Big Pizza Love and the Recipe that Makes it Happen

“It’s pizza night!”

Any Friday.

Even every Friday.

My boys never tire of those words.

A bowl of popcorn, a favorite movie, and a few square feet of mozzarella magic, and it’s going to be a great evening.

No question about it.

In a family of four boys, food is currency, and pizza is the gold standard. As the long bones lengthen and the voices grow deeper, the double batch makes way for the quadruple batch, and leftovers in the fridge are like money in the bank.

Of course, eventually, someone gets his license, or a girlfriend (or both), and suddenly an evening at home no longer registers on the social Dow Jones. But pizza night goes on for whoever happens to be home or whoever is visiting, and the leftovers pay dividends forward — with cold pizza after a basketball practice and a heart-to-heart talk about unfair coaches; cold pizza after a shift at McDonalds and a late-night discussion about where to buy the diamond; re-heated pizza for a carload of friends who “aren’t hungry” until they realize how very welcome they are.

Inexhaustible Love

Food can become a metaphor for abundance. Yes, your friend can stay for dinner, because we have enough — enough food, enough space in our lives, enough love to go around.

God is also in the business of letting His children know that He is enough, and His love is inexhaustible.

That’s why the apostle Paul strains His heavenly thesaurus in Ephesians 3:18,19 (NKJV) to communicate the expanse of Christ’s love for us:

How wide!
How long!
How deep!
How high!

God’s love for us passes knowledge; it is vast and complete, and yet He urges us to lean into its impossible dimensions and to rest there.

When I wonder if I can absorb another change or welcome another whirling planet into the solar system of my life, these words remind me that my ability to keep on stretching the circumference of my heart depends on my continual acceptance of the love of Christ for me. If I set my boundaries small and safe, I’m leaving room only for my own love — narrow and choosy, shallow and tentative.

Slowly, slowly I am learning that the only way to really “know the love of Christ” is to leave my heart ajar to the expanse of a bigger love.

It was standing room only the last time we all got together for a pizza night — daughter-in-love, grandboy, girlfriend, and all, but somehow in the midst of all the laughter and chaos, the pizza disappeared as usual. Slicing through the last pepperoni-and-black-olive, I smiled, because pizza night is teaching me that love comes — and it fills all the space we make for it.


The Recipe for Big Pizza Love

As regular readers know, most of my pizza-eaters have flown the nest, but I’m still making pizza, and I continue to receive requests for my pizza recipe, so I’m sharing it here. Giving credit where credit is due, if you happen to own a Moosewood Cookbook (mine is the 1992 edition), you’ll find that I’ve borrowed the recipe for calzone crust (160-161) and adapted it for pizza.

Enjoy!

The Crust:

1 cup wrist-temperature water
1½ tsp. active dry yeast
1 Tbs. honey or sugar
1½ tsp. salt
2½ to 3 cups flour
oil for bowl and pans

  1. Place the water in a bowl. Sprinkle yeast, and stir in honey/sugar and salt until everything dissolves.
  2. Stir in flour, kneading when it gets too thick for a spoon.
  3. Oil the bowl and cover dough with a cloth. Let rise until doubled in bulk. This is a good time to begin making the sauce and preparing toppings.

Sauce:

1 quart of canned tomatoes
1 small can of tomato paste
Garlic and basil to taste (sorry, I’ve never measured it!)

Toppings:

You don’t really need my help here, but I will share that pepperoni and black olives top the list of favorites here. The patient husband and I like to put leftover ratatouille on pizza. When we have a crowd in, I usually make at least one with just veggies, and I always make one with just cheese.

Baking:

Punch down the risen dough and spread with greased fingers in a well-oiled pan. Be sure to go all the way to the edges and then create a tiny edge around the circumference. Top with sauce, toppings, and an abundance of mozzarella. Bake at 450° until crust is browned and cheese is bubbly–about 15-20 minutes.

Depending on the size of your pans, this recipe will accommodate one large, deep dish pizza or two smaller pizzas of the thin crust persuasion. Experiment and let me know how it goes!


May you know and share the width and length and depth and height of God’s great love,

michele signature rose[1]

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This post appeared first at (in)courage, the blogging ministry of Dayspring, the Christian subsidiary of Hallmark Cards, Inc.

