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.

in which Dave comes to visit, part II

On Sunday Jason had early meetings, so Dave humored me and came along for the two mile walk to church. It was actually a perfect morning for walking: not too hot, not too humid, and no precipitation. After sacrament meeting we introduced Dave to some of our friends (all of whom figured out on their own that he was definitely Jason’s brother) and he and I went to Sunday School. I was grateful that he was able to witness one of our ward’s customary heady Sunday School conversations (this one about gender in the Old Testament). Then he moseyed off to Priesthood with Jason while I went to young womens.

When we got home, we had lunch (pizza again). We planned to hit the monuments, but I had a few things to finish up before we left. While I was so engaged, Dave nodded off on our couch (it is a very comfortable sleeping couch). Then, Jason decided to lay down and I was instructed to wake him in 10 minutes. I woke up two hours later, realizing I had shirked my duty. This was for the best, though, because we got down to the National Mall at twilight on what turned out to be one of the most beautiful days of the summer.

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We started off at Smithsonian station, which–should I ever write a book on how to visit DC–is the best place to disembark if you’re planning to see the National Mall.

We walked up to the White House, then back down to the World War II Memorial.

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I call this one Still Life with Washington Monument and Tired Eyes of Amanda.20140902-120601-43561623.jpg

 

The World War II Memorial is so much cooler with the fountain going, especially on a Sunday when no unsupervised youngsters are playing in it.20140902-120600-43560860.jpg

Dave got a picture with the Philippines column, then chatted up some visiting filipinos who were also taking pictures.dave_amanda

Meanwhile, Jason made good use of the camera. Man, I love having him around again.20140902-120601-43561282.jpg

We walked up to the Lincoln Memorial by way of the Vietnam, where Jason snapped this pretty great picture.vietnam

We made it!lincoln

Dave and Jason and Abe.dave and jason

Another National Mall selfie.20140902-120601-43561750.jpg

I’m not sure what part of the mall Dave liked the most, but I hope he enjoyed our four mile jaunt around the heart of DC. We walked back to the metro up 23rd Street, strongly suggesting to Dave that he needs to do Washington Seminar next summer. (“See that gym? We went there one time when we were interns!” “This would be your metro stop!” “You could use the GW Library if you wanted to!”)
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We had tostadas for dinner when we got home, after which Jason talked to his mom for a few minutes and Dave was silent. Then the boys men played one of their favorite games: Try to Knock Each Other Over Without Moving Your Feet. 20140902-135852-50332232.jpg

13.1

Saturday was the big day. I unintentionally woke up at 2:30 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. and gave up at 4:00 a.m. and got up and made some oatmeal with bananas and peaches for breakfast. I crawled back into bed until 5:10, when I got up and got ready.
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Can you just feel the running excitement emanating from my face?

Jason dropped me off at one of our ward member’s houses. She drove four of us in, which was so much better than taking the metro all alone as I did last year. We parked basically at the start line and were able to use the building’s very nice bathrooms instead of the race port-a-potties.
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Dani and I were in corrals 3 and 6 respectively, but we split the difference and started with corral 5.

Miles 1-3
We run down Constitution just as the sun was coming up and it was lovely. I crossed my heart as we passed the Department of the Interior. At mile 2 I drop my throwaway gloves and had some much needed water. I realized at this point that I hadn’t had anything to drink since leaving the house at 5:45, which was probably unwise. We head over the bridge and back, turning down onto Rock Creek Parkway.

Miles 4-5
The pace we’re keeping seems fast. I just don’t feel like I’m getting into a good rhythm. Dani is talkative, though, and seems to be having a great race. We separate at the water station at mile 5, or rather I fall a little behind and don’t try to catch up. I immediately feel better.

Mile 6 a.k.a. The Hill
I remember the big Adams Morgan hill from last year, but this year it is so. Much. Worse. I slow down significantly and am still huffing and puffing. I promise myself I can have a jelly bean when I get to the top (and I do).

Miles 7-9
Feeling much better. I cruise along and try to calculate my pace based on the mile time clocks with little success. This is why I should actually wear my GPS watch when I run races. Around mile 9 the volunteers hand out GU, which smells and looks totally gross. I’m just wishing I could get the jelly bean taste out of my mouth.

Mile 10
I’m looking forward to the mile clock at 10, because I can extrapolate from there when I will finish (though I forgot to check the time when we started, so I will just be approximating). What do you know: there’s no clock at mile 10. The only mile marker without a clock. I’m disappointed. I comfort myself with the beautiful view of the Capitol. The sun comes up and I wonder if capris were a bad idea.

Miles 11-12
I’m legitimately exhausted. My legs are dead. I don’t think I have ever felt this terrible during a race before.

Mile 13
This is it. I know I can do one mile. The marathoners separate and the idea of running 13.1 more miles sounds just terrible. As I head down the chute I notice that the guy next to me is running barefoot, which also seems really terrible. I’m tired, but I pump my arms and think of Deena Kastor in The Spirit of the Marathon as I push toward the finish. Then it’s over. Someone puts a medal around my neck and hands me a water bottle (I never take a space blanket. I’m not a wilderness victim!) and some pretzels. The clock time is 1:52:09. I am still not sure when I started, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be under my goal of 1:50.

