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The Unnatural Cook

a chronicle of weekly meal plans from someone who can't just throw a meal together

Tag Archives: Pizza

Okay, how great is this? Chili Pizza! My kids idea for what to do with leftover chili.

It’s store bought pizza dough, rolled out and topped with chili, jack cheese, a smattering of mozzarella cheese, scallions and jalapeños. I was skeptical of the idea for which there is no accounting. It was so good and it couldn’t have been easier. It’s beginning to look like we’d all be better off if I could just turn the kitchen over to the children.

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Meal Planning is getting easier, which is funny, because the blog is a lot of work.

I do wonder what the hell I’m doing spending so much time photographing and writing about food, but the problem is, I keep learning stuff so I can’t stop. One of the things I’m learning is that as I wean myself from total dependence on recipes I plan much faster. I haven’t quite figured this out yet. Is it because there’s more information about food stored in my brain now? Is it because it’s easier to imagine a meal than find a meal in a notebook? Leaving one day blank to be inspired by ingredients at the store certainly helps.

Or perhaps, like tonight, it’s because I didn’t come up with the meal at all – my son did! He requested sausage and mushroom pizza which required no thought whatsoever on my part.

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Taxes trump blog. It’s the governments fault I’m behind on my posting.

Wednesday night was a bit of a watershed evening for a few reasons:

1) I successfully used a mandolin. I once took a one night cooking class in which the teacher tried to teach me to use a mandolin. “It’s so easy! I love my mandolin!” she exclaimed. It’s so dangerous, I’m going to slice my fingers off, I thought. I was unable to keep the thing steady or make the even slices the tool insists upon. The instructor had never met a student who couldn’t work a mandolin. But then we bought one of our own. And it has a nifty little notch that keeps it firm across the top of a bowl. Using a mandolin horizontally instead of vertically is all I needed. “It’s so easy! I love my mandolin!”

2) The dough rolled out in less than a minute. I don’t know if using whole wheat dough makes the process smoother but I didn’t even need a rolling pin; I was able to spread it with knuckles & fingertips alone.

3) About half way through preparing the meal I realized I’d made it up. I wasn’t following a recipe. I just had the idea that whole wheat pizza with potatoes, rosemary, goat cheese & spinach would be good. That, my friends is the way a natural cook thinks. Who knew?

4) I took the pizza out of the oven when I smelled the crust burning. I know, you think this is very obvious. But I am the type of cook who used to think, “It says 20 minutes, it’s only been 10, it can’t be burning.” I would ignore the smell, even to some extent the smoke, until it was unsalvageable. This time I checked it, saw the one on the bottom was cooking too fast, took it out & finished cooking the pizzas on the top rack, one at a time. When I said at the outset this cooking thing did not come naturally to me, I was really, really not kidding.

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My son came up with the idea for dinner tonight – spinach & garlic pizza – and my husband cooked it. I showed up and ate it. What could be more relaxing?

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It looks so innocent. Pizza dough rising in a bowl. But no matter how hard I try, I cannot figure out how to roll it out properly. I even did research. I watched videos of people rolling dough out online. Theirs spreads; mine snaps back to its original form with a determination I can only admire. I love eating homemade pizza and I always think it’s going to be an easy dinner. I keep pizza dough in the freezer because I persist in this delusion no matter how many times the rolling goes awry. Tonight John rolled one out (banged, stretched & twirled would be more accurate) and tried to help me with the second. Two false starts. One success(ish). Thank god I’m an optimist – otherwise there’d be no more pizza.

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