We like pizza at our house. We especially like Chicago-style pizza, what with one of us being from Chicagoland and all. In fact, the last time we visited the Windy City, we indulged in a late-night snack at Pizano’s despite relatively sated appetites. “Let’s go get a pizza,” I’d suggested when we found our time unexpectedly unspoken for. Chris hesitated. Hesitated! “I’m not really hungry,” he offered. “Neither am I,” I agreed, “but how often do we get to eat Chicago pizza?” So out we went. That’s how much we like pizza.
You know who else likes pizza? Our new president, a Chicagoan himself. So it made sense to commemorate his inauguration with homemade Chicago-style deep dish. Well, that an abundance of crisp, local champagne — an otherwise odd pairing that perfectly encapsulated the celebratory and egalitarian spirit of the day.
But back to the pizza: I’ve always assumed the deep dishes of gooey cheese and thick, crisp crust that arrive bubbling at your table were a complicated enterprise impossible to re-create at home. Not so; you can make deep dish pizza in your own kitchen.
Yes you can.
This afternoon I made a batch of granola, then I tossed it out into the yard for the birds and tried again. You wouldn’t think something as simple as granola would pose much of a problem for a girl who can successfully replicate Chicago deep dish pizza in her own kitchen, but the second batch ended up in the yard too. Some days are like that.
I’m really not very good at not being good at things, but a certain amount of failure is inevitable. And each of those small failures is, of course, a learning experience: screwing things up may actually be the best way to figure out how to do them correctly. Two burnt batches of granola have ensured that future batches — and there will be future batches — won’t spend more than thirty minutes in the oven, no matter how pale and soggy the oats still appear to be. Sure, a recipe can warn you of such pitfalls (as, um, I believe mine did), but you might not fully internalize those warnings until you’ve spent an afternoon making and photographing food for birds.
Our culinary blunders, then, are more setbacks than defeats, each burnt bite nudging us along toward perfection (or at least toward edible breakfast food). Good news for granola girls; bad news for birds.
I’ve never been especially good about New Year’s resolutions. It’s not that I’m opposed to self-improvement, it’s that I have trouble equating newness with the barren bleakness of January. I tend to make my resolutions at the beginning of the school year, when the world seems as new as a freshly sharpened pencil or a class roster filled with unfamiliar names. The arbitrary New Year in January, then, is merely an excuse to drink champagne.
However, in the weeks preceding the advent of this particular new year, I’d given a lot of thought to leafy greens. I frequently resolve to eat more greens, often going so far as to purchase lovely, crisp bunches of them and then watch them wither away in my refrigerator for lack of inspiration. But then I met Alice Waters. Well, I didn’t so much meet her as I read a biography of her, which prompted me to buy a few of her cookbooks and experiment with a bunch of her recipes, as a result of which I really started to get this whole leafy greens thing.