Thursday, January 28, 2016

crispy pan pizzas

Last week Julie did a post about pizza made with a flour tortilla crust. At first glance, I thought her idea was stupid. I grew up creating makeshift pizzas from halved English muffins and bagels. Soggy-crusted and bready, those pizzas were never as good as the real deal. The tortilla pizza was bound to be just another disappointing creation. Or so I thought.

I was wrong. Turns out, these tortilla pizzas are unique and fabulous, and it's all because of the two-step process: first on the stove top and then under the broiler. This method creates a crispy-thin crust that's still chewy and pliable and a bubbly, golden brown, cheesy top. Pizza perfection in five minutes flat.

Even though these pizzas are a snap to make, if you're feeding a small herd of people as I usually am, the process can get a little tedious. Like pancakes and grilled cheese, the process is not complicated, but you can't leave your station. To speed the process, I use two skillets: while one pizza is being assembled, the other is broiling.

When I served these for supper the other night, the family went wild. A few days later, I made them again for lunch and got the same reaction. My kids usually eat two pizzas each, though my older son and husband can put away three or more in a sitting.

Crispy Pan Pizzas
With inspiration from Julie of Dinner With Julie.

In the photos above, I used a mixture of fresh mozzarella and grated, plus my homemade pepperoni (that the kids like better than the bought stuff!). I was rushing, so the pizzas aren't quite as brown as they should be.

large flour tortillas
olive oil
pizza sauce
mozzarella cheese
topping of your choice: pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, black olives, pesto, etc.

Set a cast iron skillet over a burner set to medium heat. Lightly brush the skillet with olive oil and smack in a tortilla. Smear the tortilla with pizza sauce, sprinkle it with cheese, and add your toppings. As soon as the bottom of the tortilla is golden brown—and you want to make sure it really is golden brown all over because this is what gives the pizza its structure and crunch—pop the skillet under the broiler for a couple minutes. Once the cheese is bubbling and brown, and the tortilla edges have crisped up nicely, the pizza is done. Slip the pizza onto a plate, slice it into wedges, and serve.

This same time, years previous: keep everlastingly at it, the quotidian (1.27.14), swimming in the sunshine, Friday evening fun, down again, Gretchen's green chili, to meet you, and ode to the titty fairy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

through my lens: a wedding

Last Saturday was the first time I photographed a wedding.

My friend was getting married and asked me to be the informal photographer. She had hired a professional photographer for the family photos and the ceremony (she wanted me to be relaxed and present, not distracted, for the actual wedding), but it was my job to catch the behind-the-scenes stuff. I showed up at her house before noon and played, I mean, took pictures, all the way through until the bell-ringing, firecracker-popping send off.

I loved having permission to photograph what I found interesting without the stress of having to be perfect. Which was good, because one, most of the lighting was artificial and I don't have the fancy flashes and lenses to compensate, and two, I hadn't a clue what I was doing. Whenever something caught my eye, I just clicked.

My favorite part was capturing the photos that no one else was taking, the un-posed, casual moments that told a story. The calming hand massages. The quiet conversations. The panic over a torn stocking. The mad dash upon being released from a formal photo session. Except for when I told my friends' kids to grab their friends for some spontaneous outside photos, all the photos were off-the-cuff.

I tried to capture as many of the different wedding day components as possible: the teen boys' last minute washing of a car, the sound tech guy, the food, the ushers, the guests, the hyper, post-wedding children, the caterers. (My one regret is that I didn't get many photographs of the groom's family. I had never met them before, and since I was working with a 50mm lens, I couldn't discreetly snap pictures from a distance. But it felt invasive to get all close and personal, so I mostly just didn't. And of course, that didn't feel right, either.)

The whole day was loads of fun, but by the end I was whupped. The exhaustion was bone-deep and debilitating. All I wanted was to lay flat on my back for a very long time. So I did. The end.

Congratulations, sweet friend. Thank you for including me in your special day.

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (1.26.15), and then we moved into a barn, housekeeping, flourless peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, and shoofly cake.  

Monday, January 25, 2016

the quotidian (1.25.16)

Quotidian: daily, usual or customary; 
everyday; ordinary; commonplace

Garden steaks: fried slabs of leftover baked sweet potatoes.

When I was a kid, friends sent my family a care package with these
old-fashioned cream-filled ginger cookies.
Twenty-five years later, I baked them for us.

She figured out how to crack eggs with one hand, so I made her teach me.

In my PJs: time to shovel.

Forget rainbows, it's a snow-bow!

Rosy, and sprinkled with melting snowflakes.


Crazy about the kittens, this boy is.

It's a good thing she's got a good attitude.

