Gotta Love Pizza

Our corner of the country is about 25 round-trip miles from the nearest pizzeria  and home delivery is out of the question. So for 30+ years, it’s been make-your-own or do without. I thought I’d share my recipe, in case you’re facing a pizza shortage in this Covid-era

Our pizza starts with a very old recipe from Chez Panisse, a Berkeley restaurant that Alice Waters opened back in 1971 when I was in grad school there. Her marvelous pizza dough recipe appeared in the old Berkeley Barb not long after. I still bake from my early 1970s clipping (several times copied), but you can find Alice’s original recipe here. The photo is from the second rising. My strategy for dough risings in our air-conditioned house: put a large bowl with a cup of water into the microwave, heat it for a minute, then set the covered dough bowl into that larger bowl and close the microwave door to hold the heat. That’s about as much warmth as this dough wants.

Alice’s recipe makes enough dough for two pizzas if you like your crust thin and crispy. We like it deep-dish (thicker and softer), so I use the full recipe for one pizza. We don’t like a lot of sauce and mine is easy and uncomplicated: 1/2 can tomato paste plus about a 1/3 cup of ketchup and a half-tin of mashed anchovies, plus dried thyme, oregano, basil (if you don’t have fresh). Toppings: crumbled Italian sausage on my half; pepperoni and sausage on Bill’s. On both: onion, garlic, mushrooms (these days, I mostly use canned, since Bill goes to the store only every couple of weeks), sometimes bacon. And lots of freshly grated mozzarella.

I bake my pizza a lot slower than Alice’s recipe calls for (375) and a little longer (16-18 min)–of course, it depends on your oven. Fresh chopped basil goes on top, if I have any. (Mine got started late, from seed–it won’t be ready for a few weeks.) Slice and enjoy with a hearty red.












Book report. I’ve been working on the Dahlias’ 9th mystery, The DD’s and the Voodoo Lily. There’ve been a lot of interruptions lately (I’ve been helping with the launch of Story Circle’s new website), so progress has been slower than usual. My mysteries typically have 3-4 subplots, and when I’m pulled out of the narrative for even a day, I lose track.  Coming back to the story means lots of back-tracking. I’m hoping to finish in another three weeks. Then I’ll turn the file over to Sandra, my intrepid copy editor and then to Sarah and Kerry for layout and upload. Monica’s covers are all-but-done already. My team is intelligent and hardworking and I love every one of them. If all goes well for us, you should have both digital and prints books by early November, the library edition a little later–if it’s still economically feasible. (We’ll see about that after we know what’s happened with the hardcover library edition of the omnibus Crystal Cave.) The next China Bayles? Probably late 2021.

In the meantime, there’s plenty of time for you to finish the first Pecan Springs novella trilogy (NoBODY, SomeBODY Else, Out of BODY) before the second (Deadlines,  Fault Lines, Firelines) comes out in July and August, with an omnibus edition in September. These stories are all centered on Pecan Springs, with different characters (Ruby Wilcox and crime reporter Jessica Nelson) taking the lead. There will be an audio edition of these books, but I’m not sure when. Covid-19 has thrown a monkey wrench into the audio publisher’s plans and I don’t know where they are with this project.

Reading note: You can do irrefutably impossible things with the right amount of planning and support from intelligent and hardworking people and pizza. –Scott Gimple



27 comments on “Gotta Love Pizza

  1. My late husband, Frank Smith, loved pizza and I believe Alice Waters recipe was what he made for us. Brings up good memories.

  2. Well I’m now eager to try my own pizza after many years of not baking much. Living alone, it’s hard to be motivated but you have done it! Thank you for this and for many years of reading pleasure. PS. If you ever opened a B&B, I would be there!

    • I’ll put you at the top of the guest list, Natalie–but life is already too complicated! 🙂

  3. Love the crystal cave series. Still have to read the last. Lookin toward yo and if course fir July,august and December (fir the library version). Stay Cool🌈👒☀️

  4. I loved your Crystal Cave trilogy. You kept me hooked as I read it in two days this past week. I do love Ruby and her “colorful” life. That watermelon kitchen is terrific. Another winner!
    Jeanne Zeeb-Schecter

  5. Thanks for a new pizza dough recipe to try! My teen sons and I love pizza, and we make it about once a week now. And yay for a new DD book just in time for my birthday! I’m listening to your Beatrix Potter books–I’d read them all before, but am loving hearing them as I go about my day. Thanks for the joy!

    • I LOVE the narrator of the Cottage Tales, Reina–Virginia Leishman. She’s wonderful. Of all the audiobooks, those are my very, very favorites.

  6. Excited about the news about the upcoming novellas. Love all your writings. Excited about the new Dahlias. Wish the China installment weren’t so far off, but understand you can only do so much at a time. Just finished the Robin Paige series. Loved all. Will there be more? Please do not ever stop books in print. There are we loyal fans who would be devastated.

