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Pandemic Pizza: Part 31 of 2022

Submitted by Bethany on Mon, 08/01/2022 - 14:47

We have been looking forward to our family reunion in Paris…Illinois, that is! The last time we were with my hubby’s family was pre-CoVid, at a family wedding in 2019.

We were responsible for dinner on Saturday evening for 20 plus people. So of course, Pizza was on the menu.

For those that know me, I am extremely organized. I spent weeks planning the menu, making lists, shopping (still online) for all of the ingredients and packing up the supplies I needed to make eight different kinds of pizzas.

The Saturday before leaving I planned to can homemade pizza sauce. For years I would always can tomato sauce, salsa, jams, etc. using my trusty granite water bath canner.

This method of canning is a lot of ‘hot’ work and is great if you are doing lots of canning and have a lot of help. A few years ago I discovered the Ball® freshTECH Automatic Home Canning System which I love!

It makes quick work of canning small batches. It holds four-quart jars or five-pint jars or six half-pint jars. The jars are placed in three inches of water and you hit the sterilize button on the electronic keypad. It takes 30 minutes. After filling the jars, you choose what you are making on the electronic keypad and hit start. How easy is this! I canned 10 pints of homemade pizza sauce, with the help of my hubby.

On Wednesday I took a timeout from trip planning and preparations to cook with Matthew.

Wednesday in the Kitchen with Matthew: Another variation…Fried Chicken Poutine…we layered mashed potatoes, cheddar cheese, fried chicken nuggets, homemade chicken gravy and green onions.

Thursday in the Kitchen with Matthew: We went dough crazy! We made eight different doughs to take with us and two for Matthew to put in his freezer for when we are on vacation later this month.

We also made the dough for an early Friday (Thursday) Pieday: Margherita Pizza…my pan crust topped with homemade sauce, basil from the garden and fresh mozzarella.

On Friday morning we packed the dough and ice packs in the cooler for the seven-hour drive. I was praying this would work and I would not end up with a cooler full of spoiled dough.

Good news! It did work and made it to the fridge in Paris (Illinois) to continue the cold ferment until Saturday.

On Saturday afternoon the process began with taking the dough out at different times to proof. Three of the doughs took 3 hours to proof. During that time, I prepared the toppings. I wish I would have taken a picture of the dining room table laid out with the different pizza pans and bowls of chopped veggies and meat in the order they would be prepared and baked. It was quite an assembly line.

Here is my timeline for the process…

When it was time, I stretched out all of the dough, then started topping the pizzas. Matthew took the pizzas in and out of the oven and we would get the pizzas to the deck for slicing and eating. Here are the first four pizzas…

A BIG thank you to my hubby for keeping the cleanup process going as bowls of toppings, jars of sauce and pizza pans were emptied. We couldn’t have done it without him!

In the end everyone was stuffed full of pizza! There were only two half pies left. Unfortunately, one family of four didn’t make it due to CoVid. Otherwise, eight pizzas would have been completely devoured. (Although the leftovers were nibbled on the rest of the evening!)

I had several people tell me I should open up my own pizza shop. My reply…NO WAY! It would be a lot of work and take the fun out of lovingly preparing pizza for family and friends.

For now, I am going to take a few days to rest before making the next pizza on Friday! Till next week…

~Peggy Palmer-Johnson