such concern can be carried too far, we should also be careful that we carry it far enough. Books like Westward Ho! were designed to teach as truths things which are actually false. Surely this is something the Christian reader should be aware of?

On the Nature of Anti-Catholicism

Anti-Catholicism is a word used quite often in Catholic apologetic circles. I'd like to argue (briefly) that it is actually misused quite often. Some defensive Catholics like to say that opponent is "anti-Catholic" simply because he/she disagrees with Catholic doctrine or is opposed to Catholic practice. Others restrict the term "anti-Catholic" to those who disagree with Catholicism and make a point of undermining Catholicism through "sheep stealing," apologetics oriented against Catholic doctrine, critiquing the Catholic Church, etc.

I'd like to remind fellow Catholics that it is not "anti-Catholic" to disagree with Catholic teaching. People have a right to their own beliefs, after all. Nor is it anti-Catholic to try to convert Catholics or to disprove Catholicism: it is only natural for people who believe strongly to want to spread their beliefs. It may be tactless or uncharitable to proselytize in the wrong setting or in the wrong manner. It may be unecumenical to assert one's opinion in a way which unnecessarily hinders Christian unity. But these things are not (or not necessarily) anti-Catholic.

It is, however, anti-Catholic to deliberately spread false information about Catholicism. This may mean that people who spread rumors about Catholicism without adequately researching them are guilty of anti-Catholicism by default. Thus, I believe that Jack Chick is genuinely anti-Catholic, his protests to the contrary. He prints falsehoods and slanders, and he has no excuse for his ignorance. There are plenty of other "ministries" guilty of passing on misinformation of this sort, usually in less stupid forms. When one encounters them, I think the best response is not to immediately say "hey! you're anti-Catholic! you're so evil!" but to offer fraternal correction. Only if an organization demonstrates that it is not willing to listen to such correction and to rectify any errors in its materials should it be labeled anti-Catholic.

It is also anti-Catholic to mock Catholicism or Catholic beliefs out of a spirit of malice or arrogance. Sometimes people who do these things have mixed motives: that's part of life. A specific individual may believe that he is poking fun at Catholicism only for the "educational" purpose of proving its supposed fallacies, while in reality part of his motivation is a desire to humiliate or pain. In other words, people may make anti-Catholic statements "in good faith" to the extent that they aren't aware of their sinful motives. It's still the responsibility of other Christians to question those motives if there appears to be malice involved. The same thing applies to Catholic bloggers, writers, cartoons, or speakers, of course: we too should examine ourselves to make sure that when we say unflattering things about fellow Christians, we say nothing more than what the situation calls for, and we are speaking out of charity, not the desire to hurt, mock, or humiliate.

At this point, you may be wondering: where is Teresa going with this? Is she going to label someone anti-Catholic? No, I'm not. At least, not someone alive today. I wanted to bring up the issue of "doctrinal anti-Catholicism" in order to say that I think this form of anti-Catholicism, though it may be the most damaging, is also the easiest to combat. Yes, there are many Catholics whose faith has been troubled by misinformation given to them by well-meaning Protestant Christians. But there are also many people out there offering correctives to such misinformation. For example, one can hand the victim of sheep stealing attempts a copy of Alan Schreck's excellent book, Catholic and Christian. Heck, one can go better and hand such books out to the sheep stealers themselves. And there are plenty of other such resources available. (For the record: "sheep stealing," as I use it, does not refer to all attempts to encourage someone to leave one religious body and join another. It refers, rather, to unfair practices, such as making use of another persons ignorance of his or her own church.)

There are, however, fewer resources available to help people to respond to popular anti-Catholicism, which may crop up in the most unexpected places. In my next post, I'll give an example of this problem, and explain why I think it should be of concern to all Christians.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Let's keep the "feminine" in "Feminist!"

I get some unusual catalogs in the mail from time to time. For example, there was a while when I kept getting catalog for expensive wooden children's toys. As many of my readers know, I do not have children. (If I did, would I have time to blog about something as stupid as what this entry is about? Answer: no.) However, I've ordered gifts for other people's children a few times, and that's enough, apparently, to put me on mailing lists for children's products for the rest of my life. As if I could buy a $300 play castle anyway! (Heck, if I could buy something that cool, do you think I'd want to share it with anyone?)

