The Pizza Test

J and I made pizza for dinner the other night: garlic bread to start, followed by a tomato/mozzarella/capers pizza, and our go-to favourite: Blue and green pizza.  For those who haven’t had pizza at our house, Blue and green includes the following toppings:

  • a schmear of tomato sauce (not too much or the whole thing gets soggy);
  • A layer of sauteed greens (beet tops or spinach beet with onions- make sure to squeeze out excess liquid, or again: sogginess);
  • A scattering of blue cheese chunks (we usually use Roquefort or Gorgonzola; something creamy seems to work best);
  • A handful of walnut pieces, and, optionally
  • An egg cracked in the middle.

If you are lucky enough to have them, six quail eggs can be used instead; one for each slice.  Putting one large chicken’s egg in the middle makes for messy, if enjoyable serving.  For chicken’s eggs, I also recommend separating the egg, so the white goes on at the beginning of the cooking time, and the yolk just shortly before the end – unless you like your yolk cooked hard.  For the record, I am still utterly gobsmacked that J likes this pizza so much; he is a confirmed carnivore, and ‘hates greens’.  Oh well – no complaints from me!

But!  The point of this blog post is not to make you hungry or jealous.  It occurred to me that this meal might be a good baseline for our efforts to eat homegrown as much as possible.  I will try and revisit it yearly, and see how much of it we can call ‘homemade’ – or at least local.

The dough
This is a yeasted dough, made in my breadmaker.  The texture is a good one once cooked, but difficult to handle: loose and light.  We’re working on the skills for that. Ingredients are as follows:

  • Flour is purchased, but from a local company (Glebe Farm).  I don’t think we’ll be growing our own wheat any time soon, though I’d love to give it a try.
  • Olive Oil is purchased, and not even vaguely local.  I do have a small olive tree in a pot, but I think I’ll be retired by the time it yields an appreciable amount of oil.  (Besides: olives!  Yum!!)
  • Salt and Sugar are purchased, and likely to remain so!  Though I suppose honey might be used instead of the sugar, and we can certainly find local honey.
  • The leavening is yeast.  I’d like to work up a good sourdough version, but J is so far resistant to sourdough in all its forms.

The garlic bread

In addition to the dough, this includes:

  • The garlic is from our last year’s harvest.  It’s not at its best any more, but I’m delighted it has lasted this long!
  • We’ve augmented it with garlic scapes from this year’s garlic crop, sauteed very gently in butter.
  • The butter is purchased.  Again, I’d like to make at least some of my own butter, but I don’t see the point (apart from once or twice as a fun experiment) unless it provides a significant sustainability advantage.  This would most likely involve me buying or trading for very local milk, though in the fullness of time (i.e. years away!!) I think I’d like to try keeping goats.
  • Rosemary.  We do have rosemary in the garden, but this was some dried, purchased stuff that needs using up.

Tomato/mozzarella/capers

We score very low on this one, but with great potential to improve:

  • The tomatoes were tinned, and not ours.  It isn’t too big of a stretch to imagines that we might grow enough to make our own tomato sauce in future years, though I made a conscious decision not to grow any ‘matoes this year; we had a huge blight problem last year, so I thought I’d give the land a rest.
  • Mozzarella is purchased and not local; my thoughts on this are very similar to those for the butter, above.
  • Capers are also purchased.  This is something I would very much like to make for ourselves; pickled nasturtium seeds are supposed to be an excellent substitute.  The caper bush itself looks like it might do fairly well against a southern-facing wall or two in our garden – except it is frost sensitive, so maybe not.
  • A scattering of fresh basil leaves once the pizza is out of the oven.  Yes!  These come from our own windowsill.  Finally.

Green and blue

Probably the hardest to improve on, but still potential:

  • Tomatoes – as above
  • Greens and the accompanying onions came from our garden last year.  I sauteed loads of these and froze them in small portions for this very use last year.  I’m glad I did, as neither cabbage nor spinach (available in local groceries/supermarkets) would be the same.  I have no beets or kale in the ground so far this year, though, so I must try for an autumn/winter crop of at least one – or we’ll run out!
  • Blue cheese carries all my previous caveats for dairy products, plus the requirement for a specific culture (and more complex cheesemaking techniques).  I have questions about how sustainable it would truly be for me to make this myself, even if I did have my own milk.
  • Walnuts are purchased.  I’m pretty sure I should be able to gather some locally if I try – possibly even for free.  Must investigate this possibility.
  • Eggs are also purchased, but locally.  At least, usually.  A lot of people in the village put eggs out for sale, and I buy from them when I can.  Longer term, I’d like a few chooks of my own, though.  Or possibly even the aforementioned quail!

Overall score
Out of 18 ingredients, 5 are homegrown and 2 locally purchased.  I think that, with moderate effort, I could raise the score to 9 homegrown ingredients; longer term, I could probably add 4 or 5 more ingredients.  That leaves only a few that I don’t think it is reasonable to provide for myself: salt, olive oil, blue cheese…  What do you think I will score on this scale for next year?

And Kita says…

That all smells dreadful.  Would you like me to dispose of it for you?

3 thoughts on “The Pizza Test”

  1. I know of a walnut tree in the village that doesn’t get harvested as much as it could.

    I agree with you on the dairy front, it’s just not reasonable in your current circumstances to try for that. As you’ve been getting more and more of your own food or local food in your diet over the last few years, I’m inclined to suspect you’ll increase that score next year. Especially if you’re growing tomatoes!

    I love your pizzas – I cooked something similar to your green and blue not long ago, to use up some blue cheese Mr G left here!

    Like

  2. Hmm – I don’t see blue and green on your pizza – the photo makes it look black… is that right?
    We, like you, would also like to have goats and chooks in the future – Rol has even bought a book on goats!

    Like

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