During the 30 Day Vegan Workshop, the lesson of being gentle with one's self and withholding judgement was quickly conveyed. I'm so glad participants understood this important message, it really is the catalyst for growth and healing. The world and media is ready and willing to do all of that ugly, self-deprecating work for us, we certainly don't need to join the effort. Why waste our energy on finding flaws, adding labels, or being unreasonably tough on ourselves? No thanks.
We talked a lot during the program about "what foods, if any, we were missing..."
To the surprise of many participants, there wasn't a sense of deprivation that one might have anticipated going into a 30 day program of committed clean eating. This is actually explained fairly easily by the theory of putting so much good into the body, that more good is exactly what the body is asking for, not junk. It was beautiful to watch that awareness felt by many, and was one of the things I had hoped for them to experience.
There were of course certain foods that some people missed, myself included. To have such a clear understanding of this was very enlightening. It was never a random "I miss meat!!" It was more mindful than that. "In addition to all of these abundant plant foods, my body could use a piece of fish or raw cheese 2-3 times per week." See the difference? When you take away the casual placement of meat or dairy on the table for each and every meal, and increase abundantly the amount of plants in the diet, the body starts to communicate it's true needs and it is fascinating to observe.
There were of course feelings about "missing cream in my coffee" and things like that. But again, once we enter a place of clean, mindful eating, it becomes easier to clear the cobwebs and identify an emotional attachment to nourishment versus a physiological need for something. Both have their place, seeking an appropriate balance though is ideal for feeling our best.
So what does all of this have to do with pizza?
I had this silly idea at some point during the workshop that I wanted to get really good at homemade pizza. Really good. I've made it plenty of times over the years, but as someone who appreciates a perfectly made thin crust wood fired pie - it has been a challenge to duplicate such a thing at home. My friends built a beautiful cob oven in their backyard... now those are some fine looking pizzas. I wonder if zoning allows for cob ovens here in the city?
Anyway, I filed the idea away until after the program, and as fate would have it, Vegetarian Times had an article this month about pizza making with Mario Batali. It's pretty easy to trust his recommendations about anything food related so I went for it. His technique specifically asks the home cook to par-bake the crusts on the stove-top using a skillet. This really caught my attention because the correct crust doneness is the very thing I wanted to improve on. It worked really well! I'm thinking (for convenience sake) that these could be par-baked and frozen for easy weeknight meals. Oh! And once the crusts are par-baked and topped, he has you broil them rather than bake in a super hot oven, interesting. I used a stoneware pan to broil in the oven. There's always room for a little tweaking after trying something new only once, but I will definitely be working with this method again and again.
Do you have any tips or secrets to share for creating the perfect homemade pizza?