ode to pizza night

Every Friday night is pizza night at the Frost house. I think this began in Kentucky, around the time I started experimenting with new dough recipes. First it was the usual bready, pale dough, baked at 350 forever and piled high with toppings to distract from the lackluster crust. The New York Times convinced me to move on to a long- and slow-rise dough with only flour, water, yeast, and a bit of salt. We stuck with that recipe for a year, at which point we were also on a caramelized onion and prosciutto kick. While the dough was good, it was finicky and proved insubstantial for such rich toppings.

These early pizzas were rectangular, baked on an old half cookie sheet from college (I think it was a gift from my Aunt Amy? Or maybe I nicked it from my parents’ house?). This particular cookie sheet is still part of our cooking tools and distributed the heat nicely along the bottom of the crust. There’s nothing worse than a white, floury, limp pizza crust. A year or two ago we graduated to the Williams-Sonoma circular, vented pizza pan. A major pizza-making game changer, the new pan reminds me of the pizza screens we used at Fat Jack’s when I worked there twelve years ago.

I finally discovered The Dough, the recipe I’ve made more than 150 times. It came to us from Smitten Kitchen, my favorite food blog. To yield two crusts, mix 3 cups of flour + 2 teaspoons kosher salt + 1.5 teaspoons yeast. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and enough warm water that the dough becomes a cohesive, soft mass (not too sticky!). Let sit under the overturned mixing bowl for five minutes, then refrigerate in the bowl, covered with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, until you get home from work the next day.

This recipe works for me every time. I bake the constructed pizza on our highest oven setting, which in the new apartment is 525 degrees, for twelve minutes. The dough is strong enough for legitimate toppings, but flavorful enough that we usually just go with a homemade tomato sauce, herbs and mozzarella and parmesan cheese. When the pizza is ready, the cheese golden and bubbly, I slide it from the pan onto a cutting board and slice it into eight even triangles. Then I slide the pieces onto a cooling rack–maintaining their circular formation for aesthetic purposes, of course–and we dig in.

Though I’ve clearly spent an inordinate amount of time perfecting my pizza-making skills (so much so that I just broke one of our two pizza cutters from overuse), the important part of pizza night is that it signals the end of the workweek. In Twyla Tharp’s excellent book on creativity (The Creative Habit! Look it up.) she talks about how her ritual of going to the gym doesn’t start at the gym door; she has a series of actions (putting out clothes, drinking a cup of coffee, getting in a cab) that put her in the gym mindset, which for a dancer is also a creative mindset. I consider pizza night a Frost ritual. Friday night is the beginning of our weekend and pizza is the almost Pavlovian signal that our two usually relaxing days together have begun.

I love this tradition. In fact, I love it so much that 94 (11%) of the 827 posts on this blog mention pizza. I love the familiarity of mixing up the dough on Thursday night and I love the way our apartment smells faintly of charred tomatoes on Saturday morning. I love that I get to spend most Friday nights with Jason. I love our life, and yes, I love pizza.

latest/greatest

This is what Mexico City looks like from the air.
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Jason got home yesterday afternoon after a very short trip. I spent the majority of the non-work hours while he was away watching Sherlock and eating cheese and crackers and baked sweet potatoes and 72% chocolate. Yes, this is my life. But Sherlock?! Can we talk about Sherlock?? I hate watching movies (something about the idea of sitting down for 1.5 hours in front of a screen just seems so unappealing to me. I blame it on being a film major. This does not apply to television, which I can watch with great abandon.) but I could watch Sherlock like the day is long…and I did, until 1:30 a.m. on Monday morning. This is so very unlike me.

Besides all that, life in the Frost house is good. On Sunday I went outside and it was 40 degrees and I was sure spring had arrived. Jason had a two-hour delay today, but my work had no delay. While I was incensed at the time, the metro was really empty and the roads weren’t so bad, and I am descended from pioneer stock after all, so I didn’t mind.

In this week’s Odd Things That Happen to the Frosts, we ordered some clothes with our Christmas Banana Republic gift cards: a skirt for me and jeans for Jason. When I opened the box, the skirt was there, but instead of Jason’s jeans we received a very very large, sheer, white Athleta tank top, i.e. something we would never in a million years purchase. It was bizarre.

