Pizza As Me Making

A response to the #SelfieUnselfie Make
created by Alan Levine (@cogdog)

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I don’t do many solo selfie photos; my preference is looking through the camera lens at something or someone else.  But selfies are something I enjoy doing with my wife, when we are out hiking or visiting a special place. I have a knack for almost never looking directly into the lens of the iPhone camera 😉

Ironically I do have a selfie I did in 1988, when I was ramping up my interest in photography. As in film. I was my second year as a graduate student at Arizona State University; this taken by reflection in the bathroom of my studio apartment in Mesa. The bathroom was also the darkroom I used then to develop my own prints. I cannot recall the reason, but even at this age, I saw myself as behind the camera.

Alan behind a camera looking into a mirror

So what is left out of a typical selfie I might do? Those are often about the place, a moment shared. They might given an indication of what I enjoy doing, or that it is a highlight to share. Does it show everything I like doing? Does it show what challenges me? Does it show the less glamorous parts of a regular day? Does it show I am worried about things, the future, what my future selfie might be?

On instagram there is a tad of performance into wanting people to know how good my life is. Well, that’s not a hard performance, I love my life.

For an unselfie I thought of images I do share online, but represents an interest I never have predicted as a youth, as that 1988 me staring into the mirror.  I rather like… cooking. There is something very satisfying about being able to turn a few cups of flour, some yeast, sugar, butter into a beautiful loaf of bread. And to not be reliant in store-bought food.

I do like to eat. And about ten years ago, moving from a marriage that ended into bachelorhood again, I had to manage my own eating. My mom loved to cook, but I never asked her to teach (though my first year in Arizona she helped with advice for baking a thanksgiving turkey). I grilled a lot of things. Made spaghetti. Pretty basic.

But over time I started experimenting more, and that’s where the internet came in. There is no shortage of recipes. I rather like having them as a guide, but I also like deviating. Dabbling. Trying different spices, ingredients. Googling what to do when I lack evaporated milk. There seems to always be an answer. And my cooking has gotten pretty darned good- my soups, tacos, and a really really great guacamole.  And pies! Apple pies are easy. Two years ago I got brave and started making my own pie crusts from scratch (really easy from this recipe!). Those overripe bananas? Oh my banana bread. And cornbread, plus a challah bread with a recipe from my friend Darren.

If it’s anything I am proud of, it’s my home made pizza, done on a pizza stone in a barbecue grill. I owe this to my sister Harriet, who first did it for me on a small weber grill on the back of her sailboat.  She shared her dough recipe; which is easy and always tasty. I use her hand written one she did when she visited in 2015, it’s also on the internets.

Harriet's pizza dough recipe

And my method has evolved, too. That’s a thing about cooking, it’s iterative in development, techniques improve with tinkering, hacking, trying new approaches. It’s not about replication, it’s iteration. My favorite now is a green pesto sauce, sometimes store bought, but I also use a VitaMix recipe (I often use spinach over basil).

I like eating, but cooking is also, for my family, a love language. I do it to share. And there is pride in the craft, when it works and even if it is less than awesome. Even when I accidentally drop one on the ground (Cori can tell that story!).

An array of home made pizzas

Come on over some time to eat, and most likely I will make you pizza. It says as much or more about me than my face.

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