I spent last weekend puttering around. I made three different kinds of bread – a basic whole wheat, French bread for garlic bread, and pizza dough – and I got the house cleaned up a bit. I spent some time at the gym, got a haircut, and helped bling up a belly dancing costume for a friend. Sunday evening we had guests for dinner, so Xander and I cooked together. The menu consisted of pizza, garlic bread, and hot wings, and Xander made his blue cheese dressing as a dip. Our guests brought a very good salad to add to the mix. Somehow, at least for me, cooking together helps solidify what we love about each other. We play together in the kitchen, an imprecise dance in which we ask for help, hand over required ingredients, and are careful to avoid poking each other with sharp objects.
We’ve been playing with various pizza crusts for years and have never found one that really works. The biggest problem is that we often don’t finish the pizza the same day we make it, so by the next morning it is soggy. Last time we made pizza I used a crust recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates. The recipe has to be cut at least in half, as it makes a lot of pizza dough. We tend to halve it and then make two pizzas with the dough, which gives a slightly thick crust. The next morning, after we’d used this recipe for the first time, I took a piece out for breakfast, expecting to have it fall apart. It held together and the crust was not soggy at all. Considering how much we had loaded onto that pizza, I was pleasantly surprised.
We have also been working on grilled pizza for about a year. The basic approach is make a pizza crust, brush one side with olive oil so it doesn’t stick, throw it on the grill, cook until that side seems done, brush the other side with olive oil and flip it over, and then add toppings and cook until it all looks done. The smoky flavor from the grill adds nicely to the flavor of the pizza. This requires a somewhat burly crust too, though, especially if we load it up too much with toppings. We have learned. This time the toppings were Portabella mushrooms sliced thinly, mozzarella, asiago, roasted pine nuts, and fresh garlic. The toppings were spread to cover most of the crust, but the pizza wasn’t loaded down. That’s one of the benefits of having a crust with some taste to it; you don’t have to load up the pizza to have it taste good.
We used the pizza crust we had tried with the last pizza as the base for the grilled pizza and it came out very well. The small amount of honey in the crust added a touch of sweetness which balanced well with the smoky flavor from the grill and the tang of the cheese. The garlic was nice and not overpowering, and the mushrooms added a mellow note to the assembly of tastes.
The wings were a new experiment. I had never made chicken wings before, but a few weeks ago I cooked a chicken in the slow cooker with a sauce made of beer and sriracha. The recipe called for chili sauce, but I think they meant something with a little less bite than sriracha has, because the sauce was very spicy. It tasted good, but it cleared out my sinuses really fast. Anyway, once I had put together the chicken and vegetables and used as much of the sauce as I wanted, I still had about two cups of sauce left. I was not sure what to do with it, but Xander looked at it, tasted it, and said “Wing sauce!” We put it in the freezer. This weekend, since we knew we were making pizza and pizza goes well with wings, we decided it was the perfect time to use it. The wings came out very well, and the blue cheese dip was, as always, excellent.
I forgot to take pictures, but the food was quite good. I am still tasting garlic a little bit this morning. Earl grey tea with a hint of garlic is odd, but not unpleasant, surprisingly enough.
Cooking for more than just the two of us is nice sometimes. Left to my own devices, I probably would have had popcorn for dinner. It’s easy, fast, and I can season it any way I want to. Knowing that we had people coming over, though, meant that we had reason to play in the kitchen. It was nice having good company, especially company that appreciated good food, and the conversation never lagged.
We are both introverts. Xander is absolutely an introvert, and I am right on the cusp; I test as introvert or extravert depending on the day. We’ve had people in our house lately for the home study for adoption and it felt like an invasion. I had begun to forget that having people over, preparing for company and then enjoying the conversation and companionship, could be a very good thing. This weekend helped me feel like our house was our home again rather than someplace that people would be judging. I like our home, I like what we’ve done with it, and it feels more comfortable again now that we have had friends over to share good food.