Happy Halloween

100_0075, originally uploaded by lclea.

My Boston Terrier pumpkin, it needs no words.

Hope you get lots of candy!


The Marge

Marg Pizza, originally uploaded by lclea.

Daring Baker’s Challenge, Pizza

I watched an old episode of Seinfeld last night, the one where Kramer wants to open a “make your own pizza” restaurant, like the cook your own steak ones. I think it was Jerry who said, “Who wants to make their own pizza?” Well, I guess I do. I love my own pizzas and I think I’ve found a new crust recipe. This was a delight to make, easy forgiving and you let it rest in the ‘fridge overnight and believe it or not you can hand toss it. I made two, one Margareta and one Sausage and “Shroom, they were both very tasty. I made my standard garlicy pizza sauce with a little oregano and a bit of hot pepper. I know it looks greasy, but it wasn’t. I made it late and had to use a flash and flashes make things look greasy.

Please don’t be like Jerry, do make your own pizza. It will be well worth it. The recipe and links to other great pies below.

Daring Baker’s Blogroll

Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.
The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.


8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.
During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping.
In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.
You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter – for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.


100_0116, originally uploaded by lclea.

I love the fall. There is something about the crisp air and football that I love. When I lived in Colorado fall meant gold. The aspens are beautiful, but I missed the reds and oranges. In Illinois summer can mean oppressive humidity and usually by the time fall rolls around, we’re ready for it.

I’ve got my sweaters up and I’m ready for the change of season. The trees seem to be with me and are starting to put on their coats of many colors. It was 80 degrees yesterday, though, so if the temperature gods would like to catch up already. Bring on the fall.


sunset, originally uploaded by lclea.

So what’s up? I’m hanging tough as one of those boy bands would say. I really like everything I’m doing for my PhD, it’s interesting and challenging and I feel like I’ve engaged my mind again like I haven’t in years. I had my first hick up, probably not the last. Statistics and I are let’s say, not good friends. But I will persevere, I will overcome. Road block just show us how much we want something, and I want this.

What’s interesting is I’m learning all the insecure feelings you get when you start, most students have those too. Now that I’m in a little bit, I think this is something I can do. My doggie is off this week having a fun filled play date with his grandparents. I miss him, he’s a sweet little companion and it’s a little lonely down here without him.

This picture is out my back door and slightly west (of course). When I lived in Colorado we had great sunsets. I didn’t take nearly enough pictures of them, but this one was pretty sweet for a flatlander sunset. I’ve decided not to promise about posting, I’ll post when I can. Until then, peace.