Taking the full measure of life

Pizza & Movie Night: A New Tradition

January 28th, 2008 · 11 Comments

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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.

To share my love of versatile winter vegetables, I’m entering this post in this coming week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, which will be hosted by Claudia at Fool for Food.

Tags: 2/3 veggies · allergen-free recipes · vegetarian · winter

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 michelle // Jan 28, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    This is a wonderful idea! We make pizza fairly often (well, my husband does) and we almost never use a tomato-based sauce. I love the idea of a garlic/ghee sauce because we’ve primarily stuck to olive oil and herbs. I think we might be incorporating this into our lives as well – Fridays are our night to see each other and hang out and I love the idea of a ritual – thanks again for the great inspiration! Enjoy your time together!!

  • 2 Ginger // Jan 28, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle this fall and what an impact it made on me! Try reading the Poisonwood Bible – fabulous!
    I feel guilty looking at a tomato in the store now or any out of season vegetable and think about the cost of getting it to Michigan in the winter. I have realized that unless I plan ahead (which I did with canning my tomatoes last summer) that some times you are stuck buying some veggies. Living with a guy who is extremely picky about his veggies makes cooking out of season a challenge if we want to keep our nutrition up. So, I have come to terms with my guilt. We try to make certain that our proteins are organic, free range or wild and eat from my garden pantry and freezer until I can start from scratch in the spring. I wish we had some CSA’s or a farm market around here in winter, but, it is a bit nippy out and the ground is frozen. Good luck with the pizza crusts and you can now download movies from Netflix and they have great stuff, PBS shows, cooking shows, documentaries, etc.

  • 3 Sarah // Jan 28, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Sally I simply love how you write about food. When I was younger and my parents didn’t have a lot of money we had Friday Pizza Night. I always looked forward to it and enjoyed the time spent with my mom. I think it is a great tradition. While I don’t have to limit my food intake due to allergies, I think I am going to buy the cook book. You do such a good job with your presentation!

  • 4 Ricki // Jan 28, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    We also do up a pizza once every couple of weeks or so (with spelt crust, though). But GF or not GF, yours looks fantastic. I would love to give it a try!

    I also adore Barbara Kingsolver’s writing! If you haven’t read it yet, The Poisonwood Bible is just awesome–the writing had be agape at times, it was so beautiful. And the story! I think it’s one of my all-time favorite novels. Haven’t read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle yet–it’s on my list for vacation.

  • 5 Lea // Jan 28, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    How wonderful that you and your husband will have a pizza and movie night. I would love to be able to do that. My husband works nights so we do not see much of each other. It makes the time that we do see each other more special though.

    I love creating new pizzas. You are going to enjoy this. Have fun with it!

  • 6 Beth // Jan 28, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    We had a pizza and friends night tonight too! I used this recipe (http://elsepeth27.blogspot.com/2008/01/mini-pizza.html) that I posted a while ago, but I doubled it and made a sheet pizza on a jelly roll pan, and it turned out almost as good. It crisped a little more when I made them mini, but it was still crisp, chewy, and tasty as a sheet.

    The recipe in singular form would make a thin crust for a regular sized pizza, so I think if I make it again I will double it and bake it at a little lower temperature, a little longer, but I was raised on thick pizza. I also want to try boost the nutrition- I think I might sub some or all of the rice flour for buckwheat next time, or a different blend. Lots of easy, tasty possibilities. 🙂

    Your winter vegetable toppings look marvelous. Perhaps I’ll pick up some when I’m out tomorrow.

  • 7 Roxie // Jan 29, 2008 at 8:15 am

    I’ve got to add that book to my list. And your pizza looks yummy!

  • 8 Kalyn // Feb 4, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Sounds like you’re very creative at adapting to your food challenges. Way to go. I think I’ve read all of Barbara Kingsolver’s books before this one. I love the idea of pizza night, goat cheese and root veggies on pizza sound wonderful.

  • 9 Syrie // Feb 4, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    Great looking pizza, it looks absolutely delicious. I have been pizza-crazy over the past few months. I think it’s the cold weather.

  • 10 A scientist in the kitchen // Feb 6, 2008 at 3:08 am

    Great idea for a pizza, perfect for my meatless days!

  • 11 Susan // Feb 24, 2008 at 9:55 am

    Thanks for your recipes, etc. I’ve struggled with very bad IC pain a number of years. I’m part Italian and hate the idea of giving up tomatoes (I do eat small quantities of). I also love coffee but find it’s very irritating. Chocolate is another thing I don’t think I can give up forever. Take care.


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