Friday, May 8, 2009

Lilacs and Pizza

When you think of your mother, or another important woman/mentor in your life that you love, what is the first image that comes to mind? For me, every time I think of my dearest Momma, I see lilacs. My mother loves flowers and gardening, and growing up, we had lilac trees all around the yard. For those magical few days each May as a little girl, I would sit underneath the fragrant, sun-glowing blossoms, pretending I was in a magical flower-castle. I felt happy, safe, complete. And when I moved out on my own for the first time many years later, I painted my new room a soft lilac, because that color signified safety and love. To this day, the smell of lilacs brings me back to a quiet place in my heart, and I think of my mom.

I recently entered an online contest giveaway. We were asked, in a few sentences, to describe why our mom is spectacular. A few sentences could never do justice to the woman who raised me and my brothers and sister with unwavering love, passion, compassion and strength.

My mom gave birth to six kids–SIX! In this day and age, the thought of raising just one leaves many a jaw hanging! Yet, she stayed home to raise all of us, while my dad worked sometimes two and three jobs in a day to provide for us. Did I mention she worked a night shift as a hospital nurse? Did I mention she was a local politician? Did I mention she starred in the local community theatre? A few short years ago when my beloved daddy passed, she learned to live on her own for the first time in her entire 72 years, and become completely financially independent and do all the things her own husband did for her and the family our whole lives. And she's doing it. Doing it really well.

My mother is the strongest, coolest woman I have ever had the honor to know. But there is a little bit more…

My 75-year-old momma, a grandmother of eight, continues on the road of cool—she’s a high-tech techie…Yep, she can text, facebook, fax, cellphone, and Google with the rest of ‘em. She also loves Rod Stewart, Barry White, can sing along to just about any 80s new wave song word for word, and tell a dirty joke with the inflections of a stand-up comic. She naturally uses words like “bling,” “peace out” and “kick ass” yet wonders what’s so funny when we drop laughing. Her earrings are always bigger than mine (and everyone else's in the room). When I was a little kid, she drove this enormous blue car with bright blue flames on the side. I can still see her peeling through puddles while singing along to Smokey Robinson on the radio. She makes strangers laugh and want to tell their deepest secrets and thoughts to her, because she is that warm, that trusting, that empathetic.

Oh yeah, and she is a hell of a cook. Where the heck do you think the inspiration for Flapper Food came from? Ah yes, her army-sized vats of breaded eggplant, cauldrons of homemade meatballs, and tray after tray of stuffed cabbage rolls were on the table and gobbled up daily my entire childhood.

My dearest Momma, as the youngest of the litter, I know I speak for all six of us when I say: YOU FREAKIN’ ROCK. I love you with all of my heart!

Now everyone reading this, if you want to do something special for a favorite momma in your life, forget the quesadilla, make a dang pizza! It’s my mom’s own recipe--and a pic from the actual pie she made last night! (great photography courtesy of my nephew, Tom. :))

From my momma to your momma, salute!


NOTE FROM MOMMA SPOTO: Amounts of all toppings can be altered to your tastes. If you like a lot of cheese, add more cheese; if you like less garlic, use less garlic. It’s all adjustable.

1 pizza dough (store-bought or homemade, recipe below)
½ cup to 1 cup of your favorite tomato sauce
Dried oregano sprinkled very liberally (approx. 1.4 cup)
1 tsp. dried garlic granules (more or less as desired)
Grated Romano cheese (more or less as desired)
½ a medium onion, sliced into thin rings
1 small sweet bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ pound cooked bulk sausage, crumbled and browned
1 8-oz bag shredded mozzarella


Prepare the pizza dough (recipe below).

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray Pam onto a pizza pan or stone. With floured or oiled hands, spread the dough out onto the pan, stretching and shaping the dough into a round pizza crust.

Microwave vegetables for 1-2 minutes in a small bowl to soften.

Layer the ingredients with your hands onto the crust in the order listed above (sauce on bottom, then oregano, garlic, Romano cheese, vegetables, cooked sausage, and mozzarella)

Bake at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and pizza crust is crispy underneath (peek underneath with some tongs).

NOTE: This recipe makes enough dough for 2 Pizzas. You can go ahead and make a double batch of pizzas, or freeze the other half of the dough for something else.

1 cup lukewarm water (wrist-temperature)
1 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 tsp sugar, maple syrup or honey
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter - or olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached all-purpose flour or bread flour
Extra flour and/or nonstick spray for handling the dough

Place the water in a medium-large bowl, and sprinkle in the yeast and sugar (or honey or maple syrup). Let it stand 5 minutes, or until the yeast is dissolved and it begins to bubble.

Stir in the oil, salt, and 1 cup of the flour. Beat in the flour with a whisk.

Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. (Switch from a whisk to a wooden spoon as the dough thickens.) The dough will be very soft.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured or nonstick-sprayed surface, and knead for several minutes. You can flour or nonstick-spray your hands to keep the dough from sticking. Clean out the bowl, spray it with nonstick spray, and add the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise until doubled in bulk. This will take about 1 hour at room temperature.

After the dough has risen, punch it down to deflate it. It is now ready to shape, with no additional kneading necessary! It will be very supple and stretchy. Use a little more flour or nonstick spray to handle it, if necessary.

Now take this dough, and make yourself a dang pizza! And have a WONDERFUL, FLIP-FLAPPITY HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! :)


samantha said...

that was a great....i really liked reading that. pizza doesn't look so shaby either! haha.

flappergirl said...

hi sam! yeah she makes the thick-crust pizza...thick 'n' chewy snack magic. ;)

Mike said...

Love the blog! Love it!

Sisboomba said...

I swear to God as I was sitting here reading this, I was eating the 2 leftover pieces of that pizza she sent home with Tommy!!! She does freakin' rock and the pizza was awesome!!

flappergirl said...

Mike, I love your blog too!!! Amazing athleticism :)

Boomba, I'm jealous you had the leftovers!!!!

Chuck said...

I want the recipe for your delicious writing; it is so enheartening. (If you can make up words then so can I.)

The pizza was very satisfying; I made some last night for my roommates.

Thanks for the holistically enjoyable website.

flappergirl said...

Aww, thanks Chuck :) Enheartening--I like, I like!

Jessica Martiele said...

Ok...YUUUUMMM. But the best part was the Ode to Mama. Looks like she didn't do too shabby on her kids. :) Hope my kids think the same thing about me! Happy Mother's Day to her!

flappergirl said...

Dear Jessica, Happy Mother's Day to you!!! Hope you have a beautiful day today. :)

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