Monday, August 16, 2010

The End is Near

Since my last blog, I had made the decision to host a pizza and wine tasting party, in hopes the best pizza crust would be revealed to me. There was one remaining book I wanted to get my hands on before I set a date for the event, but in the midst of finding this cookbook I came across so many others. How could this have happened?? Surely I told myself I have read every cookbook out there on pizza- not even close! To my amazement, I discovered at least another dozen cook books dedicated to fine art of pizza mastering. This cannot be happening, here it is July and I have yet to find one “The Best” recipe. Oh well, more pizza to taste, how bad can it be?? My problem now is getting my hands on these cook books. It seems my local library does not have them, however the last time I visited the library I inquired about obtaining books that were not available at the library. To my delight, I was handed several request forms I could fill out and have the books ordered from other libraries. Even better, there is no cost to me whatsoever! I just love the library. I’ve started to get some of the books and already made several pizza’s with the new recipes.

The first recipe is a favorite of mine. Remember way back I tried a recipe that required heating up the flour. This recipe calls for cold water, cornmeal and there is no five-minute yeast growing period. Everything is all mixed together and you let the dough rise several hours. Afterwards you put the dough in the refrigerator. Yes, I agree, it’s very different. The first time I made the recipe I forgot the olive oil and I didn’t put the dough in the refrigerator. It was real good, I mean real good. I thought to myself “wow, I need to try this again” only this time don’t leave anything out. The next time I made the crust, I followed the recipe word for word but the crust was nothing special. It was only mediocer like many other recipes I have tried. I was terribly disappointed. Does that mean my screw-up was meant to be? I cannot answer this but will make the recipe again leaving out the oil. Here are some pictures of the pizza and the recipe. This recipe came from Pizza: A Slice of Heaven by Nora Ephron.

I’ve tried several other recipes from Amy Scherber to Peter Reinhart. Each book has given me great insight as I continue my journey. I have learned that my past pizza dough techniques are for beginners and because of this my pizza has suffered. First, I have been mixing all my dough with an electric mixer when I should have been using my hands. I knead flour in the dough until it is now longer sticky. HUGE MISTAKE! The dough should be sticky which means I have had to learn how to handle sticky dough (this took some practice). Finally, if you want your dough to have the best flavor it must slow rise over a 24-hour period. There is one remaining item, but I hesitate to include it only because I have not yet experimented enough with it to say whether or not it makes a difference. I have read that if you want the best pizza you must use high-gluten flour. In my search for this treasured flour which by the way, you cannot purchase in your local grocery store. I found mine in a flour mill retail store for less than twenty dollars. The price was amazing considering I had to buy 50 pounds! Trust me I would have gotten less but that was the least I could buy. Can you say PIZZA!! I think I’m set for a while as far as flour goes. Let me know if you need any. I’ll be trying the recipes I like the most using the high-gluten flour. More to come with those results.

I started an English class a few weeks back to refresh my memory on proper grammar when writing my book. The class moves quickly so I am forced to stay on top less I fall behind. It makes one discipline and definitely shows your commitment level to the class. I can proudly say I’m current with my lessons and doing very well. It’s exactly what I needed to help me feel better as I write sentences. I feel the confidence rising inside me, it’s a wonderful feeling.

I continue to ride my bike every other day and hike on my off days. My son goes with me and I have drug my oldest along as well. It’s been great to have company. My oldest complained as we rode the familiar 18 miles. All the while I had to smile; I knew what she was feeling I was once there. Now as summer closes, I have lost a dress size and while I still have several weeks I’m hopeful the pounds while melt away. I have a black cocktail dress that I’m dying to try on. The goal is to try on the dress at the end of summer, if it fits then I’m going out of the town!!

It’s August and I’m still on track with my New Year’s resolutions. I am so proud of myself!!