On New Year's Day this year we broke tradition by having a family Pizza Bake-Off! Family members gathered in the large log cabin kitchen, where we had separate work stations and kept two ovens going. Anyone under the age of twelve became a judge. Kids are so honest!
We laid out some community ingredients. Fresh mozzarella, aged parmesan, olive oil, pepperoni and my homegrown oregano, garlic and crushed red peppers were joined by my son's contributions of fresh mushrooms and shredded mozzarella and my daughter's olives. Each chef had at least one specialty. One used Alfredo sauce with broccoli. One used spinach. One used a gluten free crust. And one used, get this, storebought crust and sauce, which the youngest judge preferred. My ace in the hole was homemade tomato sauce. I mistakenly thought it gave me an edge until I looked over and saw that my daughter had brought hers. The chefs used an assortment of homemade crust, boxed mixes, and prepared crust.
The laughter was contagious as each of the "chefs" simultaneously worked to prepare the best entry! When the young judges, ages 5 to 11, were finally presented with wedges from each of the six entries, they carefully tasted each pizza and weighed their reasons for liking this one or that one. The kids were perplexed when they could not come to agreement on a winner. We explained that the real fun was in the process, not in who won. It turned out to be a great learning experience as well as a thoroughly enjoyable and delicious way to spend our time!
Now we're taking nominations for our next food challenge. One of the judges suggested omelets. Omelets? :-/ She says, "But I really, really like omelets!" What would you suggest?
If you do a pizza bake-off let me know how it goes. For pennies on the dollar, you can make your own crust. It's simple. Here's my recipe:
1 1/2 C. flour
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
1.2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup water at 90-110 degrees F.
1 T. olive oil
Put half of the flour into a small bowl. Add the dry ingredients. Pour in the water and olive oil and stir until smooth and silky. Then begin mixing in the rest of the flour. Form into a ball and knead until smooth and consistent. In another bowll that has been coated with oil, place the ball of pizza and then turn it over. Cover and place in a warm spot for about 30 minutes. This will be enough crust for a 14" thin crust pizza or a 10" pan pizza. For a crispy crust, brown the pizza crust in a pan in a 350 degree F. oven for ten minutes before adding toppings. I prefer just browning the bottom in a 12" cast iron skillet on the range before adding toppings. That only takes a couple of minutes and gives the crust a firmer, crunchy texture and nutty taste. Add toppings and bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Enjoy!
Welcome to The Pauley Principle!
The Pauli Principle, named for Wolfgang Pauli, deals with atoms and electron-sharing that results in new, stronger bonds. Think 2 parts hydrogen and 1 part oxygen, a shared delectable (!) electron and VOILA! Water!
Similarly, when you prepare whole food to share with family and friends, especially foods you've grown, something amazing happens. Meals become tastier and healthier. Your soul, not just your stomach, becomes fulfilled. You live life more abundantly as a result. During a shared meal, the bonds that people create grow stronger and become something new: GREATER than the sum of the parts! I give you The Pauley Principle.