Like this past Sunday when I told myself 10 times that I will not be able to carry another cooler filled with stuff and put it on a dolly and then roll it to “our spot”, a place marked with chalk initials, all on a downhill slope. Everything was escaping from me. My lower back (use your knees), my grip, the dolly, and reasons why I was doing this. But I did it anyway because it seemed logical. If I quit, I’d get fired and that would seem illiogical. So I did it. When the time came to wrap things up, we undid what we just did a few hours earlier. Un-canopied the canopy, unhooked the generator, unplugged the boom box, propped it back up on the dolly and rolled it to the van…you know, the opposite. A couple serenaded me while I toyed with this new word I learnt: “Cambro…caaam-bro…*very fast* cambro…” Cambro. They sounded good together. They stayed till I finished the heavy lifting, ukulele sounds coupled with my half-panting, half-not so much.
They were a sign. A good sign.
That was the beginning and the end. The middle was a different sort of test. With a brain so easily confusable (not a word, I know), I got my first lesson in giving the customer what s/he wants. And while I did that, I made small talk about Pushkar and fish that aren’t scared of humans. I think those are called koi but I never said that because I associate koi with ponds and a bunch of overfed fish swimming really close and touching tails. Groups of living things doing living things give me the shivers. Okay then. While I had to ask people at least 2 times what they wanted to eat, I found sneaky not-so-“I’m a little slow” ways to do it. I was the most scared of giving a vegetarian chicken but, I made it, with one near miss (not related to vegetarian-y things). Then Diane came along. She wanted to trade a birch dream-catcher she was making under the tree for a bowl of quinoa. She smiled really big and introduced herself, telling us she was walking around the market trading food for the dream-catchers. I asked her if she was very creative and she said she’d like to think so. She got her bowl of sunshine vegetarian quinoa and my boss got a dream-catcher.
That was a good sign too. A very good sign.
The last round of picking up the place we fed people was pushing up the cart up the hill so it could be hooked back up to the van. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t have time to go buy some veggies and use my $1 discount but I was ready to go back and do dishes, in a strange twist of events. Before we could start, the Hmong flower vendors that were in no hurry let us pick a bouquet of flowers I don’t know the name of. They were poofy and they were probably dahlias. They spelt glory every way you looked at them and they were mine. If you’re wondering if that was a good sign too, it was.
I liked that sign.
We walked up to the cart one last time, ready to heave/ho and I hear: “Hey you want one too?” I looked up because I probably was looking down at the time. I also looked up because when somebody says “hey”, it could mean anybody. Unless there’s a person named Hey. In that case I’d look up and back down a bit faster. But “hey” was me. Did I want one? Yes, Diane. Y.E.S. I want a dream-catcher! I want all the dream-catchers that you made at summer camp out of birch because you know why? I’ll tell you why. It matches my flowers and also because that…THAT was the best sign of them all.
Roasted squash summer pizza
New favourite pizza dough alert. If for any reason it doesn’t work for you, please let me know. I will be happy to go back to the drawing board for you. That’s what I’m here for after all. Happy chow-downing.
For the toppings
- 300 gms summer squash/zucchini (about 2 medium sized squash)
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp fresh oregano and thyme, chopped
- 1/2 tbsp lime juice
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated (use more or less if you please)
- 1/2 cup caramelised red onions (optional)
- 1/4 cup black olives, chopped
For the dough
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup atta (durum wheat flour), plus more for dusting and kneading
- 1 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp raw cane sugar
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
You can start the pizza party by turning your oven up to 400 degrees F, which is this house take 2 shouting matches at 2 different times of the day, leaving me with very little sleep and just a few hours to use the oven until the home space turns into our very own furnace. *Currently baking eggplant on the sofa*
Slice the zucchini and summer squash into 1/4 inch thick rounds and season with all the spices and herbs apart from the cheese and onions. Once the squash is coated well, place on a baking sheet lined with foil and roast for 20 minutes until the edges brown and the squash looks crinkly. Let it cool before peeling it off the foil.
While the squash is roasting, have yourself a dance party. Once you’re done, it’s time for pizza pizza dough. Fill a bowl with the warm water and add the sugar to it. Stir to dissolve and then put in the yeast. Don’t stir it this time. Let the yeast take it’s time to dissolve. Yeast is the boss of you. Breadmakers all over the world will agree. Cover the bowl and let it sit for 5-13 minutes. It should look a bit frothy before it gets mixed into the flour. While the yeast is sitting around being the boss, put the all-purpose flour plus the atta (durum wheat flour) in a large bowl. Using your plain ol’ fingers mix it with the salt and the olive oil. To this add the yeast and again, mix, mix, mix with thy fingers (it’s really more fun this way). It should all come together at this point and form into a nice soft, elastic, dough that can be easily shaped. If it doesn’t and it’s still too sticky, add more of the durum flour to it, a little by little till it’s easy to work with. Knead the dough in the bowl for 5 minutes….no less and no more. Then cover it with a tea towel and put plastic wrap over the bowl. Place in a warm spot in the kitchen to let the yeast work it’s magic. The warmer the spot, the better the rise. I usually stick the bowl in a corner in the kitchen cupboard. Leave it there for a minimum of 1 1/2 hours to 3-4 hours.
Once the dough has risen, pull out the bowl from the cupboard and punch it. Free all the air and split the dough in half. You can make 1 pizza from half of the dough and freeze or refrigerate the rest depending on how soon you will use it. Leave it in the fridge for no more than 3 days and freeze it if you plan on keeping it for longer. The ingredients I’ve stated above work well with half the dough.
Grease a baking sheet with olive oil and taking half the dough, spread it around on the sheet using your hands. It might resist a bit in the beginning by reclaiming it’s shape but it becomes more pizza-like eventually. Once you’ve shaped it, loosen it up once from the bottom of the sheet. This means you just lift it up and put it right back down. This will help it not stick to the pan after it’s cooked. Brush the top of the pizza with olive oil and the top it with the squash, olives, caramelised onions (if using) and parmesan cheese.
So pretty right?
Bake the pizza for 20-25 minutes until the edges of the bread brown lightly. Pull it out of the oven, let it cool just a tad, slice and serve.