Admittedly, I’ve stumbled onto a path that I really didn’t want to climb in life . . . again. I’ve got a lot going on right now and honestly I am scared to death to have this baby in a few weeks for reasons that I wouldn’t dare articulate in a public forum at this point. But there it is – life feels miles away from simple right now.
That being said, I think often about being happy on purpose. I still maintain, in the middle of my second divorce, with a fourth baby on the way, and no money in the bank, that happiness is a choice. I believe it and I’m determined to make it true for myself, for my kids.
I haven’t stumbled on happiness, but I am making a point to seek it out.
That’s where this Lemon Basil Pizza with Spinach and Mozzarella comes in. I’ve been reading and re-reading Gretchen Rubin’s happiness books and really working on measurable goals/projects, immersing myself in prayer and scriptures, getting professional help (don’t underestimate the power of good therapists/lawyers/religious leaders), and forcing/allowing myself to reach out, to look beyond my own situation.
It’s all helping, a lot, but there’s also the food.
I’ve said it more than once, and I’m sure you’ll hear me saying it again, but I really believe in the healing powers of comfort food. A friend of mine who is also hurdling her way through a divorce right now recently told me how an almost-stranger from church showed up at her house with food. The almost-stranger had been through a similar situation before and remembered how hard it had been to take care of herself, to remember to eat, so she brought food and comfort and true friendship to the door. It made all the difference, my friend said.
I contemplate my friend’s experience frequently as I think of ways to handle my own feelings and fears with gentleness and patience. It may say a lot about me that this translates into pizza. Being happy on purpose often means I head to the kitchen, not so much to eat as to make, to turn my thoughts to lemons and herbs, to feel my hands gritty and soft with flour, to breathe in sharp citrus and hot cheese, to chop and measure and knead, and in the end there is pizza and a little more peace of mind.
When I had slipped this pizza onto its stone in the hot oven, I called a friend to hurry over for a fresh slice. I brought my own comfort to the table, on purpose. I replaced worry and anxiety, if only for a few hours, with food and comfort and friendship. It made all the difference.
- Your favorite pizza dough (I used an herb pizza dough from Trader Joe's, but this Simple Bites recipe is good too)
- high quality extra virgin olive oil
- 6 thin lemon slices
- 3 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves, loosely packed
- 1 ounce smoked provolone, grated
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. If using a pizza stone, place stone on middle rack of oven while preheating.
- Shape dough on pizza pan or a lightly floured pizza peel, about 10 to 12 inches in diameter. Drizzle dough evenly with olive oil. Layer toppings beginning with spinach, then mozzarella, lemon slices, basil, and sprinkle the top with grated provolone.
- Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese begins to brown.