Friday, September 18, 2009

Has It Really Been That Long?

Nostalgia takes over me as these days grow shorter and also (seemingly) warmer. It was a nasty summer in New York, but late August and September have been perfectly lovely. It reminds me of Minnesota summers - they always seem to save the best for last. I can't help but daydream about the warm-with-a-slight-fall-crisp-in-the-air late summer/early fall weekends that I used to spend “up North” at my family lake home.

Weekends at The Lake were quiet, wonderful weekends. Busy, yet lazy. Chores were rewarded with long naps in a large hammock suspended between two oaks. The soothing sound of the crystal-clear water lapping on the shore that plays on eternal repeat in the background. A tall glass of coke in one hand, which, for some reason, always tasted better than any other cokes in any other moment, and a favorite book in the other.

Of course, in the midst of all my great memories is food. My dad, being the pizza-loving guy that he is, built a wood-burning oven in the lake house to make homemade wood-fired pizza. We would go through the whole process: make the dough, pound the dough, let it rise, pick out our ingredients, etc.

When you’re at The Lake, time and schedules don’t exist. We do have a clock. We do know that time still passes. We just choose to ignore it. Dinners at 11 p.m. are not uncommon at The Lake. We don’t even notice.

Fortunately, the intense fire in the wood-burning oven can cook a pizza in about 2 minutes flat.

It’s not that I can’t recreate some delicious pizza in New York. It’s that I can never have The Lake. In a city where I have grown accustomed to being able to obtain anything, anything at all that I could possibly want, do anything, see or be anything, I can’t be the person I am when I am in the presence of The Lake.

I’ll frequently walk over to the Hudson River and try to pretend that it’s My Lake. Minus the gridlock traffic nearby. And the honking and yelling. And the Jersey skyline. And the distant sirens. And the hundreds of people I am inevitably in contact with every time I step foot outside…. Sigh.

To be in the correct “Lake” frame of mind when I eat pizza, I must make the dough myself, the way my dad would. And I must top it with extra cheese and artichoke hearts, the way I always do when I am at The Lake. My apartment barely provides room for a miniature oven so a wood-burning fireplace remains in my daydreams. I crank the little guy up to 500 and make do. It's not exactly The Lake pizza, but the Hudson isn't exactly The Lake either.

Oh, and yesterday was the one-year anniversary of my blog. Has it really been that long? Yikes. Thanks for reading!

Recipe for The Lake Pizza:

1.) Make a batch of good dough. 2.) Make a compound butter with lots of basil. 3.) Dice your artichoke hearts, and if you want, shred some prosciutto or jamon or something. Slice some fresh mozzarella into thin rounds. 4.) Pound out the dough and pinch the crust, and brush the room temperature basil butter all over 5.) Top with cheese, then the artichoke hearts, etc. Sprinkle a little dried oregano, salt and pepper on top, and grate some parmigiano-reggiano as well. 6.) Bake at 500+ on a baking stone sprinkled lightly with cornmeal until golden brown and bubbly. At 500 it will be about 10-12 minutes. If you have a wood burning oven, spin it around in there for about 2 minutes.


HH_Stl_Chi said...

Happy 1 Year to your blog :-)
I love reading it ... You inspire me to cook and try new recipes ... so thanks!

I have an overnight trip to NYC this Wednesday ... Too bad my work will be so busy. I'd love to meet for dinner again.

I'll definitely try my hand at making my own pizza sometime soon :-)

Veronica said...

Thanks Heidi! That's awesome!
Bummed I'll miss you this time around - maybe next time :)

Max said...

Ahhhh, "The Lake"...well said, Veronica.

Actually made it up there last weekend (believe it or not). And yes, after a long day on the boat we fired up the grill and sat down at 11:30 for steaks and veggies.

Great memories. Congrats on making it a year, keep up the good work.