Undercooked Pizza

I hadn’t talked with Missy and Biff Loomis for a while so it was nice to hear from them this morning. Missy wears bling which dangles and jangles when she dips her minnows out of the bait tank. She usually prefers to talk about fishing and motorcycles and her job on the state so I put down my newspaper and paid attention. Today, she had pizza on her mind.

Undercooked pizza.

They had gotten tied up with customers down on the dock yesterday and didn’t get to eat breakfast until nearly noon. She decided to call in an order for her favorite pizza to The Doughbie Brothers, a friendly neighborhood pizzeria that has combinations you’ve never heard of.

Undercooked Pizza Slice from a Yelp ReviewShe drove to the restaurant to find the pie was still in the oven. The Doughbie Brothers guarantee the pick up time; worse, this is the second time they’ve been late. She grumbled a bit and a few minutes later, her order arrived all boxed up and ready to go.

Or not.

When she got it home, it was missing several toppings and the crust hadn’t been stretched out so it was all bunched up on one side of the pie. And it wasn’t fully baked.

“That reminds me of the time …” he says as he launches into a story.

We all know someone who does that.

I’m that guy.

SWMBO and I went to First Night Burlington with friends a couple of decades ago. The annual citywide, substance-free party has nearly 100 stage shows, musical acts, and arts activities in 18 or 20 venues to kick off the new year. New Year’s Eve this year will be its 35th anniversary.

A huge number of performers are either from Puffin County or are local favorites so it’s a great show for us. Some events are free and buttons for the rest are available at 65 button outlets around us.

The crowds are large and the lines for food and the church and other venues are often ridiculously long so we opted to drive down to South Burlington to grab a pie at the national chain pizzeria down there.

That chain doesn’t guarantee how long it will take but we didn’t care. We were inside and warm and enjoying ourselves instead of standing in line in the winter deep freeze. Our crust had been stretched out but it wasn’t fully baked.

With a mushy, stretchy, doughy mouthful, I called the waiter over.

“The pizza isn’t done,” I mumbled.

She offered to put it back in the oven.

Everyone at the table knew that wouldn’t work. We’d get back a mushy, stretchy, doughy pie that was really, really hot. And we did.

Anyway, retelling that story is somewhat annoying, particularly to my friend Missy. She’s heard many if not most of my stories but worse, since they’re my stories it means, suddenly, we’re talking about me.


Paul Newman, Mary Harper, Dick Harper (back to camera)That’s a difficult hurdle for our memories because so many of them are about our own experiences. I do (sometimes) tell stories about what happened to my friend Rufus or to my friend Liz Arden or even to that actor fellow I used to race with, but I don’t know their stories as well as I know my own.

Making connections has always been my creative strong suit (see, It’s still All About Me).

If I needed a particular kind of hydraulic hose for that pilemaker I wrote about last month, I found it by remembering that I had used one on the race car, a hose that I first found in the aircraft industry. I’ve done that all my life. Likewise, if you tell me an undercooked pizza story, I will instantly make the connection to that long ago New Year’s Eve in Burlington. Likewise, if you ask me about living in the Keys, I’ll think of my grandfather who, at 92 years of age, decided to close up shop and move there from our ancestral part of Pennsylvania.

Sadly, we humans have more trouble getting to those memories as we age. I don’t think we forget the stories. We just forget the ways to find them without a little conversational help from our friends.

I certainly needed those triggers to access the stories I’ve related here today. I also certainly hope those triggers keep working so I propose a little thought experiment of those of us of a certain age or older:

When you tell a story, write down the trigger that reminded you of the story
Collect those triggers.
Read the triggers in a couple of years.
Tell the stories again.

Let’s all try to remember to do that. When you send me the results, please list this column in the subject line so I can try to remember why I wanted them.

Meanwhile, I’m having a meatloaf sandwich for lunch!


Protective Nanny or Protectionism?

SWMBO grew up in Wisconsin where they would put her in jail for selling a homemade cookie. I’m eating one of her oatmeal cookies right now and am here to tell you that law would have deprived her neighbors from heaven on a plate.

