Easy Spring Recipe: Caramelized Onion Pizza

Okay folks, this is not for the kids- it’s what I make for me when I’ve got a hankering for some grown-up food. First off, use whatever pizza crust you like. I use Udi’s gluten-free crust, which happens to be the only GF food I’ve found worth eating (except Maggianos eggplant parmesan, but I digress). In my dreams, my crust of choice is Viccolo cornmeal crust- and if you have a Whole Foods or Trader Joes, and you can grab one- do it! My point is- any crust, whatever- because the crust is not the star. Onions, my friends, are the academy award winners here. And I’m going to tell you how to make your onions sing like a Castrati…

Carmelized Onion Pizza with Kalamata Olives

  • Pizza crust, whatever kind you like
  • 1 whole large red onion, sliced thinly
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • pinch of salt
  • handful of kalamata olives, run through with knife for rough chop
  • havarti, gouda, goat or whatever cheese is in my basket. (you do have a cheese basket now, don’t you??)
  1. Preheat oven to around 400*. Roll out or prep your crust however it needs, and set aside.
  2. Slice red onion in half, then into thin slices.
  3. Add butter to a hot saute pan, heat until frothy, and add onions. Spread onions out, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and don’t touch them. They will caramelize if you leave them alone. I know, crazy. But its true. And here’s the secret: Let them brown, stir, let them brown again- really brown- then, add some water- maybe 1/4 cup. It will look like a sizzling, soupy mess, but the water will dissolve all the brown fond on the pan and onions, and will quickly reduce to thick oniony goodness. Repeat until the onions are soft and deep, caramel brown. No need whatsoever to add sugar. The salt actually draws out the natural sugar in the onions.
  4. When your onions are deep caramel and there is no liquid in the pan, add the heavy cream and reduce until it’s a thick sauce coating the beautiful onions- about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Top your pizza crust with these saucy, creamy, caramel onions in a nice layer. Add cheese of choice, and sprinkle with roughly chopped kalamata olives.
  6. Pop that baby in the oven for about 10-12 minutes until bubbly and golden.
  7. Mange.

Date My Mom, Bring Your CV

When a single mom goes out on a date with somebody new
It always winds up feeling more like a job interview

A few years ago, Brad Paisley– the country singer who married the cute girl from Father of the Bride– wrote a song about his step-father, and the opening lines have stuck with me. Back when the song was new, it was because I have two step-fathers, but now, it’s because I am that mom. Date me, and you’re applying for a whole lot more than just buying me dinner- even if we dance around it, even on a first date- it’s in the back of my head, and  it’s a package deal.

These kids are the center of my world, for better or for worse, forever and ever amen. They are the reason I am busting my hump to finish school, make Little House a semblance of a home, juggle homework and parent-teacher conferences, and still try and be a decent human being. So when a guy asks to take me out, it’s nothing like when I was footloose and fancy free. I look at him with a different eye- and I ask myself hard questions.

In my younger single days, I cut a ton of slack to the artists and free-spirits and bad boys. Today, those qualities come with sirens and bullhorns that blare “danger! danger! danger!” I’ve been down that path, got the t-shirt. No thanks! This time, I am of a far more discerning palette. A man in my demographic who is still trying to find himself sends me running for the hills. No offense- but at this point, I know who I am, and with three little people looking to me to lead the way through life, I want a man who knows who he is and is prepared for me to walk next to him. I want a man who has an education, can compose a decent sentence, knows how to wear a suit and tie a tie. I don’t need a project, and I don’t intend to be one.

Now, this doesn’t mean I expect perfection- far from it. I want someone real, who can see me and my flaws as well, and slowly grow to love each other. I’m not in a hurry- and I won’t subject my children to meeting any man that I’m not reasonably certain has future potential. That means you cannot pick me up at my house, you cannot drop me off, and you cannot come in after date. Sorry. That fact also makes it really, really hard to date non-LDS men.

Yesterday I deleted my profile (yes, again!) from an online dating site. After more emails and winks and lascivious propositioning (oh yes, I kid you not- some men think asking a woman for a booty call in the opening email is the pinnacle of suave) than I could abide any longer, I just quit the whole thing.

