Organic whole wheat dough brushed with garlic olive oil topped with Daiya mozzarella and cheddar, Beyond Meat grilled chicken, Tessemae buffalo sauce, Organicville non-dairy ranch, and a sprinkle of oregano.
I bet I’ve made more than three hundred pizzas over the
years. I’ve given that number some thought and just asked my husband for his
opinion – he thinks that sounds high. So okay, maybe two hundred pizzas. Thick crust, medium-thin
crust, cracker-thin crust, deep dish, Chicago-style deep dish, you name it. I’ve
used white sauce, pesto, and homemade pizza sauce. Toppings have included fresh
veggies from the garden, sausage, pepperoni, olives, artichokes, chicken, etc.,
and a whole variety of cheeses. You get the idea – we eat a lot of homemade pizza around
here, but surprisingly, I hadn’t ever made a calzone.
ago I picked up some fresh, whole wheat pizza dough from my grocery store’s
deli and couldn’t make up my mind what to do with it. The dough stayed in the
refrigerator for two days before I decided that the time had come to wrap that
dough around some fillings.
Supposedly, depending on what you read, a traditional
calzone does not include sauce.
Interesting. After more reading, I came up with a plan. I got the cold dough out of the refrigerator to let it come to room temperature and then headed back to the
store. I then divided it into two pieces and assembled my fillings. I
decided to add spinach to the whole milk ricotta, even though I didn’t find a
single recipe that included spinach.
The pictures tell the story. I baked these two, gorgeous
calzones in a 425 degree F oven for about 20 minutes. After they had cooled for
ten minutes, I cut them and we dipped the pieces in homemade marinara sauce. I
have more prosciutto, mozzarella, and ricotta cheese in the refrigerator –
plenty enough to make more calzone over the next few days. They were so good, no
one will object.
When I was younger, I had a habit of making things much harder for myself than necessary. I procrastinated important deadlines. I made horrible financial decisions in the name of instant gratification and then found myself sick to my stomach when I needed to, like, pay my rent. I threw myself into terrible relationships with people I loved but also knew did not love me back or did not love me nearly as much as I loved them.
To be clear, I have had lovely, mutually considerate relationships. I have been loved. I am loved. And still, there is a part of me that enjoys suffering, that enjoys the masochism of loving someone who doesn’t love you back, among other things.
On Friday I drove to Columbus, OH to be the keynote speaker and give a workshop at the Columbus State Writers Conference. It was a three hundred mile drive and I got a lot of thinking done. The conference was wonderful–really great participants and a warm audience. I did a book signing and, of course, worried that no one would want to buy my book or have me sign it. There was even a display with all my books. I wanted to cry. None of it feels real, especially some things coming up that I can’t tell you about yet but will soon. None of it feels real.
A young woman said I was a celebrity to her. Many people had gorgeously generous things to say about my writing. I don’t know how to handle this. I don’t mean that in a “cute” way. It simply feels like they are talking about someone else. I am just me. I am a girl who loves to write and who has always loved to write and who, yes, loves when her writing is loved.
I signed a young woman’s hand.
Anyway, I haven’t been cooking lately because I’ve been traveling so much. Before I headed home, I went to Whole Foods to get some groceries. I wanted to taste something fresh. It was basically peak Whole Foods at that place, packed with eager suburbanites and overly earnest employees with artfully modified bodies.
I wanted to cook on Sunday but man, I wanted something easy so I bought ingredients to make pizza that would involve very little labor–mushrooms, ripe black olives, basil, mozzarella, whole wheat pizza dough, and tomato sauce. I felt some shame as I spooned the olives into the plastic tub. I thought, “Humanity, how we have fallen.” I was quietly thrilled because there were so many exotic choices, which only quickened my shame.
While I was driving I was thinking about patterns and history and habits. I’ve gotten better about many things because I simply reached a point in my life where certain kinds of struggle, certain kinds of suffering hold little appeal. I pay my bills on time. Whenever I possible I make deadlines. I check my luggage because I am not going to drag a suitcase all over the damn airport. I get my oil changed.
