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Pizza and perspective

Growing up, I always thought I would do something really big. I didn’t know what, but I thought for sure I was going to be famous.

I grew up tragically shy. I cried endlessly on my first day of kindergarten. I was, however, brilliant for my age. Mom requested that my teacher give me supplemental work to keep me stimulated. How anyone could not be stimulated in kindergarten is beyond me. The day consisted of mostly playing and napping. But I guess I wanted to learn, more than I wanted to make friends. I crafted dioramas to keep busy. My favorite was on dinosaurs; I shaped my favorite species out of Play Doh and proudly delivered it to school, where it was put on display.

I didn’t have an encouraging push in one direction or another as I was growing up. My first dream was to become a professional basketball player. As I got older, I realized that the possibility of “going pro” might be a little more difficult than I had anticipated. And with that newfound perspective, I sought other interests.

I changed majors three or four times before realizing that what I really loved to do was write – so why couldn’t I do JUST that?

However, being a writer, I’m realizing is rather difficult as well. And while I’m not giving up on dreams, I am seeking new alternatives, because there is still a part of me that isn’t quite sure what I want to do if I can’t be a full-time writer.

I got some perspective the other day while hopping around San Francisco meeting with friends of Amber, and some of my own.

On our first stop, I met a guy who had a really great idea for an iPhone app, which became really popular, and in turn made him a lot of money. You may have heard of it, it’s called, Instagram. I think he was still in shock about everything; humble and modest as he is, he just got lucky. And sometimes a bit of luck is all you need.

Alllll the way on the other side of town, I met a man and a woman with a relatively newborn baby. The woman owns her own business that is booming, with a few people working for her, and is living a comfortable life along with her husband, a writer, who just sold his first major script within the last year for a movie that will be coming out this summer. His tale, like many writers is one of years of writing and rejection. He has spent most of the last ten years doing copy writing and freelance work while working toward his dream as a screenwriter. And after ten years, his hard work paid off. You could say he got lucky too, but he was also determined to pursue his dream, and I admire that. Nothing in life is so easy it should be just handed to you.

The last stop of the night was with an old friend of mine that I’ve known since high school. She has always been one of those friends that you can not hang out with for a while and still pick up where you left off, without any awkward catching up conversation and breaks and pauses, wondering if you actually have any shared interests anymore. Like many college graduates, she is not using her degree, and has transitioned into doing an HR job that she did not expect to be doing, but greatly enjoys. She still is not sure what it is she wants to do – but is proof that you never know where you might find happiness.

So maybe it’s a little bit about luck, or maybe its a little bit about hard work, and maybe it’s a little but about finding happiness in unexpected places. All things considered, we’re all just trying to put the puzzle pieces together and find pleasure in the finished product.

I have really great ideas, and sometimes its just a matter of having those ideas land in the right hands (publishers); and sometimes it’s a matter of working hard to polish the great ideas so that they are irresistible. And sometimes, just sometimes it may be about taking an idea that you hadn’t looked at closely and finding success.

All the while, I had a really great idea for dinner the other night (I’m pretty good at this non-sequitur thing, huh?). It’s been really hot lately (for springtime at least) and the last thing anyone wants to do when it’s hot is turn the oven on. My roommates and I have spent a lot of time in front of the grill the past few weeks. The other night I was craving pizza and thought I should use the grill to cook it. Now, I know I’m not the first to think to do this. My great idea is more about the grilled pizza with all the delicious toppings I added.

Cooking is a lot about new perspectives – doing things innovative or differently. So while I ponder all the permutations that the future might hold, I’m also thinking about all the permutations for grilled pizzas during the summer. So long story made short, I had a really great idea the other day, and now I’m here to share it with you.

Eggplant, asparagus, and red pepper grilled pizza with arugula pesto

Seriously one of the best pizzas I’ve ever made. The combination of flavors are awesome, and I think partly due to the grilled flavor on the dough.

Dough: (makes enough for 2)

1 1/2 Cups warm water

1 Packet of active, dry yeast

1 TBSP honey

2 TBSP olive oil

3 1/2 cups flour

I TSP salt

Pizza toppings:

1 Large eggplant cut into rounds

1 Red bell pepper

1/2 bunch of asparagus

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup grated gouda (or mozzarella, fontina, or good melting cheese)

1 teaspoon dried chili flake

 Pesto:

4 handfuls of baby arugula

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 scallions, chopped

1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/8 cup slivered almonds

1/4 –1/2 cup olive oil

salt and pepper

For dough: In a large bowl, add warm water, yeast, and honey and let sit for 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolved. Stir to dissolve completely if needed. Mix in the olive oil, flour, and salt. Knead the dough on floured surface until it is smooth and elastic and roll into ball.

Place ball of dough in a bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature until it doubles in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Then place dough in fridge for several hours or overnight, until ready to use.

Pesto: In food processor, add all ingredients except for olive oil and pulse a few times. Process while slowly adding olive oil until fully incorporated and smooth. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Veg: Drizzle pepper, eggplant and asparagus with olive oil and grill. Asparagus will take 3 minutes or so depending on thickness. Grill pepper until evenly black, remove and place in plastic bag and seal to allow it to sweat so skin is easily removed. Chop into strips when cool. Cut asparagus into thirds and grate cheese.

When all toppings are ready, cut dough in half and roll one piece out thin and flat.

Dip a tightly folded up paper towel in olive oil and use tongs to wipe the grill grates. Then place pizza dough round on a lightly floured, rimless cookie sheet (or pizza peel if you have one). Let the dough slide off the cookie sheet onto the hot grill grates. Close the lid of the grill and let cook for 1 minute.

After 1 minute, open the grill. Use a spatula or tongs to rotate the dough 90 degrees and cook for another minute. Then flip over and do the same. Remove from heat and move to working surface to apply toppings.

Paint one side of the pizza with a little olive oil, then cover the other with arugula pesto, sprinkle with chili flake, then add half the cheese, then eggplant, asparagus and pepper, top with remaining cheese.

When ready, turn off heat to grill, and then place pizza back onto the grill and close lid. Let sit for 2-3 minutes to allow everything to melt. Slice and serve!

***If you have chili oil, I highly recommend a little drizzle on top and a cold beer to wash it down with***

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One response to “Pizza and perspective

  1. Pingback: Goooooooats! | The Amused Bouche

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