"Things won are done,
Joy's Soul lies in the Doing."
- William Shakespeare

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Better with a Crowd

Why, hello again.  I've just returned from a lovely, sunshine-filled visit with my rather prolific family...the kiddos, my mom, aunt, uncle, cousins, and all their many (awesome) children.  It appears that I have (at long last) returned to summer weather here in the ole' Pacific Northwest.  Just in time for school to start back up.  Hm.  I guess I'll take what I can get, and be thankful that life is, if nothing else, very green here.

We all had a great time, chock full of swimming, cooking, eating, and good deal of reminiscing over when we (the cousins and I) were the kids, and the now-grandparents were the sometimes harried, always busy parents.  Who may, or may not, have resorted to the occasional drastic measure in order to cope with a riotous posse of littlies.  These drastic measures may, or may not, have included such classics as:

...a very public, very frigid, very naked hose-down after four little boys decided to bathe in the mud...

...ditching seven children (while keeping us in their sight, of course) at the shore of Lake Gogebic, while paddling off in a canoe and waving THE secret chocolate stash over their heads and cackling maniacally...

...advising (and teaching) a disconsolate four year old to punch a bully, and rewarding him hugely when he did...

I could go on with the flashbacks...but I think that'll do for today.  Suffice it to say, our mother's and aunt's ever-loving, but occasionally off-the-cuff parenting techniques offer a bit of inspiration to those of us cuzzies who are herding around our own flocks today, as well as consolation for when we catch ourselves pulling a less-than-kosher parenting move.  Hey, being a mother is all about working with what you've got, staying in the moment, and generally flying by the seat of your pants a bit.  And usually, hopefully, you get a funny story at the end of the day.  A story for which our kids won't seek therapy.

It's pretty powerful stuff watching our little people create friendships with each other, on their yearly visits, just as we cuzzies did at their age.

In amidst the laughter, sunshine, and swimming:

...we, of course, had to eat!

Poolside Pizza.  Thirteen pizzas, to be precise.  That tells you that not only do we love some pizza, and that there is a fairly large crew to feed...but that this is an easy peasy recipe.  Simple as pie, you might say.

Since pizza (and family) is all about throwing together what you've got on hand, I'm not giving you a topping recipe.  Just do what you like.  It's virtually impossible to make a bad pizza, if you've got good dough.

We barbecued our pizza, which is my favorite way of preparing it.  I have a super handy barbecue pizza pan, which you can pick up at most good cooking stores, or online.  If you choose to bake it in the oven, go with 450 deg F, until the top is bubbly, and the crust is golden brown.

Poolside Pizza - adapted from Simple Italian Snacks
- makes 3, ten-inch, thin crust pizzas (my preference), or 2 thick crust pizzas

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 cups lukewarm water
1 Tbs fine sea salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

*Note*  I made all of the dough in the bread machine, but the original recipe uses a stand mixer.  I can only vouch for the bread machine method, but I'm including both directions.

Bread Machine Directions
To the bread machine pan, add the water, olive oil, salt, and yeast, give it a quick mix, and leave to stand for 5 minutes.

Add the flour, set the bread machine to the Dough setting, and go hang out by the pool.

Standing Mixer Directions
Add the water, olive oil, salt and yeast to the bowl of your stand mixer, stir to combine, and leave to stand for 5 minutes.

Using the paddle attachment, slowly add half the flour to the yeast mixture.  When well combined, add the remaining flour.  Set the mixer to medium, and refit with a dough hook, then continue mixing until the dough comes together in a smooth ball.  Mix for 2 more minutes, until soft and pliable.  Turn onto a lightly floured board, and knead gently for a few minutes.

Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic or a damp tea towel, and leave to rise for 30-40 minutes.

Go hang out by the pool.

Rolling and Barbecuing
Preheat the barbecue to 450 deg F, if you have a temperature gauge, about medium high.  When it reaches temperature, turn one side down to low, and keep one at medium to medium high, while maintaining the 450 degrees.

When risen, divide the dough into two or three balls, then roll or stretch into desired size.  Place the prepared dough on your pizza pan, top with sauce and toppings, and place on the hotter side of the barbecue.  Cook, checking often, until the bottom crust begins to turn golden brown, and is baked and sturdy enough to be removed from the pizza pan, but not cooked all the way through.  This usually takes about 5 to 10 minutes.

Keep an eye on those topping thieves!

Now slide the half-cooked pizza onto the cooler side of the barbecue, and use the pizza pan to start another pizza!  Continue on until the troops are satiated.

Now go hang by the pool.  And have a margarita, and a laugh with friends or family, while you're at it.  Life, like pizza, is always better with a crowd.

1 comment:

  1. Well said and true! We have numerous memories that continue to bring laughter at our family gatherings. I know for a fact this Nana,Poppa & Grandma (my brother Gib and my sister (in-law)are very proud of the parents you have all become and the magnificent beings (our grandchildren) you are all raising!!! Watching you all brings back many memories of us raising the seven of you and how much fun you all had together as childen...deja vu with your children! And to also add a yummy note...the pizzas you cooked were delicious and enjoyed immensely by everyone...well done!!!
    Much love & Very Proud,