I found Dani at the Family Reuniting Zone and used her phone to call Jason. He was at the finish, but missed me thanks to the crowds and not really knowing when I would finish.
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Jason came over and gave me a big hug and kiss, even though I was gross and sweaty. He is the best.20140318-035905.jpg

Jason also brought me clean clothes, which was awesome. I checked my chip time online and was very happy with a new personal best of 1:47:02!

We walked the Lloyds back to the metro before heading back to the fairground. While reading the event materials on Friday, I realized that The Head and the Heart (who we love very much) would be the post-race entertainment. We have seen them twice: in Nashville for Jason’s 25th birthday and when they opened for Dave Matthews Band last summer. While both of those were memorable experiences (first time seeing them and hurricane, respectively), we couldn’t pass up another chance to see them.Head&Heart_Amanda

In that way that music does, the songs on their first CD take me back to Kentucky in the winter of 2010. Those were good days and maybe that’s part of why I like them so much.Head&Heart_FullBand_Color

The band played a good mix of old and new stuff, including all the songs I wanted to hear. They were funny and engaged the audience. Plus, we were right up at the front and–because our fellow audience members were exhausted runners and not wild concert-goers–we didn’t have to fight for our real estate. Head&Heart_Charity_Hat

The Head and the Heart played for a solid hour and twenty minutes, after which Jason and I walked to the metro and headed home. Since finishing, I’d only had a bottle of water, two clementines and a bag of pretzels, so I was positively starving but couldn’t decide what food I wanted.

In the end, Jason and I tried out Turmeric, an Indian restaurant in Vienna that turned out to be just what we were looking for. After lunch, we decided we were in the area and might as well stop by Nielsen’s for some frozen custard. We got home just in time for Jason to jet off to the Priesthood Leadership meeting in conjunction with stake conference. I planned to do the dishes and vacuum and do laundry, but instead I laid down on the couch and didn’t wake up until Jason got home. We went to the (quite excellent) adult session of stake conference, after which we (and everyone else in the stake, apparently) stopped at Safeway to do our week’s grocery shopping. We had pizza and Good Humor bars for supper and went to sleep. It was literally a perfect day.

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of falling leaves and reading

I haven’t been as intoxicated with fall this year as I was last year (and the year before and the year before that, but Kentucky autumn is the best so there’s not really a comparison). Then this weekend we drove to Trader Joe’s and all the leaves were vibrant and beautiful and I was sold.

Granted, Fall Bingo has been going on for some time.
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Prior to our Trader Joe’s outing, we made an early morning trip to our brand new Wal-Mart. We don’t go to Wal-Mart and Target very often. In fact, I think my last Wal-Mart experience occurred in Utah two months ago. It’s just far away and at our Target you have to park in a GARAGE, which just makes shopping there seem trying. Our new Wal-Mart is close and has a (small) parking lot in addition to the garage and, wait for it, an abstract sculpture out front. The Payson Wal-Mart does not feature an abstract sculpture. All Wal-Marts smell the same, though, and all feature far-too-early Christmas decorations. I swear, if I heard “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” one more time…

Saturday afternoon was spent eating pizza, watching football, generally lounging, and speed reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix so we could go to the library before it closed to get the sixth book. We made it just in time and I picked up the sixth and seventh books (and three other unrelated books for good measure). Our library is in the middle of a park, so we explored the walking trails for a bit and enjoyed some spectacular fall foliage. In the evening we went out to Silver Diner (much better food than you would think with a name like that) with friends and discovered we are too old or too boring or both to live in Clarendon.

On Sunday we enjoyed the fruits of Daylight Savings Time and I walked to church in short sleeves and balmy weather. We had dinner with friends and brought this salad. Highly recommend. When we got home I finished Book 6 and started in on Book 7 with a vengeance. The series is even better than I remember (which may be because I last read books 5-7 ten, seven, and six years ago). Someday I will make Jason read them and he will love them too.

highlights from a busy weekend

Like last year, I spent much of Friday and Saturday working at Reunion Weekend. Last year I was exhausted and spilled red kabob sauce on my lavender shirt that I had to wear the rest of the day. This year was much better.

– Jason came to hang out with me at the class party on Friday night.

– I wasn’t assigned to come in on Saturday until 11:45 AM, which was a beautiful thing. Also, it only takes 25 minutes to drive to work on weekends, a fact that is both awesome and depressing.

– The bulldog was around for photos.
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– There were three food trucks on campus schilling complimentary wares to Reunion goers. I enjoyed pizza, chicken masala, and popcorn for lunch.

– Throughout the afternoon Jason texted me updates on the BYU-Houston matchup. He’s nice.

– I went to the gym during a short break around 3:30 PM and had the worst run of my entire life. I blame this on the aforementioned pizza, Indian food, and popcorn. Note to self: if you usually run in the morning on an empty stomach, think long and hard before attempting an afternoon run on a very full stomach. You’re welcome.

