Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Moving and ovens

Shannon is moving.

Out on the east coast, she is in the process of boxing up her worldly belongings and moving north a couple of hours to a new apartment.

I think of her and pray for her often.  I want to be there, boxing things by her side, wrapping things in packing paper, writing detailed content lists on the outsides of the boxes.  I want to help, to engineer, to manage.  I probably want to control.  I want to be there, but I am not there.

I was thinking about her last night and an old memory popped into my head.

When Shawn and I were packing up to move to New York, he had just finished his degree at the University of Minnesota.  We lived in the University's married student housing, on Gibbs Avenue in St. Paul.  GE hired Shawn and paid to move us to Syracuse, New York.  There was not much I needed to do, as we did not own squat at the time, and what we did own was going to be handled by movers.

However.  The rental agreement for married student housing stated that we must clean the oven before we moved out.

My recollection is that the apartment was bare at that point.  Perhaps the movers had already removed our stuff.  I remember an expanse of off-white vinyl tile floor, a bit scuffed where our kitchen chairs had slid back and forth beneath the table.

The day was sultry, and the windows were wide open, but that not being enough, I had also propped open the door to the apartment hall.   Besides being hot, I was probably worried about the fumes from the oven cleaner, because I worry about such things.

Wearing shorts, with a scarf holding my hair out of my face, I sat cross-legged on a spread of old newspapers on the floor in front of the oven, scrubbing away in rubber gloves, twenty-two years old and sweaty.

I heard footsteps in the hallway outside our apartment.  Suddenly, a small boy, about six or seven years old, peered into my open door.  He looked at me with wide eyes and I smiled at him.  He ducked out of the door and I heard him holler down the hall, "Hey!  There's a woman cleaning an oven!"  In a few moments, a second small boy joined him.  They both stared at me, speechless, and then they ran away.

I wanted to include a picture with this post.  Pictures are nice, you know?

This is a pizza that I made.

The pizza is not related to moving, but it did come out of an oven.

Shawn does not care much for cauliflower crust pizza (if you click that link, scroll to the bottom).  The first time I made cauliflower crust pizza, it was good, but the second time, although I thought I made it the same way, it was not so good.  Also, it made the house smell like cooked cauliflower both times, and Shawn hates the smell of cauliflower.

This time, I decided to try potatoes instead of cauliflower.  I beat together cooked potatoes, salt, cheese, onion and garlic powder, oregano, Italian dressing and eggs.  I spread them in my generously buttered pizza pan.  I pre-baked it, and then topped it with pizza toppings.

It looked fantastic.

The house did not smell of cauliflower.

I served it up to Shawn and Jonathan.

note:  Being gluten-free is a challenge.  The thing I miss the most is pizza.  If I cheat, I usually save my cheat for pizza.  But there are times when I do not feel hearty enough to cheat; I just know that the price I will pay in aching will be too great.  Yes, there is gluten-free pizza.  You can even get it at Dominoes.  But.  Have you ever had it?  It is fine for a snack, decent as a vehicle for carrying pizza toppings, kind of.  It is flat, and hard.  It does not give you that big, satisfying, fill-up-your-mouth-with-goodness effect that you get with a nice chewy traditional crust.

So, I served up this potato crusted pizza.  It didn't come out of the pan well, and I was tired from crafting it, so that began a disappointment.

It was, ah, what?

I took a bite, and it did fill up my mouth nicely, and it did not taste bad.  But it did not taste like pizza.

When you work hard to prepare a multi-step dish and it is not what you had been hoping, it can be rather a bitter disappointment.

Shawn said, "Can this maybe be our last experiment with vegetable crust pizzas?"  Which means that the poor guy really hated it, because he would not normally say such a thing.  I felt utterly defeated and in despair, because I so very much long to discover a viable option for pizza crust that is tasty, delicious, chewy and satisfying... not like commercially available gluten-free pizza crust.

Jon.  Jon.  Jon said, "Well, if you are looking for pizza, it doesn't taste a lot like pizza, but it sure is a great way to have mashed potatoes!"  And he had seconds.  After which he fought me for the leftovers.


Shannon said...

it will be okay. I am mostly stressed about logistics, like the fact that Betsy told me to write that I was vacating on 7/21 so that she could knock $200 off of my rent for the month, but I am now stressed that the contracted cleaners/painters are going to drop by before I am moved out because I am actually moving next weekend. but other than that minor hiccup (and I don't really think that they would try to clean and paint anyway, if there are still THINGS in the apartment), I am managing my moving-related stress pretty well.

I can't stop laughing at Dad asking to maybe have this be the end of vegetable pizza crust. the trick, of course, is to think of it as something other than pizza, which is why I think JB is on-point. it's also funny because that pizza looks a bit like the pizza you posted on the older flower photograph post, which I was just looking at today.

okay, enough is enough, I guess. I should go home and resume putting things into boxes and taking lots of things to the trash and/or recycling. I also need to make an appointment to get my hair cut... sigh...

ruth said...

"...the trick, of course, is to think of it as something other than pizza..."
Yes. I think this pizza dish would actually be quite tasty with a ton of sausage on the top, and lots of cheese, and (in a perfect world with no sensitive stomachs) caramelized onions. And then it would kind of be a reverse shepherd's pie. The sausage-potato combination would be rather delicious.

Shannon said...

sausage, cheese, and onions on your makeshift potato crust sounds amazing. I am actually salivating. maybe it is time for lunch.