As many people do, I sometimes have trouble letting go of my workweek so that I can slide into the enjoyment of my weekend. I’m fortunate to have a job that has to do with making the world a more equitable place, and most of the time, I enjoy my job. But when the weekend comes, I am ready to put the frustrations of the workweek behind me and get some good rest, engage with my husband, visit with my friends, etc. My weekend time is very precious to me.
I recently read Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which is about her family’s efforts to eat almost entirely locally—largely consuming food from their own garden—for a year. (Incidentally, the book is now one of my all-time favorites, and I now seek out her other writings as well.) In the book, the author discusses her family’s Friday night tradition, which is to make and eat homemade pizzas and watch a rented movie. On homemade individual crusts, each person in the family gets to choose the toppings for his/her own pizza based on what is available in the house. When the pizzas are ready, the family sits down to enjoy a movie together.
I found the idea of this family ritual endearing and sensible: pizza is a casual celebration food, and homemade pizza can be a bit of a calorie splurge without blowing a week’s efforts at healthy eating. Preparing/eating homemade pizza and watching a rented/borrowed movie are both economical forms of entertainment. And a pizza/movie ritual on Friday nights can provide a liminal zone between the stressors of the workweek and the relaxation of the weekend.
I discussed the idea with my husband, and we decided to incorporate it into our weekly routine. Because it’s just the two of us, and neither of us are picky eaters, we are just going to make one pizza to share each week (with some pizza to put aside for leftovers, as well). Our biggest stumbling block was how to watch the movie. We don’t own a tv; despite the occasional good show that’s out there, we both believe giving up television was one of the best decisions of our lives. We tossed around ideas of moving his large-screen flat computer monitor into the living room once a week and affixing it to our bookshelves across the room from the couch. But eventually my husband calculated—ahh, physics—that watching the tv on his large laptop monitor, with the tv placed close to us, would give us a larger viewing screen than putting a bigger screen across the room. So that’s the idea that we ran with. This week, we watched About a Boy, a very touching movie we had borrowed at least (gosh) a year ago from a friend but had never gotten around to watching.
For a while, due to acid issues related to interstitial cystitis, I had to give up tomatoes entirely. (It was painful; I love tomatoes.) Now I can eat them occasionally, though these days I know I have a mild allergy to them. If I have them in a large dose, or if I eat them at a time my allergies are bad otherwise, I break out in an acne-like rash on my face, neck, and shoulders. (My dermatologist had no clue as to why this was happening to me.) Between those two issues, I had to make figuring out tomato alternatives a priority for various types of food. These days, I usually prefer pizza toppings that are made with a different base than tomato sauce: pesto (made with hard sheep cheese or no cheese now), garlic-ghee sauce, and olive oil with herbs are common tomato topping replacers I use. This past Friday, we made a goat cheese and roasted winter vegetable-topped pizza with a salad piled on that. It was a filling, hearty, in-season meal.
Since my food allergy and gluten intolerance diagnoses, I’ve mostly relied on pre-prepared pizza crusts. But they cost a lot of money, involve wasteful packaging, and, to be honest, generally don’t taste all that good. Friday, I (or actually my husband, while I worked out) made the pizza crust from The Gluten-Free Vegan cookbook. It was a thin pizza crust that only crisped up when we put it on the cookie rack to cool. It was tasty, though—a bit dense, crispy on the edges and a bit chewy further in, and slightly sweet. My husband reported no struggles with getting the crust to work. It held up with toppings pretty well, and we had loaded on the toppings. I think I would actually prefer to make the crust a bit less sweet, and I want to work on increasing the fiber/whole grain aspect of the recipe, but those are easy elements to tweak. We’ll be making the crust again this week, so we obviously liked it. (That’s the third recipe I’ve made from the cookbook; if I have the energy tonight, I’m going to make pumpkin scones from it for the first time. So far, so good–I recommend that you buy it if you are looking for healthy, tasty, gluten-free, egg-free, casein-free recipes.)
Roasted Winter Vegetable & Goat Cheese Pizza Topping
Selection of winter vegetables (we used 3 carrots, 1 turnip, 1 sweet onion, and 1 acorn squash)
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar, preferably a kind that’s been aged 10 years
2 T. olive oil
1 tsp. salt (I used Lawry’s seasoning salt)
1 T. mix of garlic and dried herbs (I just used a few shakes of Mrs. Dash garlic and herbs seasning and some fresh rosemary off our rosemary plant)
4 oz. goat cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Peel the vegetables and chop them into similar-size chunks.
Put the vegetables and remaining ingredients into a large bowl or a gallon-size plastic storage back. Toss the ingredients together well.
Spread the vegetables on a non-stick cookie sheet. (If things tend to stick to your cookie sheet, smear or spray a bit of oil on it first.)
Roast the vegetables for about 30 minutes, removing them from the oven to toss/flip them once.
Prepare the uncooked pizza crust of your choice. If the crust says to cook it before adding toppings, then do that. Otherwise, spread the goat cheese on the pizza, coming within 1″ of the edge of the crust.
Spread the vegetables on top of the pizza, and bake it according to your crust directions.
We served a simple salad on top of our pizza–it took the edge off the savory, slightly bitter flavor of some of the winter veggies. I cleaned two small head of local lettuce and tore the leaves into bite-size pieces. I added 3 T. candied walnuts to the lettuce. I shook up 1 t. champagne vinegar and 1 T. olive oil in a clean, used jar. (I keep jelly/mustard/etc. jars with lids to shake up and hold homemade salad dressings.) I tossed the lettuce and walnuts with the dressing, ground some pepper on top, and served the salad on the pizza.