I’m not sure what exactly makes it a “comfort food” but it really brings my family together in ways that we just can’t explain and maybe don’t even understand fully. Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately depending on your point of view, it is our “fall back” food—first night of vacation, Thursday night dinner, and our “running out of time” backup.
Most of the time we order every Thursday night from our local pizza place, ironically named Pudgies. We’ve done this for over a year now and usually only get part way through the order when they ask if we “want it light sauce, cut in eight?” I think some of the draw of ordering it from them is the camaraderie—they know who we are and frequently the owner will add something for free so we can try something new—from cannolis to pizza wheels to garlic knots. He is a smart man—we occasionally add them to our next orders. He has also made it past the year mark in business—tough to do in a town with 4 pizza places in less than a half-mile!
But tonight was homemade pizza night. This is the time when all of us join in to make the pizza: I make the dough and shred the cheese, assemble all ingredients and prep the area. My husband is the ‘master pizza chef’ who rolls the dough and puts it all together. My oldest daughter is in charge of pepperoni; we prep it in the microwave to remove a lot of the oil and fat. The youngest daughter is the one who preps it to parbake by piercing the dough with a fork to prevent air bubbles from forming and is also starting to roll the dough as well.
It really is a lot of fun working together and since everyone knows their jobs it has developed into a smooth operation and we are all sitting down to eat in less than 45 minutes. During the prep time there is a lot of laughing and sharing of our day, maybe even a silly joke or two. I think because we are all doing a job it is a “non-threatening” way of getting my teens to open up and share their day—there is no ‘perceived confrontation’ because eye contact is fleeting as we are all moving about the kitchen.
Perhaps that is what defines comfort food for me—it is a taste of laughter and Home and a joining of Spirits. I can clearly see all of us together sharing time in a world filled with disconnection and isolated souls. It is one time in our week where we are all connected in a shared goal and disconnected to the world of electronics. I know when the girls have moved on to their adult lives that we will all be able to reconnect with these memories of our times together.
Or maybe, comfort food provides a sense of “wellbeing” by allowing us to think we can always go back home and share simpler times and love, even if only in our memories.
Dissolve 1 TBS active dry yeast (1 one packet) in 1/3 cup warm water, about 5 minutes.
In large mixing bowl (I have a KITCHENAID stand mixer) combine:
4 cups all purpose white flour OR 2.5 cups white and 1.5 cups whole wheat
1 tsp salt
2-3 TBS olive oil (more if using whole wheat)
1 cup warm water
Add yeast water mixture.
If using a stand mixer use dough hook attachment and mix at lowest speed for 1 minute then speed 2 for 7 minutes. ( If mixing by hand mix until all is moistened, then lightly flour your hands and a work surface and “knead” by hand until elastic and smooth)
Spray 2 bowls with non-stick spray or lightly grease with shortening. Divide dough into 2 equal amounts and place in bowls, turning to coat with spray. Cover with a dish towel.
Allow dough to rise about 45 minutes in a draft free area. When doubled in size you can “punch down” with fingers or hand and return to a floured work surface. Shape with either your hands or a rolling pin to form the size pizza desired. Each dough should make a large size thin crust.
After rolling we “poke” it with a fork before par-baking for 5 minutes to help eliminate any air bubbles in the dough.
We like our sauce “light” but apply as desired–try different sauces to see which you prefer.
We use a combination of Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar and Sorrento Part Skim Mozzarella cheeses. Half of our pie gets Hormel Pepperoni Slices as well.
Allow to cool for about 5 minutes so cheese settles before cutting it. Then …..ENJOY!