– Post run, I tried to dry my hair and it looked terrible so I settled for a sort of updo. What you don’t get from this picture is the rockin’ dutch (or upside-down) braid going across the back of my head and ending in the side bun. Skills.
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-The gala was at the National Building Museum, which is actually a really cool space. I caught up with the other Georgetown Law Mormon and my very good friend Katie, who looked awesome and made me think maybe I should reconsider my personal ban on lipstick.20131022-095057.jpg
(Also: my dress has pockets! So handy.)

– Post-dinner my coworkers had fun with the step and repeat.
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– I ate two s’mores on a stick, picked up my car, and was home in time for the last two innings of the Red Sox ALCS-winning game.

And all was well

That nice Jason came home on Saturday night. I’m not sure what about this trip made it seem so abysmally long. He did bring me back a polka-dotted aluminum cuff bracelet this time, which I like very much. I like having him home even better.

I got a few things accomplished before his arrival (though, per usual, only half of the things on my To Do While Jason Is Away list).

– Got my hair cut without crying. Actually, I like it a lot.

– Contributed a roasted poblano corn chowder to the work soup potluck.

– Went out for frozen yogurt with Elayna to assuage my loneliness.

– Did a great 10.5 mile run with Katie on Saturday morning. We went to the temple and back. We’ve had steady rain for the last week, but it let up just long enough for our run.

– Bought new (500 thread count!) sheets and a duvet.

– Ate green beans, popcorn, watermelon, and Trader Joe’s s’mores candy for dinner every night last week.

Clearly I’m not at my best when Jason is away.

We both had Columbus Day off, so we got up early and went for a run around our neighborhood. Then we headed off to Tysons Corner to see No Se Aceptan Devoluciones, or Instructions Not Included. It’s a Mexican film en espanol that Jason has wanted to see for a while. We both liked it a lot.

In the afternoon we ate pizza, took naps, and did a little reading. We stayed up late because only one of us had to work a full day today. I love having Jason home.

broadcasts from the fortress of solitude

- We (and by we I mean my mom) got the family pictures back from when we were in Utah. Look at those fine people!
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Adam and Grant and I had finished the race approximately one hour earlier and the shirt I’m wearing is an athletic tee from Old Navy. I was going to wear a button-down, but discovered while I was preparing to iron in that I had spilled curry down the front (and on the sleeves and somehow on the bottom hem).

– Friday was a funny day. I went to work, which included a meeting on main campus. Post-meeting, some of my colleagues and I went to happy hour in Foggy Bottom. The waiter seemed befuddled by my request for two waters (when everyone else’s drinks were buy-one-get-one also). I think I like Irish Times better where they bring me my very own pitcher of water without question. Post-happy hour, I drove home by way of the ward Relief Society craft night (juxtaposition much?). I hadn’t signed up to craft anything so I table-hopped and talked to friends. I went home about half past eight, turned on the BYU-Utah State game, and baked up some chocolate chip cookies. The Carters came by (bearing french fries!) and watched the remainder of the game with me, which I very much appreciated; football is not so much fun when you are alone. The game concluded around 11:30 PM, after which I talked to Jason and perhaps stayed up a little longer watching Law & Order on Netflix before drifting off to sleep.

– On Saturday I went for a run with my good friend Katie. We did the Capital Crescent Trail, which is quite lovely. It winds through Maryland along the Clara Barton Parkway and concludes under the Whitehurst Freeway. We headed toward M, then down to Foggy Bottom where we caught the Metro (and a bus. It was the weekend, after all) back to Katie’s to figure out how far we’d gone. (9.5 miles, in case you are wondering.)

– On the way home from Katie’s I went to Banana Republic to exchange a skirt I’d ordered online for a red one. The sales associate said they didn’t carry the red one and I was crushed. Then, I found it in the sale section, got the last one in my size, and was delighted to discover that today all reduced merchandise was an additional 40% off! I got the skirt for next-to-nothing and decided to keep the other one too.

– Here is how General Conference went:
Session I – iPad. Ate pizza. Lay on the couch.
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Session II
– at the Carter’s. Did laundry. Mitch and Elayna very kindly invited me to stay for dinner, so I did. They also allowed me to use their washer and dryer (long story about my inability to get quarters from Safeway and a PIN from Utah).

Priesthood Session – Did not watch (at the Conference Center or otherwise). Instead enjoyed football and parts of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days with Elayna.

Session III – Sara’s! Got to see my cousins who live in the area and several adorable first cousins once removed. Food was eaten, laughter was shared, Conference was watched, etc. Really was good to see everyone.

Session IV – iPad. Ate pizza. Lay on the couch.

(I did take some notes. Not all were this beautiful.)
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I do love General Conference so much, and this one seemed especially wonderful (not from lack of a husband, of course). I just felt like so many of the talks were just what I needed to hear.

– I have this mildly obnoxious habit of sending Jason pictures of my new clothes when he is gone. Unfortunately, our apartment and my office are bereft of a full-length mirror (except the one in the locker room, but taking pictures there would be creepy). My office door provides a reasonably good reflection. On the other hand, it makes me feel like a ghost.
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Boo!