Yesterday was the annual work triathlon, in which I participate every year, apparently. I wasn’t going to do it this year (what with all the not swimming and not biking I’ve been doing), but then I saw that my friend Katie had signed up and my competitive spirit got the best of me. In spite of doing half the swim breaststroke (always my preferred stroke) I was happy with my time. I don’t think it was a repeat of my 2013 winning ways, but I felt like a true athlete when I stepped off the treadmill in my, wait for it, gym shorts, high-neck swimming suit (it has netting on top so it’s not as grandmotherly as it sounds), and tank top. I looked like I was wearing a big blue bib. This is why I can’t go to a fancy gym. Sadly, no pictures.

the frozen north

We haven’t commuted to work in double-digit temperatures all week.
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It’s getting really old really fast, especially as my mom reports on Utah’s Aprilish temps. If we are going to have record lows, I would at least like some snow to go along with it, which we got in spades on Saturday morning.

Remember the cream puff planets from the snow day? I made another, slightly less alien-looking batch on Friday night and Saturday morning. I filled them with homemade pastry cream and topped them with the glaze from a Boston cream doughnut recipe in the NYT. Yes, they were delicious. I only had one minor panic when I discovered that in turning on the oven timer to bake the puffs I had also inadvertently turned off the oven. No harm, no foul, though; I discovered my error early enough that the puffs weren’t ruined.
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I spent the morning at a baby shower at which, unlike the one I went to on Wednesday, I was not the only childless person in attendance. In the words of one Saturday showerer: “I wish I’d had a camera trained on your face to catch all your expressions.” I’m pretty sure said expressions were grimaces any time anyone mentioned anything about labor, breastfeeding, or…er, explosions. It was fun, though, and I got to talk to some of my favorite ward friends. While I was learning the mystical ways of motherhood and failing at a Price Is Right With Baby Items game, Jason had the husbands over for a He-Man Doughnut and GameDay Day.

Post-baby shower, we spent the rest of the day in full-on snow day mode. We couldn’t even go to the library (where I have something like six books on hold) because all Fairfax County libraries closed at 1 p.m. Instead we napped, read, ate good food, and watched basketball. Oh, and Jason packed for a whirlwind trip.

Bright and early Sunday morning (really bright and early. 5:45 a.m.) I drove Jason to the airport in what can only be described as treacherous conditions. The snow from Saturday was now covered in a thin sheet of ice and our unplowed road was basically a skating rink. We took it slow and made it to the airport without incident, but once I got home I couldn’t get the car back into our parking place because it kept sliding sideways and backward. I tried everything I could think of and was mentally trying to figure out who I call before 7 a.m. on a Sunday to pull me out of a snowbank (answer: our home teachers) when the tires finally gained purchase and I gunned it into the spot. Victory. I went back inside and went back to sleep.

snowed in (but not really)

Snow days aren’t the best thing about living on the east coast, but they are definitely in my top five. This winter has been kind of disappointing and we hadn’t had a snow day yet. Then, after a frigid Presidents’ Day spent mostly at home trying not to freeze, a storm rolled into town.

When we woke up on Tuesday we had four-ish inches of snow and no work! It was awesome.

I spy with my little eye Jason clearing off the car.
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We had pizza for lunch, worked out, lounged, read (I am so close to being done with America Between the Wars!), watched television, and cleaned a very little bit…and it was still only four o’clock. Snow days go by so much more slowly than work days.

Since the roads were pretty clear, we decided to go pick up Jason’s suit in Georgetown. We encountered no traffic (a first!) and parked without incident just off M Street. I like Georgetown a lot, especially when there aren’t very many people there.