Photo by Carissa Gan on Unsplash

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Abundance and Harvest – Still in the Garden

Deep into the days of summer, I’m sharing a post that I wrote last year for my church’s website.  With an early spring snow, this year’s garden is behind schedule, but what a treasure it was to discover hearty, red-veined beet leaves during a just-before-dusk weeding session last night . . .

Once the dew dries today, I will amble up to the garden and pick enough tomatoes to fill my Maine Garden Hod.  There’s no stopping those plants now, and if I don’t hurry up and pick enough green tomatoes for our favorite relish —  well, there just won’t be any green tomatoes up there.

While I’m picking, I’ll take note of the dill’s progress.  Two days ago (when I last picked tomatoes, but who’s complaining?) the sprays of small yellow flowers were pale fireworks.  Poet, Luci Shaw would say, “They lift their lovely, loose exactness.”   Somehow,  in spite of their diminutive size, they were still of interest to the honey bees.

However, today, I expect that I will see signs of the flowers going to seed, a good thing if you like to make dilly beans, as I do.  I have seen lots of recipes for other delicious and satisfying uses of dill:  cold cucumber soup with fresh dill, beautiful heads of dill floating delicately in big canning jars full of colorful veggies.

Someday, maybe.

But for right now, for today, my dill reminds me to dream big, to expect great things,  because soon I will harvest all the dill seeds I can capture.  They will scatter and flee as I snip the dry stalks, but most of it will make its way into a brown paper bag to dry.  Once dry, it will spend the winter in a quart jar,  on a shelf in the basement for next year’s dilly beans.  If it weren’t for the fact that next summer I will be harvesting bushels of green beans, I might even forget it was there; but summer will come again, and the abundance of this fall will result in crisp, pickled beans next year.

Abundance is a lesson some of us have to learn by rote.  My patient husband and I had our first argument (26 years ago) in a grocery store, and the controversy found its gnarled roots in the issue of abundance.  He had grown up in a house where the pantry was full and the spice cupboard was a museum devoted to a long history of past recipes.  On the other hand, shopping had been a day-to-day thing in my growing up years, and it seemed to me that I had unwittingly married someone who wanted to spend our net worth on food.

I’m still learning about abundance, but not by looking into my full cupboards . . . and refrigerator . . . and freezer . . . and pantry.  (We’ve definitely come to an understanding about the merits of a well-stocked kitchen.)   Now, when I need a lesson in abundance,  I go to the Source.   Paul is practically crowing in Romans 11 when he exclaims about the deep wealth of God’s wisdom and His rich and inscrutable nature.

I am exhaust-able, and often exhausted, but I will never exhaust the resources of God and His Word, and so I read and ponder —  not to arrive at a “theology of everything,” (. . . but wouldn’t that be great?).  I come back to the Source  to be reminded of abundance, to dream along with Isaiah and the Apostle Paul about all that God wants to do and His “unsearchable” ability to carry out all that He has planned.

“All these things my hand has made, [says the Lord], and so all these things came to be:”

[dill seed and honey bees,

tomatoes and patient husbands],

“But this is the one to whom I will look:  he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word,” (Isaiah 66:2)

Tremble at His Word.

Tremble at His abundance.

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Big Pizza Love

“It’s pizza night!”

Any Friday.

Even every Friday.

My boys never tire of those words.

A bowl of popcorn, a favorite movie, and a few square feet of mozzarella magic, and it’s going to be a great evening.

No question about it.

In a family of four boys, food is currency, and pizza is the gold standard.  As the long bones lengthen and the voices grow deeper, the double batch makes way for the quadruple batch, and leftovers in the fridge are like money in the bank.

Of course, eventually, someone gets his license, or a girlfriend (or both), and suddenly an evening at home no longer registers on the social Dow Jones.  But pizza night goes on for whoever happens to be home or whoever is visiting, and the leftovers pay dividends forward with:  cold pizza after a basketball practice and a heart-to-heart talk about unfair coaches; cold pizza after a shift at McDonald’s and a late-night discussion about where to buy the diamond; re-heated pizza for a carload of friends who “aren’t hungry” – until they realize how very welcome they are.

Food can become a metaphor for abundance . . .

Capture

I’m pondering abundance and the glorious truth of God’s inexhaustible love over at (in)courage today.   Click here to join me, and while you’re there be sure to sign up for free daily encouragement right in your inbox from the writers of (in)courage.

