Homemade pizza and I fucking love these people

Pizza1

Summer has cooled into fall around here, and it’s a pretty subtle change in Northern California. It’s too cool for flip-flops but still warm enough for no jackets in the car. The other morning the fog was so thick I watched condensation drip into the yard from a corner of the laundry room, a shack tacked onto the back of our house. We woke to the sound of foghorns, unusual for the sunny flats of the Bayview, but after 21 years, it’s a sound I associate with fall, and winter, in San Francisco.

I love our house best in cold weather. That’s because the heater works, and we have wall vents. In the early mornings, my stepdaughter clutches her towel to her tiny body and shivers in front of the living room vent, water still coursing down her thin back. My son sits at the kitchen table in his pajamas, some TV superhero hand-me-downs, and kicks his heels against the bench, pointedly asking for piece after piece of “TOOOOOOOOAST,” then holding each square carefully so as not to get schmutz on his fingers.

After years of living with a work lamp clipped to the windowsill, SJ recently installed a scoop lamp above the table, so our family spends the early mornings and early evenings eating together in a pool of light, the windows reflecting us saying grace NOT IN A GOD WAY JUST HOLDING HANDS AND TRADING OFF SAYING ONE THING WE’RE GRATEFUL FOR THEN GARGANTUBABY SAYS GWACE LIKE A CHERUBIC CODA AND MAKES US GO IN A CIRCLE SAYING GRACE ONE BY ONE NO ONE SAYS AMEN OR ANYTHING, and it makes us seem even closer than we already are, sometimes sleeping four to a bed, moving in the same halo.

Realization: I will never be on time again.

I’ve been having stress dreams lately, including the threat of rape, technology that won’t work, endless clutter, and fear of miscommunication. It’s exhausting and confusing, since so much is going well right now.

Overheard (SJ talking to his daughter): I had a dream we had a pet bullfrog.

ALRIGHTY THEN GUESS SOMEONE’S SLEEPING WELL GOOD FOR YOU THEN.

More overheard:

Stepdaughter in the living room, trying to practice her flute while her brother does who-knows-what-all to get her attention, while SJ and I rest our foreheads on the kitchen table after a long day of Doing Everything: Shoo!
GB: (Silence.)
Stepdaughter: Are you angry? You’re eating your cracker angrily.

On a family trip to the Academy of Sciences, GB settles into his stroller and announces, “I am ready! To ride!”

WHERE DOES HE GET THIS STUFF EXACTLY HOW MUCH TV DOES HE WATCH AT DAYCARE.

Jenny (cuddling GB at nap time): I hope that, no matter what happens in your life, you always know that your mommy, your daddy, and your sister all love you and see you for who you really are. And that that makes life a little easier.
GB: (smiles broadly) I Spiderman?
Jenny: (sighs) You Spiderman.

In the bathroom, I show Copper his nipple in the mirror and tell him what it is. He turns to me and demands, “Do you! Have! Nipples?”

He calls the spatula the “splatula.”

Forever I thought GB was saying the Italian word for sandwich. Who taught him that word? I wondered. The Spanish word for sandwich is sándwich, so he didn’t learn it at daycare. What fairy Italian godmother is doing my work for me, teaching my son his heritage? Then one afternoon, when I was sitting on the couch, he ran through the living room after his sister, who was on her way to the front room to practice piano. He stopped when he saw me and announced seriously, “Mommy. I go play panino.” Aha.

I drive GB to daycare. From the back seat he sings “Twinkle, Twinkle” in increasing intensity. He only knows the first two lines, and it ends in explosions (and seeming fights about the ABCs with enemies who aren’t there).

He stands in front of me where I’m working on the couch and closes my laptop with his chest.

GB: “Don’t! Work! Don’t! Have! No! Works!”

He’s so agreeable. Siri announces directions over the Bluetooth in my car, such as, “Turn left on Fulton Street,” and GB calls out, “OK!”

He sounds inadvertently formal. When we ask him a question, such as, “Do you want to blow your nose?,” instead of simply saying, “No,” he says apologetically, “I don’t.”

Something must have happened in his dad’s van, because when I’m clipping him into his seat in my car, he cries, “Not my penis!”

SJ says the biggest problem in his life right now is that when GB is on the potty before bath time, he requests SJ’s version of The Three Little Pigs, and every time SJ tells it he gets a head rush.

GB quotes Goodnight, Moon in his sleep:
GB: Garble garble garble Mama (a few times).
Then: Dud-bye, mouse. Dud-bye, window.

Jenny: Do you want to go pee-pee?
GB: Actually, I want a book.
ACTUALLY. HE’S 28 MONTHS OLD.

Pizza2

This homemade pizza was so good and so easy and so cheap I bought more dough. We’re trying to save money and I didn’t want to clean shit on a Friday night, so I came up with this plan. You need:

  • Frozen pizza dough from Whole Foods for $2.99.
  • Cheap-ass grated mozzarella.
  • Cheap-ass tin of black olives.
  • Cheap-ass tin of anchovies, if you’re me.
  • Pork sausage, if you’re my husband.
  • Leftover shitake mushrooms from the bottom of the drawer, if you’re my husband.
  • The $7.99 jar of Calabrian peppers I bought SJ for his birthday.
  • Leftover pesto, since I finally splurged and bought pine nuts WHO AM I THE QUEEN THAT SHIT IS EXPENSIVE.

IF YOU SPEND ANY TIME DOING ANYTHING MAKE YOUR OWN RED SAUCE:
This is my take on the classic Italian recipe from Saveur, but the Saveur before a douche bag tech nerd who doesn’t know how to cook or run a magazine bought it and everyone who did, quit. You need:

  • 28-oz. can whole tomatoes
  • Shit-ton olive oil
  • Six cloves garlic, smashed
  • Couple small bay leaves
  • Salt
  • Red wine
  • Chili flakes if you don’t have kids

You need to:

  • Pour the oil in a dutch oven. Smash the garlic cloves with the side of a chef’s knife and sauté them in the oil until they’re fragrant. Maybe they can get a TINY SPECK of brown, but the second they start getting brown …
  • Pour in the tomatoes.
  • Put in at least 1 1/2 tsp. salt, a couple bay leaves, and a few glugs of red wine. Plus 1/2 tsp. chili flakes if you don’t have kids.
  • Simmer on pretty low until it reduces.

That shit is DELICIOUS. After it reduces, it should still be sitting in tons of red-colored oil, with browned bits scraped up from the bottom of the pan. This is my take on the recipe (I add way more oil, and the bay leaves and wine), and after it’s done I can, and have, eaten the whole pot of salty, oily, slightly browned tomatoes.

The pizza. You need to:

  • Make your husband flour the counter, roll the pizza dough, blah blah blah because he likes to do it and you can’t be bothered because it’s fucking Friday.
  • Slather on red sauce or pesto.
  • Cheese.
  • Toppings.
  • SJ put the pizza in at something like 300 degrees, and it took FOREVER. I would probably have put it in at 450 or 500 because that’s what the frozen boxes say. Probably the directions on the pizza dough said 300, but maybe not because SJ doesn’t follow directions, BELIEVE ME I KNOW. But this way it turned out great. And the kids loved it, and we had pizza for days! We really didn’t need to make two pizzas, but no one wanted to eat my anchovies, and I refused to not have anchovies, because anchovies are delicious and I eat them out of the tin and I really don’t understand why they’re so reviled.

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