I started a tradition on Monday nights when my son was probably a freshman or sophomore in high school and my daughter was in 6th or 7th grade, so about 12 or more years ago, called “Pizza Mondays.” All my children’s friends would come over and everyone would make their own personal pizzas. It’s been such a fun family tradition that when my daughter had to write the essay portion of her college applications she picked Pizza Monday as her theme. Here’s the opening paragraph of what she wrote….
“It is almost six o’clock on any given Monday night and my family and I are setting up for our weekly tradition of Pizza Monday. My mom started this tradition, which has lasted for over three years, because she did not want to be interrupted while watching her favorite television show, Monday Night Football. So now, every Monday, the flour is sprawled across the counter; the pile of risen dough waits impatiently to be seized, squished and flattened; the sauce, well, sits there; the numerous kinds of cheddar, mozzarella, goat, marinated, bleu, and feta cheeses take over half the counter; the pepperonis; the mushrooms; the chicken; the capers; the pineapples; and any other possible topping imaginable is set out for all to make their own delicious hand-rolled pizza.”
She went on to describe a special one that she had with her temple youth group and the activities that took place. How cool is that, that she chose a family tradition as the basis for an essay that might help her achieve her goal of going to college. I really did start it so I could watch Monday Night Football, but it grew to be so much more than that over the years. (side note…growing up my mom usually made steak on Sunday nights for dinner and then the leftovers were made into French dip sandwiches for an easy dinner to watch in front of MNF…my siblings might remember the whole thing differently…but this was the impetus for my own MNF tradition) The kid’s friends all joined in and sometimes neighbors & friends too. At times there were over 20 people that would come, but, since there was no invitation or formality, every now & then it would be just the four of us. It never mattered because the dough freezes beautifully and I could always use some of the leftovers for another meal later in the week. When the kids left for college I continued the tradition and neighbors and friends continued to come.
If you’ve ever lived far away from your family, you’d know how hard it is to see everyone…family & friends…in the short time you have when your are visiting. Now, when the kids and their fiancés are in town I try to fit in a Pizza Monday…or some other day of the week…so they can reconnect with their friends in one evening and hope that alleviates some of the running around they have to do.
So…how do you start your own Pizza Monday?
- Take the dough out of the freezer in the morning and let it thaw in the sink (…or just buy fresh at Trader Joe’s, but leave enough time for it to come to room temperature)
- Place the pizza stone in the oven or on the bbq (it has to heat up with oven/bbq…you can’t place it on after it’s hot)
- Turn the oven up to 500 or light the burners on the bbq…including the back burner if you have one. (it takes about 15-20 minutes to get it to the maximum heat….30-40 on bbq in winter…and it will be really hot!)
- Set up your counter like the picture below… Basically going around the counter…the dough/flour, the pizza paddles w/ cornmeal on them to make the pizza slide onto the bbq or stone, sauces (I do regular & pesto…sometimes bbq and/or ranch) and then cheese(s) and toppings. Then…off to the oven/bbq. The cornmeal makes it easy to slide onto the stone…and it only takes around 3-5 minutes to cook depending on the heat.
Some fun ingredients to try….
- Goat cheese
- Bleu/Gorgonzola Cheese
- Carmelized onions
- Fried garlic
- Fresh basil (put on after pizza is cooked or it burns)
- Kalamata olives
You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!