Food Matters


What a week!  Hurrah to all of us for electing such a respectable person to office, Barack Obama.  Even though he was elected three days ago I am still reeling and still finding it unbelievable.  You know, I’ve never been a sinical person but a regularly disappointed optimist.  And now, I feel rather vindicated, like all that hope and faith wasn’t being stored for nothing. I feel a sense of get-up-and-go, do you?  There’s work to be done now, real work.  There’s a shine of pride I’ve never seen the gleam of.  Makes me want to cook, to eat and clap.  Makes me want to gather my daughter in my arms and say there you go then. 

Before sitting down to write today I reflexively got online to see whatever became of that recent article by Michael Pollan in the New York Times titled Farmer-in-Chief.  If you didn’t have the chance to read that beautiful thing it was in letter-format to the next president elect spelling out how our broken food system is affecting and being affected by all other issues plaguing our time now and that in order to heal things like our economy and environment we must solve our current food crisis.  I found out that indeed Barack Obama did read Pollan’s article and mentioned it in depth in an interview with a reporter from Time magazine.  Obama gleaned from Pollan’s piece the environmental impact our food system has had and spoke further of his priority while in office to get moving on environmental issues.  Bravo!  Why?  First, can you imagine any other president (such as the one we’ve had in office these past eight years) even reading Pollan’s article on food and breathing it in and referring to it in an interview? Does this not sound like a good beginning?  Can we believe that we have a president who cares about these seemingly fringe issues and who unpopularly promotes the farm bill while in congress and advocates heartily for African-American farmers?  Oh, I’m just so revved up.

While reading more about Obama and food I found out that his favorite food is pizza from a specific Italian restaurant in Chicago.  Here’s a recipe for our president, a pizza dressed up in Autumn clothes:

Pizza with Tomato Sauce, Autumn Squash, and Ricotta Cheese

One pizza dough (either homemade or store-bought), 14 oz. can of Muir Glen crushed tomatoes (or sauce), clove of garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, sugar, small butternut squash (or other favorite squash), fresh rosemary or thyme, cup of whole-milk ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese to shred on top

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Peel, de-seed, and slice your squash into small 1/4 inch slices.  Toss those slices with a bit of olive oil, a few tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary or thyme, salt and pepper.  Lay the squash in a roasting pan and roast in the oven until tender.   

In a small saucepan, warm a tablespoon of olive oil.  Slice your clove of garlic, add it to your saucepan, and swirl it round for a minute or so but do not allow to brown.  Add in your crushed tomatoes, stir and bring to a simmer. Allow your tomatoes to simmer for about five minutes and then add in a bit of salt and pinch of sugar.  Allow that to simmer for another five minutes and finally taste for more salt or sugar.  

Once your squash and tomato sauce are done you are ready to assemble your pizza.  First, turn up your oven to 450 degrees.  Place your pizza dough on either a cookie sheet or on a pizza peel to be later transferred to a pizza stone in the oven.  Spread your tomato sauce on so that it covers your dough but is not too thick. Distribute your roasted squash pieces and then spoon ricotta cheese around your squash.  Shred some parmesan cheese on top of that and sprinkle a bit of sea salt and pepper on top.  Drizzle your pizza now with a bit of olive oil and then bake in your oven until bubbling and slightly browned.