December 5, 2012

FOOD FIGHT! Beth Dooley tosses back pizza

Peace of Pizza!

What's in a name? 
Who really owns a recipe? 

To the asshole who bought my domain name (for no apparent reason):
OK BITCH!  Give it back. You may have bought "" (and that swell recipe for the apple cake and the terrific turkey soup with Raghavan's curry). But what you will never own is Beth. Why would you want to be me anyway?

I am hungry. Always.  

You see, cooking and writing are born of hunger and loneliness. Every day, when I'm at this screen, or stirring a pot, I'm just trying to make things right, the instructions exact, nail the details down as a way into my own hearth -- that mythical place of wonderful smells and camaraderie. I'm not doing this alone, for every dish I make and every recipe I write is a conversation with the writers and cooks I admire, with the spirit of my grandmother, with my distant friends.  I want to smell the sizzling onions, whiffs of ginger, see windows glazed against the frosty black night.

Several years ago, when I taught Junior High English, one of my students refused to come to school on time. Her mother tried every morning to get this kid out of bed, her father yelled and threatened. Sometimes they just left her at home and she was absent for the day. She was an odd and distant creature, always wore a hoddie zipped up, her neon pink and green bangs flopped over her forehead. She hardly ever spoke, to the other students or me. 

One lunch break, as she unwrapped the peanut butter on white bread sandwich she brought each day, I asked her if she liked pizza and she nodded yes. I'd been working with an after school group on a cooking project and so I nipped off a little bit of the bread dough we had rising in the back and fashioned a small focaccia, showing her how to roll it to drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with parsley and coarse salt. She ate every last scrap. I told her that if she came early the next day, we could make some dough together in time to bake up a real pizza at lunch. She came in 30 minutes early with sauce and cheese, too. On Friday, we made enough pizza for the class (30 kids). When I bake this pizza, I think of her. I no longer teach but I heard that she graduated from high school.

Cooking isn't suppose to be easy. It's messy -- all those pots, all the compost. It takes time, you have to use your hands and your nose and you have to taste things. You have to be OK when your 13 year old says, "not that turkey soup, again?" or your husband tells you he's giving up bread (as you pull a fresh loaf out of the oven). These seem like such little things, but nothing is little in my life anymore. You have to be OK with failure and rejection. You have to clean up.

So go ahead, take "" ... guess what ... I'm not full yet. And for all my readers, don't worry: Beth Dooley is back .. and its .org, by the way.

Peace Pizza
Makes one 12 inch loaf

1 teaspoon dried yeast
3 cups bread or all-purpose flour or more as needed
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 to 1-1/4 cups warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large bowl, stir together the yeast, flour and salt. Slowly add the water to make a stiff dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead the dough by hands until it's smooth. Grease a bowl with a little of the oil and put the dough into it. Cover the bowl with a towel and set in a warm, draft free area until it doubles, about 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured board to make a 12 to 14-inch pizza. Lift the dough onto a baking sheet, top with your favorite sauce, cheese, pepperoni, vegetables, etc. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and bake until browned and bubbly, about 8 to 15 minutes. 


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