Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Save some dough, make your own!

By now you all know I like to cook.

What you might not know is there are several things about cooking that have always intimidated me. Two of those things were roasting a whole chicken and making my own pizza dough. I have totally overcome my fear of both through a bit of practice. Like anything else, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

I had been on a healthy kick with my pizza dough and was using a recipe with whole wheat flour. However, I just wasn't feeling the love for this dough. It was not easy to work with and was very unpredictable, even if I made it the same exact way each time. I don't do well with unstable personalities, so I decided I needed to move on to a new recipe. As usual, I consulted the Internet and went to In case you don't know about this site, it is the Fleischmann's Yeast website and there are hundreds of recipes. It totally rocks! Well, I searched "pizza dough" and immediately it brought up the site for a great pizza dough recipe, All I needed to see were the words "pizza" and "therapy" and I thought, my life is now complete!

I clicked on the link and lo and behold, there appeared a man named Albert Grande who happens to be this pizza guru. He lives, eats, and sleeps pizza. Immediately my jaw dropped. Being a Grande girl, I thought, what if we are related? So, I fired off an email:

"Dear Albert, you might think I'm crazy, but I think we could be cousins. My grandfather was Americo...."
Albert lives in Hawaii so the chances were slim but my instincts were telling me the pizza love affair we both share must be in the blood and no distance can break that bond! And he looks like my uncles...he must be my cuz. Well, Albert wrote back to me and he was simply flabbergasted.
"Yes", he told me, "I am your second cousin!"
We made all the familial connections and were giddy with excitement.

So, you see you never know what you will find on the Internet. I was simply looking for a dough recipe to get out of my pizza slump and I found my cousin, who I've never met but that just didn't matter. We share a love of pizza, children, family, "Grande talk", and laughter. I hope to meet Albert some day, but in the mean time, I will continue to use his family (our family, LOL) recipe, passed down from his mom.

The first time I made this dough, it came out perfectly. It was so easy to work with. I have even tested the waters and used about 1/2 whole wheat flour and it was still easy to work with. It's also great for calzones, too. Check out Albert's site at He has created quite an empire around my favorite food. It's no wonder we are related!!

If you are afraid to make your own dough, like I was, Albert has a video on his website to walk you through the whole process. You will be amazed at how easy it truly is. And making dough is another way to save money. The ingredients are very basic: flour, water, salt, yeast, sugar or honey, and olive oil. In the time it takes to drive to the bakery or supermarket for dough, I make my own and it's delish!
Making dough is so fun and therapeutic. It's no wonder Albert calls it "Pizza Therapy"!

I will be posting pizza recipes soon! Stay tuned : )

Monday, May 3, 2010

Happy "Anyone Who's Mothered" Day

I am a mother and I have a great mother so one would think that I should be all gaga (not to be confused with the Lady) over May 9th. However, if you know anything about me from reading thus far in my blog, I have many views and opinions. A few deep thoughts are coming and they are not so funny this time around. (Just a little disclaimer in case you thought I was going to entertain you.)

I feel like holidays such as Mother's Day can be very cruel for those who:

a. Don't have a mother
b. Are not mothers and want to be
c. Long to be fathers
d. Have lost a child
e. Are missing a far away child.

The list goes on.

I suppose I might be more hypersensitive to this issue since it was quite a while before I actually became a mother. I remember my small, innocent nephew asking me once, "Auntie, why don't you like kids?" Ouch. He thought that because I didn't have kids, I didn't like kids.

The truth is that there are countless mothers out there "undercover". Many have never been pregnant and many are not even women. We've all "mothered" someone, somewhere in our lifetime. Whether it was in a college dorm, comforting a friend with a broken heart, far away from home. Or the teacher who nurtures a student who doesn't get much attention at home. Or the wonderful friends who treat your kids like their own (you know who you are). Or the sister who is a perpetual Godmother to your kids and loves your kids unconditionally. To the dads who are going it alone and acting in the roles of Mom and Dad. To the coworker who takes you under her wing and gives you that much needed motherly advice you won't take from your own mom. Or the sweet nurses who hold your hand in the delivery room telling you it will all be OK. And what about the thousands of people who adopt homeless animals and "mother" them to pieces?

They've all served as the role of "Mother" in some capacity and to me, they all "count" as mothers on Mother's Day. I don't want Mother's Day to be a day where someone feels excluded. Call me crazy but even my own mother thinks this holiday and many other "Hallmark" holidays should be extinct.

So, whether you are a mother in the technical sense of the word, or not, please celebrate all who have Mothered. The world has become a much better place thanks to all of you "Moms".

Happy Mother's Day to you all.

Happy Mothers Day: Part 1

With another "Hallmark" holiday rapidly approaching, let's talk about Mother's Day. I don't like the commercialism of these holidays. I hate how they prey on people:

"Take mom out for brunch"..... it'll only cost your family $100 for scrambled eggs. Does going to a brunch with small kids spell relaxation to you? Errrr, not really. I guess if you are an 85 year old shut in, brunch sounds just divine. But we're not talking about the elderly here....we're talking about me.

I digress.

My idea of a perfect Mother's Day is the following:

1. I get to sleep until I wake up naturally; not to the sounds of "MOMMY, I'm AWAAAKE! Come get meeee!" You cannot put a price tag on this glorious REM-filled sleep!

2. No meal preparation by me for anyone for the entire day. Period.

3. The adorable homemade cards from my kids. Nothing cuter than that.

See, I don't ask for much and you know, every year, I pretty much get what I want. I don't need to go to an overpriced, crowded restaurant with my family. I am just as happy with takeout. Perhaps a little jaunt out by myself for some peace and quiet, a hike/walk/run, or maybe I'll watch a Real Housewives marathon on Bravo. Staring blankly at a wall is also an option and very good for the soul.

A very wise mom friend said recently that she is a mother for 364 days out of the year so for that one day, can't she just do what SHE wants? You betcha!

Knock yourselves out ladies and do something that makes YOU happy. Just stay away from the million dollar eggs. Don't you know we're in a recession?