Wednesday, January 26, 2011

oh, the bachelorette ways of eating

Sometimes I get really nostalgic for mealtimes as a single. Not just the peace and quiet and being able to read the paper at breakfast, but with the quick ease meals could be prepared and cleaned up after. When heating up a tortilla, adding some rice, beans, cheese, and salsa was enough. When even a pita sandwich could constitute dinner.

As soon as Leighton and I moved in together, I wanted us to have real meals together. Now with Lilly it somehow feels like they've gotten to be even more of a thing. There's more thinking and planning going into what we have for dinner each day, and then all the preps and the onerous cleaning up after. I know I could ask Leighton, but at the end of the day, having been with Lilly all day, I somehow prefer the kitchen to more play.

That said, I do sometimes feel chained to the kitchen counter from four till eight at night.

And then there's the sense I should include her more and not just when she asks to help. But, you know, encourage her to help out, bake with me, cut veggies together, and so on.

Now, a lot of moms blog about all the baking and craft making they enjoy doing with their kids: Not going to be me. My baking consists of apple cake based on my mom's recipe or Betty Crocker assisted brownies. I did make that one kind of Christmas cookies for the holiday, the Hershey Kisses. And while it was absolutely endearing to see Lilly unwrap the kisses and sort the chocolate and wrapping paper into different bowls with such focused concentration, the part I thought would be really fun for her, putting the kisses on the half-baked cookies, was just really stressful, because of course the baking sheets were hot from the oven and Leighton and I were both terrified she'd get burned. But we survived, no burns, and the cookies were yummy and her favorite kind over the holidays, and since I didn't get around to baking them till Christmas eve (I know), they were really chewy and yummy the entire holiday season (see?!).

It's been a goal of mine to bake bread for about ten years now, and I still haven't gotten around to it, but I do make a delicious pizza. I've been thinking that would be a really fun thing for Lilly to help with, and when I finally got around to doing it with her last week, it was fun for her, but not so fun for me. Firstly, she was very impatient during the dough making, so instead of kneading it for the good amount of time it requires, I just added more flour, and so the crust didn't turn out as thin and crisp as we like it, though not too bad either. Second, in the name of speediness and lack of ingredients, it ended up really basic: tomato puree with basil and oregano, fried onion, cut up ham (leftovers from the very tasty spiral cut ham we had for Christmas) and shredded cheese with some capers drizzled on top. But she loved it and ate lots and it was, truly, very fun to see her try rolling out the dough, smearing the puree on, adding ham, and then cheese on to it.

It wasn't as yummy as the ones I made last summer with fresh veggies and herbs from the garden:

But we agreed it was worth it.

(Recipe below.)
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (about 110 F)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon each salt, dry basil, and oregano leaves
3 - 3 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
All-purpose flour for kneading

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add oil, salt, basil, oregano. Using a wooden spoon, beat in whole wheat flour until dough holds together. Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead until dough is smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes), adding only small amounts of flour when needed.

Turn over in a greased bowl (or the original bowl if coated with dry flour), cover, and let rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes.

Punch dough down and divide in half. Roll out each half to form a circle on a greased 14-inch pizza pan.  One at a time, bake on next-to-bottom rack of a 450 F oven for about 7 minutes. During baking, watch carefully and prick any bubbles that form. Remove from oven and set aside.

Assemble pizza, spreading tomato sauce or pesto or whatever sauce your heart desires, adding toppings that you like. Bake in a 450 F oven for 12-15 minutes until cheese melts.


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