Our favorite pizza

Confession: We always have pizza on Saturday nights, unless we are away from home. It’s a tradition I grew up with in my family, and now my children count on it.

The soft and delicious crust is a recipe passed down to me by my mom.

Pizza Dough

1 scant Tbsp. yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup warm water

— Stir together and let rest 5 minutes.

1 Tbsp. oil
½ tsp. salt
Garlic salt to taste
Oregano to taste
2 ½ cups hi-gluten flour

— Add, and knead with dough hook attachment in mixer until dough is soft and elastic, no longer clinging to sides of bowl. Let rise till double, 30-45 minutes. Pat into pizza pan.

Sometimes I shake extra herbs into the dough – sage, thyme, parsley, basil. Or I use half a cup of whole wheat flour and two cups of hi-gluten.

Recently we’ve been stuffing the crust. We cut string cheese in half the long way and wrap the dough around it – or use equivalent size strips from a chunk of bulk cheese.

Then we butter the top of the crust (only the stuffed part) and sprinkle it with garlic salt, to make basically a stuffed breadstick. Now the crust is the best part of the pizza!

We add pizza sauce and our favorite toppings – usually a pound of bulk sausage, browned; mushrooms (on all but two slices); shredded mozzarella; and lots of pepperoni. We bake it at 375° for 30 minutes, and enjoy together.

Yum.


Do you have food traditions for certain days each week? I’d love to hear them, and give them a try in our family.

Also, just FYI – I let Kelly comment on my last post to give an update on how she’s doing. By now she’s as active as ever, having to be reminded of the doctor’s orders to go easy on her tummy until her follow-up appointment. Thanks for your kind words to her and to me.

Last Thursday

August 17, 2017

She showed up beside by my bed at three a.m.

“Mommy,” she said, “I am having great pain.”

That is an odd phrase, I thought. And I got up and asked questions and chose her some medicine, and scooted over to make space for her in the bed. She slept with me the rest of the night, but when she came downstairs in the morning it was worse. She lay on the couch for the next half hour, crying out, increasingly distressed, caught in the pain, chilled, screaming sometimes, vomiting.

“You can pinch my arm hard,” I said. “Ouch.”

We phoned and phoned. Our new doctor was out of the office for the day, and our old doctor’s office said “Since it’s within 24 hours of onset, just have her drink sips of water and wait for the virus to pass. I mean, if she really needs to come in, you can call back to schedule.” I wanted to yell at them.

That doctor called back within minutes to say, “I’m sorry. I was busy with another patient when the office girl spoke to me. What kind of pain is your daughter having? Okay, she needs to go for a scan. I’d recommend the emergency room.”

We had promised ourselves last December that if this happened again, we’d know the signs, and we’d drive her to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh ourselves. We’d skip the extra hours of waiting, the ambulance, the double doctor and hospital bills. Our hospital does very little with peds, and transfer was near-guaranteed.

So we loaded my daughter into the van. I called around for a sitter for my baby. I grabbed hasty supplies – a toothbrush, a change of clothes for Kelly, a Bible, my breakfast. And my little girl and I set out for Pittsburgh, an hour and forty minutes away.

All the way down, as she dozed and retched in the backseat, I second guessed myself. What if it was a stomach bug? But when I could see her again, I knew we were in the right place, and may I say something else? That hospital is amazing. We were met by great staff, checked in immediately, and called back to an ER berth within ten minutes of arrival.

And so the long and the short of this story, several tests later, is that my daughter had a second ovarian torsion, exactly like the first one last December, with this difference: it was her left ovary instead of her right one. The chance of a torsion happening at all in a pre-pubescent child, without a cyst or other “cause,” is very small. For it to happen to the same child on opposite sides is just crazy. The managing doctor in the ER had never seen it, and even after the scans, the surgeon was not convinced it wasn’t the same ovary just pulling a number on us. Until he looked for himself.

Once again, I called and texted frenetically to keep her father informed. Once again, I signed release forms for laparoscopic surgery. Once again, I kissed her goodbye and watched them take her away. She was hardly awake enough to know what was happening, even before the anesthesia. That is what her body does in this kind of pain: vomits and sleeps.

But oh, bless Jesus. While they were in there, they stitched both ovaries in place to keep it from happening again. The release form said they might. “Please,” I said. “If you can do it, please do.” The surgeon looked at me. “Like a time bomb waiting to go off, huh?” he said. You got it, sir.

Her timing is awful. Last time, we were four days from her first Christmas program at school, and she healed up just in time to participate. This time, I was twenty-four hours from leaving for an overnight trip to a ladies’ retreat – one of the highlights of my year, and the only event to which I never take a child. And no, I didn’t make it. I kept watching the clock, thinking of what They All were doing without me, feeling wretched for being so selfish and minding so much. That is my confession.

As if she could choose, poor darling.

Worse, it is our third emergency room visit in nine months, and eats up the money I was hoping to spend to visit my sister in Israel when her baby comes. That is a loss I do not know how to fix.

Although there was worry and sorrow, there was far less stress in round two. There was no talk of a mass, a teratoma or a cancer or a rupture. We had a precedent.

I am so grateful for superior medical teams who knew what they were doing, grateful my daughter’s fertility is still intact, grateful to live in a generation when it is possible to look inside the human body, and to enter it to fix what is wrong, and to do the entering so unobtrusively that the patient can be up and walking (almost pain-free) within hours. I am grateful to my husband and my bestie and my mom, who kept things running smoothly in my absence and who were all around flexible and wonderful. I am grateful to Kelly for being such a trooper. Most of all, I am grateful this part of her story is, Lord willing, behind us.

