PENINSULA KITCHEN: Enjoy homemade pizza with friends

SEVERAL YEARS AGO, my family and I attended a dinner celebration at the home of a mentor of mine.

I was one of the youngest people there, save my then-9-year-old daughter.

At first, I felt out of place and uncomfortable surrounded by a veritable who’s who crowd of Port Angeles’ most well-known and respected residents.

I grabbed a plate of gorgeously crafted food and slunk over to the edges of the crowd.

Looking down, I saw a tumbleweed of dust and dog hair float by on the floor.

I was immediately put at ease.

I was grateful to be included in the event and even more grateful that my host felt comfortable enough with all of us to let the authentic raw edges of her home and life hang out.

When I find myself stressed at the thought of inviting guests to our tiny house because it’s “so dirty” or the toilet needs scrubbing or the laundry is piled up by the washer and dryer, which is right by the back door, which is the way out to the picnic table, which is the only place we can have more than four people sit comfortably, I think of the dog hair at my friend’s home and do my best to shrug my shoulders and open the door to friends.

Jack King describes this unflinching opening of your home, warts and all, as “scruffy hospitality.”

It was with this in mind that I texted friends at 7:15 on a recent Friday morning and invited them to our home that very night for pizza in the backyard.

I didn’t sweep or dust or scrub that toilet, and I’m betting they didn’t even notice.

If this pizza is too fussy for you to manage on a night of scruffy hospitality, do up a simple pepperoni, or order out, or just invite them over for grapes and Popsicles.

However you manage it, don’t shy away from letting your people in the door.

After all, as Annie Dillard points out, the way we spend our days is the way we spend our lives.

I, for one, would rather some company in a dirty house than sit alone in a clean one.

Grapes and kale pizza adapted from “The Splendid Table”

1 light-packed cup baby kale

A generous ½ cup seedless grapes cut in half

½ a medium red onion, diced

Shredded zest of ½ a large lemon

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

Leaves from 5 fresh thyme sprigs

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Generous ¼ teaspoon coarse ground salt

⅛ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

1 pizza dough, homemade or store bought

¼ cup heavy whipping cream

1 cup shredded Asiago, parmesan or other very hard cheese

Set one oven rack as low as possible. Place a pizza stone on the rack. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Tear the greens into bite-sized pieces as you add them to a large bowl. Toss them with the grapes, onion, lemon zest, garlic, thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Sprinkle a tablespoon or more on a large ungreased pizza peel. Stretch the dough in your hands into as big a circle as you can without tearing.

Place it on the peel and roll it out if need be.

Fill the center of the dough with the vegetable-grape mixture, spreading it out to the edges of the dough.

Slip it off of the pizza peel and onto the pizza stone in the oven, and bake 10 minutes.

As the pizza bakes, blend the heavy whipping cream and the cheese.

Remove the pizza from the oven.

Spoon the cheese mixture over the pizza.

Stick it back into the oven to bake another 4 to 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and barely picking up color.

Take it out of the oven and let rest for a few minutes before cutting into wedges.

________

Carrie Sanford, who shares the Peninsula Kitchen column with Betsy Wharton, is a mother, wife, educator, artist, activist and cook.

She writes the newsletter for Salt Creek Farm in Joyce during the growing season and volunteers with nonprofits and schools in Port Angeles, where she lives with her husband, Tom Sanford, and their daughter, Abby.

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