our messy table

Category: Basil

3 years

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It’s been 3 years and a handful of days since my husband and I have been married.

Since then, after packing up our first apartment and moving to the northern Midwest, we have lived in 2 different apartments, and soon to be 3 different rental homes. Since then, we have worked a combined number of 12 different jobs. We adopted a dog, a second rabbit (Lord knows why…) and became parents to our little boy.

We were chatting about this in the car the other night as we headed home from our anniversary date. We laughed a little. 5 moves. 12 jobs. Parenthood. That’s a lot of transition in 3 years. All good transitions. All moving forward. But still. A lot.

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Since we were dating, one thing (besides our pinkish couch) has moved and transitioned along with us.

Our pizza dough recipe.

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Sure. The toppings are a guaranteed change. You can throw anything from sardines to butternut squash on top and still call it a pizza, so long as there is a base. And that base, from our kitchens A to Z, has undergone much trial and error in search of a pizza dough we felt we could always count on.

We have kneaded in cheese and herbs galore, subbed the flour for cauliflower, trialed with no cornmeal vs lots of cornmeal, whole wheat flour, gluten free, polenta, the list goes on and on. And now, finally, the search is over.

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This is it folks. The laziest pizza dough you will ever work with. Just let the yeast do its thing with loosely stirred flour and water until the dough bubbles and foams. Then, wala! Your dough is ready to be stretched, topped and baked.

Our pizzas have definitely simplified since our earlier years together. So long as we can plan 12 hours in advance, we often throw together a simple margarita on week nights. The simplicity of the tomatoes, spinach, basil and mozzarella draw attention to the complex flavors the yeast develops in your dough. But feel free to get foodie-crazy on the dough if you want.

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Laziest Pizza Dough

Yield: 2-12 inch round pizzas or 1-9×13 inch pizza

1 1/2 cups spelt flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ¼ cup water, plus additional Tablespoon or two if needed

In a very large bowl, mix all ingredients with a spoon. The dough will be craggy and rough; this is fine, but if it feels excessively so, add another spoonful or even two of water. Cover bowl with plastic and keep at room temperature for approximately 12-24 hours, or until the dough has more than doubled. This takes longer in a chilly room and less in a very warm one, but don’t fret too much over this, as the dough is generally forgiving of a loosened schedule.

About 30 minutes before dough is ready, prepare pizza stone and very lightly, thinly coat it with olive oil or a nonstick cooking spray then sprinkle it with cornmeal.  Heat oven to its highest temperature, usually between 500 and 550 degrees F. If you’re using a pizza stone, place it in the oven so that it heats too.

Flour your counter very well. Scrape dough out of bowl onto floured counter; in the time it has risen it should change from that craggy rough ball to something very loose, soft, sticky and stretchy. Flour the top of the dough, and divide dough in half (or more pieces, if you’re making smaller pizzas). Form them into ball-like shapes. Grab first round with floured hands and let the loose, soft dough stretch and fall away from your hands a few times before landing the dough on your prepared baking sheet/paddle. Use floured fingers to press and nudge dough into a roughly round or rectangular shape. Add desired fixings and bake pizza for 10 to 15 minutes, rotating if it’s baking unevenly, until the top is blistered and the crust is golden. Repeat with remaining dough.

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surely

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We are a bit late this year. But finally, our garden had been planted.

We had an incident with our starters (they… um… blew away), and our tiller (it… uh… broke) and then there was the issue of where to plant the garden. We are due to move from our rental home at the end of this month. The question, “where to” still begs an answer. But we needed a garden, I declared. We needed fresh vegetables and something constructive to do under the sun. I wanted my son’s little hands to be busy picking beans and watering tomatoes and nurturing things to life. So, my parents were kind enough to let us use their yard for our mass of summer squash, winter squash, beans, dark greens, tomatoes and peppers. We planted carrots and beets in pots, and our herbs rest along the window sill, safety in my kitchen, away from the maddening winds of Iowa.

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We are treading through a transitional time, which isn’t a comfortable process for me. I like change. But the act of changing throws me off. It makes me feel unstable. Like the ground my feet were planted firmly, the ground that I trusted, split into earthy plates and drifted mysteriously away.

After spending the fall, winter and spring babysitting another little boy, my son and I are home alone for the summer. I have been taking advantage of the flexible time, the ability to just pick up and go. But  my son and I miss his play mate. And I miss the predictable routine we had wrapped ourselves into.

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Also, I plan to go back to school full-time in the fall. I have arranged for a babysitter and have been connecting dots and jumping through the hoops that school and life require. I feel excited and ready, but unsteady at the same time. I want the hoops to be lower. The dots to be closer together. And I want immediate answers to the lingering questions only time can answer.

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. . .

I have been thinking a lot about place lately. How the place you chose to live shapes you.

It is clear that my nearly 18-month-old has lived most of his life surrounded by open space. He knew every farm animal sound before he could talk. When he plays outside, the 30 mph wind flapping around his hair and clothes like desperately floundering fish hardly phases him. To him, large bodies of water are astonishing. Boats are mysterious-looking trucks. And probably, mountains are a little scary.

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I know my son will love this garden. And I am really grateful we don’t have to explain the concept of “moving” to him yet. He is still so resilient. So resourceful. And all he needs are my arms to know where home is.

I want to be more like that… you know, more trusting. More resilient. I want to believe home is where the three of us are together. And I think I am getting there. Slowly. But surely.

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. . .

I am pretty addicted to these lentils. I have made them approximately 4 times in the last 2 weeks… wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla, spread over my favorite and easiest bread recipe, and straight from the fridge. My son likes to eat them with a spoon alongside me, but due to the choking hazard, I make sure to leave the walnuts out of his portion.

Lentils folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and Basil

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, chopped to the size of lentils
  • 2 cups baby spinach or arugula
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup Greek or plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • fine grain sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved

With a sharp knife, gently slice the spinach and basil leaves into bite-sized pieces without bruising them. Otherwise, tear by hand.

Place the lentils in a bowl and mix in the spinach and basil. Squeeze the lemon into the lentils (mindful to omit the seeds), mix, and then fold in the yogurt. Mix again, and then pour in the olive oil, stirring, as you do, to combine. At this point, taste the mixture, and season with salt, and two good grindings of pepper. Finally, fold the nuts into the dish, and finish with a drizzle of oil.

The lentils and greens will keep in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for at least three days.

When you’re ready to assemble, bring the lentil mixture to room temperature. Give it a taste, and adjust with more salt or some lemon juice. It can go on toasted bread, in a wrap, over salad or plain. Finish with some Parmesan shavings.