20 May 2009

do you believe in magic?

Well, it's that time of the year again. Exams, term papers, and thesis defenses are a thing of days gone by; it's moving time (and the crowd goes wild). Although we initiated the moving process a few weeks ago when Carmen and I lugged a few miscellaneous boxes to an attic hideaway, the real deal began on Monday morning. After a bittersweet farewell at the Roanoke Airport (Carmen is living with her twin sister in Barcelona for the summer), I decided to busy myself with packing.

So, Zoe and I promptly went for a seven mile run. Of course, after the run there was plenty of end-of-year work to do at the office, library books to return, etc. Somewhat later than anticipated, I officially commenced stage two of the moving process. Surprised yet again by the loudness of packaging tape, I entombed a few stacks of books and miscellaneous folders within their temporary cardboard residences and glanced at the clock. Amazingly, this taxing effort had consumed 1.5 hours of my day (to be fair, much of that time was spent leafing through old notebooks and ultimately determining that most of the pages would be put to better use in the recycling bin). Given my workload and cycling commitments for the remainder of the week (culminating with a 115-mile Roubaix-ian [or even Flanderian] epic on Friday with Cole), I must learn to page through a few less novels whilst stowing away.

Speaking of cycling reminds me of the initial impetus behind this posting. With an evening ride planned with Cole, it was necessary to do a little pre-ride kitchen reconnaissance. It never ceases to amaze me how moving breeds culinary creativity. Trying to minimize the quantity of foodstuffs that would eventually need to be moved, I have been rummaging through the cupboards, drawers, and hall closet pantry in effort to create healthy and tasteful meals. Now closing out day three of my experiment, results have been encouraging.

After consuming all forms of leftovers (i.e. homemade french toast sticks from Saturday, Indian from Sunday, pancakes that were supposed to be waffles from Sunday morning, etc.), it was time to dig deep into my culinary imagination. With a handful of cherry tomatoes, six crimini mushrooms, wee piece of buffalo mozzarella, half a block of colby jack, some remaining tomato paste, and about 2 pounds of kale, pizza seemed to be a feasible possibility. I mean, kale isn't that different from spinach, right? With a little bit of luck, this pizza could turn out to be a nutrient dense meal.

Stove top aglow and frying pans warming, I mined the depths of the spice cabinet and unearthed some balsamic vinegar, minced garlic (great stuff from an Amish place in Staunton), no-salt Italian herb mix, and a bottle of what would turn out to be the making of the pizza. It was with some skepticism that I sprinkled a fair amount of Chef Paul Prudhomme's Herbal Pizza & Pasta MAGIC upon the sauteing kale, but any and all skepticism was laid to rest by the final pizza product.

With the help of some olio d'oliva (pardon the Italian, but we are in the midst of a very thrilling Giro d'Italia) and the aformentioned collection of spices, the kale sauteed on low heat while I prepped the other vegetables. Hoping to find some level of cycling fitness prior to Friday's low-budget Rapha Ride (click here for the official high roller's version), I placed the kale in a large bowl to cool while Cole and I put in a respectable ride on Donny's TT loop.

Ride, shower, back to a still uncertain pizza.

Well, to keep the story short, I sauteed the mushrooms in a similarly flavorful mixture, spread some tomato paste atop the crust (Boboli whole wheat, not homemade; sorry), then proceeded to layer with cherry tomatoes, mixture of cheeses, kale, a bit more cheese, and finally the mushrooms. Eight to ten minutes later (with a mid baking 180-degree rotation) a rather aesthetically pleasing pizza emerged from the oven. Quality of taste was still however unknown.

By the taste of a few of the leftover sauteed mushrooms used to calm my hunger during baking, I was optimistic about the pizza. The final product however far exceed the expectations of my tastebuds. Chef Prudhomme = pizza prestidigitation! With the help of this magical spice medley, the kale attributed an amazing flavor to the tried and true mushroom and tomato pizza. The stalks are a bit more fibrous than perhaps desired, but the overall product is scrumptious. In fact, the kale-mushroom-tomato-mozzarella-colby jack pizza (let's call it Pizza ispirato da Carmen in honor of the whole wheat crust and her birthday [21 May]) may be my new second favorite pizza (behind Ceritano's Capricciosa [grilled pizzas of course residing in an entirely separate category]).

Moral of the story...expect the unexpected, don't be afraid to try new things, so on and so forth.