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Pizza! (part 1)

Pizza has been a Huckabee family tradition since…well, for so long I can’t remember it not being a tradition. We have only rarely missed our weekly pizza night, usually through no fault of our own.

When we were in New York City, we found a true New York style pizza place, complete with brick oven and homemade cannoli for dessert. It was walking distance from the 9/11 Memorial.

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As we ate, John* said, “This tastes just like the pizza we make.” 

“That’s because we prefer New York style pizza,” James answered.

The first time we had New York style pizza was in 2006, the last time we went to New York City. We took the subway over to Brooklyn and found a tiny little hole in the wall pizza place run by a Russian man who, once we’d finished eating, stuffed a brown paper bag with donuts from his pastry shop next door and sent them with us “for the children”. How the kids loved those donuts that had been squashed on the return trip!

We adapted our pizza recipe to be more like the pizza we’d eaten that day. We’ve done that ever since.

The key to any pizza style is the crust. St. Louis style pizza crust is cracker thin. Chicago style is pan pizza thick, in some cases known as “deep dish”. Sometimes you need a fork to eat it. New York style is in between, a perfect blend between crust and toppings.

This is the crust recipe we use. I know there are countless others out there. Personally, I like this one because of it’s simplicity and adaptability. We’ll get to that in a later post. This recipe was given to my family of origin years ago so it is not original with me.

Pizza Crust

(makes three 14 inch crusts)

  • 2 cups water (can add up to 1/3 cup more if needed)
  • 2 TBSP oil
  • 1 TBSP yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 6 cups flour (or enough to make the proper consistency of dough)

Just dump all the ingredients together and mix until the dough forms a ball that is easy to work with.

You don’t want it so moist that it clings to your fingers and the rolling pin, and you don’t want it so dry that it crumbles apart. I usually add 5 cups of flour and begin mixing, gradually adding the sixth cup until the consistency is correct. It’s okay to use more than 6 cups of flour. You want it to form a smooth, pliable lump.

Divide the dough into three balls. Flour the countertop and place a ball in the center. Flour the top of the ball. Begin rolling into a circle the size of the lightly greased pan you will use. (At normal altitudes you might not need to grease your pan. In Africa, at 5,000 feet, we have to grease it or the crust will stick. Sometimes it sticks anyway.)

For St. Louis style crust divide into 4 balls and bake them for a few minutes to keep them from rising. Let them cool before adding toppings. For Chicago style, place the crust into a deep greased pan and allow to rise for a few minutes before adding the toppings.

Still to come…Homemade sauce and how to top these masterpieces.

(*John is my pizza making right hand man. He knows almost as much about making our pizza as I do, so much in fact, that he can do the entire process on his own without my help.)

Remembering…

A few weeks ago I posted a blog entry about 9/11. I told how we’d visited the site for the Freedom Tower back in 2006.

A few days ago, we got to return to New York City and see the now complete Tower in person. It did not disappoint!

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We took our children to the 9/11 Museum. It was crowded, yet there was a feeling of awe, horror, and respect in the place as people remembered or learned for the first time about the events of that fateful day. My children were moved by what they saw. James and I were, too.

We remembered.

We went outside and spent time around the Memorial – one of the most beautiful, well designed, and peaceful memorials I’ve ever seen. The sound of the flowing water – a symbol of eternal life – as a backdrop to the thousands of names of people who died that day.

Here and there around the memorial, people had placed fresh flowers in the names of those who died, probably a loved one or a family member who has no other place to show such respect.

They remembered.

One man caught my attention. He looked like he’d just gotten off his shift from work – disheveled and tired. He went along the memorial, touched specific names, then gently kissed them. He remembered.

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For me, the most moving part of the visit was this wall:

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The remains of people who had been found but could not be identified were entombed there. In one day, one event, these people were gone. But they were not erased. They had made their mark on the world. They had given their lives, some sacrificially, some without choice, some without hope. But they were not erased from time. They are why…

We must always remember.

A Riot of Color

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One of the things we missed the most when we first moved to Africa was the changing of the seasons from summer to fall. We didn’t miss the cooler temps. We didn’t miss the shorter days and longer nights. We didn’t miss winter’s imminent approach.

We missed the changing color of the leaves.

The explosion of color from green to fiery reds, oranges, and yellows.

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Some of that missing has gone away. We all enjoy the steady temperatures in Africa. We love the year-round warmth. We love that the days stay the same length year round because we live at the equator.

This year, we get to spend part of the fall in New England and the north east. The colors have been fantastic this year!

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We’ve been taking loads of pictures to store up a supply of color to enjoy when we are in Africa and the longing for the fall color riot takes us. We can look at the pictures in the comfort of our warmth with no dread of impending cold weather. We’ll get our “color fix” and go on.

Life’s a Beach

I love the beach. Any beach. Just give me sun, sand, sea breezes, and the ocean spread before me with its rolling waves. Beaches figure in at least two of the books I’ve written so far.

Last furlough, a pastor we knew from deputation contacted us. He’d changed churches, was pastoring in Florida, and wanted James to share our ministry in his new church. However, at the time we didn’t have any openings for meetings left. He and James arranged that James would contact him for our next furlough. When furlough planning time came, James did just that and they set up a meeting time for the beginning of October.

In the meantime, my sister, her husband, and their two girls moved to Florida. October seemed like the perfect time to visit them, too. We made our plans and got everything set to head down there.

Then Hurricane Matthew developed. It didn’t even occur to us that it might be a problem until we were headed to Florida. We drove in strong wind and heavy rain for part of our trip – though it was only a tropical storm where we were.

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We arrived safely, without incident. Thankfully, that was the worst we got.

We were able to visit the beach with my sister and her family two times while we were there. Both times the weather was perfect! The kids played in the sand and waves. My landlocked children learned to body surf. We finished up our last day at the beach with ice cream.

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We had a great time with my sister and her family. They were so hospitable and opened their home to our gang. We spent hours talking, hashing over politics and computer apps, playing tennis, eating, and jogging together. It was hard to leave when the time came.

Our church meeting went well, too. We had a wonderful time reconnecting with the pastor and his family.

Maybe life really isn’t a beach, but when you have a little beach in your life (and fantastic family!), it sure makes it more fun!