Monday, December 17, 2007

Pizza- It's in the Blood

For all of your Bostonians, civilians of Massachusetts and surrounding areas- all of you know that this past Thursday was about as fun as shoving a pencil in your ear. For those of you who are lucky enough not to know what I'm talking about, I'll explain. We were hit with a pretty massive snowstorm. The flakes came down hard, about 2 inches an hour, all day long, well into the evening. Normally, I'd say whatever and deal with it, but both Mikey and my step father had me quite worried. You see, everyone scurried out of work at the exact same time, causing all roads and highways to back up with bumper to bumper traffic for hours on end. My step father, who normally has an hour ride back to Boston, was in traffic for six hours. And poor Mikey! Mikey, who also has an hour drive from Framingham, was stuck in traffic for 8 hours!


I got the easy end of it. I live ten minutes away (by vehicle) from my job, so I only had to wait an hour at the bus stop whilst being pelted by snow. There was no real traffic on the road back to my neighborhood (at the time), so I really lucked out.

Those poor fellas. Quite frankly, I felt bad for everyone on the road that day, particularly those with children and even the children themselves, stuck in school and on school buses for hours on end! Oh, and here's the kicker- my town (crappy South Boston) likes to use streets that people live on to empty out for snow emergencies. Not just the main roads, but the tightly packed neighborhoods. If you lived in my town, you would know that there is virtually no parking at all in South Boston because Ben Affleck made everyone and their grandmother want to live here. If you want a parking spot close to home, you'd better get back before 7 pm on any given night.

So, therefore, Mike and my step dad each had to park at a garage about 20 minutes away from the house and walk through the blinding blizzard to make it home safe and sound.

Feeling awfully sorry that there was nothing I could do to help, I tried to make the coming home part ten times better. I spent my day cleaning up the house and cooking, of course. I turned on the Christmas lights in the living room, popped on the radio and proceeded the baking as I chatted with Mike on the phone to keep him company.

I had a real hankering for cupcakes, but with very little ingredients in the house, I wasn't sure what I could make. Taking out my brand new Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, I decided on simple chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting.


Those chicks really know what they're talking about. I've made chocolate cupcakes many times, but they've never come out this good! The batter was very dark and moist. The frosting tasted incredibly rich and creamy. It's amazing what one can come up with using house hold ingredients. A tsp of vanilla extract and a 1/2 tsp of almond extract was suggested, so I gave it a go. I thought it would taste all almondy, but it was quite the contrary! The perfect blends of extracts allowed the almond flavour to sneak in there just a bit so that if you didn't know I put it in there, you might not be able to guess what it was at first. It really added that special something.


Oh, and I got to use my brand new mixer, which made it even more fun!

For dinner, I was going to go with the ol' pasta crap, but then decided to be wild and make a pizza. The first pizza I ever made was a horrible recipe I found online and it makes me nauseous when I think about it. So I like to pretend that this was the first pizza I've ever made.


I actually combined two different pizza recipes from Vegan Italiano, by Donna Klein.

I decided to use a fast-rising dough because I was impatient and starving and I knew Mikey would be as well whenever he got in from the storm. After kneading it and letting it rise, I tried rolling it out with a rolling pin, but it kept shrinking back towards the middle. I then decided to give something a try that I never thought I could do. I flipped the dough, right up in the air!

The first couple of times it fell back on the table in one big plop, but eventually I figured out that you have to flip it at an angle in order for it to work. So I proceeded to do that and it stretched the dough out quite beautifully.

I am very, very proud of myself. When you're a new cook, every little accomplishment is exciting.


There was no sauce on this pizza. Instead, I basted the dough in about 2 tbsps of olive oil. I tossed some sliced tomatoes, drained and diced tomatoes, red, green and yellow peppers, onions, basil, oregano and garlic powder on top of it and slid it in the oven on the bottom shelf at 500 degrees for about 18 minutes.

It sent gorgeous aromas wafting through the house! Of course it was just as wonderful going down the hatch as it was pleasing to look at and sniff. ;) My favourite part was the crust. I think I did a fine job:


So while I give myself a pat on the back, I do have to be honest about one thing. The center of the dough base was too thin. I got a little carried away flipping the dough around, I think... Under the weight of the juice from the tomatoes and all the roasted veggies, the middle became soggy. It tasted just fine, of course, but it was more of an 'eat with a fork' type pizza. Haha Oh, well. I've learned my lesson and hopefully next time it will be thicker and more substantial in the middle. At the very least, cooked dough, when moistened, takes on the look and consistency of melted cheese.

Next time I plan on using sauce and a little Vegan mozzarella for a more 'pizza-ry' kind of pizza.

Alas, the storm ended and it was back to normal activities. I ate a lot of junk over the weekend, so to make up for it, I cooked up a mushroom barely stew.


'Stew' is definitely the right word for it as it is a very thick and substantial meal. I just simmered green onions, peppers, chickpeas, pearled barely, carrots and small mushrooms (about 20) in 4 cups of veggie broth along with some Braggs sauce, a dash of tobasco and salt and pepper to taste.

