July 13, 2014
This woman of mine, she is rock. freaking. solid.
People overuse that phrase “He’s a rock” or “She’s my rock” but I promise you I am employing it perfectly in this case. That Jill Carroll, she is steady as they come. Dependable. Honest. True. Damn near unflappable.
Sometimes I think she’s an alien. Like, how can it be possible for a human being to operate this way, with such integrity? In everything she does—really, I have been watching her for a dozen years now and she astounds me more and more.
Right now, Jill is knee-deep with the work of moving her parents to a house less than two miles from ours. (If you’ve been playing along for a while, you’ve probably realized that this means that Jill’s parents will be living just down the road from my mother…pray for us & send wine, pleaseandthankyou.)
This has been no ordinary move. My in-laws are 91 and 81, respectively, and have lived in Shreveport for their entire adults lives, and had been in the house they just left for almost 30 years. And they probably would have stayed there had my mother-in-law not developed Alzheimer’s, which has robbed her of herself in the worst possible ways. My father-in-law is tired and unable to meet the demands of caring for a confused and addled spouse, and keeping up with a household besides.
So here we are. After months of resistance, Jill’s father finally relented to the idea of moving, and from there everything happened fast—house selling, house buying, house packing. Jill has handled every detail, from contracting movers to fixing refrigerator tubing to wrapping every dang figurine and piece of china in bubble wrap. And she still manages, somehow, to be this incredibly joyful parent and loving spouse and working woman and well-informed intellectual and patient, patient daughter.
I’m proud of this woman, proud of being partnered with her, proud to witness the way she lives our her values even (especially) when it’s inconvenient and exhausting. She teaches me so much by living, as all the best people do.
ROBERTA’S GREEN & WHITE PIZZA
This is Jill’s new favorite thing that I make; she’s requested it half-a-dozen times since spotting the recipe on the New York Times website. I’ve started making the accompanying pizza dough recipe as my standard; measuring the ingredients by weight really does yield a more consistently good dough. For the topping, we use the spicy arugula we’ve got growing in the backyard (Another thing Jill manages to do—keep our garden growing. Sheesh. JILL, STOP BEING GOOD AT EVERYTHING.). The heat of the arugula mellows a bit when it meets the hot pizza, but it still retains a lovely bite, tempered just enough by the cheesy pizza & crust.
The original recipe calls for you to top the dough with cheese before you put it in the oven, which I think would work fine if your oven gets really hot, but mine tops out at 500° F, so I find it works better to pre-cook the dough first, in order to get the bottom nice and crisp. Also, while I love fresh mozzarella for eating raw, I find that it gets kind of watery when I cook it on pizza, so I prefer the shredded kind.
pizza dough of your choice, stretched/rolled into a 10-12 inch round
~ 1 cup shredded mozzarella
~¼ cup shredded/grated Parmesan
extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 cups baby arugula
If you have a pizza stone, put it on the middle rack of your oven and turn the heat to the highest setting. Let it heat for at least an hour.
Prick the dough all over with a fork before sliding it onto the pizza stone. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until you see browning around the edges. Slide the dough back out, drizzle lightly with olive oil, and top with cheese. Gently slide the pie back into the oven and cook for another 4-6 minutes until the cheese has fully melted. (At this point, I usually turn on the broiler to brown the top of the pizza, and get good color on the crust—you may not need to do so, depending on how your oven heats.)
While the pizza cooks, dress the arugula lightly using the zest & juice of half the lemon, a good drizzle of the olive oil, and some salt.
Once it’s cooked to your liking, pull the pizza out of the oven and immediately top with the arugula. Serve and enjoy!