Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Indoor Cricket -- and Pizza!

[Updated with pictures, 4 May 2006; originally posted 2 May 2006]

I came home from working today feeling lonely, overwhelmed, darkly depressed, and deeply unsettled -- the usual emotional life of a doctoral student. But today it was worse than usual. It was a hundred different things, don't even ask.

But I got home, and my daughter ran to greet me ("Daddy!"), and my wife had bought me a surprise: a children's starter cricket equipment set. It has a foam bat; two foam balls (red, naturally); and two foam wickets with two stumps and a bail apiece. Alexandra was really excited about it and showed me, and I couldn't help but smile.

So in our tiny flat, we set up a wicket at one end of the hallway, and I bowled to her and she batted. And Kristen bowled to me a bit, and then I bowled to her. And Alex bowled to me -- and she was pretty good. Amazing how an £8 foam cricket set can change one's day. Later on in the evening, Alex said three (more) of my favourite words: "Let's play cricket!"

Here is some documentary evidence: (sorry the pictures are so dark...)

And, now -- because (cough) you demanded it...

...Well, no, not you...but...people...you know, um... demanded it. Or, er, at least someone once feigned interest when I wouldn't stop talking about it....

Because someone, somewhere, was too kind to make me shut up...

...here are some pictures of my pizza.

This is one of my favourites: white pizza with mushrooms and garlic. As with all my pizzas, it uses a crust madefrom scratch (I can't seem to get them circular, but I don't care that much, either!) It uses a cream-based sauce, redolent of onion and garlic, reduced over medium-low heat to give it a nice consistency. I also use thyme in the sauce and finish the pizza off with fresh thyme on the top after it comes out of the oven. Comfort pizza at its best -- delicious!

This is a new one that I tried for the first time last Monday: quattro formaggi con prosciutto (or four cheese with prosciutto ham). It uses a fresh crushed tomato sauce. The four cheeses (mozzarella, parmesan-reggiano, stilton, and ricotta) each have a very different flavour profile and so the pizza delivers a much fuller cheese flavour than typical. I was originally planning on just making this one cheese, but saw that we had some prosciutto at the back of the fridge and included that, a move that worked well. I sliced the already thin cut ham into small pieces and put them on top of the cheese, where the heat of the oven would cause it to crisp up and intensify its flavour, to complement the cheeses. I finished it off with a sprinkling of dried oregano when it came out of the oven.

On the whole, I think it worked quite well, although I might be more careful to use less of each ingredient next time -- I think there's an elegance to ingredients which are well-balanced and harmonious, and using too much of one ingredient (or all ingredients, typified in the apt expression 'garbage pizza') defeats this. Also, if too much of the ingredients are used, it makes the pizza thicker and harder to cook through without burning; it can also make the rather delicate crust soggy, which is always disappointing.


Blogger Thunder Jones said...

Do you understand Cricket? When the scores come on the BBC, my eyes just glaze over and I go all numb in the sportsbrain.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006 2:04:00 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

I had three non-academic goals for my time here in the U.K.: 1) visit the continent as much as possible (so far, France). 2) Learn to speak R.P. (the 'Received Pronunciation', aka BBC English: I've made progress so far, but I still need to concentrate to do it.) and 3) Learn to understand and appreciate cricket.

Do I understand it yet? Yes and no. It is incredibly complex and seemingly arcane, and has many, many traditions (all great reasons to like it in my book). I have a pretty good feel, I think, for basic gameplay, but there are nuances and strategies all over the place that I don't have a clue about. But you've got to love a sport that takes a break for lunch, and another break for tea! I'm really looking forward to the Ashes rematch this year (when England play Australia in a five-game test match).

I found two things helpful: the cricket portal at Wikipedia (yes, they really have one), and some instructional videos that can be found on google video by searching or cricket videos. Also, there is a blog with cricket videos of people like Sachin Tendulkar (an Indian batsman) and Shane Warne (an Australian bowler) that is great too: it's at http://sachintendulkar.blogpost.com

It really helped me to get a basic feel for the rules and then watch some clips from games to see it in action.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006 7:15:00 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Waiting breathlessly for the photos. . .

Thursday, May 04, 2006 2:20:00 AM  
Blogger Thunder Jones said...

Recipe us, good father.

Quattro formaggi con prosciutto!

Monday, May 08, 2006 7:45:00 PM  

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