Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Big Time

The other day I was talking with Tynan as he and Mei An got themselves organized to go to Disneyland. They are in the school's marching band and both play clarinet. Well Tynan plays clarinet. Mei An mostly holds hers and when nobody's looking she will whisper Tynan's name in a raspy anxious tone until he looks around. Upon making eye contact, she sticks out her tongue at him. That's what she calls, "playing clarinet". Anyway they are at this very moment in southern CA, may God bless the chaperones, at Disneyland. 

Disneyland is genius of course because when those 6th graders grow up and become parents they will all be bringing their kids to Disneyland too. They will say... "You know kids, I used to play in the Disneyland band, yup, marched right down Main Street and played for thousands of people..."  It's like the perfect way to give kids a sampler - put them in the show. 

So I said to Tynan, "it looks like you guys are going to be playing on Main Street"... He got all starry eyed. Like, waiting for the tooth fairy starry eyed, or, night before Christmas starry eyed. And said, "you know... there are going to be THOUSANDS (dragging the word out) of people watching us...." I know that Disneyland has between 65,000 and 100,000 patrons in the park each day. I knew the head of Disney security and sitting in his office in the backlot one day, I saw the counter. They get so much money that they weigh it instead of counting it. (true). So Tynan's right, there will be a lot of people there, someone correctly told him that there will be thousands of people there. But, he thinks the Disney's (someone akin to the Wizard of Oz with a big lever somewhere in the mechanistic bowels of the park), will pull the lever and stop all the rides when the Lyman Gilmore band comes marching down the street. He thinks they're going to BE the famous Disneyland electric parade!

In his 12 year old mind, he sees throngs of people throwing confetti and cheering as the band plays "Funky Town" flawlessly as if for the first time, a world premiere. They will want his autograph. The thousands of people will hold up lighters and cell phones until the band snaps to and plays the encore the throng demands... then eventually, the park will spin back up as the Wizard pushes the lever to "go" and the famous band will go on rides for the rest of the day, signing autographs for other visitors and getting their pictures taken with Goofy (because Goofy requests it).

So what occurred to me the other day as I was thinking about this was wars. Fighting and bickering over this and that. If the countries that declare war on each other would stop and think to themselves, "hey, if we try to get people to like us and invite them to come at an early age for free and be part of the parade, they'll want to come back and spend money and tell their friends that we're ok..." 

Unfortunately, that's not how it is. More often than not, countries play the same game Mei An does. They try to get some attention and just as all eyes are on them, they stick out their tongues, (figuratively speaking). They do mean things to intimidate and swagger rather than use good marketing, kindness and smart demographically proven tactics to win the world over.

I don't know how Tynan will handle being home after all that stardom. There'll be no livin' with him. I'm envisioning the speech one day, that I doubt I'll be alive to hear... about how Tynan's famous band went big time in 2013.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Recipe for Sicilian Margarita Pizza...

Ok, here's that recipe some of you have asked for... enjoy:

Ok, the recipe for Sicilian Pizza...

This will make two pretty good sized pizzas...

Pasta (what we Americans call "dough")
4 Cups of Flour
Water (Hard to say how much, I use enough to make the dough the "right" consistency)
1 tbsp dry yeast
Pinch of salt

1 Can tomato sauce
3 - 4 coarsely chopped cloves of garlic (per pizza)
Olive oil.

Grated Mozzarella Cheese
Sliced Tomatoes
Fresh Basil.

Stir the yeast into a cup of warm water. Let it sit for a few minutes. A pinch of sugar makes the yeast happy.

In a large mixing bowl, make a big dent in the flour and pour the yeast and water into the flour. Begin to mix and knead. Have two or three cups of water ready to add to the pasta. As you fold the pasta, keep adding water until you get a solid doughball that isn't too sticky. It should be just a bit tacky, but you don't want it too wet. Keep adding flour if you've put in too much water and you'll have it just right.

Dust the pasta with flour.

Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise one hour. (Should be in a warm spot, either in the sun or warm the oven up to 170 and kill the temp.)

Remove the pasta, dust with flour and fold over on itself. Kneed it out and turn on a 90 degree angle, dust it and fold it over. Repeat this 9 times. (You're creating a layered effect so when you make your pizza, the heat from the oven will bake the layers out into bubbles, ideally.)

Preheat the oven to 425

Cut your pasta in half (one half for each pizza).

Now begin by making your pasta in a sphere. Press it down and outward. It will try to stretch back as you do so pushing your fingers into the pasta to create a "golf ball" pocked mark effect is helpful. Dust with flour and turn it over and keep working at it.

Eventually you'll have a thin layer of pasta. The goal is to be about the thickness of your basic flour tortilla.  The final pasta should be completely covered with craters from your fingers. Carefully transfer the pasta (I dust it, fold it over half, twice and immediately unfold it) on a stone or cookie sheet that has been dusted with flour or cornmeal.

This is important. Drip olive oil all over the pizza and cover it completely (this keeps the moisture from the tomato sauce from soaking into the pasta). Once the oil is smoothed out, shake a good couple teaspoons of salt all over the pasta.

Fill a ladle with tomato sauce and spread evenly, then using the back of the ladle, smooth out the tomato sauce so it covers the pasta. Keep adding until you get the amount desired.

Add coarsely chopped garlic to taste.

Add oregano, dust the sauce so it's evenly distributed. I use quite a bit of oregano.

At this point, I add the fresh basil. Use whole leaves and cover more than half of the pizza. (Putting the basil on the top of the pizza results in dry crumbly basil after baking.)

Cover the sauce with fresh grated mozzarella cheese.

Add tomato slices to cover most of the pizza.

Add a bit more salt.

Sprinkle olive oil on top of pizza.

Parmesan cheese to taste if desired.

BAKE 15-20 min

Bake the pizza at 425.

I usually turn the pizza once or twice along the way. You're looking for the pizza to brown up on top without burning the cheese. The goal is to have a crackery base under the pizza, crispy but not burned. This is thin crust so you the pizza slice will not support its own weight, but you do want it baked golden brown. Patience is the key, as well as positioning the pizza low in the oven.

Remove the pizza when you're convinced you've got a nice crispy pasta and have managed to avoid burning the cheese on top...

Slice and serve.