It was witching hour. The sun had descended over my quaint little lake, mosquitos had begun to buzz, and I had just emerged from the shower after a very successful run. Toweling off my hair, I began to think about dinner on the horizon. I knew deep in my heart it would result in one of two things: chicken fingers and French fries or a BLT. This is what I eat. Read: not much variety. I’m usually okay with this but as I sat down at my kitchen counter this particular evening I knew that it simply would not fly.
Surprisingly, for someone who eats so few categories off food, I have a shocking amount of recipes saved on my computer. As I flipped through each of them, one jumped out at me so much so that I not only closed all my other tabs but put my shoes on in preparation for a trip to the grocery store.
For those of you who don’t know, making a specific trip to the local Copps is a very. Big. Deal.
That recipe, my friends, was BBQ chicken pizza.
I had first fallen in love at the downtown Cosi, one of those endearing little restaurants that’s a big step up from fast food but not necessarily a sit-down kind of place. My mom and I frequent it whenever we can since it’s usually the healthiest option and they have the best strawberry smoothies. Cosi made my beautiful Italian specialty on flatbread with a lot of sauce and red onion, and that was exactly how I wanted mine.
Recipe downloaded, I wrote out the ingredients I would need and raced to the aisled wonderland that is our local food market. Quickly grabbing the necessary chicken off the shelf, I moved on to extra BBQ sauce, sharp cheese, and stood in the refrigerated section for a good ten minutes contemplating pizza dough brand. After shamelessly flirting with my check-out person (when I stated proudly my mission to make this specific pizza, he winked and said something to the effect of, “There needs to be more girls like you in the world.” Considering I still had wet hair and was wearing my brother’s Where the Wild Things Are shirt, I should have snapped him up that second.), I got in my car and sped back home.
I did everything right, at first: I preheated the oven according to the pizza roll tube. I greased the pan. I assembled which ingredients I would need and measured out a few of them. Then I hit the point in the recipe where it said to dice the tomato.
I had never diced a tomato before.
Like I do with all minor altercations, I had a full-scale mental breakdown. Sitting on my kitchen floor, red fruit (or is it a vegetable?) in one hand and improperly sized knife in the other, I realized I had not learned some very basic life skills. It was also at this point my mind decided to remind me that I had never made pasta, couldn’t roast a chicken, and wasn’t entirely sure what oregano was. It was a dark five minutes.
Then the preheat alert on my oven dinged and I decided that if I wanted to answer my stomach’s calls, I would have to rally. I stood up. I gripped my tomato. I forced it down on the cutting board. With one hand, I nimbled my fingers out of the way while the other brought the blade down with crushing force.
It wasn’t pretty.
But it got the job done.
I managed to maul my necessary wicked ingredient into chunky pieces and measure 2/3 cup of them. All by myself. A newfound confidence and overwhelming calm swept over me.
Taking a deep breath as I spread BBQ sauce over the dough, I realized in my recently acquired kitchen nirvana, that I could add a few things. For instance, who said I had to only use a 1/3 cup of onions? I loved onions! I could sprinkle on as many as I liked! Adding an extra handful, my eyes grazed the sauce. What if I added more of that over the cheese, so it wouldn’t pull away when you took a bite? As I drizzled, I glanced back at the fridge. I had bacon in the fridge. I could make this a BBQ BACON chicken pizza, couldn’t I?
After a few more suddenly-deemed-essential ingredients had been thrown – literally, thrown – onto my crust, I lovingly slid my creation into the oven. I sat cross-legged in front of the little window, four-year-old-waiting-for-cookies style.
I thought over my life in those twelve to sixteen minutes. I knew that whatever mess came off that cookie sheet, I would enjoy it because I had made it mine. Cooking was – and, let’s be completely honest, is – nothing I’m good at. But I had taken a chance. And even more importantly, I had taken a chance on bacon. Which is never a bad chance, coincidentally.
To spoil everything, my pizza was fantastic. I did go a little overboard on the sauce, my cheese wasn’t fully melted, and the crust had a strange texture, but I was so proud of it that I ate three slices before pausing to take a mesquite-scented breath.
I don’t have a recipe for this magic pizza, and hell, I don’t think I’ll need one.
Though I do need to learn to dice a tomato.