Gift with purchase — priceless

I was having a glass of wine the other day with a woman who told me the sad story of a friend’s store dying. She was regretting not having shopped there more. A buck or two here and there wasn’t worth the loss of a carefully selected collection, a fun atmosphere and the knowledge that she was supporting her community, she said.

I’m all for all of that. I’d also like to add that buying from your neighbors means purchases come with neighborly advice.

In my haste to pull up stakes and leave Virginia, I left my pizza stone in the oven. Disasters! How have I survived since August? Yamhill Valley is getting chilly, which means it’s prime time for baking. Wine Country Kitchen is just a hop, skip and jump from the Discover Yamhill Valley secret bunker and they have everything. Seriously. Everything. It’s like the wardrobe that leads to Narnia – much bigger on the inside than it seems like it could be on the outside.

One thing they don’t have, though, is a pizza stone without a glaze on it.

I was about to up and leave without asking for a plain one, but Joyce Harris behind the counter saw me considering and wondering and threw in her two cents. Those are pretty good, she said.

I told her I was used to the plain kind and that I was concerned about the crust. I use one all the time to make pizza, she said, and the crust is good – thin and crisp.

And then she offered me her recipe.

I topped Joyce's dough with some home-made pesto, sliced tomatoes and all the last bits of cheese in the house.

I bought the stone – for precisely the same price I would have paid at Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table – took it home and made Joyce’s recipe.

It didn’t go well. I had to e-mail her and ask for her help. She got back to me the next day and set me straight. So now I have an unexpectedly good pizza stone and an unexpectedly good pizza recipe and a new source for kitchen advice. Win-win, no?

Joyce’s pizza dough

  • 1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over water.  Let sit for 5 minutes.

In a food processor, pulse the flour and salt, then pour in the oil and yeast mixture until a ball is formed.

Continue mixing for 30 seconds, adding just enough flour until it no longer is sticky.  Place in oiled bowl, cover with dish towel and let rise 40 minutes in a warm place.  Punch down.  The dough can be frozen up to three months or used within four days.

“I make the pizza on a peel sprinkled with a little corn meal, then slide it onto the heated pizza stone in the oven.  However I have also made the pizza on the cold stone and then placed it in the oven to bake. Either way works well.

I get two thin-crust pizzas from the recipe.  One pizza is enough for two hungry people with a side salad.  I usually bake mine at 450 until the cheese is bubbly — around 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on it because no two ovens are the same.   Making an Italian pizza with fewer toppings and with or without tomato sauce is my style.  Try experimenting.  Sometimes I fold it in half and make a calzone.”

It was a success. And by success, I mean my son ate practically the whole thing in about 10 minutes. Bow down before my culinary prowess!

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About Liz

I'm the editor of Discover Yamhill Valley. I moved here from Virginia, and I'm falling in love with with Oregon. My weekdays are spent writing and editing. This blog is all about my weekends, which I spend adventuring and exploring, either from the back of a bicycle or with a glass of wine in my hand. Or a mug of beer balanced on my head. You never know.
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6 Responses to Gift with purchase — priceless

  1. Kevin says:

    So when are you inviting all your loyal blog readers over for pizza? 😉

  2. Susanne says:

    Ya’ll struck gold out in Oregon, Virginia just hasn’t been the same since Liz left. Happy we can still have glimpses of her from time to time even if only in electronic form. Please thank Joyce for the recipe:) We miss you Liz!

  3. Liz says:

    Kevin: Find my secret bunker and I’ll make you a pizza.
    Ever lead a bike ride down in these here parts? Maybe we can set up a bike/pizza/beer extravaganza!

  4. Tamara Devereux says:

    Thanks Liz. You’ve inspired me to perfect my own perfect pizza. I guess I need to talk to you about that pizza stone – I’ve never tried one.

  5. Whitney says:

    Oh my god. Pesto pesto pestopestopestopestopestopesto!!! Commence mouth watering……….now!!

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