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Subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from Living Our Days delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

 

A Watered Garden in Time of Drought

We’re having a tiny drought here in Maine – nothing like the raging, fire-breathing variety that has been defoliating the West Coast. Even so, in these end-of-summer days, my garden and I are feeling this word:

LACK

As I haul plastic jugs of water that will rescue the geranium, restore the sunflowers, and rejuvenate the nasturtiums, my mind gnaws on the word, and argues it away from my heart.

Maybe it’s because I remember President Ford wearing a sweater on t.v. and telling us to turn down our thermostats to save oil;

Perhaps it was the empty spaces in my growing-up refrigerator that stood in stark contrast with the steady supply of vodka bottles in the trunk of the ’74 Plymouth;

God, help me, it may be my own present-day, reprobate habit of comparing myself to the gifted, the scintillating, and the accomplished that brings on this spirit of scarcity that sucks dry my confidence and leaves my faith parched and brittle.

Lack – the word hangs like a caption over my wilting tomato plants, but I will not give it entry to my soul, for I will fight the lie with this truth:

. . . if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
 And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.  (Isaiah 58:10-11)

Hear the Word of the Lord, O my soul!

When the earth is scorched and you are stuck in drought conditions from the continual pouring out; when memories of days with no direction and not a spring in sight crowd out today’s reality of abundant provision and blessing from God — this is the time to war against soul-drought.

The message of that Old Testament prophet to me in my days of dryness is this:

Don’t despair.

Keep pouring yourself into your family.

Be available for God’s next assignment.

Even on this path through the desert, you are not alone. Beside you is a Companion Whose voice you may not hear and Whose footprint you may not see, but Whose presence is a forecast of rain on your soul’s cracked earth.

Everyone’s testimony includes road maps of the desolate places in their itinerary, records of the journey through days when security and abundance seemed to be a thousand miles away as we slogged through debt, or disappointment, or confusion. Looking back now on my desert days, I see in retrospect the truth of these words from God to His people – in a spiritual drought of their own making:

I cared for you in the wilderness, in a land of burning heat, as if you were in pasture. Hosea 13:5-6

I have lived this truth of lush grass and still waters that demonstrate the faithfulness of God in my parched places. Therefore, even with “the land of burning heat” in my rear-view mirror, even with the knowledge that days of drought may come again, I will spread out my roots into the soil of His Word, not in any special “work,” or location, but in the Lord Himself. There lies the water of life, the only reservoir that will slake my deepest thirst.


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It’s Time to Exhale

Breathing Room by Leeana Tankersley:  A Book Review

Generally speaking, for most of us, it’s not the catastrophes that wear us down.  It’s the frictional grind of too many little things:  cars that fail to start, toddlers with a missing shoe, teens with missing respect, too much month and too little paycheck.

Standing under a sound roof in a sound body, with a healthy family and a full refrigerator, we question the goodness of God and poke holes in our theology.  We covet and carp and compare, backing ourselves into a tight and suffocating space.

Leeana Tankersley has walked that path of self-contempt, feeling small and trapped and that it was “not OK to struggle.”   She welcomes readers into her process of discerning that the breathing space she was seeking is God Himself.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, one of the names for God is Ha-Makom meaning ‘the omnipresent,’ literally translated ‘The Place.’  This name for God is often used in the traditional Jewish sentiment offered to someone in grief . . . ‘May The Place comfort you.’

Without handing out blank checks for self-pity, Tankersley shares her own pain, using imagery from 12-Step programs and highly diagnostic insights gained during her years with three small children and her Navy Seal husband in the foreign culture and geography of Bahrain.  She shares insights from a broad range of authors and thinkers:  from Anne Morrow Lindbergh to Anne Lamott; from C.S. Lewis to Stephen King.  The author’s humor and poetically descriptive language lighten her message:

We’ve gagged the ache with Doritos and Diet Coke.  We’ve covered it up with bronzer.  We’ve smothered it with layers and layers of trying-too-hard.   We’ve shut it up with the how-richly-blessed-we-are-talk.

Breathing Room is an invitation to the life revealed by the Lord of Isaiah 55:2:  “Let your soul delight itself in abundance.”

I received this book free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.