Category Archives: Valentine’s Day

Hot Pizza Air

Happy VD!

Today, you may consider yourselves the luckiest people on the face of the Earth.

That’s because I’m going to give you something you’ll thank me for until you die.

First, a preamble. Last night I made pizzas. It was the only thing I could think of to snap The Loved One and me out of these winter doldrums. I made a mushroom pizza for T-Lo and she happily gobbled it while watching the new season of House of Cards. For me, I made a nice artichoke heart and black olive pizza.

These are the drugs T-Lo and I partake of these days.

Anyway, I figure I’ll share the high. And here’s where you get lucky.

I hereby present my recipe for from-scratch pizza dough.

Big Mike’s Supercool Pizza Dough


  • 3 cups semolina flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1¼ cup lukewarm water
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. dry yeast

[Note: You’ll need either a bread machine or awfully strong arms for this one. Semolina is a high-protein wheat whose flour makes for a substantial dough. You’ll want this for your thin crusts because it holds together really well, giving a crisp crunch on the perimeter and a sturdy base for the sauce, cheese, and toppings. If using a bread machine, set it to Dough.]


Measure your flours into a bowl and mix well with a fork or spoon. Put the bowl aside.


Get It At Kroger Or Bloomingfoods

In your bread machine pan, pour your lukewarm water and add the 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the teaspoon of honey, and the salt. You must add the salt to the water as this keeps it away from the yeast for as long as possible — salt neutralizes yeast.

Gently pour the flours mixture into the bread machine pan so it lays on top of the water. It should be sort of a mound. Using a spoon, make a little well at the top of the mound and pour your yeast into it.

Turn the machine on and let it do the hard work.

Bread Machine

Set For Dough

When your machine beeps, open the lid and punch the dough down so it can rise once again. Let it rise this second time for about 20 minutes.

Now, punch the dough down again and remove it from the machine pan. Cut it in half and form two big balls.

Pull out your bread board and, using a tea infuser, tap some flour on the board and your rolling pin. This prevents the dough from sticking to either. Place one of the balls of dough in the middle of the board and squish it flat with your hand. Work with it to make sure it’s symmetrical. Then begin rolling it out. Make it nice and thin but not so thin that you can see through it or holes can develop.

Infuser Spoon

Great For Sprinkling Flour Or Powdered Sugar

Now lay the rolled-out dough on a baking sheet. You can make your pizzas either round, New York/Chicago style, or rectangular, Sicilian style. Using your kitchen brush, paint olive oil over the surface of the dough. Place the first dough into the oven, preheated to 350°F. Bake for 8 or so minutes.


Sicilian Style

When that’s done, put the second dough into the oven. While that one bakes, you may dress your first pizza. Use whatever sauce recipe and toppings you prefer. I like to use any mixture of cheeses including mozzarella, young provolone, fresh Asiago (Pressato), young Fontina (aka Fontina Val d’Aosta), and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (or parmesan if you want to economize).


Fontina Val d’Aosta

Crank your oven up to 420°F. Place the first fully-dressed pizza in for ten minutes or until the cheese just begins to turn golden brown. Repeat.

Now, eat like a queen or a king. That’s my Valentine’s Day gift to you.

The Pencil Today:


“Before I met my husband, I’d never fallen in love. I’d stepped in it a few times.” — Rita Rudner


Funny world, isn’t it?

Funny as in Louis CK winning a Grammy award for his “Hilarious” album/DVD/thing.

Funny as in Rick Warren promising to go to jail over the Obama administration’s new health care/contraception ruling.


Funny as in me pasting about a hundred and sixty seven Facebook posts in yesterday’s Pencil, congratulating FB-ers on their brilliant thoughts and then scrolling through the social medium today and seeing that everybody’s back to being boring again.

Funny as in US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and his wife being robbed at machete-point while on vacation in Nevis.

Funny as in Apple possibly being legally estopped from using its iPad brand in China because some little company had trademarked the name there more than a decade ago.

Estop It!

Funny that I used a form of the word estop in the above item — proof that my crossword puzzle addiction has taken over my life.

Funny as in this stupid winter coming back to South Central Indiana.

Funny as in disgraced former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer defining love for Valentine’s Day on the Big Think.

Can This Be Love?

Funny as in Alfred Lawson (the founder of the College of Lawsonomy) describing his own birth as “the most momentous occurrence since the birth of mankind.”

Funny as in the dearth of imagination in Hollywood, illustrated by the fact that at least 50 film sequels or remakes are being planned at this moment — they include:

  • A “Wizard of Oz” prequel
  • A third “Iron Man”
  • A sixth “The Fast and the Furious”
  • Another “Superman”
  • “Zoolander” again
  • “Dirty Dancing” redux
  • More “Smurfs”
  • The hundredth “Austin Powers”
  • The thousandth “Pirates of the Caribbean”
  • The millionth “Godzilla”
  • The billionth “Scarface”
  • The trillionth “Terminator”

They give out awards for this stuff?


Valentine’s Day. Being a professional contrarian, I’m morally obligated to sneer at the whole deal.

The Loved One reminded me yesterday that the first VD we spent together (we’d been seeing each other for some five and a half months at the time), I made no mention of the February 14th shebang but instead had flowers sent to her office on the 15th.

She found the off-day gesture charming. Sort of. I think.

Anyway, we’re being flooded with VD images today so I thought I’d get into the mood, just to be a sport.

BuzzFeed lists eleven trees that look like hearts.

And getting into the more pragmatic spirit of the day, BuzzFeed also lists seven trees that look like vaginas.


Like I said; funny world, no?


I mean, honestly, which American fictional figure represents Valentine’s Day more than Mary Richards?

You know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if you were dating her and ignored Valentine’s Day, you would soon be, well, not dating her.

The opening of the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” is a piece of cultural iconography. From her big, floppy bellbottoms to her accidentally crushing Ted Baxter‘s hat, Mary Richards represents those first, tentative, sometimes stumbling steps of women into the workplace in the early 1970s.

And when Mary tosses her tam into the air on a crowded downtown Minneapolis street corner as an old-fashioned babushka’d lady looks on in probable disapproval, you know you’re seeing America change right before your eyes.

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