In Italian pizza means ‘pie’

Homemade pizza. Note holes in the pizza pan.

Every few years some person or persons decide to open a pizza parlor in this small rural town. It always seems like a great idea, but they all fail. I don’t know why except that I’ve never helped any of them stay in business. If I want pizza I’d rather make it.

My son came to visit for a couple of weeks during Christmas and he loves pizza. In fact, I bought him a specialty cookbook titled PIZZA when he was heading off to college. I know that because I have inherited the book and inside is my inscription “Student Survival Cook Book 1997” signed Love, Mom. It’s a stupid book. Who really wants a pineapple and Canadian bacon pizza or a smoked pheasant pizza? If you can’t find smoked pheasant, they recommend using smoked chicken or smoked duck, bleeech!

Making pizza is easy, if you have a pizza pan with little holes in it, so the bottom of the crust gets crispy. The trick is cooking the crust first, at 500 degrees until lightly browned. Then put on the pizza sauce. I use the commercial variety because it just ain’t pizza if the sauce doesn’t taste like pizza parlor sauce. I use pre-shredded mozzarella because mozzarella is too soft to shred easily at home. My favorite toppings are sausage, which I pre-cook in the microwave, sliced olives, and mushrooms, canned or pre-cooked.

Zap the pie back in the oven until the cheese is melted, season with parmesan and crushed red pepper and viola!

I can make a whole pizza, have a slice and freeze the rest. I put slices in individual baggies. It only takes two minutes in the microwave to make it piping hot and just as tasty as when it was first baked. The only problem is pizza makes a good breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not a balanced diet, not even with an organic salad from my winter garden.

According to the USDA, the annual per capita consumption of pizza is 23 pounds or 11 billion slices. That doesn’t count those of us who make our own pizza. It is so much better than anything available in the frozen food case, I promise. What about you?

Pizza Crust
1 envelope or 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
3 ¼ cups bread, semolina, or unbleached all-purpose flour, or a combination
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup olive oil, preferable extra-virgin

Dissolve the sugar or honey (which feeds the yeast) in the warm water until a thin layer of foam covers the water (about five minutes). Combine salt with 3 cups of flour. Pour in
yeast mixture and oil. Mix then knead while adding remaining flour just enough to stickiness. Set in a warm place 75 to 85 degrees and let rise until double in bulk, about one hour. Roll out on floured plastic wrap or parchment paper. Cook at 500 degrees until lightly browned. Put on toppings and return to oven until cheese melts. Makes enough dough for one sixteen-inch pizza, one cookie sheet pizza or two smaller pizzas.

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