Friday, January 07, 2011

Movie Night Transforms into Pizza Night by Maureen Eich VanWalleghan

On a Friday night once a month or so we like to stay in and eat pizza at TV trays and watch a movie. Our favorite pizza comes from Papa Murphy’s, a take and bake place. My husband is in charge of the cooking and my daughter gets to pick the movie.

Watching the movie used to be a cuddly family affair. We didn’t own a TV, so we would watch movies on my husband’s seven year old computer, all of us huddled together on the foldout futon couch with the twin bunk bed above us. The movie was a little picture, but it was fun with my daughter snuggled between us, asking questions about what was happening in the movie. It was the next phase from when she was a tiny baby and we used to take her to the movies with us—she could sleep through anything.

After investing in a laptop computer for work, I ended up with a credit from Best Buy regarding some issues I had with my purchase. So, my husband and I finally decided to invest in a real TV. This is the first TV I have ever owned, same for him. We got a great deal on a 42” plasma flat screen TV. Wow, what a picture. We are definitely living large now.

After the purchase, the TV sat in the box for awhile. For Christmas, I explained to my husband that if he wanted to bring the gigantic “cut-it-yourself” tree into the house, he finally had to deal with the office: move out his old desk and the spare foldout futon bunk bed and move in the big oak desk he inherited, which had been taking up space in the dining room for months. Once he did that, I figured out a way to move my newish office unit out of the living room and into the office as well. Now there was a place for the TV.

After all the furniture moving and a trip to IKEA was done, I started to feel sad about how our movie night was going to change. On Christmas day, my husband decided to set up the new TV. Since it was just us three (my folks went to my sister’s) we stayed in jammies all day and ate our Christmas dinner at TV trays and watched the new movies that Santa had brought us. Then I really felt the impact of the change: big beautiful TV picture, but no more cuddling together because now we could all lounge separately in the recliner, on the couch or sprawled out on the floor.

Now beyond the whole furniture chango presto, the other event that was affecting the movie/pizza night is my husband’s food allergy to processed meats, i.e. everything that goes on the “cowboy” pizza at Papa Murphy’s. I had addressed my move to go wheat-free by picking up sushi for myself on pizza night. But finally, my husband’s feet flair ups from processed meats had him saying no to pizza every time I suggested it. Okay, no pizza, no cramped quarters for cuddling and a big new TV: a confluence of events.

Sunset magazine saves the day. On the front cover of the most recent issue was a picture of a homemade pizza. From a previous issue, there was a recipe for broccoli pesto that was part of a one-hour pizza dinner. I got inspired to make the broccoli pesto this week as part of a project to make myself feel better after getting the disappointing news that my short film was rejected for a film festival I had submitted it to back in October. I like to cook and I made some great broccoli pesto and felt so much better. With the pesto in the fridge and two different recipes for pizza sitting on the kitchen counter, I decided to get gluten-free pizza dough and uncured pepperoni from the health food store. A quick trip to Walmart for a pizza pan and we were in the pizza making business.

Now our movie night has become “make homemade pizza” night and then enjoy the fruits of our labors while watching a movie. Our first experiment was a success. Hubbie is an expert baker from years growing up with his grammie and he is even a former pizza maker. He was in charge of the dough—I don’t bake. He made a few mistakes because he was out of practice he explained. My daughter helped at every stage, especially in eating the ingredients as they went on the pizza. I made the sauce and of course I had my fancy pesto.

Our family effort yielded some very good pizza and plans for more embellishment in the ingredients department and a family excited to be hanging out again. My daughter snuggled at different moments with each of us while watching the movie. The movie was beautiful on the new gigantic TV. And now we have a new tradition that has us focusing our family fun in the kitchen making a pizza mess. It seems like the next phase of family life with our bigger kid and more grown-up furniture.

Yeah for pizza. A big “thumbs up” from my husband that the healthy pepperoni tasted just like the bad chemical stuff. And for me, I have to say—in the right baker’s hands—the gluten-free crust was an excellent delivery system for the goodies on top. Just the way it should be.

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