Factory CookiesRufus has always called her “Cookie Lady.”

Wisconsin is one of just two states to ban the sale of home-baked goods (New Jersey is the only other). If SWMBO were to sell her brownies or cookies or muffins from her own kitchen to the public there, she could go to jail.

The Wisconsin law requires bakers to buy a license. The license requires a commercial kitchen, health inspections and, of course, fees. Cottage Food laws or regulations generally include some form of kitchen inspection, a zoning permit, a business license, restriction on pets, and more.

“Protecting other businesses from competition is not a legitimate government interest.”

Wisconsin’s commercial bakers claim the ban evens the playing field for the licensed businesses by removing the unfair advantage for home-based cooks. Still, the state allows the sale of other homemade foods such as jams and canned goods, all made on regular stoves, so I’m thinking state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos puts homemade jam on his muffins.

Worthy of note, Wisconsin and New Jersey are not the only states with “Cottage Food Laws.” Many states require some form of kitchen inspection, a zoning permit, a business license, and restrict pets if you home bake cakes, cookies, pies, and breads, make jams and jellies, popcorn or candies, and more.
Vermont banned brownies to turn kids on to kale and gluten-free paleo lemon bars.
New York City‘s public schools allow PTAs to hold fundraisers that include homemade baked goods only “once a month or weekdays after 6 p.m.”

Delicious news: three Wisconsin farm women challenged that state’s law last year. A LaFayette County judge sweetly overturned the law last month after the women’s attorney argued that the state Supreme Court has ruled that “protecting other businesses from competition is not a legitimate government interest.”

In his oral ruling, the judge said that the ban mainly served business interests.

Naturally, the Department of Justice says the state is considering an appeal.


New Tricks

Food for thought…

Yes, you can.

I grew up on Skippy Peanut Butter and Kraft Mayonnaise.

No, not in the same sandwich although I am partial to peanut butter and raisins.

Anyway, I like mayonnaise and use it on things that need it, like eggs and chicken and tuna and in cole slaw dressing. And it can get the gum out of your hair. Not Miracle Whip, though. Never Miracle Whip. Eeeew.

Miracle Whip tastes funny and is probably evil.

My neighbors cleaned out their fridge into mine when they headed north. One of the bonus materials is an open jar of Miracle Whip.

Hmm. I’m out of mayo and here’s this free jar of the spawn of the devil.

Turns out one can make a darned good chicken sandwich on sourdough with a little mouse cheese, a slice of tomato, and Miracle Whip.

Yes, you can.

I’ve long thought Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) was pretty typical of our more than slightly bent South Florida politicians and about the best the Democratic National Committee could find as party chair. After all, even the liberal stalwart Politifact rated her public pronouncements as ranging from half truths to having her pants on fire more than half the time.

Slice, dice, and spread on bread.

Turns out one can make a darned good career just whipping up a Miracle. It’s a good recipe for Ms. Clinton who put Ms. Wasserman Schultz on staff.

Yes, you can.

“I had made some carnitas so I had that with corn tortillas and a little salad for supper,” Liz Arden told me last night. Literally “little meats,” this pulled pork-style dish originated in Mexico. Carnitas “are made by braising or simmering pork in oil or preferably lard until tender. The process takes three to four hours and the result is very tender and juicy meat, which is then typically served with chopped coriander leaves and diced onion, salsa, guacamole, tortillas, and refried beans.” Some recipes add a little lime juice and I like to add Key lime.

I thought she didn’t like cilantro?

We served turkey-and-“cheese” sandwiches with mayo at the concert last night. That was a mistake. Not the mayo; that was fine. Processed cheese is a food product made from cheese and, more than likely, other unfermented dairy by-products plus emulsifiers, vegetable oils, salt, food colorings, and more. Store brand “Singles” may well leave out the cheese and anything else that came from a cow. The package I bought tasted like it had some cow by-products, just ones that came from the wrong end of the cow.

Turns out one can make a darned good turkey and cheese sammie. I’ll peel the “singles” out and put real cheese in the remainder before I eat another, you betcha.

Fortunately, we had good cake.