#snowdayselfie
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When I was seven or eight we came out to DC for a visit and my grandparents took us on a flatboat canal ride. (In my mind I think we went with other senior citizens and it was not nearly as exciting as I expected.) I know this is not the same canal, but I always think of my Grandma and Grandpa Henderson when I see it. 2015/02/img_1741.jpg

For a perfect end to our snow day we ate chicken shwarma for supper and watched the Kentucky basketball game. I also made cream puffs (an experiment for a baby shower this Saturday) and they only looked a little bit like alien planets.2015/02/img_1743.jpg

 

 

día de amor y amistad

My mom’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day. She could use that coincidence as an opportunity to be especially demanding, but that’s not my mom. Instead, she made the day fun for the rest of us with red heart pancakes, lots of candy, pink frosted sugar cookies, and a heart-shaped cake made in the old yellow heart pan which my mom had invariably baked herself. (I hope as we have gotten older our powers of celebration have improved.) Each Valentine’s Day we looked forward to an after-dinner knock at the door. No one was ever there, but on the porch we would find our Valentine’s Day presents. I don’t think it occurred to any of us how kind it was for our mom to do this for us on HER birthday, but we all loved the tradition and I especially have fond memories of the little Valentine notes from Mom and Dad that accompanied our gifts.

When I was four and we lived in California, my mom put the Valentines my Grandma and Grandpa Pullan had sent from Utah out on the front stoop with the presents from mom and dad. I honestly thought–and was a little disappointed that–my grandparents had driven all the way to California and dropped of our Valentines without coming in to say hello!

Jason and I got engaged on February 11th, so we usually just celebrate our engagement-aversary (which my phone keyboard keeps trying to change to adversary). Jason did especially well this year.
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We had seen this incredible bowl at the MoMA design store when we were in New York. Jason remembered and sent it to me at work. I love it.
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It’s so shiny.
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We spent actual Valentine’s Day in DC. We went to Cava for lunch, then headed to the Portrait Gallery. I had only been there once for a rapid fire visit and once for a work event, but Jason took a class there a while ago and loved it. We had a blast (as we always do).
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After the museum, we metroed to our old stomping grounds at Foggy Bottom and walked up to Georgetown. We found Jason a great new gray suit. I don’t mind suit-shopping, especially when the salesmen try to garner my good opinion with bottled water. Also, Jason really rocks a suit.
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On our way home we made our regular Georgetown stop at Design Within Reach. DWR always reminds me of the time my parents took us all there when we were on vacation in Scottsdale. Yes, they are cool. I know we aren’t supposed to covet, but that Eames lounge is the most comfortable chair I have ever experienced.

The weather was beautiful and at 38 degrees definitely the warmest day of the week, so we walked the rest of the way to Rosslyn and trained home from there. We spent the rest of the night watching basketball, eating pizza and frosting sugar cookies for my Sunday school class.
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Happy Valentine’s Day!

in which Jason has a birthday

Yes, Jason makes twenty-nine look good.
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On Saturday we saw The Imitation Game (excellent!), bought The Birthday Guy some new work shoes and brought home takeout from Cava. We also enjoyed some of his birthday ice cream cake (rocky road and chocolate cake).

On Sunday we made chicken shwarma for his birthday feast. I think it may be the best chicken we have ever cooked. Dinner was followed (of course) by more ice cream cake.

I’ve known Jason since he was twenty-one and each year has been even more fun than the last. He is the best. Only 364 days until 30!

libros de enero

Remember how I said I wouldn’t set a reading goal for this year, at least not yet? Well, I tentatively said on Goodreads (which I always wish was a better quality website) that I’d like to read 100 books this year, thinking that would be a reasonable number. January has been mighty prodigious, though, and I’ve already got several that are for sure going on the Best of 2015 list. I don’t anticipate keeping up this wild trajectory (17 books so far!); January has benefited from several days off and a three-hours-each-way train trip.

Best reads so far:
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex (Philbrick)
The Forever War (Filkins)
The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra (Rappaport)
Flash Boys (Lewis)
The parts of Yes Please (Poehler) that were about writing and parenting. Maybe I just don’t know enough about Upright Citizens Brigade to care?
On Immunity (Biss)
High (Willis) Admittedly a re-read, but some of the best mountain writing there is.
Mayflower (Philbrick)

See? Spoiled by 2015. Now I’m waiting for Jason to finish the Robert Frost book he keeps telling me about.

Nothing much else to report on the Frost front. I was home from work on Monday dying from a sinus infection that will. Not. Cease. Jason had a two-hour delay on Tuesday after a mighty-light sprinkling of snow, but I had to go in at nine as usual. Finally went to the doctor on Wednesday to get some antibiotics and here we are. I’m dreaming of the day I can again breathe out my nose and get rid of this not-as-sexy-as-Angie-Harmon voice.