The prize behind the pizza

So, I just baked pizza for 20-odd people. The “best pizza on St Croix” according to at least one of our guests. For some reason I made enough dough for 32 10″ pizzas? No worries, it shall be turned into tasty sweet rolls for brunch tomorrow before Mango Melee. Back to pizza. Well, I’ve decided that I have a problem with pizza: it’s boring. I’ve mastered the thin, crispy crust in the wood fired oven, I’ve made half a dozen different tomato sauce variations and even a spicy papaya sauce, I’ve added countless toppings…but in the end, it still just tastes like pizza. I can’t make it interesting! Care to prove me wrong? Don’t worry, I’ll keep making pizza – it’s fun to make, so long as there are people there to enjoy it and to tell me how fabulous it is. We all need a little stroking of our respective egos once in a while, right? I was especially delighted to have a guest who was seeing the wood fired oven for the first time tonight, fellow foodie and blogger, Tanisha, of Crucian Contessa. All the best people converge in kitchens, or better yet around outdoor bake ovens!

Rolling out pizzas under the newly finished bake oven roof.
Pizza party!

If we’re done dwelling on the pizza dilemma…oh, wait, you have something to say? That’s what the comments section down below is for. Anyway…the great spring/summer drought seems to at last be over, which is awesome for the garden, less good for the building progress. Between the patches of rain, the extreme heat, and side-effects from a course of antibiotics (there’s a good reason why I try to avoid medications), I was unable to make much progress on the Nid this week. It’s sure to happen sometimes, and I did manage to harvest a batch of bamboo, and get a few more lathes up on the Nid walls – just not as many as I’d have liked to.

Finishing the bake oven roof with Landen, our great WWOOF volunteer.
Harvesting bamboo from a roadside.
More lathes on the Nid, and Landen digging out stumps from the “front yard” before someone trips and kills themselves.

On the other hand, I did get a bunch of pidgin peas planted, found some pumpkin sprouts “planted” by the chickens, and found lots more flowers on both the carambola tree and the cucumber vines (despite innumerable ants on the latter). I also did some research on Chaya, also known as “tree spinach”, a South American tree with leaves that are toxic raw, yet edible once cooked. Turns out that despite traditional beliefs, chaya need only be boiled for at least 1 minute in order for the toxins to be broken down, leaving the leaves edible and substantially more nutritious than spinach or many other greens. Chaya just happens to be a plant that we already have growing, but had always been put off by the myth that it must be boiled for upwards of 30 minutes in order to be safely consumed – by which time it would be a tasteless, slimy mush! You can probably guess what’s on the menu for the next time I’m cooking.

Inspecting sprouts.
Pumpkin sprouts.
Carambola flowers.

That’s it for this week, my dear followers, as I must be at the airport bright and early tomorrow morning to pick up our next WWOOF volunteer, before going to Mango Melee – one of the largest “festivals” on St Croix each year, featuring mango cooking and eating competitions, lectures, craft and produce stalls, etc. This fair happens each year at the wonderful St Georges Botanical Garden, a true treasure of St Croix with beautifully tended plant specimens from all over the tropical world. I’m not sure where the energy will come from, but it will doubtless be a fun afternoon of local culture!

2 thoughts on “The prize behind the pizza

Add yours

  1. I’m sure your pizzas are delicious, Merryn, so you likely don’t need my advice here, but I find that changing the cheese (or mixing in some different cheese), makes a big difference. Especially if you pair it with toppings that complement it. For instance, pizza with goat cheese (probably mixed with regular mozzarella to cut the goat taste) with arugula and beets. SO GOOD.

    1. Thanks, Sophie – I’ll give that a try, though any interesting cheese is hard to get here or insanely expensive! First get my goats…

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