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A Love Story with Pizza on the Side

January 25, 2011

I have a crush on food.  I admit it.  Maybe it’s more than a crush, but we’re still in the honeymoon stage of our relationship.  We have been for almost six years now and I hope it never ends.  I don’t just want to be friends with Food, nor do I want to be married to it.  Casual dates in front of the television, arguments about money and late nights fast “food” runs are not for me.

I love food!

I want to spend my extra dollar on it, on something fresh, something fragrant, something beautiful. Food gets me up off the couch.  It gets me dancing in my kitchen, literally!  It makes me sing.  I eat it.  I breathe it.  I dream about it.  And those dream, oh the dreams of food are the most divine.  I wake up refreshed, creative and ready to be sailed away on a journey to the land of culinary delights.

It wasn’t always this way.

Food and I always acknowledged each other, yet there was no passion, just a simple routine.  We met at the table, sometimes in the garden or in the barnyard beforehand.  I helped raise chickens, pigs and cows on the family farm and grew a variety of tomatoes and root vegetables in the garden, but the effort for food was a chore, not a labor of love.  Our story is one of a lifetime connection with little attachment, until one college day, far away from the farm, everything changed.

I stumbled upon a website and learned truths about the American food system.  Surprised that meat and vegetables were grown at mass quantities like a factory, my heart sank.  I thought I’d had a chore on the farm, but the system I read about was nothing but a despicable mess!  I immediately discarded my faux food collection of candy, pop tarts and all things questionable. Even further, this carnivore decided overnight to become a vegan.  Like a wounded child running to a parent, I ran to Food.  We’re together now, I thought.  I need to learn everything I can about you if I’m going to adhere to no meat, no eggs, and no dairy diet.

Anyone who hates to cook should follow a vegan diet for at least six months and also follow recipes, just for practice.  Even I couldn’t survive on frozen veggie burgers and oatmeal alone.  Becoming a satisfied cook did not happen overnight, like my diet did.  It was a long process, trial and error, and loads of late night reading.  Supportive friends and family helped my relationship with food fully blossom.  I was introduced to wild experimentation and local food markets.  My senses and heart opened.  A passion ignited to a roaring flame.

Being in love, means you can have expectations, but also that you should work hard for what you want.  I have fun with Food.  I dress up for it. It gets dressed up for me. We meet at the table, sometimes in a park, occasionally in the middle of gardening.  Our relationship is anything but boring.  It’s adventurous, a party, a dance.

Sometimes it burns.

A friend and fellow co-worker once advised, “To be good at this, you first need to get over the fear of getting burned.”  He referred to literal burns from onions and oil, but I understand it figuratively as well.  I cannot be the best lover to Food or to myself if I work with a fear of getting burned, of failing.  And so we continue courting, through tears, frustration, surprise, adoration and sometimes through habit.  We don’t believe in sneaking around alone.  This passion is best shared.  Shared as tradition, in peace and in love. This courtship isn’t a chore; it’s a celebration of life.  This is why I love food!

My message of love to Food ends with, of course, a recipe.  What’s more universal than pizza?

Whole-Wheat/All-Purpose Pizza Crust
Makes about 16oz

2 1/4 tsp  or 1 pkg. active yeast
1 c. lukewarm water
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp honey
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour

1: In a medium metal bowl, gently mix yeast and water. Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes.
2: Gently mix in salt, oil and honey. Slowly add in flour while mixing.  Knead until ingredients are fully incorporated. Shape into a ball, place in the bowl and cover with a dishtowel.  Place in a warm area and allow dough to rise, about 2 hours.
3: Preheat oven to 450°F. Roll out dough into a 16 inch circle.  Allow dough to sit about 5 minutes.
4: Bake crust for 5-8 minutes until golden brown.
5: Before applying pizza toppings, adjust oven temperature to 350°F.  Top and bake 15-20 minutes, until topping temperature meets your liking.


One Comment leave one →
  1. Denise Evans permalink
    January 31, 2011 9:54 pm

    Lauren, your love letter to Food is stunning. Hope your trip to NYC was oh-so-enjoyable!

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