This may be unpopular to say, but going out with non-Mormon men helped me see clearly just how wide the gulf is between Mormons and regular people on some things. Sure, you can absolutely have an interfaith marriage- I know many people who do and are very happy. And who knows what the future holds for me- but as a convert who has battled and fought for my testimony and how I chose to live my life against tremendous opposition, I don’t want to fight that battle anymore. We like to think we’re not so different than everyone else, paint ourselves as close to credal Christians, make ourselves the family next door- and we’re all those things, but we’re also not like everyone else, and I’m not going to pretend we are.

Is my dating pool looking shallower and narrower to you, too? Yeah, I know- it’s grim. Yet, I’m fairly certain this is what I need to do. I may be looking for something rarer than the mythical purple-glitter rainbow-tailed unicorn, but I know there is someone out there as perfect for me as I am for him. And if he’s perfect in other ways, I can add my own glitter anyway.

Finals Hangover

This quarter is in the history books, and it’s the first one I doubt I’ll pull another 4.0. It’s not just that these classes were harder- and they were- but for some reason, I had a snafu with some classes that were supposed to be dropped but are showing on my transcripts as my never having shown up. I dropped them in an appointment with my advisor, so I know it can be worked out, but dang I hate seeing those numbers show up- even for a little while. Also, I am not eager to do the gymnastics the university requires I do to prove that I’m not a slacker. Especially since I’m currently in a huge finals hangover.

On Wednesday night, I submitted a 14 page paper to my last class this quarter, and since then I’ve had that feeling like when you take a couple of Benedryl and can’t shake the fog from your noodle. I know I need to get in and talk to my advisor. I know I need to register for spring classes. I know I need to petition about the drop- and I will, of course, do all of those things. But for a few minutes (days?) I really want to just lay here in a lump and stare out the window at the slowly burgeoning leathery leaves of tulips pulling themselves up through the mulch and think about nothing at all. I’m tired.

Give me few days and I’ll find my sparkle again, I have no doubt. It’s just finals-hangover, coupled with the dregs of winter hanging on with icy tenacity. Give me some blue sky, some yellow sunlight and some green grass, and I know I’ll feel like getting back on the horse- because that’s just what you do. In the meantime, I’ll saddle up anyway- because that’s just what you do, too. At least, it is if you’re me.

***

On a side note, I want to thank everyone who left comments on the last post. Blogging sometimes feels like yelling into the abyss, and it was a treat for me to read about who comes here and peeks in on my life, (and why, which was crazy) and to learn a bit about you. I really mean it- thank you!

Come Tell Mama

Amid being buried in finals (14 page final-paper due tomorrow), juggling the kids (Bean proclaimed proudly that he was bad in church Sunday), and being excited for that book I may have mentioned coming out later this month (still no exact date or linkage yet, alas) I’m also pondering a little housekeeping here at Dandelion (rapidly bearing down on a million visitors- CRAZY!).

This blog has been a godsend to me in countless ways over the five and a half years I’ve been writing- ways I never could have foreseen or imagined. Friends and loved ones have come into my life through this thoroughly modern medium, opportunities and projects and chances to share have opened up, and surely my sanity was quite literally saved by the support given to me during the immolation of the life I thought was mine. Who knew that was gonna happen?

Much to my constant amazement, this little project just keeps growing. There are periods of rich output with substantial blossoms of words, and weeks where the fields lie fallow and I struggle to dig up simple sentences. But maybe naming it Dandelion was more than happenstance, because even during the neglect brought on by crazy life and school and all the crap the universe can throw at me, it just keeps flowering.

Today, I find myself wanting to know about you- who you are, why you find time in your own busy lives to read about the insanity that is mine. Part of me thinks it might be like watching a trainwreck- one can’t look away and simply has to see the next spectacular car go off the rails.  And yet, there are thousands of you who evidently find something of value in what I contribute to the collective universe- and this astonishes me.

So…tell me about yourself. Tell me about your life, and why you take a few minutes to come and read about mine. Dish, mamas. I wanna know.