The only good thing about hospital stays: ordering whatever you want to eat and chain-watching Richard Scarry movies.

“My life has so many miracles,” she says.

And I say, Amen. And please, honey, let’s have no more for a while.


There’s little information I can find even on the internet about ovarian torsions, either because they are rare and unstudied or because they are usually accompanied by another condition, such as a cyst, which receives the greater attention and official diagnosis. They’re easily missed as mimicking something else; and uncorrected, they’re both excruciating and dangerous. The speedy intervention of surgery was a godsend both times. Thank you, Jesus!

Smile, it’s amazon

Confession: One of the things I have shifted toward a lot in the last two years is buying online. My husband makes so many purchases for his business that it’s decidedly worth it for us to pay for Amazon Prime – which includes free two-day shipping on countless items.

I have many friends who shop this way too.

Our family recently had a complex argument about whether it was more fuel-and-energy efficient to buy online or in stores. (This was after I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Kingsolver, and was thinking more about the energy costs associated with getting things to my house.) Our argument went something like this:

  1. You save gas if you stay home.
  2. But someone has to deliver the items to your house. Same diff, right?
  3. But if he didn’t deliver them to your house, he would deliver them to the stores, right? And then you would go get them – twice the gas.
  4. But he is bringing them to you in small sets, as often as once a day, not with boxes and boxes at a time like an efficient shopping run (you) or a big store delivery (them).
  5. But he is making his round of deliveries around town anyway, and you are on the way.
  6. But seriously – stopping at every house to make individual deliveries?

Okay, I’m convinced. I think it is less energy efficient to have everyone stay home while several trucks run around town delivering things. No wait. That sounds like a GOOD plan. Gaaahhhhh! Meanwhile my husband and my oldest son, who are both smarter than I, are convinced that the difference is either negligible or in favor of home delivery. I hate when they do that.

What do you think?

Alternately, we could do both – run around town making errands and sit at home shopping online.

Yeah, that would work. Efficiency shmiciency.

Okay, I am sorry to disappoint you but that is not the point of this post. That whole discussion was a bunny trail from my real point, which was this:

What I’m about to say may be old hat to you, but I must be sure. Did you know that when you make purchases on Amazon.com, you can make them via Amazon Smile, which donates money to a nonprofit of your choice? The nonprofit must be registered with Amazon Smile, but you can then choose it from a list of charities, schools, and other organizations. My choice is Faith Builders Educational Programs, which runs the Christian day school my children attend. That means every time I make a purchase, a small percentage of my total is earmarked as a donation and given to them. It’s not a lot, about half a percent, but it adds up when many people do it.

Amazing!

The nice thing is that it’s not a different store, or a different way of shopping. It’s just a different way of accessing the Amazon site. I have Amazon Smile pinned to the taskbar of my computer, so each time I open Amazon I’m already set to go, and all my purchases count. I don’t have to do anything extra.

And no, I do not make ADDITIONAL purchases just to donate. I’m not that stupid, er, devoted, or whatever you want to call it.

In a nutshell, if you’re an Amazon shopper, please check into it. There are many good places registered there, such as Fair Play Camp School, Bald Eagle Boys Camp, Christian Aid Ministries, Amish Mennonite Aid, Samaritan’s Purse, Open Hands, crisis pregnancy centers, and many more. If you don’t already have a non-profit of choice, you are cordially invited to pick Faith Builders as well. We would not mind.

Good hunting,

Shari

PS – Unfortunately, no one is paying me for this pitch.

The corn people

Held in warmth and darkness, the embryos await the light

Grow whole and plump out of the broken

Push their rumpled heads out of the night

 

The babies tremble in the springtime wind

Their tender jade hands patting at the raindrops, their bodies

Stretching slowly toward the sun

 

The children dance in line in the furrows, grow like weeds

And reach to touch hands

Their rippling arms sway above their heads as they play

 

The teenagers are robust, thick-stalked and firm

Tousle-haired, energetic, virile

Eager to be full grown, productive

 

The mature are thirsty, reach their parched hands high

A silent shriek for answers that do not come and

For the life of the young borne against their bodies, for strength

 

The fruitful stand erect, yield produce of excellence and delight

And spent, bereft, but self-respecting

Wait in silence for the end. The good seed will go on

 

The aged shrivel into themselves, pointing crooked fingers

Against the clouded evening sky

Accusing, eerie, alone

 

Held in warmth and darkness, the embryos await the light

Psalm 23 reloaded

This post is a zinger, but I want you to know the person I am speaking about: myself. These words grew out of a recent conversation with my husband, in which I realized I have trouble giving myself permission to do three things: take up space in the world, have needs, and make mistakes. Out of this clarity I wrote what I sometimes live. May God have mercy on his child in need of grace, and if you could have mercy on me too I’d sure appreciate it.


The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not have needs

He maketh me to be just fine, thank you, and I have it covered

What you said did not hurt me and what you did does not make me angry

But I have a friend you could pray for, she is really having a hard time

 

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not desire

I am content with the status quo and to admit hunger would mean to become incomplete

I am perfect in spirit, I drag along a body till I leave this old world and it obeys me better if I don’t listen

God’s way is best I will not murmur, hallelujah

 

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not struggle

Those people out there do not have him, poor souls, but here in the fold we are good

And always put our best hoof forward. Our sins, supposing we had any, are under the blood

There is no looking back and we’re never in mental turmoil, praise the Lord

 

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want

It’s been a while since I heard his voice but my wool is still squeaky clean. When he says

He comforts me I’m not sure what that means. As far as I know I have peace with God

And my fellowman so I don’t have any enemies. What does it mean to restore a soul?