In the past, I have also ordered a few items from a store that offers New Age supplies. Before my readers gasp in shock, let me explain that the items in question were beautiful pewter candleholders with a Celtic cross design, and accompanying rings that fit on the candles. I could not have gotten these products from a Chrsitian dealer, because Christians don't have good taste. (Step into a Catholic gift store, if you don't believe me. And don't say I didn't warn you.) Neo-pagans, however, sometimes show quite excellent taste in apparel, home furnishings, and costumes: they love Celtic knot designs, medieval design, and natural gemstones. (Let's not saying anything about the nauseating fairy motif, though.) That's why, though I don't tend to buy things from the Pyramid Collection catalog, I enjoy looking through it. Though I know that I would not look good in the "Midnight at the Palace" dress, I like to pretend that I would. And even if I'd never buy these clothes, I enjoy the assurance that there are other people who want to dress up in clothing out of a sword-and-sorcery novel.

Apparently, my fellow fans of fantasy clothing, belly dancing, and Celtic knot design also like bloomers, which they claim are making a "triumphant return." Well, let's leave aside potential objections along the lines of "the fact that you can buy bloomers in the Pyramid Collection doesn't indicate that they are making a triumphant return." Let's look instead at this claim, namely, that "this invention of reformer Amelia Bloomer makes its triumphant return -with placekted, pleated front, delicately embroidered with faux pearl-accented irises to preserve the feminine in "feminism!"

Wow! Did you know that all it takes to presever the feminine in feminism is little faux pearl-accented irises? I sure didn't! But seriously, folks . . . I actually think there is something very interesting going on in the catalog's marketing of this clothing item. The description of the bloomers begins by highlighting that these garments have a feminist history -which they most certainly do- but then it goes on to stress how frilly they are. "Come for the politics, stay for the ruffles," the garment screams. And you know what? Leaving aside questions of just whose side the suffragettes of old would be on if magically transported to the political spectrum of today, I think that' s a good message. One can be a strong woman while also liking embroidery and ribbons. Apparently there are a lot of women who agree with me: all sizes of the bloomers are currently sold out until July or August. America must be full of women who are as proud of their feminine beauty as they are of their girl power.

Either that, or bloomers really are making a triumphant return, and I'm just behind the time in fashion, as usual.

Friday, June 09, 2006

NFP Infighting

Ah, lovely. Just when we've recovered from Torodes' surprise recantation of their views in Open Embrace, there's a new document from the Vatican on the subject of "Family and Human Procreation." Sadly, the document itself is not currently available. All we have are various articles on the subject. But we all trust the media to represent ecclesiastical proceedings correctly, right?

I thought not. If you're curious about the document, see this article from Catholic News Service. I'm trying to refrain from extensive commentary at this time, since I don't, in fact, know what the document in question really says. I can say right now that it's already controversial. Over at Amy Welborn's blog, her mention of this document somehow sparked a debate about how the Church responds to IVF. Elsewhere -on message boards and discussion groups- I've seen a lot of dialog about this quote from the CNS article:

However, using natural family planning to have only one or a maximum of two children "is nothing other than a kind of series of brief parentheses within an entire conjugal life willingly made sterile," it said.

I'd really like to see that quote in context. As it stands alone, it seems rather extremely worded to me, but of course, it wasn't meant to stand alone. I fear that that won't stop people from latching onto it and using it either as evidence that the Catholic Church is hopelessly behind the times (or, in another variation, maliciously intrusively into the private life of families) or as evidence that most NFP users are really contraceptors in denial, and that any Catholic family worth its salt will have ten children.

Of course, people say those things anyway. When I began reading blogs for the first time, one of the things which most surprised me was just how polarized views on NFP are, even within the community of faithful Catholics who endorse Catholic sexual ethics. Let's face it, that community is pretty small: most Catholics ignore their Church's teachings. To me, that makes it all the stranger that nearly every debate on NFP I've seen on Catholic blogs has elicited comments claiming such things as:

1) NFP is only for cases involve extreme poverty or mortal illness. (most common error)
2) There are many many people who misuse NFP, and it's a serious problem in Catholicism.
3) You have to get a dispensation from your priest to use NFP.

