It's November 29th as I write this and muti-colored lights are twinkling at me from the tree across the room.
Don't hate me because I started decorating for the holidays the day after Thanksgiving this year. I'm not quite sure where this jet-fueled burst of holiday spirit came from but I am a decorating fool right now. There's a stack of boxes in the foyer that I can't wait to dig into: garlands and wreaths, strings of lights, all of those wonderful old ornaments that you move from house to house and tree to tree over the years because so much of your family's history is tangled up in them.
The truth is, I haven't dipped into those boxes since my parents died in 2001. Yes, I decorated. Yes, we celebrated the holidays in our own multi-denominational, multi-cultural way. But I wasn't up to facing all of those wonderful memories so we bought new stuff, stuff without a history of its own, and started creating new and different memories.
This year, though, I think I'm ready. The ragged edges of loss have smoothed over and those
wonderful boxes of memories that have been hidden away in the basement are calling to me.
I want to see Uncle Harry's hand-painted Austrian ornaments, the glitter birds my Aunt Dede
made one year, the Christmas stocking my mother made for me when I was three, the cards my
father wrote for me, the funny little pieces we picked up on our travels, the wooden Santa
Claus and menorah Danielle designed and made. I can't wait! Visit me at my
blog and I'll post some photos. (At least I plan to . . . )
If you're a knitter looking to share holiday knitting highs and lows, please visit us at
Romancing the Yarn where we share our fiber triumphs and tragedies. Lots of great contests there too so drop by and join in the fun.
Along with my holiday decorating frenzy, I seem to have suddenly returned to breadmaking. It's been years since I made my own bread but the other night I found myself pulling out the honey and the whole wheat flour and taking all of my aggressions out on that poor round of dough trembling on the kitchen counter. What is it about kneading dough that works better than therapy? Is it the way the house smells when you're baking? Or the way the bread tastes, still warm from the oven? Or something else, the same deeply-ingrained need to create with your own two hands that inspires us to pick up the knitting needles or sew a fine seam.
I also made a wonderful pizza dough that turned into dinner last night, topped with a spicy tomato sauce and some fresh mozzarella from Randazzo's. No, I don't have any fancy pizza pans or ceramic stones. I just cranked the oven up to 450 degrees and pushed and prodded the dough into a cookie tin and hoped for the best. To my delight, that's exactly what we got!
I highly recommend you give this a try:
BETTER THAN PIZZA KING PIZZA DOUGH
1 packet of yeast
1/4 cup water
1 t sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour (bread flour is preferable but I did just
fine with plain old Hecker's Unbleached)
1/2 t salt
1 T olive oil
1 1/4 cups cool water
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1/4 cup of warm water, heated to no more than 110 degrees. (You don't want to kill the yeast.)
In a separate large bowl or the mixing bowl of your food processor, combine the flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture, olive oil, and cool water and mix together. Pulse if using a food processor until it forms a ball. (This should happen pretty quickly.) Otherwise mix by hand until it all comes together.
Turn dough out onto a floured board or clean countertop. Knead until it's nice and smooth and elastic beneath your hands. Let it rest for 3 or 4 minutes then turn it into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean dish towel, then let rise in a warm part of the kitchen for about an hour.
Punch down, divide into 2 or 4 sections (depending on how many pizzas you want to make and what size you want to make them) and let rise for another 30 minutes. (1 1/2 hours total rising time.)
Heat your oven to somewhere between 450 and 500 degrees. You know how high you can go on your particular oven. The easiest way to form the crust is to liberally dust a cookie pan with yellow cornmeal (maybe a few tablespoons) then press the dough into the pan with your hands. You can also help things along with a rolling pin. It's up to you. If you're into spinning the dough over your head, go for it! (And please send me the photos!)
Add your toppings, pop into the oven for between 15-19 minutes (depends on your oven, your dough, your toppings, your tastes) and there you have it: Pizza!
So here's what's new and noteworthy as we begin the holiday season:
- New contests - one on this site and a few bubbling on the blogs
- Fabulous new recipe from our resident Food Goddess (This one is so good I actually went into the kitchen and broiled up something garlicky at midnight after I read it!)
- Much love to all of you for a happy and healthy holiday season