one man's ceiling
Monday, March 05, 2007
  delivery pizza, tightwad pizza & something in between

what a strange and wondrous thing this pizza. it is nothing more than a thin slab of bread, spread with a simple tomato sauce, topped with cheese, spices and whatever meat or vegetable you prefer. simple, inexpensive, potentially elegant, satisfying.

so why are there so many bad delivery and frozen pizza's in the world?

and by the world i mean the united states.

yea, though i once walked in the valley of domino's ignorance and pizza hut bliss i have long since found my way out of that darkness and into the light. granted, the reason a lot of people have pizza delivered it's because of either poor planning or laziness, as it was once for me. but since i have learned that often one simple trip to the store with no other purpose than to stock up on "emergency" supplies can yield many happy meals.

in actuality, i was looking to be more frugal in general when i met zuska. no, it was by necessity that i be more frugal because i had changed careers and was making much less than i used to. in doing so i discovered the amy dacyczyn, the frugal zealot, founder of the tightwad gazette. in her collected articles taken from her zine she shared her world of ditching the convention of it taking two incomes to raise a large family. in turning every assumption on its head and reexamining the economics she discovered that with only a little education and a lot of forethought you could do quite well on a single income and that a lot (but not all) of the notions that life was so expensive it required a double income to survive may have more to do with rampant consumerism than any true economic factor.

*whew* i need to think in shorter sentences.

there is much wisdom in her ideas, much i kinda smirk about, and some i would do if i could convince certain loved ones to go along with. in the struggle of compromises one must choose battles but when it comes to food the choices are easy: home cooked often are cheaper and most definitely better tasting and more satisfying than prepared foods.

to wit: the pizza.

over the years we have become conditioned to the notion that it is a "deal" to get a 16 inch plain cheese pizza delivered to our door for $9.99, plus tax and tip. and on the face of it it does seem like a deal to spend a hamilton to feed 2 to 4 people, depending on the size and appetites of the people at hand. but with a little planning you can make yourself TWO sausage, mushroom and onion pizzas with extra cheese for $10 (tax but no tip!), and if you're really frugal you can make them for even half of that.

for a while zuska and i were of the mind that if she were willing to make the dough by hand (something i truly suck at) that we could make our own frozen pizza crusts ready for impulse pizza nights. they were square and uneven -- i prefer to think of them as rustica -- and were absolutely perfect. but they were work, and setting aside a day to pre-make pizza crusts seemed like a chore after a while. no fun, easy to drift back into old ways...

then i was in a trader joe's (all hail TJ's!) and saw something that helped reframe the problem for me. they carried four different types of plain cheese pizza -- a simple margherita, a three cheese, a four cheese and, in a different part of the store, a non-frozen thick-crust, all of them under $4. after trying them it baffled me that there could be so many unsatisfying, ridiculous excuses for pizza in the freezer section of stores. ya got yer tombstone and di giorno and all the rest and they've got a long list of unappetizing chemical preservatives...

but this TJ's pizza's got all these ingredients that are, incredibly, food products! and they're prepared in wood fired ovens! for the additional cost of a couple of mushrooms, and the scrounged sausage or ham from the fridge, it was still possible to have something that didn't taste like cardboard, was hot from the oven, and didn't feed a corporate entity with questionable political donations.

thus, the chez zuska compromise pizza.

fridays are movie night, a night we all want to unwind and do nothing. i certainly don't mind cooking, but it's gotta be easy. and once a month or so it's pizza night. j. likes plain cheese on her half pizza, e. wants ham, pineapple, onion and cheese on hers, and zuska and i do the mushroom-sausage-onion-cheese dealio on our pizza. we did this last week and the cost was under $11 for both pizzas. and it took less time than ordering out. and if i'd been thinking ahead i'd have doubled the ingredients and pre-made a future pizza night's dinner.

well, maybe next time.
You know, I make my own pizza 100% (and why wouldn't I, as I was once the heiress to a pizza chain in SoCal) and if I ever get around to successfully freezing dough or whole pizzas I'll be sure and share recipes. Can I just say though, I'm With You. (i.e. do it Yerself) Must check out tightwad gazette, sounds marvellous...

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recipes and musings on food -- and anything else for that matter -- from a guy with a sticky brain who likes food. perhaps he likes food too much.

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