Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cast Iron Pizza Goodness

For the last couple of years I've been obsessed with homemade pizza.  I've tried many recipes and techniques and discovered that unless you completely burn it, homemade pizza is pretty forgiving and always yummy.  It wasn't until recently that I took Bill's suggestion to try a pizza in our cast iron skillet.   This is the first time I've made something that actually tastes like it was made in a restaurant.  I've made this pizza countless times and every time it comes out perfect.  We did experiment with the tomatoes, trying sauce instead of diced tomatoes and I definitely think it should be made with diced.  If you're fortunate enough to have a pellet grill, I highly recommend baking it that way.  Such a great pizza treat!

Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza

In your bread maker, add the following ingredients in order listed:

1 cup warm water
1/3 cup oil
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 packet FRESH yeast

Set your bread maker to the dough cycle.  When there is about 40 minutes left on the cycle, start the other ingredients.


2 cans diced tomates, drained
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8-1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Mix together and set aside.  The longer it sits, the better it gets!

Toppings - Choose whatever you like on your pizza.  This is what I do:

1/2 pound bulk turkey sausage, browned and crumbled
1 small can sliced black olives
1/2 onion, chopped
8-10 mushrooms, sliced
8 oz sliced mozzarella cheese

Sauté onion and mushrooms until soft.  I find this step crucial.  If you put the veggies on raw, the pizza gets puddles moisture on the top.


When dough is done, grease your skillet with butter.  Grease it well!

Press your dough into the skillet, pulling the dough up the sides of the pan in equal thickness as the bottom.  The dough will slide down the sides of the skillet.  Keep working until the dough is the correct thickness on the bottom.

Layer cheese slices over the top of the dough.  Press the cheese deep into the corners to hold the dough in place.  Make sure cheese is covering entire bottom of dough.

Spread toppings over cheese.  Cover toppings with tomatoes.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake in a 425 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.  Peek in on the pizza the first time you make one to make sure you don't overbrown the crust.

I blot the top when it comes out to get the pools of moisture from the tomatoes.  That way the liquid doesn't gather in the bottom of the pan when you cut the pizza making the rest of it soggy.

Let pizza rest about 5 minutes before cutting.

Try not to eat the whole thing.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


What a difference a day makes!  Yesterday we gathered at the hospital once more because my dad had to have another procedure.  His blood pressure had dropped and heart rate increased, indicating infection.  A scan revealed gall stones and they decided to remove the stones and clean the ducts laparoscopically.  I saw Dad last night and the nurse was unable to say when he would receive the trachea tube we were expecting.

This morning, he'd improved so much that they removed the breathing tube altogether and he is breathing on his own entirely.  No trachea tube!  I think we all consider this somewhat of a miracle as we were all expecting him to need the tracheostomy and this was definitely unexpected!  And wonderful.

I called to check on him this afternoon and rather than give me to the nurse for the update the receptionist said, "He wants to talk to you."  My dad knew I was on the phone and asked to talk to me!  I was so happy and stunned and excited that I just said, "Huh?"  I talked to him for about 5 minutes and was so happy to hear his voice that I almost couldn't stand it.  After talking to Dad, I immediately called my sister and ordered her to call too.  She too was giddy with excitement and relief.  What a gift to get to hear his voice and feel positive and hopeful for the first time in two weeks.  The only explanation is that the hundreds and hundreds of prayers from Dad's family and friends have been answered.  Huge networks of people including several churches and friends of friends have been praying for his recovery and today those prayers were answered.  How grateful we all are!

It is really strange to see my father in such a vulnerable state.  My dad, 6'3", retired police officer with 35 years experience.  Larger than life.  To see him in these circumstances feels impossible.  I don't know how to comfort him because that has never been my job.  It feels so foreign to try to reassure him, or soothe him.  And what a strange place in my life to be.  To have my daughter fast asleep in her bed and my father asleep at the hospital.  I feel like I'm in the middle of two realities.  A daughter and a mother.  My role as a daughter is so different now.  I don't know what I even mean.

Monday, April 30, 2012

When it rains it pours? Try a freaking monsoon.

I would not say that 2012 has really been the best of years.  I know there is a lot of year left, but the next 7 months have a lot of dazzling to do to convince me that 2012 wasn't a huge pain in my ass.  Those who know me well know that I don't like to complain but I swear if I didn't complain about this year, I don't think I would have anything to say.  As usual, the trials in my life invite me to really ask myself what I can do to improve myself and I what I can learn from the situation.  I'm still chewing on that one.

After the Summer of Surgeries last year, Bill and I were really hoping for some reprieve.  Unfortunately, 2012 started off with Dad having a knee replacement and hasn't slowed down.  Dad's knee replacement went well.  In February I had a second bunionectomy on my left foot.  I had my left and right repaired in college but they've grown back.  I started having a ton of pain in my left foot last year and after a lot of exploration it was determined that the bunion had to go if I wanted to feel better.  Walking is pretty important, so we had it fixed February 1st.  I recovered at home for a month and then went back to work on a knee scooter for another month.  We all got sick halfway through my month at home, me with the worst sinus infection I've ever had.  We rotated illnesses and we sick for almost a month.

Going back to work caused some anxiety but I had a lot of help and it turned out not to be a big deal.  We were coasting along when we got some bad news about Dad.  Despite the knee replacement, his pain in his hip had not subsided so Dad had some x-rays done and it was determined that he had 3 aneurysms in his pelvis and required surgery as soon as possible.  It was expected that he would be in ICU post surgery for about 2-3 days and then out of OHSU in a week.  Dad went in on April 17th and was in surgery about 11 hours.  Overnight he took a turn for the worse and they reopened him the next day to see if they could determine the problem.  Nothing was found, and he returned to ICU.  He suffered from ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) and his body basically went into shock from the blood loss during surgery.  He has been on a ventilator for almost 2 weeks.  They will be putting in a trachea breathing apparatus as the ventilator is very uncomfortable and they usually don't like patients to have one more than 10 days.

His lungs have improved significantly in the last week, and as the fluid they gave him during surgery and immediately after continue to drain, doctors expect he will make a full recovery.  But it is going to take time.  Each day they tell us that he will be in ICU at least another week or two, but that time frame has never gone down as the days pass.   His other body systems are improving, but we don't expect he'll be able to leave the hospital sooner than a month from now.  After that, he'll need to go to a rehab facility to regain his strength before he goes home.

He can't talk to us.  He's been very sedated to keep him calm as the ventilator is uncomfortable and can cause patients to panic.  He's restrained so that he doesn't pull the tube out.  When he wakes, he can look at us and he knows we're there, but he falls back asleep almost immediately.  As his family, it is hard to see that he is improving because we don't understand the numbers or how the machines work, but we trust the doctors and nurses and know that he is getting excellent care.  One of Kate's nurses while she was in ICU last year was Dad's nurse for a couple of days last week.

To say we've been worried and stressed and anxious would be an understatement.  Kate flew into Portland the day after surgery to be with Dad but had to leave a week ago.  Now she has just as much worry only she has to do it from thousands of miles away.

To top it all off, Camille has hand, foot and mouth disease.  This is not really all that big of a deal, she just has to stay home from school for a couple of days so Bill will be home with her since I'm out of leave.  But until we know I'm not going to get it and be contagious, I have to stay home from the hospital.  I can't risk giving Dad any nasty germs.  Staying at home when I want to check on him is really hard.

So, there you have it.  We've been so blessed to have colleagues that are supportive and friends that offer love and help whenever they can.  We continue to pray that Dad will be home soon.  And I also have been sending up prayers that God will give us a break in the rain.