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Don’t Ask Me What’s for Dinner.

When asked what they want for dinner on any every given day, my children have two standard answers: Evan- quesadillas. Andrew- pizza.

If they were in charge of the menu planning that is all we’d ever have, with perhaps a cheeseburger every now and again. I’ve stopped asking. But it also drives me completely bananas when they ask me, “What’s for dinner?” If they don’t like my answer it results in whining,” Uhhhh… can I just have something else?”

I can’t stand the whining. This is the part where I explain to them that

  • A. I am not a short order cook.
  • B. There are LOTS of children with mommies that NEVER cook. Be glad I know how.
  • C. I reject the idea that you can reject what I’m cooking. It’s rude.
  • D. RUDE.

One day I chopped a giant pile of vegetables and left them on the cutting board next to a bowl covered with a suspicious red towel. Andrew came traipsing through the kitchen peering at my thin little pinwheels of zucchini, curved wedges of onions, colorful slivers of red and green bell peppers, and coarsely chopped button mushrooms. He turned his nose up at them and said in that skeptical can-I-just-have-cereal voice, “What’s for dinner?”

“Food,” was my reply. Then I promptly zipped my lips. Eleven year olds know everything, so unless you want to loudly have the last word, sometimes it’s more fun to taunt them with your silence. My kids always like the end result of whatever I’m making (except brussels sprouts) but their preconceived notions about vegetables tend to get in the way.

Because what Andrew DIDN’T know is that before I covered that mixing bowl with the red towel, I stirred together flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Then I gradually added water.

I stirred it all together and then used my fingers to incorporate the stray flour into a big ‘ol lump of doughy goodness, and then I let it rest for about 15 minutes.

I turned my rested dough out onto a lightly floured surface and proceeded to knead it for 8 minutes (Eight minutes!!?? Yes. I said eight minutes. This is why I cook with the TV on) until it was smooth and elastic.

I took that nice smooth ball of dough and placed it in a clean bowl that I drizzled with a little olive oil. Then I covered it with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for an hour (dough requires lots of naps). I chopped all my vegetables and after the hour had passed I punched the risen dough down and re-covered it for another hour. I also turned it in the bowl so that all sides were covered with olive oil.

After that second hour passed, I put my pizza stone in the oven and cranked the heat. I used a sharp knife to divide my dough into two equal pieces and then stretched it out into the shape I wanted.

I topped the dough with sauce and cheese and all the vegetables Andrew tried to talk his way out of earlier that day.

I brushed the edges of the crust with a little more olive oil, and then I baked each pizza pie for about 10 minutes.

And Andrew ate every last bit I gave him. Then he asked for more.

Simple Homemade Pizza Dough


4 cups of all purpose flour

1 teaspoon of sugar

1/2 a teaspoon of salt

1 envelope active dry yeast

1 1/4 cups of water, at room temperature

olive oil (about 3 teaspoons, or to taste)

To Make

In a large mixing bowl stir together flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Gradually stir in the water with a spatula or wooden spoon, using your fingers to pat in the last few scraps of flour in the bowl. Form a rough “ball” and set it aside for 15 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes (dough will be elastic and smooth; lightly dust your work surface with flour if the dough becomes sticky during the kneading). Place the dough in a clean bowl drizzled with about a teaspoon of the olive oil, cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for an hour. Preheat the oven and the pizza stone to 500 (not broil!). Punch the dough down, re-cover, and let it rise for another hour. Using a sharp kitchen knife slice the dough into two even pieces and pull each into a rough circle (or whatever shape you like). Top your pizzas, brush the crust with the remaining olive oil, and bake for 8-10 minutes each.

*** Toppings shown here: sliced tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and canadian bacon***

IF YOU  DO NOT HAVE A PIZZA STONE: Use the back of a baking sheet and dust it with a little cornmeal

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