For the record, I know #1 and #3 to be definitely false. Personally, I think that #2 is false, too. The fact is that most Catholics don't use NFP, period. Of those that do, some may be using it selfishly or with an incorrect understanding, but I hardly think that that tiny percentage of NFP users with a "contraceptive mentality" is the real problem. The problem is, first, that the majority of Catholics don't even understand their Church's teaching well enough to offer informed dissent; and second, that Catholics in developed countries are confused about the obedience required by them.

Enough about that. In any event, I predict a new round of NFP infighting over the announcement of this document. Put your goggles on, people: it might get ugly. There's nothing quite like a gaggle of dogmatic-minded folks who all believe that the official Church documents say exactly what they're saying. . . and anyone who reads them differently is an idiot or a Modernist or a Radtrad.*

But hey, they'll know we are Christians by our love, right?

* I know this thinking all too well, because I slip into it all the time in NFP debates. "Oh those stupid ____. If they had bothered to read the Address to Midwives they'd KNOW that grave reasons aren't just limited to life-threatening problems!"

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Literary Borrowings

I recently finished Book Four of the Nameless Mystery Series I'm currently reading in my spare time. I found it it to be the best of the books thus far, perhaps because the rural setting appealed to me more than the seedy city life settings of the previous two books. Too, it may have helped that the "atmosphere" of the book was the spooky atmosphere of a ghost story or a dark fairy tale, and we all know that I like spooky stories.

Before I move on to Book Five (hey, it is the weekend! Sunday is a prime day for reading books I can't justify reading during "working hours"), I wanted to comment on the authors' inclusion of real life individuals and, perhaps most intriguingly, other people's literary characters. Book Four of the series centers around a real chap, a collector of folk songs, an antiquarian, and a writer of hymns, including "Onward Christian Soldiers." Book Three of the series, perhaps even more intriguingly, introduces a cameo appearance by Lord Peter Wimsey. He isn't named fully: he's simply called Peter. His description, however, as a man with a "foolish, slightly lopsided face" who wears a monocle, plays the piano, and collects first editions, is a give-away to Dorothy Sayers fans. But since he's never even called "Lord Peter," I doubt that one who hadn't cracked open a Wimsey mystery would recognize him. (As a result, I found myself wondering if I were missing references to real or fictional characters simply due to lack of familiarity with the relevant literature. I guess I'll never know.)

While I appreciate the nod to Sayers, I do wonder about the literary ethics of incorporating another author's character into a modern work of fiction. I don't mean the copyright issues, either: I mean the issue of respect due to another's creation. It must be a delicate business. A good author would have to avoid the pitfall of turning a "living" character into a caricature or shadow of its former self, but the causing the character to develop in unlikely or unreasonable directions is also just as problematic. This is part of why sequels to classic books flounder so often. Much as I enjoyed Carrie Bebris' Pride and Prescience and Suspense and Sensibility, I didn't think that the protagonists of either book really resembled Austen's Elizabeth and Darcy. Part of this may simply be due to the difficulty of Austen's style: Bebris tried to make her Darcy wittily snobbish, but his "wit" came across as decidedly flat all too often. I might recommend these books to admirers of Wrede and Stevermer's regency fantasies, but not to Austen purists.

The Jane Austen mysteries of Stephanie Barron may be more successful ultimately not just because Barron is a better writer, but because Austen as a person is not as familiar to most of her readers as her characters are. Apparently it is easier to get away with a recreation of a real person as a character than it is to make use of another person's fictional character. That itself is rather strange, isn't it? One would not think that art imitating life was easier than art imitating art. Moreover, one would think that the moral difficulties of depicting a real person in fictional events would be trickier than whatever artistic ethics surround the use of others' characters. Indeed, I recall a course from my undergraduate days in which a fellow student complained against Truman Capote's capitalizing off the lives of the criminals and the sufferings of the Clutter family in In Cold Blood. The fact that most of the people involved were dead at the time of writing did not seem to mitigate what my fellow-student saw as irresponsible use of others' lives. At the time, I thought he was being too conscientious, since, if the publishing world adhered to his vies, historical fiction could never exist. I still think that he was extreme, but I must concede that the issue was more complicated than I was willing to grant at the time.

