I’ve heard before that what was fun for you as a child can be very telling of what you would find fun as an adult. I believe this to be true. I mean, look at the popularity of coloring books for adults. When I was a child, I mostly liked to read. But outside of books, there was one thing I looked forward to above all else. That one thing was still a favorite as a teenager, and I still love it every bit as much as an adult.
My favorite thing to do as a child was make homemade pizza with my dad.
My dad and I have always been close. He was the first one to hold me after I was born, and a stay-at-home parent when I was young. He’s patient and quiet, funny and smart. He always let my brother and sister and I be involved if we showed interest. I credit his willingness to let me help with pizza to my love of cooking now. But pizza will always be my favorite.
The pizza recipe we use comes from an old work friend of my dad’s who has since passed away. I don’t know if I ever got to meet this friend, but I feel like I know him from the stories my dad often tells. Another great thing about my dad is his odd sense of humor, which this friend shared. I was very young when this friend died.
I don’t remember much about it, but I remember my mom telling us to be extra kind to dad because he was feeling sad. “Why is he sad, Mom?”, I asked. “Because his friend from work died, sweetie.” When you’re very young, it’s hard to imagine your parents’ lives that exist outside of being “mom and dad”. I don’t think I realized until that moment that my parents had friends.
So we make pizza because it is delicious, and because it’s a nice way to remember a friend. Now that I’m an adult (haha), I make pizza on my own. But I still follow all the essential elements of the pizza making process:
- Turn on some good music.
- Poor a glass of wine, preferably white zinfandel.
- Don’t worry too much about making a mess, it can be cleaned up later.
- Think of your friends, and how thankful you are for their presence in your life whether they’re living or dead.
- Always add extra cheese.
Over the holidays I got the chance to spend a day making pizza with my dad again, back in my parents’ kitchen. Some family friends were coming for a pizza party, and we had four pizza pies to prepare. It was like being a kid again - going with my dad to the grocery store, mixing the dough, chopping veggies and shredding cheese while the dough sat to rise, rolling out the crust and assembling the pizzas while discussing the appropriate amount of sauce to use. We drank wine and listened to our favorite Christmas album, followed by Warren Zevon.
I had an especially wonderful holiday season in 2017, but this day stands out. My dad and I had a great day making pizza like old times, and it turned out delicious as always. Thanks, Dad.
The Best Pizza
For the crust:
- 1 ½ c flour, plus more for kneading
- 1 packet yeast
- A pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ - ¾ c room temperature water
For the rest of the pizza:
- 4 oz fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
- ½ red bell pepper, diced small
- ½ orange bell pepper, diced small
- ½ yellow bell pepper, diced small
- ½ small yellow onion, diced small
- Pizza sauce, to taste (1 probably use a little more than ½ of a 15 oz can - I love sauce!)
- 1 lb mix of monterey jack and mozzarella cheese
Combine flour, yeast and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add olive oil and ½ cup water. Mix with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. If it seems dry, add the additional ¼ cup water. Knead the dough a few times and form it into a ball. Put it back in the mixing bowl and set it aside to rise for 45 minutes.
While the dough is rising, chop your veggies and shred your cheese. When the dough is ready, use a rolling pin to flatten it into a big circle. Get it to whatever size you need to fit your pizza pan (mine is 16 inches). Spray some cooking oil on your pizza pan. Place your dough on the pan by folding it in half and lifting it carefully. Unfold to cover the pan. Use a fork to poke tiny holes all over the dough. This will keep your dough from forming weird air bubbles.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes, or until just turning golden brown. Take the crust out, add sauce, cheese and toppings, and bake for 8 more minutes or until it’s done to your liking. YUM!