Pizza to Die From

I’d never eaten cardboard before. It wasn’t an ambition of mine.  It never really entered my mind to do such a thing.  But then came that summer evening when we ordered a thin crust pizza from Dominos.

As my teeth tore at the stubborn crust covered in what theoretically was at one time cheese and tomatoes, a horrible thought crossed my mind.  Had the bottom of the box inadvertently stuck to my slice of pizza?  In spite of my complete lack of experience in eating cardboard, my active imagination was able to project that what I was attempting to chew and swallow, was quite likely cardboard– toughness dissolving into a pulpy mush.

The outcome was a ‘good news/ bad news’ scenario.  The good news was that it wasn’t actually cardboard.  The bad news was that it was supposed to be pizza crust.

Inspired by this corrugated catastrophe, I decided to seek out a recipe for pizza dough made from scratch.  I even checked Youtube to learn how to throw the dough, using centrifugal force and a clenched fist to form the dough.  My advise to anyone wishing to learn this is, “Make sure your kitchen floor is swept and washed with disinfectant.”  Your dough will spend about half of its time hitting all corners of the kitchen floor.  Instead, I now use a rolling pin.  Learning to toss pizza dough may have to wait for my next life, provided I’m not reincarnated as a Dominos delivery boy.

Basic Pizza Dough

(Shamelessly borrowed from Mark Bittman’s The Minimalist Cooks Dinner)

3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon course kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

The By-hand Method:

1.  Combine flour, yeast and salt in large mixing bowl.

2.  Add 1 cup of cold water and olive oil.  Kneed into smooth ball that is slightly sticky to touch.  If dry, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water.  If sticky, add tablespoon of flour at a time. (I nearly always add water one teaspoon at a time.)

3.  Put dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise ideally 1 to 2 hours.  (Or, do what I do.  Let it rise about 10 minutes simply because you didn’t think ahead and you’re really hungry.)

4.  Press the dough into an oiled or non-stick baking sheet.  You can roll it out with a rolling pin and your hands.  You can also put it on parchment paper on a stone slab.  Whatever works for you.

With whatever toppings you choose, bake in a 500 F. oven for 6 to 12 minutes.  If your pizza crust tastes like cardboard using this recipe, you’ve done something seriously wrong.  It’s time to re-examine your life.


You’re Never Too Old to Do Goofy Stuff


There was more to Ward Cleaver than meets the eye.  Way more.

Even though he was the ultra-typical 1950’s American dad in the hit comedy television series “Leave it to Beaver,” he had a dark side.  The clue can be found in his last name.  In the show he was never seen to cook (except for that episode with the barbecue), behind the scenes, Ward Cleaver was very different. 

When not primped up for the television show looking like he does in the photo above, the real Ward Cleaver looked more like this:


Yes, Ward was a member of the barbaric Clan Cleaver known for their unrepentantly savage approach to culinary barbarism.  The meals Ward created were unrefined.  He cut with an axe, stirred with a severed pine bough and cooked over open flames that occasionally licked the ceiling.  Recipes never turned out the same way twice.  Sauces were sleazy, curries were courageous, and he always simmered on high.  He would intrude up the dreams of foodies, turning them into nightmares.  Although Ward Cleaver’s meals were wildly unorthodox, his family didn’t mind.  His wife, June, was just happy she didn’t have to cook.  And if Wally or the Beaver complained, Ward would simply raise a cleaver to signal his intolerance to criticism.

Why Ward’s escapades in the kitchen never came to light in the television show can be answered with one simple explanation– he was a man way ahead of his time.  Were he alive today, Ward Cleaver would have his own cooking show on the Food Network.  He would be performing live cooking demonstrations at county fairs right next to the guy selling car wax.  But, alas, Ward Cleaver is no longer with us.  Instead, we can attempt to follow his fine example, and live with the same spirit– the spirit of the barbarian in the kitchen.