Warning: this may be the most adorable post that has ever graced this thing they call “the internets”. If you have an aversion to all things adorable or tend to spontaneously vomit at the sight of cuteness, go here, look at some food porn. And maybe buy me some chocolate. Picture a box crammed full of 6 week old kittens, fluffy puppies with bows, 7 baby chicks so fuzzy their feathers are almost translucent, photos of several adorable child stars including but not limited to Mary Kate Olson and Gary Coleman, and a few of those posters with the babies dressed as flowers…if you can handle that, then by all means, proceed. But you still might want to buy me some chocolate…maybe with bacon in it. I’m just saying. Are you ready for this?
I warned you. Meet Jamie, my friend from college.
Meet Jamie’s adorable kids, Hunter and Ben, who are young enough to think I came all the way up to Wisconsin just to see every single toy they own.
I sort of did. But I also came to make pizza and see Jamie’s amazing garden. Jamie is a gardening fanatic,and lives all year just to get her fingers in the dirt come spring. I wanted to mooch some of her homegrown, mostly organic food. It must be nice to own land…land with grass on it. Ah, city life. So after I looked at all the boys’ toys and obtained exactly 742 bug bites, we went to the garden.
Look at her garden, it can barely stay contained in the fence! This is exactly what Jamie’s house looked like as I drove up. First, I noticed all these boring old houses with nothing in the yard, and then POOF! Jamie’s house had so much plant life bursting from it, it literally popped up out of nowhere, screaming, look at me! Love my color! My apartment-dwelling ass was totally jealous.
While Jamie gathered whatever food was ripe enough to throw on our pizzas, I harvested all the herbs my car could carry. Can I just say how much I love gardens? Like an entire grocery store in your back yard, grown organically by you. So simple and yet so kick-ass to this city girl.
Jamie and I got to work on making the pizza dough while the boys napped. If you’ve never made pizza dough, do it. Like, now. I’m not kidding. Put down the fricking laptop and make yourself some amazing pizza dough. It is so cheap, easy, delicious and versatile. I like to use this recipe, made by my boyfriend, Tyler. Ignore the 00 flour and just use all-purpose. Basically, you mix together the hot water and the yeast, let it sit five minutes until it foams, add in the flour, salt, let the mixer (or your hands) do the work, and then let the dough sit in an oiled bowl for an hour to rise. Punch it down, and then shape your pizzas or calzones, freeze it, whatever. You probably use the equivalent of $1 worth of flour (if you buy the good stuff that I like, less if you are happy with store brand), 80 cents worth of yeast, a few cents worth of water and salt, and maybe 50 cents worth of olive oil. Super cheap, super easy, and much better for you than the store-bought crap.
Jamie got the baking bug, and decided to whip up a batch of her grandma’s Finnish Pulla bread (pronounced Bulla), which is a yeast-raised coffee bread with a hint of cardamom. Jamie’s grandma used to make this bread when she was young, and even though she doesn’t bake bread often, it was almost as if her memory guided her through the recipe. She claimed she didn’t remember how to braid the dough into loaves, but she did a beautiful job without much effort at all. I love those kinds of recipes.
It also happens to make kick-ass cinnamon rolls, which we also made. It was really easy. We just mixed together some softened butter, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon and ground cardamom, roll out the dough into a rectangle, sprinkled the sugar mixture on top of most of it, roll it up, and cut off disks of cinnamon roll goodness.
By then, the boys were awake, so we put them in their chef uniforms.
Then we let them beat the crap out of some pizza dough rounds, while I occasionally stretched the pizza dough into shape.
Kids are so funny. Jamie’s kids are only 2 & 3, but they already have these huge personalities for such little people. Ben hates getting dirty. He actually did not enjoy beating up the dough because it made his hands dirty. Hunter, the younger of the two, just wanted to eat everything we put in front of him. Screw the pizza, his actions said. Gimme food now! I love a good eater. Then we put a little homemade sauce on top of the pizza, and set out bowls of chopped up veggies so they could decorate.
Ben made a face on his pizza, sort of. Hunter was more interested in eating as many toppings as he could cram into his cheeks.
Then we topped off the pizzas with some cheese and put them in the oven.
We also made an adult pizza with some of the garden harvest.
Ben had eaten too many toppings by the time the pizza came out.
But did Hunter?
Nope. Isn’t he just the most adorable overeater you have ever seen? LOVE IT. Thanks again to Jamie, Ben and Hunter for letting me visit their toys and garden and make pizza with them! I had so much fun and can’t wait to do it again. And no Mom and Dad Trivedi and Mom and Dad Grenier, this does not mean I’m ready for kids (please stop asking!). As Jamie put it, a day with young kids is the best birth control on the market. ~LTG!