I accidentally singed the chickpeas slightly when cooking them separately (I always simmer dry beans outta the bag; I hate canned foods), but luckily they tasted as good as ever after having been simmered in the soup.

For work lunch this week, I finally tried the famous Quinoa everyone's been talking about. For the longest time, I was pronouncing it "Kwin-oh'-ah" (c'mon, you know you all did it at one point)*, but thanks to Veganomicon, I now know the correct pronunciation! Keen'-wah!


After cooking up a batch, I mixed in corn, black beans, peppers, green onions, cilantro, celery, tomatoes and avocados. For the dressing, it was simply olive oil, balsalmic vinegar, flax oil, salt, pepper and chilli powder. Mmmm... Quinoa has a very harvesty, earthy taste, but I dig it. I think after all that junk I had consumed the past few days, the whole grain will do me good in cleaning out my system.

So, that's all for now, folks. I probably won't be updating again until after Christmas, but I do want to make a quick note to wish everyone a happy celebration this month. See, the whole 'pc' thing irritates me, because I don't get it. Personally, I would NEVER be insulted if someone said 'Happy Hanukkah' to me, even though I don't celebrate it. I would say it right back and mean it. People get offended too often and too easily these days. Whatever you celebrate, as long as it is in good cheer and means being giving, thankful and spending time with loved ones, then I am happy for you and I wish you the best.

So instead of the boring and annoying 'Happy Holidays' (whatever that means), I give to you the following:

'Happy ChristmaHanuKwanzaakah and a fabulous New Year!'

*I also pronounced 'agave' as "ah'-gayve" until this Saturday when friend and fellow Acrasjia web mistress, Elly Blue, made some tea with Agave nectar and happened to say the word appropriately.


mike said...

All of that stuff was awesome! The pizza was the best (though I have a definite bias towards pizza) but the cupcakes and the stew were right up there too. That's one of the best stews I've had in a loooooong time.


Theresa said...

That is a nice looking pizza! I was on the phone with my parents last night (sunday evening) in Upstate NY and they were getting covered with snow. Suckers.

Even though it's too hot for that nice looking stew, I do love the tropics!

Happy December to you!

VeggieGirl said...

yep, that's what the weather looks like here, only worse - I'm literally snowed in!! can't go anywhere!! :0(

oooh the pizza, cupcakes, quinoa (haha, I too used to mispronounce it), and stew look fantastic!!

oh and I saw your comment on my blog - I only ate a small piece, just to get a taste of it; quite rich and flavorful, but give me carob any day ;0)

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Sorry about all the snow you're getting! I told my sister that she should send some here to Texas for me, since I would like some snow here and she has way too much in Boston!

But it looks like you have been really busy indoors cooking delicious foods!

I agree with you that people are too easily offended! Hope you have an amazing December ;o).

Judy said...

It always amazes me that how one huge snowfall can throw off an entire city. We had a similar dumping on the weekend, and I stayed in all day.

Great looking pizza and cupcakes too, now I am hungry!

Mihl said...

I am sorry to hear about the bad weather. Cooking some nice foods was indeed the best idea you could have had. Maybe you could send me some snow and some cupcakes? :)

Veg*Triathlete said...

Too funny re: Ben Affleck! It took me a long time to figure out how to pronounce agave, too! It didn't help that I had a bf who kept insisting is was "uh-gwa-vay." That pizza looks incredible!

Rural Vegan said...

8 hours stuck in traffic?! ACK! It was nasty here too, but not that bad! Your pizza looks incredible. I load mine up with toppings too, every square inch.

Happy holidays to you!

Vegan_Noodle said...

Yikes, that's quite a storm!! Funny to think I was lying on a beach in the sun that day (sorry, not trying to be mean, just thought it was weird).
But coming home to cupcakes, wow! I think those little cuppers would erase my memory for at least the past 12 hours. And yay for successful pizza making.
And happy Hanzamas to you too!

Vegan_Noodle said...

Yikes, that's quite a storm!! Funny to think I was lying on a beach in the sun that day (sorry, not trying to be mean, just thought it was weird).
But coming home to cupcakes, wow! I think those little cuppers would erase my memory for at least the past 12 hours. And yay for successful pizza making.
And happy Hanzamas to you too!

Ruby Red Vegan said...

hello there!

i cannot even fathom 8 hours of traffic! that must have been the worst. i'm sure that being pelting by snow for an hour while waiting for a bus was bad enough for you!

i've been putting off buying almond extract because i was just signing it off as a frivilous extra, but your post makes me feel that i may be doing myself a baking injustice if almond extract is a "special something"!

i'll give you a pat on the back too! your pizza crust, as well as the colorful veggie topping, looks divine. you'll be a pizza-dough throwing expert in no time!

Alec said...

I was listening on the radio the day after the storm and they were talking about people stuck on Rte. 1 for hours (I hate that road!!) and having to pee, so they were peeing in bottles in their cars and throwing them out the window! My commute was only upped to 3 hrs. from 1/2 hr. typically so I didn't have to resort to that tactic.

