Sunday, March 24, 2013

Weekend Things.

I have done it.  I have finally perfected my pizza dough.  

I have tried numerous recipes and come up with my own over the last several years.  Ever since I first realized that making your own pizza was one hundred times better than frozen pizza.  I have made thin, crispy crust or a deep dish, chewy crust.  I have made some with just flour, salt and yeast and some where I added honey or sugar to sweeten the dough.  I have used whole wheat flour, white flour and 00 flour.  I have baked them in the oven and thrown them on the grill.  But, it wasn't until tonight that I finally perfected it.  The blend of crunchy on the outside, but chewy on the inside.  The kind you get at a restaurant of a really legit pizza joint.  I had heard about the importance of a very slow rising process for really good pizza dough, but now having tried it for the first time, realize how true this is.  It was worth the three days it took to make the dough.  It was worth getting up one night at 3 am to move it from rising in a warm spot to resting in the fridge.  (I didn't set an alarm or anything, Ava conveniently had a nightmare at just the right time!)  I topped it very simply...tomato pizza sauce (one can of high quality Italian tomatoes, olive oil, sea salt and garlic blended together in the food processor), fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and some Parmesan cheese.  So simple, so tasty, so perfect.  Luckily I am totally stuffed from it right now or I'd be raiding the fridge for the leftovers just talking about it (I'll put the dough recipe at the end...you gotta try it.)

That was the icing on the cake of a very lovely weekend and first few days of spring.  It was cold all weekend...much more winter than spring, but before it cooled down we got a little taste of what is to come.  We took full advantage by breaking out the sidewalk chalk-


The snow that evening quickly erased the town these girls worked so hard on.  I helped as well by adding, per request, a Target, a grocery store, a library and the beach. These girls know what's important in a town.  This was the day after the first day of spring and it was one of those days where the sun was out, you could get away with no jacket and everyone was in a good mood.  I especially enjoyed this day because I got an impromptu lunch date with my hubby.  You would think with my flexible schedule and the girls in school we would get to do this more often but it just doesn't seem to work out.  That day was one of the rare times when I called Matt and asked if he wanted to go to lunch and he was just  getting back into town and said, I'll meet you in 20 minutes.  And, so that is what we did.  Twenty minutes later sitting at Dave's Sushi with my favorite guy...

We need to take advantage of this a few more times before school is out for summer and impromptu lunches will have to include two little girls and be a little less date like.  

I had the perfect recipe to continue this lovely spring like day-

Kinda perfect, right?  I had the back door open, fresh veggies cooking, homemade pasta, glass of vino and music on.  Boiling the pasta water over making a mess of the stove and finding a rubber band in my steamed asparagus (must have forgot to remove it!) couldn't ruin the spirit of the evening.
Oh, I CANNOT wait til veggies like this are coming from our garden and not the grocery store!
 Voila...final product...

I roasted the cherry tomatoes and broccoli with olive oil, garlic and sea salt.  I boiled some scallions with asparagus.  I tossed it all together with cooked pasta, fresh parsley, Parmesan and some pasta water.  Very good.

Friday, spring was gone.  We got one day of it.  It was replaced with snow on and off.  We didn't let that get us down.  I had my cutey-pie nephew after work with me to pick up the girls so you couldn't be bummed if you wanted to.  His ever expanding vocabulary and relentless asking of "why?" have him at that delicious age of two going on three  that you can't help but love.  I had him in the backseat on our way to the girls school and we were doing the "why" game and it took me back to having my other nephew (who is now 18 going on 19) in the back of my Geo Storm at two years old playing the same game.  He always got on some tangent about dinosaurs and I remember him going on and on explaining the different kinds.  Oh, good times.  Anyways...got off on a tangent there.  The girls didn't know I was going to have Jacob with me, so the surprise made their day.