This same time, years previous: first day of classes, five things, grumble, grumble, thoughts, and baked Brie.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

blizzard of 2016

“You know, when I was in college in Northern New York, we'd go to bed at night and the next morning there would be three feet of snow on the ground and it was no big deal. But now we get snow and everyone falls apart.”

My husband was standing in the hallway, shedding his snow clothes, or maybe putting them on yet again, his eyes dancing. All week long he had regarded the storm predictions with cool reserve, but as soon as the storm hit, he turned giddy, so charged up he practically crackled with excitement.

just for fun: crashing the plow into a snowbank

He was a little bummed it wasn't a total white-out.

“You think I should string a rope between the house and the chicken coop just so we can say we did?” he asked.

on a quest for cocoa powder: digging out the basement

The power only briefly flickered off twice, and the Internet never once went down (!), but I stayed on red alert the whole time, keeping a carafe of hot water at the ready, the bathtub filled with buckets of water for potential toilet flushings, and the dishes washed up. And you know what? Aside from my niggling (and unnecessary) worry, the two days of blizzard turned out to be a delightful mini vacation.

We played Rook and Uno, watched PK (not your typical movie—think Indian movie with subtitles, theology, excellent humor, and Bollywood—but I highly recommend it), cracked open a 1000 piece puzzle, moved snow around, rigged various shelters for the animals, and made cupcakes. I did some recipe testing for Luisa, took pictures, made hot chocolate, watched my son sprint around the house in his swimming trunks, baked a chocolate cake, talked to my mom on the phone, and read by the fire.

Now it's Sunday, the sun is shining, and we're digging ourselves out from under.

This same time, years previous: rocks in my granola, and other tales, what you can do, on thank-you notes, pink cupcakes, in no particular order, movie night, on not wanting, and capturing the moment.    

Friday, January 22, 2016

and so it begins

The snow has started!

I did all my errands yesterday, refreshing our supplies of bagels, fruit, and heavy whipping cream and tracking down sweat shirts, snow boots, and a winter coat for my severely under-dressed youngest child. Then this morning my husband tore around the house vacuuming, straightening up, and even dusting (or so a child reported) before taking the three younger children into town to get gas and more groceries and snow clothes.

Two Asides

Aside Number One:
I saw a comment on social media in which someone mentioned that it makes them pissed-off mad when people empty the grocery shelves of bread and milk pre-snowstorm. Which confused me. Isn't it smart to go shopping before a storm? I mean, don't go crazy and take more than you'll use, but what about simple foresight? I want plenty of milk on hand for multiple rounds of hot chocolate, plus lots of butter and eggs for my cookies and cakes. But now I'm wondering if I should feel guilty for hitting up the grocery store?

Aside Number Two: 
My son is taking an EMT class, and during last night's session they toured the dispatch offices. My son reported on the eve of the snowstorm, the EMS system was revving into high gear, prepping for Day One's rash of accidents. Day Two, he said, should be fairly calm because everyone is stuck at home. But on Day Three and Four of a snowstorm, the police department starts getting a lot of calls because—get this—there'll be a spike in domestic violence. That there would actually be a connection between snowstorms and domestic violence incidences never occurred to me, but I guess it makes sense, in a sadly twisted sort of way. We'll all be crawling out of our skin by then.


Right before the snow hit, I got a call from a friend who had just gotten a newborn foster baby. “Let me bring you lunch,” I said.

So as the first flakes started falling, I flew around the kitchen cooking and assembling: macaroni and cheese, peas, slaw, and vanilla pudding. A loaf of fresh sourdough bread, clementines, and a wedge of pesto torte and crackers completed the meal. By the time I finished, the kitchen windows were fogged and the roads were blanketed with snow. My husband still wasn't back from town, so my older son and I loaded up the little black car (never mind that the gas tank was nearly empty) and struck out.

“We are those idiots driving in a snow storm,” I muttered as we inched along. My son kept his foot off the brake and didn't even flinch as an oncoming car slid gracefully into the ditch.

“The car behind them is stopping," I said. “Keep going.”

Delivery made (and new baby briefly clucked over—so cute!), we crept home. When we turned onto our road, I heaved a huge sigh. Only then did I realize that I had been barely breathing all along.

Now, in typical Murch fashion, my husband and the kids are outside preparing for the storm in the storm. And I, in typical Jennifer fashion, am gearing up for a rash of baking while fretting about the huge mess I'll have on my hands should the power go out.

This same time, years previous: lazy stuffed cabbage rolls, the quotidian (1.20.14), hobo beans, world's best pancakes, the quotidian (1.23.12), moving forward, chocolate cream pie, corn tortillas, and peanut noodles.