Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tradition is a Comfort

--Big Brother and the Princess waiting for the pizzas to be cooked, and the snow to stop. New Year's Eve, 2008

When I was a little girl I watched my maternal grandfather make pizzas for the family every New Year's Eve. He was a product of The Greatest Generation, as Tom Brokaw describes. Grandpa continued this tradition because it reminded him of his mother, who started it many years earlier. He said that when he rolled out the dough, he could feel her nearby.

One year when I was a teenager, he wrote down the recipe on Grumman note paper. I still have the handwritten recipe, although Grumman's and grandpa are physically gone. When I look at his handwriting, I know he's still with me and it is very comforting. The day he wrote down the recipe I knew he was doing it for posterity. Grandpa had a way of leaving a paper trail of himself, dating and labeling everything, with some secret intent. So now, every year since about 2001, I make the pizzas.

This year I left my handwritten cookbook at my mother's house, but I don't need it. I can see grandpa's writing, all capitals, printed neatly and deliberately, in my mind's eye. I roll out the dough while listening to an audio version of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina on my new Ipod. I remember grandpa's flour-covered fingers and smile, a little teary. The kids are looking over my shoulder. I'm taking this family tradition into the next millennium.

Above: Making the pizzas, New Year's Eve 2008

---Making the Pizzas, New Year's Eve 2007

Here's the recipe.

Grandpa D'Anieri's New Year's Eve Pizzas

  • Five Pounds of Pizza Dough

  • 2 pounds mozzerella

  • 1 pound parmesan

  • Italian Seasoning

  • 1-2 jars tomato sauce, or homemade

  • Any chopped up cooked meat. I used ham this year.

  • flour

  • Peanut Oil (1 gallon)

  • Deep Fyer

  1. Let dough rise overnight in bowls covered with dish towels.

  2. Turn on the deep fryer and fill to line with oil. Then cover the top with a wire mesh splatter protector thing.

  3. Set up trays lined with paper towels for pizzas as they come out of fryer.

  4. Roll dough into loaves. Cut loaves into seven or eight pieces. Then make each piece round and very flat with the rolling pin. Use lots of flour.

  5. Fill each circular piece of dough with cheese, seasoning, meat and sauce, then fold over like a calzone and seal with a fork or a real pastry sealer tool if you have one.

  6. Drop one or two pizzas into the deep fryer and cook until brown, turning once. Let cool on paper towels.

(Warning: If you eat this high cholesterol dish more than once a year, you may be dead before 2010.)

Happy New Year!


Milk Man said...

I met Loren in June 1995, a month after my return from service in the Navy. Loren's Grandpa also served, but as Loren states above as part of "The Greatest Generation." The pizza tradition is my favorite, although I was 160 pounds when we met and now tip the scale between 200 and 210 depending on how much change is in my pocket. I traveled with Loren in December 1995 to meet her Grandparents in Pennsylvania. I slept in the basement of course, I felt secure next to the double locked gun rack, Grandpa was a collector. Loren later told me that she knew Grandpa liked me after he pulled a .38 caliber handgun from underneath his lazy boy and asked me if I liked the gun. That first night with her Grandparents we watched "The Unforgiven." Grandpa sat in the chair with his personal amplifier over his ears. Gene Hackman states, "I don't deserve this" and Eastwood replies, "It isn't about deserve." I feel the same way about my beautiful wife, "I don't deserve this" and the wonderful tradition she has carried on. I consider myself blessed. Furthermore, I am grateful for knowing and loving her beautiful Grandparents. Grandpa always took care of his family. I remember him showing me blueprints of "The Land" which he purchased and planned to build the dream house for his wife. His last and greatest gift was the house Grandma has to protect her. Grandpa is always watching over it and her. Each New Year's Eve when we eat the pizza I think of the wonderful love between Grandma and Grandpa and the growth over time of the unconditional love between a new generation of husband and wife. Thank you Loren, I Love You.

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

My Grandpa worked for Bethpage Grumman as an engineer. He was also a gifted artist. I love that you keep your Grandpa's legacy going through your annual tradition.

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

Wow. My grandfather was Louis Gerold. I grew up around the block and used to go to the Bethpage Community Park (next door to Grumman) almost daily: I attended BHS, which was right across the street...I hope I didn't make you feel rushed on reading Anna K. I thought you were way ahead of me and that I had to catch up with you!

Putz said...

my de simone's pizza is the exact same recipie, i swear did he come through the ports of boston around 1911?????? his lst name was carmine, and my wife who is a girl disappointed her parents by being a girl and they wanted a carmine so bad that they named her karma

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