When one of my dearest friends gave me a pizza stone for Christmas it was on! I was beyond excited. I studied pizza all over the Internet. I got the kids all hopped up on the homemade pizza fever. With eyes as big as satellite dishes and jazz hands, I gasped, "Guess what, guys?! We are going to make our own PIZZA Saturday night!!!!!!!!!!"
The fantasy generator that ruins mothers everywhere -- the one behind cooperative, efficient bedtime rituals and delightful dinners where children actually eat food -- gave me the image of my delightfully helpful littles and I lovingly chopping the ingredients and assembling our individual pizzas. Followed by a dinner worthy of Norman Rockwell.
By 4 p.m. I had not ingredient the first, and was a nervous and pissy mess. Hubs and I had a communication breakdown. He needed to get a haircut. I mean if your wife takes the kids to the museum and you are left alone for over four hours wouldn't that be the time to do such a thing? I'm just sayin'...
Instead of driving 15 minutes each direction to Trader Joe's, I kept it small business and local. I went to Pot and Pan for a pizza paddle, then to the Produce Market for sauce, fresh mozzarella, pepperoni and olives.
But no refrigerated dough.
Apparently Homemade Pizza Kitchen would sell me a ball of dough worth approximately $1.00 for the price of a pie - $12.95. Eff that ess!
Maybe I should have driven my ass to Trader Joe's?
"Do you have pizza dough?" I asked a cashier.
"We do, and it's really good!" She sent one of the stockboys off to get some. Ding, ding, ding!
It was FROZEN! "Will this thaw in time?" I asked.
"Maybe leave it in warm water," offered another cashier.
"Nah! Leave it on the counter for 20 minutes, and you're good!" she answered.
This seemed totally wrong. But like a sick man looking at a snake healer I wanted to BELIEVE. So I bought it and left.
When I got home I saw that hubby "forgot" to preheat the oven, and THIS on the side of the box:
THAW OVERNIGHT IN REFRIGERATOR
OR 5 HOURS ROOM TEMPERATURE
Shut the front door!!!
Fiercely determined, I began a combination of putting the dough in a plastic bag in boiling water, nuking it in a bowl of water and kneading it incompetently like Jon Hamm on Kristen Wiig's boobies in Bridesmaids.
At 6 pm, I had dough. Mr. R and I hastily chopped ingredients. A play dough nightmare - sticky and flour everywhere. No nice flatbread size pies or beautiful circles, just silly rectangular patties. We arranged cheese, olives and pepperoni on them and then tried to slide them into the oven. They wouldn't budge. A horrible game of mashing them around with spatulae, parchment paper and fingers followed.
The pies looked craptacular.
After 10 minutes, they'd browned, but the inside was doughy and nasty. I tried to pick up one pizza holding the edges of the burned parchment paper, and slopped it all over the oven door. I wanted to slit my wrists.
At 7 p.m., Hubs put in the oven one of the CoalFire pizzas we keep frozen for emergencies.
I went in the bedroom and cried. What kind of mother was I? I couldn't even make pizza! I served my small children dinner at 7:25 pm. I was 40 and crying because I couldn't make pizza. It was 6 days into the new year and I was still beating myself up like a Mel Gibson victim. My life was a shambles.
The kids came in to say thank you, undoubtedly sent by their Dad. I buried my head in my hands. I couldn't look at them. I had just read a blog post about a mom who responded brilliantly to her daughter's observation about lady thighs. I so wanted to be that sensitive, quick-thinking mom. I so wanted to be honest, to say, "Mommy is disappointed because she was excited to do something, and it didn't turn out very well. See, it happens to grown-ups too." I wanted to tell them, "Mommy will get over it soon," and then mumble, "She just needs a drink."
But I couldn't.
Eventually, I came out and tasted the stuff we'd made. It didn't taste bad, but the thick doughy texture sucked out loud. I ate the CoalFire and drank red wine like there was no tomorrow.
Hubs and I resolved to do more studying and to do it right next time. Consult a guru maybe. Surely it would get better with time. Like so many virginal experiences, I’m not sure why I expected it to be earth-shattering anyway.