My friend had a little heart to heart with me last week. He said I should share a little bit more of myself in my posts, a little bit more of my story.
So, here goes—just hope he doesn’t mind he kind of is the story . . .
One of my best friends in the entire world moved away this week.
I first met Jon when I was still in high school. He had just been hired to be the anchor for the nightly news in Boston, and he and his wife and children went to church where my family went to church. Looking back, I’m not sure if it was because he was on TV, or because I possibly had a little crush on him that I never admitted to myself, but I remember just about everything he ever did, like when he blessed his baby Jonny in front of our congregation, or when he interviewed Gordon B. Hinckley (the prophet in our religion), or when he made a public apology at church for having used the phrase “damned Yankee” on the news.
I once asked him who wrote his material. He told me he did, usually in the few hours before they went live. I couldn’t believe a person could think that fast, let alone write that fast. I would have been less impressed if he had told me he was a rocket scientist.
About two years after moving to Boston and settling into the beautiful home they had built, he and his family relocated across the country, and that was the last I had heard of him.
Then last summer, I was working on some professional goals, and had some questions about what I should do. Jon kept coming to my mind, so I looked him up on Facebook and friended him.
It turns out, he had no idea who I was, and spent the next day trying to find out who this Jaime Mormann girl was—asking mutual friends, and reading my blog. We soon discovered we were both single, so we met for lunch, and the next thing we knew, we were spending all our free time with each other. We would go out together, work on projects, cook, clean, talk on the phone. When I would date different guys, he would give me advice, root for the guys whom he deemed the coolest, and send me funny texts while I was out with them.
We had one of those perfect friendships you usually only get to see in the movies. It just made me happy, like a portion of my life was somehow living up to one of my dearest fantasies, and the last seven months have been brighter because of it. For the first time in a long time, I felt very much alive.
And now he’s gone. He was just hired with the news in San Diego (I call him Mr. Burgundy now), and at about 2:30 on Friday, he drove away while I cried on my doorstep.
I’m really happy for him. This is his dream, and it’s his turn. But I miss him. Of course we still talk on the phone, we still spend time staying in touch, but it isn’t quite the same thing. And let’s face it, it’s no fun being the person left behind—your own life putters along as it always has, only now there’s a hole where there was once something good.
So, there you have it: a little slice of my life.
And now I’ll do what I usually end up doing: I’ll talk about food.
On one of our last evenings together, we made pizza. Jon bought all the ingredients, and I mixed the dough. But I wasn’t about to spend the evening snapping pictures while the food got cold (which is what most food bloggers’ families have gotten used to). Instead, I used the leftover dough the next day and used some really simple ingredients to create two simple pizzas for the kids and me.
Awhile ago, the lovely people at Muir Glen sent me a gorgeous gift package featuring their 2012 Reserve Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes. It has taken me all this time to write about the gift because it included this amazing flea bag, which I wanted to take on a picnic and feature in some romantic looking post that will all make you think our life is much more fascinating than it is.
But I couldn’t. As long as I waited, it still looked dingy and grey outside, so you’ll just have to pretend we were that exciting. But just look at this bag!! Isn’t it incredible?? It’s handmade in New York out of organic cotton canvas and vintage re-purposed leather. When I carry it around, I feel like I should be in a picture on Pinterest. Seriously.
On the first pizza, I just spread out the tomatoes and sprinkled over some salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Once it was out of the oven, I tossed some basil on the top, and that was it: simple and delightful.
On the other, I started with the same tomatoes, but this time, I added a generous sprinkling of feta and a handful of sliced kalamata olives: that one was my favorite.
The kids and I dipped our crusts in balsamic vinegar and Californian olive oil from the gift package.
Start the dough for this pizza on the morning you want to make it. Leftovers can be covered and refrigerated for up to a day.
3 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for shaping and tossing
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 3/4 cup water
drop of honey
1 14-ounce can of Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes
pinch of cayenne pepper
10 kalamata olives, sliced
2-3 ounces feta, crumbled
5 basil leaves, chopped
olive oil, for drizzling
1. In the morning, in a large bowl, mix together flour, yeast, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, water, and honey. Cover, and let sit on the counter all day. Every two hours or so, use a silicone spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and fold dough several times (This looks a lot like when the fairy Merryweather folds the eggs into the cake batter on the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty, only you won’t be using your hands.).
2. Place a pizza stone on the top rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 475ºF. Pull off a piece of dough about the size of a softball and, using a lot of extra flour, shape the ball of dough into a 10″ circle. Place on a piece of parchment paper set on a pizza peel or on the bottom side of a baking sheet. Spread some of the tomatoes on the round of dough, sprinkle with salt and desired remaining ingredients. Use the parchment paper to slide the pizza onto the pizza stone (pizza will still be sitting on the parchment paper when it’s in the oven). Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown. Use the parchment paper to slide the cooked pizza back onto the peel or the underside of the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and top with basil leaves. Slice and serve.