  7. Thanks for the pizza recipe. I’ll try it this week. And thank heavens for ereaders during this time when libraries and bookstores are closed. My intention was to reread all of Dick Francis’ books but I realized I had never read your Robin Paige series. Have enjoyed reading my way through them. Just finished Death in Blenheim Palace. Can’t wait to get into the last one!

    • I agree about ereaders, Margaret. For me, it’s accessibility. I’m able to get what I need for research and what I want for fun reading–without leaving my chair. To me, that’s simply dazzling. Glad you’re enjoying Robin Paige. I loved doing the Blenheim book. The setting held so many, many stories, everywhere we looked. The hard part: pruning a manageable plot out of the thicket of stories.

  8. I met my husband because of pizza. True story. We were both working at Dominos. “Moonlighting” as extra work used to be referred to. But I remember the first time I spoke with him before getting a job at the same store, I thought he must be from New York or some place way off. Certainly not from our area. I was wrong. I’ll digress now. Love pizza!

  9. Your pizza post delighted me no end. I’d never even thought of making my own (gluten-free for us) pizza crust! Now that I’ve spent a lot more time cooking and baking, I’ll have to give it a try. Though we can’t (for medical reasons) do our own grocery shopping, I can certainly order (fortunately) what we need for the sauce and the toppings.

    Also happy, as a fan, to get your book report. I’ve already read the novella trilogy but have a couple of unread China Bayles next to the bed, so we’re covered!

  10. So….it’s pizza for you and Soup and ice cream for me. Easy to prepare and if you add an egg and toast every morning it follows that you are getting a well balanced diet. Try it for a week!) Just once to vary things for your taste buds.
    I am in a nursing home now, but it has a library and some of your books in it. So, all is well. The grounds are large enough for a walk in the fresh air and the evening companionship includes 7 other ladies “of a certain age” and myself who are once again acting like the giggling teenagers we once were at slumber parties. You are so fortunate you are not widowed and I am happy for you and your husband that you are not. Have a good and a productive summer. Gini Hotchkiss

    • Gini, so glad you have found a compatible group in your home situation! And yes, I treasure my situation. These are difficult times and we need all the support we can find, wherever we can find it.

  11. Love your books, and we almost own ALL of them. Just reread the entire China Bayles and now eagerly awaiting the next one. We love pizza too. Alas no more thick crust for us being diabetic so the thinner the better. I have a quick and easy recipe for the crust but also can not make it right now. I can not find yeast anywhere! So purchased ones are only ones available. One nice one that comes as dough but has to be used pretty quick if you don’t freeze it (not as good after) is found in 3 types at Trader Joe’s…homemade is better but when one can’t get the basic ingredients it’s an acceptable option. For some reason I can’t find your books there, grin!

    • Sorry to hear about the yeast outage, Janice. My son (who bakes his own bread) tells me that he’s having a hard time finding it in Reno. Must be increased demand, with lots of people at home and baking. 3-4 years ago, I bought a pound of dry granular yeast and stuck it in the freezer. I use a little more than the recipe calls for, let it get to room temp, and it works just fine. Nope: Trader Joe’s won’t be carrying the books. 🙂

      • IF and when I can find yeast I may well buy myself a pound! Don’t do much in way of yeast breads but surely want it for pizza crust. I wonder if all those people who bought it “out” have it sitting in their pantries wasting away…who would have thought that and flour would be such a challenge.

        • My thought exactly, Janice (re sitting in pantries). Try online for that pound.It’s available.

      • In our part of Austin some of the bakeries are selling yeast, flour, and other ingredients needed for baking! You might try that if you have a bakery nearby, Janice

        Susan, thanks for the recipe. I know you’re working hard on your books. I can hardly wait for the next China Bayles one. Please do at least a couple of them in a row next time! 😊

  12. Susan your pizza sounds delicious and I’m always looking for a better pizza crust. Do you follow the suggestion and brush the crust with the garlic oil? And I love your writing! Reading The General’s Women right now. Thanks for the many hours of reading pleasure you’ve provided.

    • I don’t do the garlic oil, Pud–my Italian sausage and Bill’s pepperoni would pretty much overwhelm that.Also, we like a LOT of fresh garlic (minced) added to the topping.Re: The General’s Women. I found a few more newspaper clippings that round out Kay’s post-war story, told in the epilogue. I should update that, or at east put them in a blog post.

  13. I own just about every book you have written…….why keep putting out BOOKS in kindle first when people like myself do not own a kindle, do not plan to own a kindle and are some of your best customers !

    • Thanks for the question, Missie–but that’s sort of like asking a publisher why they put out hardcover first and the paperback a year later, when most of the fans read only paperbacks. Isn’t it? (Currently, my readers are about 60% e-readers, 40% print–and the print numbers keep getting smaller.)

      Also, if the novellas were published singly in print, they’d cost about $12 each, even though they’re half the length of a novel. (That’s just the economics of publishing.) You don’t want to pay that much, I’m sure.

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