By Elizabeth Speth
Once upon a time, there was a woman. She toiled a little bit at an office every day. She was also in the manure management business. Dogs, cats, horses… lots of manure to manage every day. She watered a garden, and washed dishes. She drove a car, and selected things at the grocery store. She fed the animals, and the people, swept the occasional floor. She listened some, talked a lot, gave advice and sought it.
She was busy. Sometimes she was tired. And there was always the problem of dinner.
Dinner clamored to be made. Every day. And it always wanted to be delicious, or why bother? And it always had to be accompanied by wine, or a cocktail, because why not? What was the point otherwise, if dinner was not marvelous?
One day the woman brought home pizza dough from the deli. She stretched and pushed and pulled it flat, brushed it with olive oil and sprinkled it with salt and pepper. She baked it in a high-heat oven until it bubbled and browned. She spread it with creme fraiche and mascarpone cheese when it came out of the oven (although one or the other would have been just fine, but she was prone to excess), and then she grated lemon zest over that.
She arranged salty prosciutto and smoked salmon in beautiful, mounded shapes over the creamy sauce. And then thinly-sliced (paper thin) shallots, although red onion would have been good too. Then herbs. Chopped. Chives. Tarragon. Dill. Those seemed to be the herbs that would play nicely with the salty ham and the smoky fish. And then dinner was done.
Cocktails, she thought. Cocktails… cocktails… Her mind and her eyes wandered and came to rest on the fruit bowl. Which was empty but for some lemons and oranges. So she went to the freezer, and withdrew frozen cherries, and a bag of mixed frozen fruit — peaches and strawberries and berries. She listened to the icy plop of them as she piled them into a pitcher. In went a bottle of fruit juice. In went a bottle of sparkling wine. In went most of a bottle of tequila. She stirred it with the handle of a wooden spoon, mashing the fruit a bit. She threw in sliced oranges and lemons for good measure, and poured some over ice.
Then she served others in her family glasses of sangria. And crisp slices of pizza with lemony, creamy, herb-y, onion-y, smokey goodness on top.
And dinner was done. And she announced that someone else would do the dishes.
And she lived happily ever after.
Deli — Pizza dough or pizza crust, prosciutto or other smoked meat, smoked salmon, mascarpone or creme fraiche or both. (If you can’t find those cheeses, mix sour cream with a bit of ricotta or cream cheese.)
Produce — Lemons, herbs (tarragon, parsley, basil, dill, chives — whatever you like, many or few). Fresh fruit if you don’t want to use frozen in sangria. Although frozen fruit makes nice ice cubes.
Liquor aisle — Tequila. Or gin. Or vodka. What’s your favorite hard liquor? Sparkling wine. Or rose. Or white. (Sangria is one hard alcohol, one soft alcohol, fruit juice and fruit. That’s it.)
Other: Frozen Fruit. Fruit Juice