Monday, September 29, 2008

A Pizza Party

S and I took some cooking classes last year for something fun to do together. They were fun, and S has really gotten into cooking a few of the things we learned there over the past year. One of the classes we took taught us how to make all different kinds of pizza doughs and sauces. We learned what makes a New York dough different from a Chicago dough, how to use the dough to make a calzone, what types of sauces each dough uses, etc. And, let me tell you, like anything you make at home, this pizza is GOOD.

S will occasionally make up a few batches of dough on a Saturday and then freeze them so we can use it to make a pizza in the middle of the week. But, last Saturday, he made up some dough to use that night. We have done a few of these "make your own pizza" parties with family and friends. They've been a hit.

And, we've gotten better at getting the pizzas to the table before we all turn into pumpkins. The first few times, people at in shifts about 20 minutes apart as we waited for the pizzas to cook. So, we added another pizza stone to our other oven and sped that up quite a bit. Then, some people really like the weigh their pizza down with toppings. S would then sometimes fling all those toppings to the back of the 550 degree oven and char them immediately. Which, in turn, turns the house into a smoke stack. So, we started pre-cooking the dough halfway.

Anyhoo - we have some fun together making the pizza dough and sauce, so we had S's brothers and their families over, as well as our former neighbor and his daughters on Saturday night for a pizza party. Our old neighbor's wife (and also our old neighbor) was visiting her sister in Atlanta. We missed having here here, but I'm sure she had a really nice time on her trip!

Before everyone arrived, S took the dough that was made earlier in the day and split it into individual pizza sized balls. Then, he rolled the dough out to prepare it to be pre-cooked.

Then, he put each pie in the oven for just a few minutes with a little olive oil and Parmesan on the top long enough to get the edges firm so people could really pile on the toppings if they wanted to. This photo shows where he's piling them up after their little trip to the oven.

My job is to make up the sauce. This is pizza sauce - full of spices. Pizza sauce does not necessarily make good pasta sauce, in my opinion.

I also prepare all the toppings. This usually means frying up some Italian sausage and cutting up vegetables. I can handle that.

Alexandra, S's niece, was the first to arrive, with her mom and dad, S's brother and sister-in-law. And, took in her meal before the festivities began. As soon as I took the camera out, she was looking at me, waiting for me to take a photo.

As people arrived, one by one, they took one of S's pre-cooked doughs and loaded it up with fresh ingredients in any way they saw fit.

And S watched over their cooking carefully in the ovens. Then, people would go eat their creation.

There is no getting rid of the delay completely when it comes to cooking the pizzas, but we did more or less eat at all at once - its just that some pizzas came out before other pizzas, as I'm sure you can ascertain. We don't have a large commercial oven that can bake them all at once in our little ol' kitchen. But, with our improvements to the process described above in this post, the wait is way less than it used to be.

Mark, S's brother and Alexandra's dad, is checking out Alexandra playing while we're all sitting down to eat. S's sister-in-law, Brooke gathers some condiments before sitting down.

Our old neighbor, Mike and his daughter, little Sadie, get ready to eat.

The festive eating had begun. Here, our old neighbor Sophie and Alexandra's parents, Kim and Mark, sample their creations.

I'm sure Sophie is saying, "S, I sure do like that pizza!"

And, then, something like, "Enough with the camera, Amy."

After eating pizza and then some brownies and ice cream dessert, it was time to play. We have this basket of "toys". I use the term loosely. Yes, there are bonafide toys in there, but there are also trade show gifts, random stuff I didn't know what to do with, old stocking stuffers that have no home, and general junk. But, it's all stuff kids don't have at their house, so it's interesting to play with at our house.

Here, Sophie and Mark sport the same facial expression, and Sophie dons two items from the "toy" chest - my "graduation" hat from the Disney Institute and a Hawaiian lei.

Before long all the "kids" were into the "toys". We retired to the den to check them out.

Here, S's brother Michael shows off his twirling skills to Brooke, Sophie and Sadie.

That baton was my mother's. I played with it when I was a little girl. It's one of the coolest toys in the chest, in my opinion.

Kim and Alexandra took in all the action happening with the big kids.

Mark shows Sadie and Sophie how the stocking stuffer from 2006 works.

You just push that round thing off the top of the stick and it flies around the room! It can take an eye out, skin off a finger, or break a vase, so it's cool toy!

Sadie says, "Cool - do it again!" Of course, Mark complied.

Then, the sun was waning and it was little girls' bedtimes. So, the party broke up and everyone went home. We're glad everyone was able to come over. We had a great time!

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