I don't have any guidelines to lay down about how fiction should or should not make use of real people as characters. Nor do I have any suggestions as to how to make use of another person's intellectual property with both respect and creativity. But I do think that these are both real "problems" of which readers ought to be aware. In short, let me end with a plea: please, oh mystery readers (if there be any among ye reading), support responsible use of intellectual property! Thank you, and good night.

P.S: If anyone can guess the Nameless Mystery Series from what I've said above, let me know- thus far, no one has responded to my Mysterious Challange. It's really a pity, as I think this series is worth reading. The author and narrators' theologies (assuming they are at all related)may be wrong, but the very fact that the author and characters have theologies may be refreshing to "readers of faith."

Friday, June 02, 2006

After the Pizza is Gone. . .

. . . you may be left with extra toppings and sauces, with which you know not what to do. I still haven't figured out what to do with that half-jar of alfredo sauce myself, either. However, the last time I made pizza, I made only one of the best-ever white pizzas, using the other crust to make my traditional tomato-pesto pizza. For this pizza, I used a standard spaghetti sauce with a layer of pesto-and-sundried tomatos for a base. The toppings included roma tomatos, but as usual I misjudged my produce needs, and was left with two tomatoes. Today's meal incorporates these tomotoes in addition to the remaining spaghetti sauce, mushrooms, and chopped onions.

Pork Chops for Two

Note: this recipe is for a small slow cooker of the 1.5-2 gallon size range. It may not cook properly in a larger cooker.

3-4 small thin pork chops, the type used for pan frying

~ 1 cup spaghetti sauce; more or less as desired
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon each oregano and basil
dash of salt and pepper to taste.
grated parmesan cheese (optional)

1) Spray the lining of the slow-cooker crock with cooking spray, if desired. Place the pork chops in the pot.
2) Pour the spaghetti sauce over the chops.
3) Add the onions, garlic, and tomatoes. Cook on HIGH for 2-3 hours.
4) Add the oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Continue cooking on high for 1-2 hours. You may add grated parmesan to the dish towards the end of the cooking, if desired.


1) Prepare whole wheat fettucini or other pasta as directed. When the pasta is cooked, coat thoroughly with pesto, olive oil, or another favorite sauce. Serve beside or beneath the main dish.
2) Heat a loaf of Italian bread, breaksticks, or foccacia bread on the side, if more carbohydrates are desired.
3) Serve with salad, green beans, or spinach. (If you have spinach leftover from making a white pizza, this is a great time to use it. Sadly, we had to throw ours out because it had wilted.)
4) Have a bottle of your favorite wine, and put some nice violin music on in the background.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Vows, Pizza, and A Mysterious Challenge

What constitutes a binding vow? How do you know when you've taken a vow? Are there ever vows so frivolous that one can break them? These are all weighty issues, and I'm not going to try to answer any of them. When do I ever answer my rhetorical questions? (Answer: never, excpet for moments like this.) However, I bring these questions up to explain that I spent all day yesterday reading a mystery novel. Actually, I read two novels: one that I had started the day before yesterday, and which had to be finished, and one which I started yesterday just before supper and finished around two a.m. I had to finish the second book to see if the protagonists were going to marry each other at the end. (They did.)

I do have more important things to do with my time than reading mysteries, even mysteries which incorporate a running thread of feminist theology which is as intriguing as it is silly. However, I so wanted to finish the first mystery yesterday that I made an agreement with myself that I could read mysteries all day on Wednesday, provided that on Thursday I would read nothing but material related to my dissertation. No Jane Austen mysteries, no Father Brown mysteries, no Jane Austen-and-Father Brown mysteries.

Yesterday, this agreement seemed like a great idea. Today it seems like a tragedy. I woke up cranky, sleepy, and with a pulled muscle in my calf which interrupted my new morning routine. I desperately wanted to start the next third mystery in my new-found series, even if it did appear to center on some nonsense about Mary Magdalen. (Very important note: the series to which I refer is NOT written by Dan Brown. But I'm not going to name the author or the book titles. I may instead keep dropping clues about the series -at least until I get tired of it-on the off-chance that one of my readers will recogize the series.) I even went so far as to pick up book number three this morning, but my husband hesitently pointed out that I was breaking my vow-to-self. (Is a vow really a vow if you make it to yourself rather than to God? Surely not!) Then one of the cats -The Cricket cat, to be precise- jumped in my lap and explained in his winning way that he was more important than the book I was holding. I allowed myself to be convinced, and put the book aside.

