Friday, 13 April 2012

A walk in the rain and Friday night, Pizza night!

Thursday was a family day - I had taken the day off work to spend with the kids as they are still on Easter break.  We were a bit limited as to what we could do because there wasn't anything on at the cinema that we fancied and the weather forecast was dire, so we spent the majority of the morning just pottering around the house.  However at around 11am the sky didn't look so bad and my iPhone forecast said there was only a 30% chance of rain, so I thought a walk, with rain macs in tow, was worth a shot!

My usual fitness loop is a 2.5 mile route around our village, but I decided to add a little woodland walk to that since I had the kids with me.  So, we started out down our quiet lane, passed some horses and onto the public footpath through the woods.  Whenever my husband and I took the kids on this walk when they were younger, we used to joke that there were trolls living in these woods - well, that name has sort of stuck, so now we call it the "Troll Walk".  It's quite picturesque, with a small stream following the path.

Start of the "Troll Walk"
After about a half a mile, this woodland path joins the main road and my normal "loop" walk.  We are quite fortunate in that our village is surrounded by some beautiful fields, so though we are very near to London, you still feel that you are in the "country".  The kids did a very good job of keeping up with me and all was going well until we reached the 1.5 mile mark when suddenly the skies turned and the heavens opened. Thankfully, we are used to walking in the Lake District, where the weather changes at the drop of a hat, so the rain macs went on and we trudged along.  The rain didn't let up until we got home, but I've got such little troopers for kids - they didn't complain about walking in the rain once!

So tonight is Friday night and for the past two years we have maintained a Friday night family tradition - Friday Night Pizza Night!  Now, I appreciate that pizza doesn't exactly sound like a dieting food (believe me, I am the first the be critical of recipes that claim to be "healthy" with images of pancakes and waffles!), however I make the pizza dough myself, so I know exactly what goes into it.  This, combined with low-fat mozzarella, means that I can enjoy my Friday night treat without feeling guilty!  Here's my recipe:

Mary's Homemade Pizza Dough (makes 5 individual pizzas)

400g Strong White Bread Flour, plus more for kneading
100g Fine Cornmeal
15g sachet Fast Action Yeast
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
300ml warm water

410 chopped tomatoes with basil (I use Sainsbury's tetrapak)

Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt and yeast in a bowl.  Add the olive oil and most of the water - stir until combined adding more water as needed.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about five minutes until the dough is soft and no longer sticky.  I normally wash up the mixing bowl, grease it with a bit more olive oil and then place the pizza dough back in the bowl to let some of the warmth work on rising the dough.

Leave to rise for about 1 hour, or until the dough is doubled in size.  In the meantime you can prepare your toppings!  We are not big on lots of veggies on our pizza - though I regularly add the odd pepper or tomato to the toppings.  Our normal toppings are always lean ham and spicy pepperoni and mushrooms.  I always split a pizza with my father in law, who lives with us, and he doesn't like mozzarella, so the photo above has cheddar on the left (his side!) and mozzarella on the right (my side!).  All total this pizza (with the low fat mozzarella) works out at 675 calories per portion - so can easily be accommodated in a 1200-1500 calories per day diet.

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius.

Once the dough has risen, turn out again onto a floured surface and knead briefly before separating into five equal portions.  I then use a combination of my rolling pin and my hands to shape into a sort of pizza shaped base - don't worry about perfection here, because I think the stranger the shape, the more it looks homemade!  Place your bases on baking trays and then spread the chopped tomatoes evenly over the bases.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Take the bases out of the oven and now it's time to put on your toppings.  I like to let the kids decorate their own, so I always have a little pizza assembly line going.  Once all the toppings are on, pop the pizzas back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.  When the pizzas are done, allow to cool for a minute or two before slicing with a pizza cutter and enjoy!

The whole idea of Friday Night, Pizza Night came from a fantastic book by Barbara Kingsolver called "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" - she and her family always do homemade pizzas on Friday night and it inspired me to do the same!  It truly is so easy to make your own and I think it creates a real family evening.  Enjoy!

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