There are LOTS of things going on at the WatRanch this week, and I promise updates later this evening. In the meantime, I want to share one of our newest family traditions with you, since we've been keeping this one up pretty well: Friday night pizza!
When we moved to OK almost 2 years ago, we immediately realized we'd moved to a "pizza desert." I never realized how fortunate we were back East to have access to some fantastic pizza (oh Little Italy in Baltimore! I miss you!) until we moved here. There are exactly 2 pizza vendors in our small town, one that specializes in obscene amounts of grease and one that is located in a gas station. I'm pretty sure the cardboard box is tastier than either option, and neither deliver. Our local grocery store carries frozen pizzas, but only the frost-bitten Tombstones with the weak plastic wrap and red and green cubed "toppings." No thanks.
We also have the option of driving 30 minutes into the bigger town to pick up Dominos, Pizza Hut, Little Caesar....you get the picture. As if those choices weren't tantilizing enough (blech) we get to look forward to another 30-minute drive back home where we have the privilage of enjoying lukewarm mass-produced pizza. Hooray!
Ahem. Suffice it to say that we have gone without pizza for quite a while. Pretty much a travesty for a Yankee like me. An ITALIAN Yankee, at that.
About 3 weeks ago (after The Making of The Sauce) I realized I had all the tools necessary for an attempt at scratch pizza-making: homemade sauce, local mozzarella & parm, new-found knowledge of dough techniques, a pizza peel, and a baking stone. At about 2pm that afternoon (a Friday) I decided, what the hey, I'd throw some flour and yeast together to mix up a dough (I used 1.5 tbsp yeast, 3 cups warm water, 1 tbsp salt and 7 cups of flour--half whole wheat and half all-purpose--then tossed in some oregano). It rose for a few hours and at dinner time I broke off a hunk,
and rolled it flat,
and tried to make it as circle-shaped as I could. Then I sprinkled corn meal on my pizza peel to make it easier for the whole pie to slide off into the oven, and laid out the crust. I loaded up with sauce, cheese (blend of mozzarella and parmesan), and toppings (I LOVE spinach on pizza. And artichokes. Seriously, the best pizza I've ever had on this planet was the veggie pizzas in Italy--better than the meats). I also throw on some herbs for an extra kick.
The oven is cranked to 550 degrees (as high as it will go) and the pizza slides right onto the baking stone. It only takes 10-15ish minutes to cook, and seconds for my family to devour. When I say that this is the best pizza we've had in Oklahoma, it's not because I'm so great at cooking: it's because we haven't found a decent pizza that is as convenient as this is. Not counting the 2-3 hour rise time (which I was busy doing other stuff during), the whole process took about 20 minutes to prep. I portioned out 2 more balls of dough from what I had left over and froze them, though I probably could have made 4 total balls if I was being more precise about it. On Thursday night (or Friday morning if I forgot) I take one of the balls out of the freezer and let it defrost in the fridge until just before dinner time.
Oh yeah. That's the stuff.