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“It’s pizza night!”
Even every Friday.
My boys never tire of those words.
A bowl of popcorn, a favorite movie, and a few square feet of mozzarella magic, and it’s going to be a great evening.
No question about it.
In a family of four boys, food is currency, and pizza is the gold standard. As the long bones lengthen and the voices grow deeper, the double batch makes way for the quadruple batch, and leftovers in the fridge are like money in the bank.
Of course, eventually, someone gets his license, or a girlfriend (or both), and suddenly an evening at home no longer registers on the social Dow Jones. But pizza night goes on for whoever happens to be home or whoever is visiting, and the leftovers pay dividends forward — with cold pizza after a basketball practice and a heart-to-heart talk about unfair coaches; cold pizza after a shift at McDonalds and a late-night discussion about where to buy the diamond; re-heated pizza for a carload of friends who “aren’t hungry” until they realize how very welcome they are.
Food can become a metaphor for abundance. Yes, your friend can stay for dinner, because we have enough — enough food, enough space in our lives, enough love to go around.
God is also in the business of letting His children know that He is enough, and His love is inexhaustible.
That’s why the apostle Paul strains His heavenly thesaurus in Ephesians 3:18,19 (NKJV) to communicate the expanse of Christ’s love for us:
God’s love for us passes knowledge; it is vast and complete, and yet He urges us to lean into its impossible dimensions and to rest there.
When I wonder if I can absorb another change or welcome another whirling planet into the solar system of my life, these words remind me that my ability to keep on stretching the circumference of my heart depends on my continual acceptance of the love of Christ for me. If I set my boundaries small and safe, I’m leaving room only for my own love — narrow and choosy, shallow and tentative.
Slowly, slowly I am learning that the only way to really “know the love of Christ” is to leave my heart ajar to the expanse of a bigger love.
It was standing room only the last time we all got together for a pizza night — daughter-in-love, grandboy, girlfriend, and all, but somehow in the midst of all the laughter and chaos, the pizza disappeared as usual. Slicing through the last pepperoni-and-black-olive, I smiled, because pizza night is teaching me that love comes — and it fills all the space we make for it.
The Recipe for Big Pizza Love
As regular readers know, most of my pizza-eaters have flown the nest, but I’m still making pizza, and I continue to receive requests for my pizza recipe, so I’m sharing it here. Giving credit where credit is due, if you happen to own a Moosewood Cookbook (mine is the 1992 edition), you’ll find that I’ve borrowed the recipe for calzone crust (160-161) and adapted it for pizza.
1 cup wrist-temperature water
1½ tsp. active dry yeast
1 Tbs. honey or sugar
1½ tsp. salt
2½ to 3 cups flour
oil for bowl and pans
- Place the water in a bowl. Sprinkle yeast, and stir in honey/sugar and salt until everything dissolves.
- Stir in flour, kneading when it gets too thick for a spoon.
- Oil the bowl and cover dough with a cloth. Let rise until doubled in bulk. This is a good time to begin making the sauce and preparing toppings.
1 quart of canned tomatoes
1 small can of tomato paste
Garlic and basil to taste (sorry, I’ve never measured it!)
You don’t really need my help here, but I will share that pepperoni and black olives top the list of favorites here. The patient husband and I like to put leftover ratatouille on pizza. When we have a crowd in, I usually make at least one with just veggies, and I always make one with just cheese.
Punch down the risen dough and spread with greased fingers in a well-oiled pan. Be sure to go all the way to the edges and then create a tiny edge around the circumference. Top with sauce, toppings, and an abundance of mozzarella. Bake at 450° until crust is browned and cheese is bubbly–about 15-20 minutes.
Depending on the size of your pans, this recipe will accommodate one large, deep dish pizza or two smaller pizzas of the thin crust persuasion. Experiment and let me know how it goes!
May you know and share the width and length and depth and height of God’s great love,