TheCrockery

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.

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Location: A Collegetown, Undisclosed Location, United States

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

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.

INGREDIENTS:

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

Directions:

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

Directions:

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.



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