Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy birthday to me!

Inspired by Jenn (happy (late) birthday Jenn!), I've decided to make what is hopefully the first of many annual birthday posts. I want this to be a way for me to look back and remember what life was like at age X (this year, 25). Over the last year, I already saw how very much things changed with the help of my accompl.sh list (coincidentally, thanks to Jenn!). At the end of the year, I was somewhat surprised to look back and see the many ways my priorities have adapted, friendships have grown or wilted, and dreams have changed.

Last year at this time, I was working at a major tech company, not exactly happy but still hopeful that I would find my place. I had just moved to San Francisco from south bay but was already starting to tire of the daily commute. My first blog post was just over a year ago (on October 3), and my first food post was a couple of weeks later.

Some things remain the same - I am still with Tim, almost a year and a half now, although we've had many ups and downs (some major), and I think we're much stronger than we were last year. I am still not fantastic about posting on my blog (although unemployment has helped a lot), and my photography hasn't improved much - something to work on for next year! I still don't have the dog I've been wanting for years, but things have been changing so rapidly, I haven't felt ready.

I'm back in south bay, for the job that I quit soon after the move. I miss San Francisco but plan on moving back early next year - only a few months left on this lease. I am unemployed, as you likely already knew if you read this blog, or "funemployed" to emphasize my choice in the matter. I am much happier but know that this can't last forever. I've learned a lot about what I don't like in tech and am trying to figure out what I do enjoy. I'm spending some time learning ruby on rails, and in the rest of my time I create things that I love - baking, cooking, sewing, knitting, crochet. Most of these are things that I did sparingly last year, but it's fantastic to have the free time to spend on them right now. This is a really great time for me to figure out what I really do enjoy spending my time doing and what I want to eliminate.

I'm trying to imagine where I will be in one year. Obviously things will change - I will need an income, and I plan on living in San Francisco again. Right now, I see myself living in the city (in the Castro, specifically) with Tim. I would love a place that feels a bit more like home - somewhere that I like enough to potentially live for more than a year (a thing that hasn't happened since I lived with my parents in high school). I imagine I'll have a tech job at a smaller, more creative/less nerdy tech company doing some sort of web programming. I hope to still find time to cook, bake, and blog regularly, as well as keep up on crafting projects - hopefully with a better schedule than I have now. It's interesting how complacency expands to fill free time if you let it. I would love to have a freelance catering business outside of work, a way to create something tangible for other people and to do something I truly feel like I am good at.

Beyond that... who knows. I have changed a lot this year and think that I still have a ways to go before I settle down into who I am.

And, for your patience, a recipe from my birthday dinner this year! This pizza recipe is very close to my heart, as it is a variation on one that my dad made throughout my childhood (he has since passed away, so I have to do my best to recreate it). It is originally from the book The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American, but it has been adapted by both him and me.

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
serves 6-8, or makes 3 smallish pizzas
This recipe works best with a Kitchenaid stand mixer.

2 packets of rapid rise yeast
2 cups water at 90º - just barely lukewarm

1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup olive oil
2/3 cup cornmeal
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour

toppings: tomato paste or sauce, various cheeses, raw or cooked meats (in small pieces), veggies, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper
  1. Put the water and yeast into the bowl of your mixer and stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the oils, cornmeal, 2 cups whole wheat flour, and 1 cup AP flour. Beat on medium speed for 5 minutes with the paddle attachment.
  2. Add the remaining flours and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead for 3-5 minutes with the machine - this was very hard on my mixer, as the dough is very tough and elastic.
  3. Pull out of the mixer, place on a clean counter or baking mat, and cover with a large metal bowl. Let it rise until it is double in size (at least 30 minutes), punch down, and let rise again. Punch down one more time.
  4. Choose a pan - you can use round cake pans for deep dish or a pizza pan or cookie sheet for a thinner crust - I made one of each and still had some dough left over. Oil the pan(s) with olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of cornmeal. Now is a good time to preheat your oven to 475º.
  5. Tear off a chunk of dough and press into the pan (and up the sides for deep dish). This will take a few minutes, as it likes to spring back to its original shape.
  6. Once the dough is spread out, you can top - I used tomato paste (which was a little dry - I plan on using sauce next time), smoked mozzarella, salami and raw ground sausage, fresh basil, lots of veggies on mine, and a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan, salt, and pepper.

  7. Bake for about 40-45 minutes for deep dish or around 30 for thin crust, until the crust is crispy and toppings are cooked through and/or melty.

My dad's handwriting in his old cookbook <3
Tim finishing up his pizza

I also inherited by dad's restaurant-style cheese grater 

Tim's - done! Mozzarella, salami, chicken sausage, fresh basil, and parmesan.

And, a special thanks to Tim for a fantastic birthday present - my very own fancy coffee grinder. Now that I don't have a job that gives me unlimited coffee, I drink a 4-cup pot a day (sometimes more....), and it's been so great having freshly ground beans every morning. YUM. Thanks dear!!! <3

so fancy! 
and some delicious (local?) coffee beans to go with it. mmmmm.


  1. Yay! So glad you did a birthday post! I think we're in the same boat on a lot of things (I'm also trying to find a place to live for more than a year and I have no idea where I'll be work-wise in a year, but that's the fun, right?!)

    Also: I think you should add New York to your options. So that I can have that pizza. kthx.

  2. Yes, agreed! Do you think you'll stay in Brooklyn?

    NY is kind of on the list. It's at the top if I decide to leave SF but of course for now I'm sticking it out for a bit...