Thursday, February 07, 2008

Pizza? Garden? Or a Pizza Garden?

I have been feeling doubly guilty about not blogging much and not gardening at all lately. What can I say? Except for the first hint of green at the base of my dormant perennials and a few cruelly random sunny days, the garden is still looking pretty bleak and mucky and frost-worn.

I find myself indoors a lot, wearing my UGGs and my North Face winter coat. It's 59 degrees outside, for God's sake. What's wrong with me? I can be such a pansy sometimes.

Aside from recent quandaries about where to cast my vote in the California Primary, what to do with the rest of my life, and how to save Britney... and all the abandoned animals... and planet earth (not necessarily in that order), I have also been doing some serious thinking about pizza.

My taste buds are easily bored and since my son inherited the same trait, I've been trying to find ways to curb our trigger-happy gourmet pizza delivery dialing habits; especially considering I'm usually feeding his ginormously tall best friend too. Sure, we've tried take-n-bake, but the crust just doesn't have that artisanal taste or texture we're craving.

My brother, the ex-chef, says he's going to teach us how to make pizza from scratch. Won't that be some wholesome down-home family fun? Until then, I bought some Trader Joe's refrigerated pizza dough to try. Pizza fanatics on the fantastic site say good things about T.J.'s dough. These people are deep into pizza. Read the forum and you'll see what I mean. I want to be just like them.

So far, I've assembled nearly all the ingredients and tools I need to make two 16" pizzas. It's become sort of fun tracking my expenses because it's looking like I can make two fully loaded pies for under eight bucks total.

By chance, I came across a little article about a pizza garden today. While theme gardens aren't usually my thing, it's a cute idea and reminded me that not only can I assemble my own pizzas when I feel like it, I can also grow some of the ingredients!

If you think about it, pizza is made from really basic stuff: dough, tomatoes, olive oil, cheese, herbs, veggies, and meat if you like. I'm no locavore, but it's neat to think that I'll be making sauce from my own tomatoes and herbs this summer. I miss you so much, fresh basil and tomatoes. And pizza? I want to marry you.

Anybody else out there still hiding inside? Anybody ever make their own pizza from scratch or part scratch? Anybody out there ever make their own pizza sauce from garden-grown tomatoes? If so, I salute you and would love to know how it turned out.


  1. Hi there. I'm a long time reader, first time poster.

    Well, if it says anything, the pizza pan we received for a wedding present has turned into a great baking dish for brownies.

    But I wish you well with this, and I'll be watching to see how it turns out. The idea sounds terrific. Especially making your own sauce from homegrown veggies and herbs. If you have any success, I might just try again.

  2. I like the phrase "cruelly random sunny days"...I'm outside with the day care kids pretty much every day unless it's raining and I feel like I'm being teased by Ma Nature...nice days when I can't garden and rain on the few days I could:( I don't dare do my regular gardening with them here unless I want them pulling out all my plants (weeding) or ripping the ends off good things (cutting back). The day care garden is planted with very slow growing beets, carrots and broccoli and the few peas I've been able to protect from the birds but the rest needs some work...maybe in a week or two.
    I do make pizza often for the kids since it's a favorite of theirs...with a mostly whole wheat yeast dough recipe based on the one from the little book that came with my Kitchen-Aid mixer and a dough hook. The mixer does a lot of the work...I highly recommend it!

  3. Anonymous7:48 PM

    You're joking, right? You've never made pizza? It isn't rocket science, trust me. If you're a little dubious, buy a crust mix to start out, but once you've had a homemade pizza, you'll never look at delivery pizza the same way again; and you'll be sure that the frozen stuff is actually cardboard inside a cardboard box.
    Good luck and have fun!

  4. Homemade pizza is so good. I love Trader Joe's pizza sauce, but I make my own crust. I did a post a while back on making pizza, Picasa dropped one one the pictures and I haven't corrected it yet but here is the link in case you want to try.

  5. Looks delicious, Robin. Thanks for sharing. Your link got clipped for some reason, so here it is again: Robin's Nesting Place pizza

  6. Angela,

    Cruel winter indeed, although pulling up to the low 60's is a good sign. Haven't tried pizza a la the garden, but we have tried basil (from the garden), fresh mozzarella and tomotoes (from the garden) with some balsamic and olive oil.... the grocery stores have nothing on that experience. OK, you made me hungry......