3:41 a.m. Brain Dump

Why hello, Insomnia. We meet again. I had wondered where you were hiding, you little bastard. Figures you show up at finals time again. I see you have on your black cape and are twirling your handlebar mustache while you contemplate tying me to the rails. You relish it while you can, because I always manage to escape. Eventually.

Speaking of finals, I took two yesterday, and have one more due next week that the prof said we could email to him instead of showing up for class. How awesome is that? Well, it’s pretty awesome, in case you were wondering. Nevermind that it’s a 10-12 page paper followed up with a 25-30 page reflection journal on the entire class.

When I checked my grades earlier, to my horror I saw a class that I dropped waaaaay back in January was still on my transcript of enrolled classes, and now I have to run around  like a chicken with my head off and find the right people to help me fix this before it tanks my entire GPA. No stress or anything at all, during finals and before spring break. Soon the college will be a ghost town. Crap.

Today is going to be insane. University first thing after the boys roll off to school, dragging Abby with. Then an appointment downtown. Some of my friends in my ward have talked me into doing a make-up class here at my house today. Because I’m crazy, that’s why. Finals? Bah. Make-up! Yeah, I know. But it will also be fun, and I need some fun. Then the one-an-only anual fundraiser my kids’ charter school has is tonight. It’s a big deal, and we’re supposed to dress like Happy Days characters. I may post pictures of what Bean imagines to be a James Dean outfit. Hint: it involves cowboy boots. Now, if I could only find my poodle skirt…

I miss Mo. I need some Mo time. That is all.

I have a new favorite lip-balm. You couldn’t live without knowing that. It kicks the crap out of the previous strawberry favorite. This is Smith’s Minted Rose in the vintage tin. It reminds me of science camp in sixth grade, when I got my first boyfriend and my first kiss all in one day. I opened it and was bowled over my the wash of memories of misty loamy redwoods and dew-covered fields and a tow-headed boy I couldn’t believe had actually picked me. It probably won’t do that for you though. But its still an awesome lip balm.

Abby spilled fruit punch all over my white duvet. There is a bright red rorschach flower in the middle of my bed now. I didn’t get mad, but I wonder if its worth the bleach, or if I should just consider it an abstract O’Keefe and call it good.

My training is a little off on my running. I did something to my left hamstring, and boy howdy, did it hurt. There was a popping noise, followed by the inability to move, then the walking like a 98 year old woman. I’m just now trying to get myself stretched out and moving again, but you runners weren’t kidding when you said stretching was the key.

There are leathery tulip leaves joining the brave little Crocus’ in my yard. Snow has turned to incessant rain, and the winds have picked up and bluster all the time. Oh March, how I do love you!

Tuesday was both my mom’s and X’s birthday. My mom celebrated by walking across the span of the Golden Gate Bridge, which I haven’t done in years, and was quite envious of her. For X, his mom is having a birthday lunch for him Saturday at a local taco joint. It’s been requested that I bring the kids, and I have acquiesced. I don’t have to- its not in the parenting plan, and I could say no. But I’m not. I’m taking them. Sometimes this bleeding heart of mine is a real nuisance.

New favorite drugstore make-up find: L’Oreal Voluminous Mascara in Carbon Black. It’s as good as DiorShow, and only 1/3 the price. If you get it on sale, even less, and it’s super. Go forth and batt those lashes!

Bean’s made a good friend, but that friend is moving to Utah next month, so we’re getting as much time as we can before they fly the coop. They’re having a sleepover this weekend (and yes, I know how some folks feel about sleepovers) and they are so freaking excited. I am too, truth be told- I love it when Bean finds a friend. (Yes, Ava is still around- he played with her yesterday.)

My goal for this weekend? To ascend and conquer Laundry Mountain. It’s a beast, and I may need oxygen, but I shall prevail. The problem is, it always manages to heave itself up again. Do you suppose it’s magic? Confounding.

Never buy the fresh salmon at Costco then let the kids put the groceries away and forget about it because you cannot see where they shoved it in the back bottom of the fridge. That’s all.

