Thursday, October 29, 2009


My friend Annie came down from Toledo this past weekend, and she, David and I decided that we'd hit up the Renaissance festival on its last weekend.

People seem to have mixed feelings about the whole event. Some people dislike the mishmash of historical events and styles, and other people don't mind it. We fall into the latter category.

So after watching the joust and visiting various vendors, sharing a giant smoked turkey leg with David and having a few drinks, we were making our final loop around the festival when David spotted this ride.

Annie and I both were under the weight limit, and we impulsively decided that we'd take a turn. Thus the video. I'd turn your volume down, the workers encouraged us to scream, and scream we did.

The ride was cut short by some little girl sobbing about her tiara, which had flown off.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I made pizza and you can too:

David headed up to Southfield, Michigan for a few days this past week. I had the whole afternoon Friday to cook some sort of welcome-back-to-Ohio dinner. I asked him what he wanted. His answer—deep dish pizza. With lots of toppings. Seemed simple enough-- I could order LaRosa's or Mio's and call it a day. But it seemed too easy. And what if he got back later than expected? Then the pizza would be sitting on the counter, turning into a cold, greasy deep dish mess.

I was in the mood for adventure. I was ready to be challenged. After all, I reasoned, people make pizza all the time, right? How hard could it be? Since I believe that a deep dish pizza pan is a good investment, I had no qualms about buying one.

So with no set plan or recipe, I headed off to Sur la Table to get a deep dish pizza pan, and Whole Foods to get the ingredients for the pizza.

Whole Foods is where my real quest began. It's easy enough to get the toppings—peppers, mushrooms, a package of bacon—but the sauce was another story. As I stared at the canned rows of diced, petite diced, crushed, pureed and stewed tomatoes, I felt a sense of rising panic. What do I use to make sauce? Would spaghetti sauce work? Probably not. It was then that I realized I had been looking at tomato cans for about 10 minutes. It was then that I knew I needed some expert help.

I had to call Jeff. I've consulted him before when I found myself in unfamiliar culinary waters--like when I brought a pork rack roast home because it looked good in the store, but had no idea how to cook the thing. I quickly pulled out my phone and texted. “Help! David wants pizza, how do I make pizza sauce?”

I received a call back within a few minutes. After explaining the situation and the amount of time I had, we decided that I was going to try and make the sauce from fresh tomatoes. The process seemed strange and confusing. Drop the tomatoes in boiling water, take them out, peel off the skin and squeeze out the cores and gooky bits, then stew them. Our conversation continued on how to make the sauce.

“and you'll need an onion.”
“OK, red, yellow or white?”
“Doesn't matter.”
“I want a white one. One bulb of garlic?”
“Yes. And Basil. Make sure to sweat the onion and garlic before putting into the sauce.”
“Ok. Oooh, did you know you can get Andy's falafel in the frozen food case?”
“Did you know you can make falafel at home pretty easily? Focus—have everything for the sauce?”

I am very pleased that I used the stove, chef's knife, and cheese grater, and didn't grate, burn, cut or otherwise injure myself

and so it went.

After hanging up with Jeff, I had an intense discussion with the pizza guy behind the counter about dough, and accepted his offer of pepperoni that they used for their pizza. I got a lump of fresh mozzarella, and a block of 2 year old Parmesan.

I took all my items home and laid them out. The prep time took longer than I had anticipated, with making the bacon, cutting the veggies, and of course, making the sauce. But, though I had no idea what I was doing, pizza is very forgiving. Everything came out wonderfully. We'll be making pizza again—except this time, maybe with less complicated toppings.