It is incredibly life giving to be able to call a friend and tell her about how you were up six times last night with a fussy baby…about the grocery store line meltdown that happened despite the steady stream of graham crackers flowing from your diaper bag…about how your toddler just vomited all over the couch and you spent twenty minutes hyperventilating about killing a fake bug…and to have her sigh, or laugh, into the phone and say, “I totally understand.”
I am blessed with many friends, but only a few who are walking lock-step with me in the treanches of toddlerhood. Rachel is one of those friends, and she and I spend a lot of time talking about what it means to thrive in this season, significant conversations that are punctuated with urgent trips to the potty and requests for help climbing up the slide, but significant nonetheless.
This summer, she and I started scheming about a little day retreat. A day away from the diapers and dishes. A day of quiet. A day in nature. A day to reflect. And of course, a day to eat. And the amazing things is, we (with the help of our amazing baby-daddies) made it happen.
We set out on a Sunday morning, armed with coffee cake and a thermos full of good coffee large enough to sustain a small family through the apocalypse. We drove into rural Wisconsin, ending in Grantsburg at the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, where we sat near a lake for hours, seeing only a handful of people while there.
The day could not have been more beautiful…or more restoring. We talked without interruption about goals, our strengths, our weaknesses. We each read the books we’ve been swimming in. We prayed. Asked Jesus to give us guidance about who and how we are to be in these years.
We ended the day by visiting Love Tree Farmstead for their Pizza by the Pond night. I had read about Mary’s unconventional farming methods and amazing cheeses in a book recently, and I had been eager to visit. We arrived to a quiet and picturesque farm, a few happy groups munching on pizza, quiet except for the sheep letting us know they were there, reminding us where the mind-blowing cheese on the pizza comes from.
We ordered a pizza, and talked with Mary herself while we waited fireside for it to cook. We had gotten a pizza with two halves with different toppings, but hands down, our favorite half was The Savory – with bacon, pears, onions, and mushrooms, plus that cheese. Oh that cheese. We finished the entire thing, along with some wine, some chocolate, while sitting by the pond, and talked well after the sun went down. It was the best way to end a day that I am so so thankful for.
As I made my meal-plan for the following week, I eyed our typical Friday pizza night and knew I had to give The Savory a try. I knew it wouldn’t quite compare. Love Tree’s pizzas are made on a slighly fermented cave-aged crust that I obviously can’t replicate. (Though any of you Bread in Five fans can use dough that’s been in the fridge for several days and at least get a little of that fermented flavor.) I also didn’t have any of the farm’s cheese on hand (though you can buy it at the St. Paul & Kingsfield farmers market, Local Yocals). But I did my best and was pretty happy with the result.
The combination of crispy bacon, sweet red onions, and thinly slicd pears isn’t a new one – but it’s just so good. The taste and texture are completed with that creamy basil and rosemary goat cheese, and just the slightest hint of garlic. We’ll definitely be making this pizza again this fall…though maybe after another trip out to Lovetree – you know, for further recipe development.
P.S. You can see from the pictures that I forgot to add the mushrooms. I am not typically a mushroom fan but really liked them on the pizza we had at the farm. I had intended to use them but forgot to buy the mushrooms because taking two babies to the grocery store is like herding young squirrels while trying to remember all the phone numbers to your immediate family.
(recipe by Carpé Season; crust recipe adapted from All Recipes )
(yields one 14" pizza; about 8 triangular slices)
I've listed one of our favorite no-rise crust recipes here, but if you are a Bread in Five user, I'd definitely recommend using a pizza crust recipe from that line of cookbooks to copy the fermented flavor that the pizza farm's crust had.
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (one .25-ounce package)
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 cup warm water (110*F)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoons salt
(parchment paper & pizza stone recommended)
5 slices thick-cut bacon
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
4-ounce got cheese log, softened
1 teaspoon dreied basil
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 pear, cored and very thinly sliced
(optional) 1/2 cup small portobello mushrooms
1/4 of a medium onion, halved and very thinly sliced
1-2 tablespoons fresh sage OR basil OR rosemary, minced (we used sage)
Prepare Bacon, "Sauce," & Goat Cheese:
Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Fry bacon for about 6 minutes, flipping once, until bacon is about halfway cooked, just starting to brown and render fat. Remove bacon to a paper plate.
Place minced garlic in remaining bacon grease and saute for just a minute or two until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove garlic and place it in a small bowl with the olive oil. Set aside.
For the goat cheese, once softened, stir in the basil and rosemary.
You'll also want to use this time to prepare your pear, onion, and fresh herbs so you can work quickly and avoid a soggy crust.
Preheat oven to 475*F. If using, place pizza stone in oven while it heats up.
In a medium bowl, stir to dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Then, stir in the flours, salt and oil. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead just a few times until smooth. Form into a ball and let rest for 5 minutes.
Make sure all your toppings are ready to go at this point!
Turn dough out onto your lightly floured surface and pat or roll into about a 14-inch round. Transfer crust to your parchment paper. Then carefully slide onto your preheated pizza stone (you could use a pizza peel, or if you don't have one, place your crust on the parchment paper on the bottom of a baking sheet and use that to slide your crust onto the stone.)
Bake for 7 minutes; then remove it from the oven.
Assemble & Bake Pizza:
Working quickly, brush the garlic/olive oil combination over the whole crust. Dollop the herbed goat cheese and sprinkle on the mozzarella. Add the pear and onion (and mushrooms if using). Return to the oven for 7-10 more minutes, until pizza is golden brown and bacon crispy. Remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh herbs. Press coarse salt into the exposed crust edges.