Now that we’re in deportation purgatory on account of Administrative Closure, the Mrs. and I have cut down our budget to about $30 a week. I realize that seems like a lot of money to some of you, especially if you convert it into Zimbabwean dollars. Yet for others, $30 is a bad tip given to a waitress for receiving horrendous service.
After a lot of begging and nagging, my wife finally gave me a work permit to use our kitchen on the condition that I wouldn’t burn it down. She also handed me $10 and sent me off on my merry way. Immediately, I headed to my laptop and YouTubed How to make pizza for dummies, because making a pizza was somewhat on my bucket list. What appeared were thousands upon thousands of videos made for dummies like me.
One memorable video had this energetic young buck, who effortlessly stretched his pizza dough using the back of his hand and arm and then tossed it up, way up in the air. Amazingly, the pizza dough stretched and doubled in size mid-air!
That video made me feel so inadequate as a prospective pizza maker. I wanted to give up and just boil an egg instead. But I’m no quitter! I clicked the thumbs down icon right below the video and resolved to make a pizza.
At my local supermarket, I bought a packet of flour, two packs of 33-cent yeast, cheese, a bell pepper, an onion, mushrooms, pasta sauce, and a small roll of minced meat. All these items cost me just $8. I quickly fist-pumped the air and yelled, “Yes!” then skipped out of the store and sped home.
What these pizza-making videos don’t tell you is that one key ingredient, namely yeast, can be a royal pain in the posterior. I really should be thrown in pizza jail because, that day, I killed two packets of yeast.
It turns out that, like a pet or a significant other, yeast needs a lot of time, love, and attention. To activate it, one has to put the yeast in water that’s between 110 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures any higher will massacre the yeast, and any lower will put it in a coma.
Out of yeast, I accoutered my 7-month old in a cute, little, purple dress, strapped her into her car seat and drove to the store for more yeast. Pookie was in a state of awe when we both entered our local supermarket. Noticing this, I slowed down to let her take it all in. I even let her touch an onion and a mango.
She’s in an oral phase, which means that, in her eyes, the world is a huge buffet waiting to be eaten. So before she put the onion in her mouth and drooled all over the mango, I decided that it was best for us to move on to another aisle. We ambled to the baking section, where I quickly grabbed a packet of yeast.
“I see you’re baby-sitting today,” the employee manning the checkout station said to me.
“No, actually she’s taking me for a walk!” was the retort I really wanted to give, but instead I smiled and said, “Yup, I do this every day.”
Things almost always get ugly whenever I’m left to my own devices in the kitchen. My wife always tells me that she knows I’m cooking when she hears words like “Crap!” “Oh, no!” and “Oh, boy!” emanating from the kitchen. I find that cooking really isn’t rewarding unless I hurt myself, break something, or set off the smoke detector.
The yeast activated on my second try and, before long, I had smooth firm dough standing right in front of me. That night, I cut two slices of the Pizza that I’d cooked, put it on a plate and presented it to my beau. I watched her closely as she looked at it with trepidation. She picked up a slice with a look that said, let me get this out of the way, and took a bite.
“This is not bad!” she said.
“Really?” I asked, trying to tone down my excitement.
“Yes, really. It actually tastes surprisingly good!”
Her rave review, which was also a subtle jab, prompted me to secretly start working on a coup d’état to take over her kitchen. After taking control of it, I plan to attempt to make Vanilla Crème Brûlé, mainly because it doesn’t require yeast. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how it all turns out.