In relationships, though, I must still need suffering. I don’t know how to break the habit of loving people who won’t or can’t love me back in the way I want, need, and have come to understand, in the way I deserve. My feelings are true, my desires are real, but it’s like I have to give myself an insurmountable obstacle by loving someone unattainable.
I am speaking generally here and not about a particular person or relationship.
Part of me does this because I still believe in fairy tales, in happily ever after. I want to break myself of that. I don’t want to break myself of hope or wonder but I do want to break myself of delusion.
I got the dough out and it was just a ball and I wondered how I was going to make it bigger.
Real talk: I just giggled because in my head I made a sex joke. Ball. Bigger. HA HA HA.
Real talk: I did try to get all fancy like pizza makers on TV. I threw the dough in the air and when I caught it, the dough hadn’t really changed shape. That shit is not as easy as it looks. Eventually I just started manipulating the dough until it stretched into a shape resembling a pizza.
This morning my ex texted me. Or, I should say, an ex. He wrote, “i heard ur leaving town, wanna hang?”
And I stared at my phone because I know him. He ain’t slick. He was asking, “Wanna have sex?”
Why didn’t he just ask that? We’ve never been coy with each other. We have been transactional. Why did he not spell you’re? Why did he pick today? Why does he still work my last nerve? Why is my number still in his damn phone? Why is his in mine?
Re: that last question, I am too lazy to delete people from my phone.
Then I had to face the worst part of myself, the part that will probably, at some point, answer his stupid text message, and spend time with a person I truly cannot stand who truly does not deserve me or my time or my body because there is that part of me that can’t shake thinking, “Who are you to say no?"
More than twenty years of my life, it still comes back to this question. Who am I to say no?
I added tomato sauce to the pizza dough and rubbed it around. Whatever. This part of the process wasn’t interesting.
While I was cooking, I was also watching Game of Thrones. After last week’s shit show of an episode, I should have known that this week’s episode would offer up more of the same degradation of the female body but there I was, watching the show. There I was, inviting suffering and that suffering was satisfied with a long, miserable scene of women being raped as a backdrop to a scene I couldn’t even focus on because I was so flummoxed by the callous spectacle.
I sliced some black olives and baby bella mushrooms and fresh basil and threw that on top of the dough and I thought about how angry certain things make me. I have no problem with violence in entertainment. I have no interest in censoring creative expression. I do believe women and their bodies deserve more respect and consideration in entertainment. I resent that this is something for which we need to ask. I really fucking resent it.
Sometimes, it is a real challenge holding conflicting beliefs and desires, to welcome certain kinds of suffering but to very much want to see less unnecessary suffering in the shows and movies I want to watch, to very much want people, the world over to be free from suffering they do not choose. I don’t know how to reconcile these things. Perhaps they cannot be reconciled.
On Friday, I leave on a book tour. I’m going all over the place. I am irrationally worried about the usual things–no one coming to the events, people hating the book and telling me all about that hatred, (AN UNTAMED STATE IS OUT ON MAY 6 IF YOU WANNA BUY IT), no one wanting to hang out with me socially in cities where I know people, leaving me alone in hotel rooms all across America, the book doing so poorly I never sell another book. I can worst case scenario like a motherfucker.
I never know how much cheese to put on pizza so I basically threw the entire container on there.
There is a profile of me in Poets & Writers and an article about me in Chicago Magazine. I feel exposed. It scares me to share so much of myself. I don’t want the focus on me. I am just me. The writing is what matters, not the writer, right? But still, both of these pieces are lovely, and really thoughtfully written. I read Poets & Writers when I was a zygote of a writer. To see my name on the cover, and to see such a substantial article written about me in the magazine, is really wonderful.
I keep reminding myself, I have worked for this. There is also luck involved, but I have worked hard for this.
Joey Fatone is hosting a show on Food Network. That makes me sad. Luck doesn’t last very long it seems.
