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Polar Pizza Party



Today it was announced that our governor was extending the stay at home order until June 4th. Well, another month of lock down, I suppose. Not much changes for us - we’ll be here at The Lazy Dog Farm all summer doing what we always do. That is, if summer ever comes.

I just looked out the window to find snow coming down in massive squalls! I knew it was going to get cold tonight as we have a “polar vortex” hovering over our little part of the world for the next 24 hours or so, but I wasn’t expecting it to start snowing right after lunch. I hurriedly tossed my shoes on and ran outside to the early plants with my trusty extra sheets and sack towels to cover up the tender shoots before the cold kills what little progress we’ve made in the garden. Due to the cold weather, we put moving our starts outside - I’m desperately trying to keep the tomatoes and peppers from getting too leggy. It’s hard to do when they’ve been ready for the outdoors for a week, but the outdoors isn’t ready for them yet. Sigh. Life on a farm.


On the upside, my chives are big and fat and nearly ready to flower. I’ve been raising the same batch for going on 3 years. I harvest some, pinch back some flowers and let the rest bolt. It seems to be working, and I don’t mess with much in between seasons. I wish all plants were like chives.


I still can’t believe it’s May, and snow is falling. The winter refuses to let go! After a few days in the high 60s and mid 70s, I thought winter had headed off for parts unknown. But here it is, back again, with a vengeance. Tonight, is supposed to dip into the mid 20s, with a stiff wind and I’m sure we’ll lose some portion of our plants by morning. A hard freeze right now is just a disaster - the seedlings are sturdy, but none of them are hardy to this level of cold.


Oh well.


There’s really not much we can do other than cover the plants, move as many containers as we can close to the house to catch any heat coming off the bricks, and wait. This weather has also put a stop to our driveway project. We’re so close - another twenty feet or so and we’re at the main road. We have all the material and time in the world, and the stupid weather is putting everything on hold. It’s too wet to dig with all the clay we have in our driveway and it’s way too cold to stack rock. So, inside we go to work on projects we put on the back burner while we’ve been working on our driveway.


Tonight, we’re having pizza and a movie night. With all the cold weather forecast, a nice movie marathon will help us deal with the twin demons of the virus and the vortex. At least we have heat, power and food. Last night we lost power for a few minutes. Just as the Boss was putting his shoes on to go fire up the generator, the lights flickered back to life. We were overjoyed to not have to run the generator as we’re low on diesel around here. With the driveway resembling a missile test site and the temporary dirt road too soggy for a delivery, we have to wait until the road dries, or the driveway is done to get more diesel in. We filled all the tractors, trucks and generators, and we still have a small amount left in case of an emergency, but not having to burn any is always helpful.


We have developed a pizza recipe that beats any take out, hands down. It’s simple, quick and bakes up perfectly every time. Top it with whatever you have on hand, though we’re partial to ham, peppers and pineapple. This crust can also be used to make dessert pizzas or an easy focaccia.


Pizza Perfection:

2 cups gluten free flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 Tablespoon instant dry yeast

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Pinch salt

1 cup warm water

4 Tablespoons olive oil (plus extra to coat pan)

Directions:

1. Add dry yeast and sugar to warm water. Stir gently and allow to sit until yeast begins to bubble.

2. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, add flour, xanthan gum and salt. Whisk to combine.

3. Add yeast mixture to dry ingredients. If stirring by hand, use your Popeye arms and a wooden spoon to mix dough into a sticky ball consistency, adding olive oil by the spoonful. If using a mixer, add yeast mixture to dry ingredients. Using the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed for about five minutes (or until a ball forms) to combine, drizzling olive oil in slowly.

4. Remove ball and grease bowl with olive oil. Add ball back to bowl, cover with a damp towel and place in a warm location (I put mine inside my gas oven - the pilot is always on and generates a small amount of heat) for an hour or so until doubled in size.

5. When you’re ready to make your pizza, preheat your oven to 400F.

6. Grease your baking pan. I use a large sheet pan and really spread the dough thin as my crowd likes a thinner crust. Place dough in pan and press outward to cover pan to desired depth and size.

7. Bake crust for 7-10 minutes, depending on your oven and how crispy you like your pizza.

8. Remove from oven and add sauce, cheese and toppings.*

9. Place pizza back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 - 10 minutes, or until cheese is golden or your personal desired level of doneness.

NOTES:

* You can freeze the crust for later use at this point. I remove it from the pan, top and wrap in parchment paper then cling film before placing in freezer. If freezing more than one, I place cardboard sheets between the pizzas for a little extra stability and to save space. To reheat, preheat oven to 400F and bake for 7-10 minutes.

You can also top the crust with melted butter and cinnamon sugar after first baking. Place back in oven and bake an additional 5-7 minutes. This makes an awesome dessert. If you want to really make them cry from all the deliciousness, add a can of pie filling (apple is our favorite) and the cinnamon sugar and bake.

Cheaty-petey focaccia:

2 cups gluten free flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 Tablespoon instant dry yeast

Pinch sugar

Pinch salt

1 cup warm water

4 Tablespoons olive oil (plus extra to coat pan)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt (optional)

1 Tablespoon dried herbs (Optional, but highly recommended)


Directions:

1. Add dry yeast and sugar to warm water. Stir gently and allow to sit until yeast begins to bubble.

2. In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, add flour, xanthan gum, herbs (if using) and salt. Whisk to combine.

3. Add yeast mixture to dry ingredients. If stirring by hand, use your Popeye arms and a wooden spoon to mix dough into a sticky ball consistency, adding olive oil by the spoonful. If using a mixer, add yeast mixture to dry ingredients. Using the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed for about five minutes (or until a ball forms) to combine, drizzling olive oil in slowly.

4. Remove ball and grease bowl with olive oil. Add ball back to bowl, cover with a damp towel and place in a warm location (I put mine inside my gas oven - the pilot is always on and generates a small amount of heat) for an hour or so until doubled in size.

5. When you’re ready to make your focaccia, preheat your oven to 400F.

6. Grease your baking pan. I use a large sheet pan and really spread the dough thin as my crowd likes a thinner crust. Place dough in pan and press outward to cover pan to desired depth and size.

7. Using two fingers, poke holes in dough gently. You want to create little divots, not go all the way through.

8. Bake crust for 7-10 minutes, depending on your oven.

9. Remove from oven.

10. Brush top with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt (if using)

11. Place focaccia back in the oven and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until golden.


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