I knew I’d be alone for dinner last night, as she was having a dinner meeting with some people on the committee for her big summer event. The cats would be home, too, of course, but I’d be cooking only for myself. When I’m going to be home alone–which isn’t all that often–I try to make something I like that she doesn’t. Brussels sprouts were an obvious choice, but they’re not in season.
By the time I finished a rehearsal at which my kids were frustratingly unfocused, I considered just having a bottle of wine for dinner. But I knew that wouldn’t happen, not least because I wanted to be able to drive to meet her late-arriving train–and I had work I wanted to do for which clear-headedness was a good idea. So not wine, or at least not just wine.
We’ve been trying to eat from our pantry as much as possible. She reminded me the other day of a couple of tins on the top shelf, so I decided to use those. They were smoked oysters, which I had on a pizza a long time ago and really enjoyed. I’ve made that pizza many times over the years, and if it was never quite as wonderful as that first time, it was always pretty good. I knew it was something she wouldn’t want to share, so it was the perfect choice. I knew I had an open jar of marinara sauce and plenty of cheese.
I stopped at the market on the way home to pick up pre-made pizza dough. I could have made dough from scratch, but I was trying to speed things along; if the oven was internet-equpped I would have sent it a “preheat” command. While my off-line oven warmed, I gathered cheese and sauce (and mushrooms, for good measure) from the fridge, and cleaned some broccoli to steam as a side. (Yes, pizza and broccoli. I wanted something green, and remember that the object was a dinner she wouldn’t want to share.) I pulled down the cans from the top shelf and opened them into a strainer.
The tins weren’t smoked oysters after all. They were octopus and squid. (Well, at least now I had a dinner she really wouldn’t want to eat.) As for why I had tinned octopus and squid in the house, it probably had to do with thinking, “Well, I like oysters, so why not?” I like smoked oyster pizza, so why not try octopus and squid?
The dough stretched into a beautiful thin round. I topped it and slid it onto the hot pizza stone. I set the timer, fed the cats, and headed to the office. In almost no time I’d recorded a pretty good vocal part for the demo I was working on–but then I realized a measure of accompaniment I’d wanted to cut was still in the track. It didn’t take long to get rid of it and stitch back together the vocal part to make the transition seamless. By the time I finished, I figured the timer was about to go off, so I happily saved my work and went upstairs.
That’s when I realized I’d set the timer on the microwave oven, which isn’t nearly loud or insistent enough to get my attention. It had beeped and then went silent, not being smart enough to alert me again. If I had an internet-equipped microwave, maybe it would have sent me a text message: Your pizza is ready. Oh, and by the way, it’s in the OVEN, not in the microwave.
It was overdone, but not too far gone. The outer crust was too crisp, but the rest of the pie wasn’t destroyed. I let it rest on the counter for a couple of minutes while the broccoli steamed in the microwave, then sliced and plated pizza and green thing.
Octopus and squid can get terribly tough if it isn’t cooked properly. The tinned varieties are already cooked, so I was really only reheating them. I didn’t do much damage. Perhaps if I’d gotten the pie out of the oven sooner, it would have been a little less chewy, but it was far from awful.
As for my “why-not” pizza, the real question is, “why bother?” I’ll have the leftovers for lunch today, and then I won’t make it again. There are lots of things I prefer to put on pizza–and lots of pizza toppings she enjoys sharing. If I go to the tinned-fish section of the market again, it’ll be for tuna. Cooking for one–even eccentrically and somewhat experimentally–is fine, but cooking for us both is better.