I threw the pizza into the oven for about 20 minutes at 450 degrees because I wanted it to be brown and bubbly on top.Then I garnished with more fresh basil. The pizza turned out well. It tasted fresh. It was easy and I really needed some easy. I want more easy in my life. Easy feels far better than I’ve heretofore allowed myself to realize. I do not know how to reconcile this either.
Putting potatoes on a pizza started out as a joke. Actually, the joke was putting something referred to as potato sauce on a pizza. What the heck is potato sauce? Gravy? Cheese sauce? I was ready to tackle the challenge.
The more I thought about it the harder it became. If I was going to put potatoes on a pizza I knew I would also add roasted garlic, crispy pieces of bacon and cheese. That was easy – it was the sauce that threw me. Gravy seemed too weird. If I did gravy, would I leave off the cheese? Surely I wouldn’t do both.
After consulting one of the best cooks I know (a daughter), she came up with the idea of using pesto sauce. Wow! We were making progress!
The pizza I ended up was epic. Those creamy, toothsome bites of red potato were perfect. I took the time to roast whole heads of garlic, and the mellow, sweet cloves were incredible with the pesto and the bacon. It’s not low calorie and it’s labor intensive, but it was worth it!
Sue’s potato pizza with potato sauce pesto, roasted garlic, and crispy bacon
1 pound fresh pizza dough (I picked up some whole wheat dough from my favorite grocery store)
Whole cloves from two heads of roasted garlic
4 small red potatoes, cut into ¼-inch (5mm) rounds
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup (approximate) basil pesto sauce
1 ½ cups grated mozzarella cheese (approximate)
6 slices bacon, cooked till crisp and crumbled
Punch down the dough and let it rise again in an oiled, covered bowl until doubled in size.
In the meantime, roast the garlic. Let the garlic cool, remove cloves, and set aside.
Put the sliced potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with an inch of cold water. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes just until they’re tender in the middle when poked with a knife. Spread a drizzle of olive oil on a sheet pan. Drain potatoes and lay them in one layer on the prepared pan. Drizzle with a little more oil. Season the potatoes with a little salt and pepper and let cool.
Put a ceramic pizza stone in a 450 degree F oven and heat the stone for 40 minutes.
Flatten dough and shape into 12-inch round. Place the round dough on a pizza peel coated with cornmeal. Remove the heated pizza stone from the oven and slide on the dough. Return to oven and let bake for 3 or 4 minutes. Remove crust from oven again. Spread pesto sauce on dough. Sprinkle with most of the cheese. Top with potatoes, garlic, and bacon. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Return pizza to oven and let bake until crust is crisp and cheese is spotty golden brown.
Ingredients: 1 whole wheat pre-made pizza dough (making dough from scratch is a bad idea but I can do a separate post for how to do it) All purpose flour 1 biggum tomato time 1 biggum broccoli time Between 1-200 cloves of garlic 1 Jar of sauce-mo ½ blob of fresh mozzarella 1 handful of shredded Parmesan 1 handful of shredded cheddar Salt Black Pepper Onion powder Extra virgin olive oil 12” pan
Preheat oven to 425 F.
1. Put some flour down on a clean enough surface.
2. Knead the dough on the floured surface and pull it lightly a lot in all directions until its as far as it can go without ripping it.
3. Chop the tomato time, the broccoli time, the cheeseblob and the garlic clove(s) into big chunkuses and keep them separate.
4. Lightly Oil the pan and stretch the dough out onto it.
5. Pour not that much sauce-mo onto the dough. Too much sauce will soggy it up. Lightly Salt it and pepper it and onion powder it. Cover the whole surface with sauce except the end of the crust, like on a real pizza
6. Add the chunkuses of tomato time, broccoli time, garlic and cheese. Sprinkle the holes with the shreddar and parmesan
7. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and has just the beginnings of looking like a scab. Too much scab means its burnt. Some scab is desirable for extra crusty wusty and chewy taste.