Ava explaining the fire hydrant and Jacob asking "Why?" to everything which Ava found hilarious.
I love being an aunt.  I love my family of four and love that I have so many nieces and nephews to add to it.  More to love.  More to love on and spoil without the parental pressure of not screwing them up...that's someone else's job.

Saturday was all about catching up with our besties.  It had been a very long time since we had seen our friends.  Before spring break it seemed like there was sickness or everyone was busy and then we were gone.  Yesterday we finally got to hang out with them.  First by celebrating their daughter's 5th birthday with a bowling party...


We didn't end there.  After the party they came over for dinner and playing and we got to all catch up.  Good friends, good times.  Always.  If we ever do move to a warmer climate we are going to have to kidnap them and stuff them in the Uhaul.  I think they'll forgive us...it's not like we'd be taking them to North Dakota.  We may have to get a really big Uhaul because I'll have to stuff some of my family in their as well.  Like above mentioned nieces and nephews and sisters and grandparents, etc etc.

Today, between pizza making, I got this crazy urge to clean out the girls rooms.  I get this way about twice a year.  Right before Christmas and their birthdays.  I get this huge urge to get rid of toys and clothes before I know they will be getting a bunch more.  I started in small corner of Layla's room not fulling intending to go all the way.  However, before I knew it I was a woman possessed and had Matt asking "What is wrong with you?"  I was over it by the time I was done with Layla's room but then Ava was in on the action so I had to muster some more energy to tackle her room as well.  By the end of it we had several bags of toys and clothes to give away and even more bags of trash I snuck out without them seeing.  You know the saying, one person's trash is another persons treasure?  Or in this case one mom's trash is a child's treasure?  The things these girls find and stash in their rooms astounds me.  I know there will come a time when one of them asks where that beaded necklace with pipe cleaners and a stapled heart on it is?  Or, the back of the magazine from the airplane that one of them drew a picture of a tree on is?  I'll have to come up with some excuse about how it must have "accidentally" got thrown away.  They'll pout for a minute and move on to the next piece of junk treasure.  And, this time I finally, finally put the Winnie the freakin Pooh book in the giveaway pile.  Again, this was done without them knowing and I don't even care if someone is sad when they discover it missing amongst the hundreds of other books they have...I am over that silly old bear.  Sorry, I have never been a fan of Winnie the Pooh and the gang.  The clean out extravaganza ended with re-arranged, spotless rooms that should last for at least the next 12 hours cuz little girls are sound asleep.  

Speaking of sleep, it is is time to end this.  Hope you had a lovely weekend.  Enjoy this last week of March.  I end with a pic from afternoon date with my baby girl...

She thought I should get a picture of just her yogurt creation, but I snuck her in!

And of course the pizza dough...
Pizza Dough Recipe
-5 to 5 1/2 cups "00" Flour (I find mine at an Italian food store, it does make a difference in the dough)
-1/2 tsp yeast
-2 cups water, warm
-2.5 tbls salt
Mix yeast with 1/4 cup of water and let stand 5 minutes.  In a stand mixer with a dough hook mix flour with yeast mixture and the remaining water and mix around 3 minutes.  Add salt and mix on medium for around 5 more minutes, until dough is smooth.  Turn into a ball and place in a large, floured bowl.  Cover with plastic and let stand for 8 hours.  (It should double)  Place in refrigerator for 8-10 hours.  Remove from fridge and rest it for 2 hours.  Punch dough down and separate into four balls.  Place them on two floured baking sheets.  Cover with plastic and let rise for 8 hours.  Place in fridge and let rest for 8 hours or until you are ready to use.  Take them out around 20 minutes before you are ready to use.

-To make pizza-flatten each dough ball out with your hands.  Heat pizza stones in the oven at 500-degrees for around a half hour.  Assemble pizzas on the baking sheets and then carefully move from baking sheet to hot pizza stone.  (This is where a pizza peel would come in handy, but I managed)  Bake for 5-10 minutes.  Enjoy!

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