Who Doesn’t love Pizza?
I’ve never met anyone that doesn’t like pizza of one type or another; be it greasy, need a bib New York slices, Chicago deep dish, crispy thin pizza, Detroit deep dish which is crunchy at the edges and bread-like throughout, seafood pizza of Puerto Rico, or the Greek and sautéed mushroom (recipes below) pizzas I invented while opening up Little Caesars’ franchises in California twenty five years ago. There is a pizza for everyone who loves good food. Pizza is tasty, healthy and if you make it yourself rather than ordering by phone, online or in person, is incredibly cheap and easy to make. Did you ever wonder why there are pizza joints on every block? Because the ingredients are dirt cheap and the margins are incredible! Think about it:
- a few pennies worth of flour, yeast, salt and sugar,
- a few pennies worth of spiced sauce,
- less than a dollar’s worth of cheese,
- less than a dollar’s worth of toppings, and Shazaam! You have as much as an 85% gross margin!
So why do we order pizza, when it is so inexpensive and simple to make at home? For the same reason McDonald’s sells hamburgers and women get manicures and pedicures – yeah, you could do it yourself, but sometimes it feels better to have someone else do it for you. Even if what you could achieve at home is superior to what you’re paying for. But when you’re on the road, or living in the wilds, self-sufficiency is not an option, it is your way of life and unlike Urban/Suburban life, calories and nutrition are paramount to remaining healthy and fit. When you live wrapped in the arms of Nature, you need to maximize caloric intake just to meet the demands of staying alive.
Loving Life and Losing Weight
I’m about 5′ 9” tall, but claim to be 5′ 10” because 5′ 9″ is average, and who the hell wants to be average? In February of 2010, when I left The Blasted Lands (Arizona) for Louisiana, I weighed about 185 pounds and had a 35″ waist that I squeezed into 34″ jeans, because I hate buying clothes. Within sixty days of living in the wilds, I was taking in the waist of my jeans and shorts, not because I was starving, but because living a wild life whips you into shape! When imprisoned by civilization I eat one meal a day, dinner or supper if you prefer. When I’m living in the wilds I eat breakfast, sometimes lunch, dinner AND snacks in between all while losing weight! I don’t work out. I don’t run, jog or ride a bike. My days typically consist of:
- walking the dogs at least a mile at dawn,
- eating mocha java oatmeal for breakfast,
(Oatmeal made with hot coffee instead of hot water with Maple syrup, yum!)
- meditating for about an hour,
- gathering and chopping fire wood,
- carrying water back to camp,
- hiking in the wilderness with the dogs to collect and dispose of trash left behind by others,
- sipping beers throughout the day and evening,
- making and smoking cigarettes,
- carving or painting,
- repairing or improving equipment,
- socializing with locals,
- preparing dinner,
- enjoying my campfire while listening to the radio ’til after midnight,
- starting over again at dawn.
These simple activities are all that are required to get into optimal shape. How optimal? Within ninety days of living this simple life, I was once again taking in my jeans and shorts, as my waistline was once again that of my eighteen year old self, 30 inches!
As I only drove into town for supplies every two weeks, when I did, I usually acquired ingredients that needed to be prepared and consumed within 72 hours as a treat along with the staples that were to sustain us for two more weeks. That’s where pizza comes in. With a half cup of flour, a bit of yeast, some canned or fresh made sauce, a quarter cup of cheeses and fresh toppings you can prepare enough for two or three days of decadent feasting!
Here is the basic recipe:
Bread dough – any recipe will do, you want a dough ball about the size of a softball for a large pie.
Sauce – While tomato sauce is traditional, I also make pizza with al Fredo sauce and sans sauce. For al Fredo pizza simply replace the spiced tomato sauce with al Fredo sauce.
Greek – No sauce. Cover the pie with Olive Oil, spice, add your toppings, Feta cheese, spinach, black olives and pizza cheese in that order.
Sautéed Mushroom – similar to Greek, but after oil and spices, heap sliced mushrooms onto pie, add bacon bits, anchovies, sausage or some other salty favorite. Lay pats of butter over the ingredients, then cover them all with a thick layer of pizza cheese (Mozzarella and Munster are the best) then bake. The cheeses will seal the mushrooms and other ingredients inside the pie and the result is heavenly.
Toppings/Underlings – some so called toppings are actually better if arranged under the cheese rather than on top. Anchovies are a good example. Due to the oils they are packed in, they fail to adhere to the cheese and fall off easily if placed on top of the cheeses.
Baking – Place pie, preferably on a cast iron or stoneware pan that will fit inside your Dutch oven. If this is not possible, simply place it in a cast iron skillet with a lid slightly askance to allow excess moisture to vent from the skillet. It’s best if you preheat the skillet and skillet lid so that they act as an oven.
Spices – Traditional Italian spices, plus fennel, lots of garlic and for us Cajun lovers, some Slap Ya Mama! Feel free to be creative. Pineapple on a pizza is an abomination to me, but If you like the taste go wild! This is your chance to make the ultimate pizza your way!
The following are some pics of tonight’s pizza
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