Tuesday, September 14, 2010

When The Universe Speaks In Riddles, And Good Luck, Godspeed Pizza

It all started on Friday night. Husband had come by my work to pick me up and the plan was that we were going to drive up to Sauble Beach for a much needed break. Husband had worked about eleventeen hundred hours of overtime and I was recovering from a week of working on my own at the front desk, hopelessly untrained and at the mercy of nervous pet owners. With my new job, our work schedules are now completely opposite. He comes home right when I'm leaving and by the time I get home, he's ready to go to bed. To say it's an adjustment is an understatement.

Fast forward to an hour outside of Toronto, a bit north of Vaughn which, as a non-driver, means nothing to me, but perhaps you know where that is. It felt like the middle of nowhere, except that there was a pit stop with a Tim Hortons to our right, which meant something to me because Tim Hortons is kind of like an Inukshuk for city people who feel entirely lost in the highway limbo that lies between city and cottage country; a gentle, doughnutty reassurance that we are indeed somewhere man has been before.

It was about here that it happened.
Husband: What's that noise? Is that the engine?

What noise? (while being totally aware of the weird knocking noise that has suddenly come from our vehicle)

That one. There. Oh no. Shit. (clutter, sputter, knock, knock, whirrrrrrrr. Ka-CHUNK!) Okay. There goes the transmission. It's blown! Double-you The Eff!

We lurched violently forward as Heidi the Jetta shut down. With a deftness only a seasoned video gamer could demonstrate, Husband navigated the now-defunct Heidi over to the right shoulder of the highway and we absorbed in silence what had happened. It didn't take long though, because we already knew our weekend at Sauble Beach was done for. Eventually, the tow truck came, and we even managed a few laughs when my dear, sweet father came to pick us up in the backroads of sketchy Rexdale and joked about us having to wear bullet proof vests in case of shootings, which is probably all kinds of politically incorrect, but oh well.

We tried our best to salvage our weekend. But by Sunday, it was not to be. I, in full possession of a raging case of PMS, couldn't shake the feeling that the universe didn't want me to be happy. Husband and I went on a walk to get some candy at the bulk store, and just as I was starting to come out of my dark mood, just as I was noticing the sun-dappled trees and the delicate breeze and the honeybees, a cat ran out into the street in front of us and got hit by a car.

I screamed. It happened in slow motion. I could hear the sound of Cat making contact with Car. I covered my eyes and my legs turned to jelly. Miraculously, the cat sprung up and ran off, one of its 9 lives clearly used up, but the other 8 just waiting to get back to the catfight that had been taking place several moments earlier. My dark mood returned, full force. Somewhere between Heidi the Jetta, Reckless Cat and Hormone Fluctuation, I gave up on a relaxing weekend.

Husband had been making jokes earlier about being able to read braille on my forehead because of the rather alarming smattering of pimples that had settled on my face. I mused that if these had been freckles rather than pimples, I would be adorable. I was reminded of that old 'beauty trick' I used to see in Seventeen magazine:

"Got a pimple? Why not try dotting it with some brown eye pencil and turning it into a beauty spot?"


The beautiful girl demonstrating this tip always seemed to have her fake pimple right above her lip, to the side, like Marilyn Monroe, or Cindy Crawford. It looked sexy. So I decided to give it a try.

Hmm. I'm not sold on it.

Some days are like this. Some days can't be saved no matter how hard you try to see the silver lining. Some days, you'll come home from working at a job you're not sure you like, and you'll be so glad to see your dog and cat, your furniture, your purple bathrobe. You'll also be so glad that you had the presence of mind to make pizza dough the night before, so now, all you have to do is a tiny bit of prep with these; some chopping and slicing and grating...

And then you get to release some pent-up frustration by punching the dough:

Satisfying. Then you'll spread it out on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal that, in a certain light, looks like stars thrown across a night sky (like the ones we should have seen in Sauble Beach) and brush some olive oil on top. A gentle dusting of red pepper flakes and fresh ground pepper, and the lightest toss of coarse grain salt is all you need for the base:

Finally, you layer the grated, unnervingly orange cheese, apple slices, tomatoes and several basil leaves and you pop it in the oven for half an hour during which time you'll imbibe a beer or glass of wine...

And when it comes out, golden crusted and perfectly delicious, perhaps the best you've ever made, and you have a week's worth of Coronation Street waiting for you on the computer, then and only then will you realize that despite Heidi the Jetta, Reckless Cat and Hormone Fluctuations, there is still sweetness in this life. A dog and cat who gravitate towards me like I'm their North Star wherever I am; a family that will come and help me, no matter how old I am or how far away I may be; a Husband who puts toothpaste on my toothbrush for me each and every night - this is who and what I live for.

Okay, Universe. Message received, loud and clear.

Good Luck And Godspeed Pizza:

Basic Pizza Dough, from Martha Stewart's 'Fresh Flavour Fast '(and the BEST dough I've ever eaten)

1 1/2 cups warm water (115 degrees F)
2 packets active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp, if using the jar)
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
4 cups all purpose flour (I used half whole-wheat)
a pinch each of dried basil, oregano and rosemary (my addition!)


1. Place warm water in large bowl; sprinkle with yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Brush another large bowl with oil.

2. Whisk sugar, oil, salt and dried herbs into yeast mixture, then stir flour with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough forms. Transfer to oiled bowl, brush top with olive oil and cover with plastic wrap; let stand in a warm spot till dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

3. Turn dough onto a well-floured surface. With floured hands, knead until smooth, about 15 seconds and divide into two equal balls. If only using one, freeze the other; it keeps up to 3 months in the freezer, just let it thaw overnight in the fridge in an oiled bowl when ready to use.

Pizza toppings:

1 cup grated old cheddar
1/2 large apple, sliced thinly into half-crescents
a handful of fresh basil leaves, coarsely torn
2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal. Spread the dough onto the sheet in a long, oval shape. Rub some olive oil onto the top of the dough and sprinkle with red pepper flakes, fresh ground pepper, and some coarse salt, if you have it.

2. Sprinkle the cheddar evenly over the dough. Add the slices of apple and tomato; top with the torn basil leaves. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is all melted and crust is golden brown. Let sit for 5 minutes, then serve!


  1. Ah, my dear, sweet sister - how I remember that beauty trick and what's more, how I remember not particularly wanting to add another brown dot to my face, zit or no zit. I was not expecting to see you made up thusly and I laughed out loud till the tears came. Much-needed. I love you.

    xo mrsbs

  2. ha ha I tried that beauty trick too, not once did I look like Cindy Crawford, more like the crazy lady who hangs out on Yonge St.
    It is always good to remind ourselves of the sweet things we have, so thank you for the reminder!
    Also not to be rude BUT Heidi is a bitch!

  3. Noodle, glad I could make you laugh-cry again! Love you!
    Melissa, you are right; Heidi the Jetta is totally a bitch. But the bigger bitch is the fella that sold her. I feel he owes us a vacation.