That pizza looks wicked tasty. When I was a little kid I really wanted to be a pizza maker when I grew up. I hadn't thought about that in a long time before reading your post. I may have to make a pizza soon because of you now!(your stew looks awesome too)!

The other funny thing about Southie in winter is even if you find an open parking spot somebody has it claimed so there'll be a chair or grill in the spot and you can't take the spot then or your tires will be slashed!

Rage And Love said...

Well thank you, my dear!

Shiny Toy Guns is a indie rock/electronica band that's from SoCal and they are my babies :-)

Yes, Depp is in most of Burton's movies and it's quiet pleasant to the eyes.

8 hours in traffic?! I thought LA was bad!

The cupcakes are STELLAR!!!

And I absolutely love Quinoa!

Emilie said...

Agreed. Thursday sucked and Sunday was no sunshine or puppy dogs either. Luckily cupcakes make everything better.

Ruby Red Vegan said...

i didn't know the founder of whole foods was vegan! in that case, it is utterly inexcusable that your whole foods is lacking in the vegan department. my favorite things from our hot bar are a vegan tempeh cashew stir-fry and vegan seitan fajitas. both very good.

Kang Doy's Bloggy Blog Blog Blog said...

Aww, those little cupcakes are like mini yous...because you're a little cupcake. It's like you got pregnant with a black person and gave birth to mini black cupcakes lol! But if that really happened, the cupcakes would be half brown and half tannish/light brownish.

And WHY DIDN'T YOU MAKE ENOUGH TO BRING TO PRACTICE AND SHARE THEM??? Well, it wouldn't of matter anyway since you didn't
come to practice Tuesday.

That pizza sure looks worth chomping down and it's a great little preview of what I'll be eating on New Years Eve! Right? And look at you being a prefessional dough tosser lol! Before you know it, you'll be spinning the dough with one finger and doing all these fancy shmancy hand dough tossing tricks.

You continue to amaze me you little Vegan Iron Chief! Keep up the wonderful work! I'm SO proud of your new accomplishments and new dishes! (^__^)

Candi said...

Where have I been? I didn't realize you were in Boston! :) I saw the snow photo and knew. Hey, it's snowing right now too. Damn!

Anyhow, you lucked out on your commute in that storm! How nice of you to make the cupcakes and pizza! Is Mikey your bf? He's a lucky guy! I bet that helped a little after being stuck in the traffic for so long.

Your pizza *is* one to be proud of! I was laughing just imagining you tossing it in the air and then getting carried away! ;) It looks perfect though.

Quinoa... oh I should eat more of that! I feel all healthy when I do.

Oh, and I was so offended that you said "Happy ChristmaHanuKwanzaakah" to me! I don't celebrate ChristmaHanuKwanzaakah and am really upset at that! :) :) Happy Holidays to you too!! :)

Oh, one more thing! Now that I know you live close... I'd have brought you some chocolate buttons... except...I ate them all. Next shipment?! :) :)

Liz² said...

I'm glad you survived that storm okay! It's been hellish up here, too - I've hardly left the house in a few days due to basically the outdoors being one giant snowpile, ack.

your food looks completely splendid, though, nicely battling the cold! basically, I want all of it. XD

Wheeler's Black Label Vegan Ice Cream said...

That pizza looks fantastic! Mmm, wish I had some now. And yeah, that snowstorm was horrible. The traffic was unbelievable, but luckily I was able to get home before it got really bad. -Amy@Wheeler's

vegetalion said...

ha ha ha I did the same thing with pronouncing agave for a while ^_^

your pizza is beautiful. I hope today's crappy weather gives you inspiration for an equally lovely meal!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Thanks so much for the wonderful comment on my blog... as a novice "chef" it's great to get positive comments on something I've made (especially coming from someone whose food always looks so great-- I still think your Cookie Monster cake is the greatest thing ever!).

aTxVegn said...

Congratulations on a fab looking pizza! And cuppers!

Your poor guys. That's actually happened to me once here in Texas, but with ice. No fun at all. Today I'm enjoying a balmy 78 degrees!

Candi said...

Hey neighbor! :) I laughed when you asked if I was in MA for school. Oh my god, I'm too old for that! haha! I'm here because I can't figure out where I want to live when I grow up. :)

I work out here and my family is from here, so that's a good reason for now! :) I'm on the Worcester/West Boylston line and I work all over MA in wedding photography. :) I'm hoping to get a 2nd work location nearer to Boston in 2008! You'll have to tell me of the vegan places that you like out there! I've been to TJ's and Grasshoppers so far since I moved back here last year.

Hope you enjoyed the extra snow today. <_< I was SO angry! I just shoveled!!!

bazu said...

Happy ChristmaHanuKwanzaakah to you, too!

Wow- I'm so sorry for you and your loved ones getting stuck in the snow like that- last week's storms were no fun. I shivered just reading this post. But then seeing your delicious, warming foods comforted me again! Stay warm and "see" you in the new year!