I’ve gone on a couple of dates from Match.com. It’s entirely strange to be dating. That country song is right, by the way- going on a date with a single mom is like a job-interview. It’s also become apparent, despite my trying to broaden my dating pool, that dating a non-LDS man is complicated and it’s easy to forget the chasm that lies between a practicing Mormon and the general population. it’s not unbridgeable- I know many successful interfaith marriages- but as far as dating goes… it’s tough.

So what’s up with you?

So There’s This Book Coming Out…

Some things take a long time to incubate. Elephants, for example. Two years of pregnancy begets one an elephant. Well, that and being of the pachyderm persuasion- but I digress. It apparently takes almost that long to grow a little book too.

Long time Dandelion readers might recall when I flew off to Houston in the immediate days following filing for divorce in October 2009, to present my quilt designs at the International Quilt Festival. It was a dark time in my life, to understate things to the point of absurdity, but I’m of the opinion that good things usually incubate in the ashes of the dark. That trip to Houston netted me the interest of an editor at Leisure Arts, one of the largest craft book publishers. Now, 18 months later, advance copies of this lovely book are sitting on my coffee table. I kind of don’t even know what to say- and if you know me, that’s saying something.

Seasons & Reasons to Celebrate is my second book, but the first with only my name on the cover, and my first crafty book. It will be available later this month at Michael’s, JoAnns, Hobby Lobby and anywhere that sells Leisure Arts quilting books.  It contains six of my 24 designs, retails for $14.95, and as soon as I have a link for it later this month, I’ll share it. If this books does well for Leisure Arts, there is the distinct possibility of another one… and thus it goes. Wish me luck!

Mothering Out of the Box

Boys? Boys I’ve got my down in spades. I know how these little buggers tick, and I’m a good mom to my boys- I’m fairly confident. Case in point: The other day, we were all in the car driving home from school, and Jeffrey was talking about some friends of ours. They happen to have a mom who is textbook wonderful- she is June Cleaver personified- and we love her.

Jeff looks at me and says “Mom, Sister T would never forget to buy hamburger buns, and she makes treats for Family Night, and she folds socks.”

Hmmm…. I look cockeyed at him in the passenger seat next to me. “Well, yeah, she’s pretty awesome, isn’t she?” I toss this off without a trace of malice, because really, Sister T is that cool. I never fold socks.

Leaning far over the center console, Jeff screws his face up and has a wicked twinkle in his eye. “Yeah, but I’m glad you’re my mom. You’re good at lots of stuff and we laugh a lot.”

From the backseat, Bean, who has been listening but pretending not to, lets out a huge belch and dissolves into a fit of wild giggles. “I like mom because she doesn’t wash my mouth out when I say CRAP!”

Jeff, immediately, pipes up “Mom! I want to say CRAP!”

I’m trying not to laugh, but it’s not working. Even Abby is giggling, and I give up. “Okay, eveyrone- all at once- just this once- I’m cutting you some slack; everyone yell CRAP together. One… Two… Three.. NOW.”

CRAP!!!!!

Everyone in the car yelled and screamed the pseudo swear-word in unison, including me.- and then we all laughed until we had tears on our pink mirthful cheeks. I don’t know about you, but that was better than soap in the mouth any day… and it might even be better than folded socks.

March First

The old grey chenille sofa has been around longer than my kids, and along with the crumbs and matchbox cars and springs that have long ago sprung, it holds many memories. It held me and caught my tears as I was nursing my newborn on it in the pre-dawn California light watching two jetliners fly into Gotham and change the world forever. While pregnant with the following two babies, I slept many a hot, uncomfortable night in it’s squishy softness.

This morning, it held nothing dramatic or special- just my curled up body and my chin resting on the back as I gazed out into more gently melting snowfall. March does change things. It’s been snowing lightly all day, but it’s not sticking. It’s slushy and sloppy and melting as it hits the ground.  After weeks of deepfreeze, this is a welcome trend, and I idly watch the fat floppy flakes tumble and disappear.

Glancing down, poking through the thick barky loam finally visible through the melting ice crust, I see tiny bright green leathery shoots of the earliest crocus. My heart lifts and March becomes a reality. February is gone, and spring is coming… despite the cold, the slush, the interminable winter… like all things, change is the constant, and spring is coming.