  7. We make homemade pizza every now and then. My grandfather started doing it back when I was kid and we've always loved making and and more importantly eating it! We do the dough from scratch as well as the sauce. Like you I am anticipating being able to add ingredients from the garden this year. The fun part is eating the ingredients as you load the pizza!

    We actually just made pizza for the Superbowl. Lately when I make pizza I've been turning it into a calzone/stromboli. Just decorate half the dough and fold it over. It takes a little longer to cook but it tastes great and is a slightly different twist. Have fun eating you pizza!

  8. I used to make my own pizza sauce all the time - used fresh tomatoes during garden season and then sauce that I froze during the winter months. I have a 15-yr-old carniverous son who insists that store-bought frozen pizza tastes way better. Bummer... but I have hope that he'll eventually develop some taste buds.

    Fresh mozzarella cheese makes a homemade pizza taste even better.

  9. Hi "labp-writer",

    Thanks for commenting. Nothing wrong with brownies in a pizza pan (I'm guessing it's deep-dish)... but have you seen The Edge brownie pan? I want one!

    I will report back on the pizza(s). I have a feeling it's going to take me awhile to get the hang of it.

  10. Leslie,

    I have a rather neglected Kitchen-Aid mixer and a dough hook! Time to start giving them some attention.

    I admire you for being able to run a day care... and a garden. It takes a special kind of person. Just thinking about lots of little ones running around in my yard makes me want to lie down.

  11. Jodi,

    I think I've had a few lame attempts at making pizza. I'm not sure, though. I may have repressed them. The last time I remember trying was when I made a gluten-free disaster for my mom. Inedible. All I learned there was that gluten is a very important component of pizza dough.

    It is rocket science to me. ;-)

  12. Sean,

    You sound like a fellow foodie! You should try making pizza.

  13. Dave,

    Sounds like you have some real pizza talent. Maybe I can blame my Irish grandparents for my lack of pizza skills. ;-)

  14. Kate,

    Hey, consider yourself lucky that your son will eat inexpensive frozen pizza. My 14 1/2 year old son is Mr. Picky Pants when it comes to food. We need to start preparing both our boys for the real world. Being able to make your own pizza as a "starving student" could come in very handy in the next few years. They won't always have mommy and/or daddy around to make food magically appear on the table.

  15. Anonymous4:26 PM

    I made pizza last weekend - 2 in fact. Our local pizza place sells dough, both white and wheat, and they will even roll it out for you! So on the wheat/grown up version I used arugula, red onions, kalamata olives, oil packed sun dried tomatoes, TJs roasted garlic marinara sauce and plain ol' mozerella -- Super yum!
    The kids got white dough with sauce and cheese. What can you do.

    Some of the MOST amazing pizza ideas can be found in Vegetarian Planet by Didi Emmons -- figs, curry, fennel, shitake mushrooms, potato... whoa! I have made quite a few, but not all (bleh, fennel!) based on her ideas. Pizza is sort of like gardening -- there are an astonishing number of things that work splendidly together.

    Oh yeah -- and a little bit of cornmeal under your crust help to crisp things up a bit.
    Have fun!

  16. Just found your blog today, so I'm a little late to the game, but you oughta be able to buy pizza dough at most pizzerias for a buck or two. Is there a Winco near you? You can buy a ball of dough for 99 cents-it's our go-to dinner in a hurry. We usually do pesto or olive oil and garlic instead of tomato sauce. And the only other advice I can offer is to use whole milk mozzarella instead of part-skim. Good cheese makes ALL the difference. Great blog, by the way! And have fun with the 'za!

  17. What a co-incidence. I am going to blog about my focaccia making! I make pizza every couple weeks. And just last weekend I made pizza with everything from scratch-including sauce from vine ripened tomatoes.Yum! I also make pesto and drizzle this one the pizzas-try it its great.

  18. Hi Angela,

    Any chance the article you saw on creating a pizza garden was the one I wrote on If so - or even if it wasn't - I would sure love it if you could include the link to it on this posting - and I would link this posting to my article, as well, of course!
    Here it is: