About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Monday, July 31, 2006
Weekend Report
I should have listened to a couple of comments I had last week, advising to let M and her friend A help put the pizza together.

Picked them up after school on Friday and did the usual rounds of butcher and supermarket. The girls were so helpful that I allowed them one bribe, err, treat of a Kinder Surprise each, then off home. They settled down to watch cartoons and I went to the kitchen to make the pizza base. Isn't kneading dough such a great pastime? All the frustrations of the day magically disappear as the dough comes together and gradually develops that springiness that says 'hey, time to let me rest.', then that meditative state as the yeast asserts itself and causes the dough to rise and expand. Only there was to be no meditation for this batch, as the girls were checking every five minutes or so as the alchemy unfolded.

The girls were on the computer by now, using a wonderful drawing program called Kahootz, so I retreated back to the kitchen with the by now well risen dough to finish dinner. One should always listen to inner feelings, last week I saw a pizza bianca (white pizza) for the first time and I recall thinking that would be good for fussy eaters.

And of course there were those comments.

Rolled the dough out to fit my rectangular tin, no need to have a round one yet as my dough twirling skills are non-existent. It's funny, I can still recall the first time I ever saw pizza dough being tossed as a child; a new pizza shop had opened on the high street, which was a novelty at the time, with a window looking straight in on the prep area. I'm sure that there was more dough tossing than was strictly necessary, for the pizza maker had an audience, as people lined up to take a peek at what was going on.

Fitted the rolled dough to the tin and laid the cheese out in thin slices, then slopped the tomato sauce over the top. I found this to be better than having the cheese on top of the sauce, for in my domestic oven, unlike a pizza oven, the heat comes from all around, rather than mostly from the bottom, and in an effort to simulate the right heat to cook the base properly, I turn the heat up to flat out, which tends to burn unprotected cheese.

When the girl's pizza was ready, I took it out to rest and cool and made a second one for myself and wife D, for when she came home later. Popped that one into the oven, sliced the first pizza and served it to the girls. A's first comment was 'yuk, I don't like tomato.' I knew she didn't like sausages from the last time she was over, but I don't recall she complained about the sauce on the hot dog. Perhaps the complaint about the sausage was sufficient in her mind and I should have known better. Sheesh, kids.

Well there was no convincing A to try any, but I kind of think maybe she wasn't hungry after a couple of glasses of Milo, as she didn't ask for anything else. The next morning there were muffins for breakfast and in an ironic touch, A helped herself to M's, whilst M helped herself to the leftover pizza.

Regular readers would recall that M has autism as does her friend. So what's it like when they get together? It's exactly like any other pair of young six year old girls that get together. They played dressups, watched a movie together, squabbled over computer time, didn't sleep for over an hour after they went to bed, talked about who was friends with who. Everything they did was so wonderfully ordinary.

Ordinary - it's such a great word.
  posted at 10:27 am

At 1:41 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ordinary is a great word and a wonderful thing to be. However your blog is anything but ordinary. You are rare-glad you enjoyed an ordinary weekend.
Your write up on the yeasties, much better than mine!

At 10:38 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't help but be impressed at the way you artfully described this pizza and dough making process! I haven't been to your blog a whole lot just yet, but i can already tell you are someone who truly appreciates the art and therapy of cooking! Unfortunately for MY children, Mac' N Cheese is quite the staple item in this household..... *sigh* Progress, not perfection as we say in the program..... :)

At 12:02 am, Blogger Jeanne said...

Hi Neil

Another great post. And the fussiness just adds to the ordinaryness - I loathed tomatoes as a child. My argument was that the pips were disgusting and slimy and got everywhere. I mean, who hasn't borrowed a library book and found a dried tomato seed embedded in a page, a relic of a forgotten lunch spent reading in the park.

Interesting what you say about putting the cheese under the sauce - it's always tricky with a conventional electric oven to get the base crispy and the cheese just melty. Must try that!

At 5:11 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ordinary is a GREAT word. ;-) It's nice the girls had a good time together, even if they didn't like the pizza. I would have loved to taste your pizza. ;-)


At 8:57 am, Blogger Gigi said...

So very delightfully ordinary!

And oh, the fussiness of little girls ~ was it I who said, 'Who doesn't love pizza...?' I should have known better. ;D

How lucky M and A are to have such an indulgent papa and host. I'll bet that pizza was great.

At 9:05 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi tanna, it must be all about point of view, I thought what you wrote was fantastic.

Hi michelle, I think sometimes it's just a process of chipping away. One thing we did was to lock the food cupboard, which stopped snacking. Another thing is to try a lot of different foods to see which ones they like, it may result in a few failures but you will learn a lot. You probably know this, but food temperature is very important, for a while M would only eat things that were luke warm.

I still remember the day the teacher told us she was teaching them how to converse and asked one studenr what his favourite food was, and M came up and said "excuse me, my favourite food is polenta."

My heart melted.

Hi jeanne, only on seedy stories (sorry).

For me, I only put the cheese under on a margarita pizza, with other toppings the cheese doesn't seem to burn.

Hi paz, only our guest didn't like the pizza. When they invent one of those Star trek travel thingys I will send one over for you.

At 9:16 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi gigi, we just didn't see that coming, did we?

At 2:00 pm, Blogger Laurie said...

That was great. Very nice.


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