As a working mother of four I thought that writing was the last thing I'd be doing, but here I am! I wanted to share with anyone who wants to know, what it's like for me to feed my family of seven, me, my husband, my brother (17) my son (16) and 3 daughters (9, 4, and 1).
I think I started writing this first entry on Friday, April 23, 2010 the day of my daughter's school's Multicultural Day. Trying to figure out how my husband (who had a 3 o'clock meeting) or I could pick up our 2 younger daughters, in time for one of us to make it to my 9 year old daughter's performance was starting involve time travel, so I decided to leave work early. I left work at 12 o'clock, picked up from the sitter, and made it to the performance at 1:30. Did I mention this was a Friday? So being able to see my 3 youngest offspring earlier than usual, which involved seeing one of them dance the "Hoedown Throwdown" was not foremost in my mind. Pervading my thoughts was - dinner. On Fridays we make pizza. During the school year we buy pizza dough from Trader Joe's, and during holiday breaks and in the summer when I don't work during the day, I make dough. Getting off work early, and in turn getting home early would allow me to make dough! I was thrilled at this opportunity! So as each grade level presented their practiced routines - the best being my daughter's line dance - my thoughts were (insert guilt here) of flour to yeast ratios, and white whole wheat flour versus all purpose...
About pizza dough:
I have been trying to perfect my pizza dough recipe over the past couple years. Two favorites recipes I combine, one from MS Baking Handbook and the other from William Sonoma Kid's Baking, results in a dough that is consistently tender, with a nice chew when baked, holding up well to heavier toppings. I think dissolving the yeast, with a little sugar, in half of the water that you will use, and let that sit for at least 10 minutes, works the best. I also add honey, something I read in a Ina Garten recipe. I love the flavor it gives the dough. I stir the flour, olive oil, salt and honey together first in a big bowl with a wooden spoon - this is where I begin to center myself. The smell of flour alone creates in me an inexplicable calm. Then the yeast mixture followed by additional water all stirred until a shaggy dough forms. I dump it out and add more flour until it is kneadable. No I don't think that's a word either. Once it's smooth, I've tried different things here - on the counter covered with the bowl to rise for an hour, or back in the bowl covered with a towel for an hour - not sure which works better yet. Then I divide the dough in to 4 or 6 pieces depending on how much I made and let those sit on the counter covered with a towel (the thin flour sack kind) for at least 15 minutes. It's a beautiful, meditative process that I think because, unlike making a loaf of bread, where it is meant to be tasted alone to see how good it is, pizza dough is always tasted with other elements so the pressure for perfection is not really there. Pressure stinks - making pizza dough does not.