But that left me trying to figure out how to spend the morning. Exercise was out, on account of my protesting leg. Work was out of the question, because I was still half-asleep. So I decided to turn to this trusty blog. Instead of working on my dissertation, I have now wasted a good quarter of an hour complaining about how much I want to read Mystery #3. But the fun doesn't end here! In order to waste even more time before I start working, I'm going to share with you the world's greatest homemade pizza recipe. Product Disclaimer: "World's Greatest" of course refers only to Teresa's world. Your world may contain better homemade pizza. If so, I congratulate you.

Just for fun, I'm going to put the entire recipe in blue. What are you going to do about THAT, eh?

First, you need to make the crust.


1 package dry yeast
1 cup of warm -not hot- water (Hot water will kill the yeast.)
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon each of garlic, oregano, and basil
1/2 teaspoon spoon
negligable amounts of corn meal


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees; place the rack on the lowest level.

2. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

3. Stir in the flour, oil, salt and seasonings. Beat with a spoon or, better yet, knead with your hands until thoroughly mixed.

4. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

5. Grease 2 12" pizza pans with more olive oil, then sprinkle liberally with cornmeal.

6. Divide the pizza dough into equal parts and pat each half into a circle on the pizza pans. Note: the dough doesn't have to reach the edge of the pan, so don't worry if it looks as if there isn't enough dough.

7. Bake the crusts for about 10 minutes. If you are baking them at the same time and they do not fit on the same rack, put them on the lowest two racks and switch halfway through baking.

Note: this recipe is adapted from the Betty Crocker pizza crust recipe. Betty also includes instructions for making thick crust pizza. I have not shared these instructions with you because I believe that the thin crust is superior. You, however, are free to turn to the dark side of the pizza if you want. Don't ask for help from me, though: Betty must be your guide.

And now for the toppings!

This recipe is for a delicious "white" pizza. Thus, you will not need pizza sauce or any tomato products in the making of this pizza. You will, however, need:

Some quantity of ready-made alfredo sauce. I recommend Classico creamy alfredo. (You will not use the whole jar, so pick something you're likely to use in the future.)

1 bag (at least 8 oz.) of mozzerella

About 1 cup of shredded -not grated- parmesan, or parmesan mixture. Kraft 3 cheese shredded parmesan, romano, and asiago mixture works well. Use fresh, grated-yourself cheese if you are a food snob.

1-2 tablespoon minced garlic

Additional Toppings of Your Choice. I recommend:

Diced onion

Spinach (Please believe me when I say that this is unbelievably good on white pizza. If that sentence seems contradictory, remember that all things are possible with God.)

Sliced mushrooms

Bits of Cooked Bacon

Chopped cooked chicken breast


1. Spread the pizza crusts with the alfredo sauce. This sauce is thinner and more runny than the usual pizza sauce, so you will not need as much of it as you might expect. Just a couple of tablespoons per pizza should be enough.

2. When the pizzas are sauced up to your liking, sprinkle or spread each pizza with about 1 teaspoon of minced garlic. If you are not a garlic fan, reduce it to 1/2 teaspoon per pizza.

3. I STRONGLY recommend adding a layer of fresh (cleaned) spinach leaves at this point. Don't be afraid to use quite a bit.

4. Regardless of whether you are following my advice in step 3, add whatever additional toppings you desire.

5. Add mozzerella cheese. Use some common sense here: about one cup of cheese is probably enough per pizza, but you may prefer more or less.

6. Top with 1/2 cup of the parmesan or parmesan mixture per pizza. Again, use your own judgement: you may prefer more or less.

7. Bake each pizza on the medium rack of a 425 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove when the cheese is just starting to turn golden brown. I recommend baking one at a time -it doesn't really take that long- but if you cook them simultaneously, you should place them on the middle rack and the one just below it, and switch them half-way so that they cook at the same rate. (Another note: Betty says you can freeze one pizza before cooking. Consult the oracle for instructions; I have never tried this. With a pizza-holic like Leopoldtulip in the house, there's never been a need.)

8. Slice and eat your pizza. If you come up with a topping combination that really rocks, do let me know.