It’s fun to take a walk with Malcolm, because he talks a lot. He’s a scrounger, and an inventor, and he has a wonderfully vivid imagination. He likes to talk about the things he’d like to create – contraptions he’ll make out of bits and pieces he finds; cars that he’ll invent that will make the world cleaner; superheroes that will make everyday life easier for people, or will save trees or animals. He has such sweet, zany ideas, and they’re always a pleasure to hear about, even though they’re not always possible to carry out. Not yet, anyway.
He has these schemes for things to create in the kitchen, too, and these are possible, they’re always possible. Nobody is going to tell him that it won’t work, or it sounds like a bad idea. (Luckily he has very good food instincts!) It’s a delight to cook with him – he’s so confident and creative. He likes to use the blender and the little food processor. He likes to chop things up. I was nervous about this at first, but I took a cue from my husband, the furniture maker. It will come as no surprise that Malcolm likes to go to David’s shop as well. Rather than tell Malcolm that he can’t use a saw, or a chisel, or (gulp) a lathe, David will teach him the safe way to use it. It takes some of the mystery out of it, and it makes it more fun, because he can create something really useful and beautiful. So I showed him how to chop vegetables with a big knife, but safely. (It’s nice to have a helper with that job!)
When my boys were littler I used to worry that I told them too often that they were handsome and smart and wonderful at everything. I thought I might turn them into vain little egotists. Now I think you can’t tell them often enough. The world is not an easy place, and the knockings-down start when they’re pretty young. I love cooking, I love sharing it with Malcolm, and I love to see him feel good about what he makes. What a joy to sit down as a family and eat something we’ve made together!
Phew – I just got very side-tracked. Let’s talk about beezza! It’s a pizza, and it’s made with Malcolm’s Supreme Spicy Sauce, which is made with Malcolm’s Supreme Spicy Spice mix. The mix reminds me a little of ethiopian berbere – it’s a little sweet and a little spicy. The toasted beets – also Malcolm’s invention – are in the sauce itself, and then dotted about the top. This is like no pizza you’ve ever tasted! It has a roastiness, from roasted red peppers and smoked paprika; a sweet earthiness from the beets; and a bit of tang, from tomatoes and balsamic. Even Isaac ate about four pieces!
Here’s Body Movin, by the Beastie Boys. One of Malcolm’s favorites. He’s so sweet he’s like a nice bon bon!
One batch of pizza crust. (this is enough for two large pizzas. I made them rectangular, on a cookie sheets, but if you have a pizza stone or a big enough pan, you could make them round)
MALCOLM’S SUPREME SPICY SAUCE
(I should mention that in the original version of this, which we made in the summer time, we didn’t cook the sauce on the stove at all. We roasted tomatoes, peppers, shallots and garlic, and blended them with the spices, and with a slice of crustless french bread. I did it a little differently this time, because I wanted it to be nice and thick (pizza sauce, you know!) and because I don’t have fresh tomatoes and peppers this time of year.) So this is how it goes…
2 T olive oil
1 shallot – finely diced
1 clove garlic – minced
1/2 t marjoram
1/2 cup roasted red peppers (fresh or from a jar)
1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 beet, grated, tossed with a little olive oil and toasted for about 15 minutes, till it starts to darken on the edges, and smells sweet and toasty. I used the toaster oven, but you can use the broiler in a regular oven.
(Reserve about 1/4 cup of toasted beets to dot on top of the cheese)
1 t smoked paprika
1 t green peppercorns
pinch cayenne, or to taste
1/4 t. each cardamom and coriander
pinch each allspice and cinnamon
1 T balsamic
1 T butter (unless you want it to be vegan)
Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and marjoram. Cook for a few minutes, until the shallots and garlic start to brown.
Add the peppers and beets. Stir and cook for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and all the rest of the spices. Stir and cook for about ten or fifteen minutes, till it’s starting to reduce and thicken. Add the balsamic and butter, if you’re using it, and blend (carefully, it’s hot!) until it’s nice and smooth. It will be a pretty garnet color.
Stretch the pizza crust until it’s quite thin, and place on your pan or stone of choice. As I mentioned, I used two cookie sheets, which I’d coated with a thin layer of olive oil. I stretched it quite thin, because I like a thin crispy crust.
I put the trays in the oven for about 3 minutes while I was preheating it. Just to cook the crust a tiny bit, so it lost it’s shininess.
Top with the sauce. This quantity is enough for two pizzas.
Top with grated mozzarella. I’d say it took 2 or 3 cups, but you can use as much as you like.
Dot little spoonfuls of grated beets around the top of the cheese.
Bake at 500 (preheated!) for about 10 minutes, till the cheese is melted, bubbling and starting to brown. Keep your eyes on it, it can go very fast at this heat.
This post made me so happy. You seem to have such an excellent and encouraging relationship with your son. That is parenting done right. The Beezza sounds delicious also (and your son has great taste in music :-])!
Thank you so much! We don’t always get along when it comes to cleaning rooms and getting homework done, but we’re at our best in the kitchen!
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I like to see your comments on Felicity, & you have just commented on “child” cooks! I have 4 kids myself and they love to help me in the Kitchen.
I have one question for you just out of interest our your kids vegetarians also?
PS: I am a meat eater & I am very careful about where I source our meat from.
I have just read this on your blog:
“I’m raising my boys as vegetarians as well”
Fair enough, do they ever ask to eat meat? They must see that their school mates do etc, would you be OK about them wanting to start eating meat later on in life? My sister was brought up a vegetarian and now she eats fish.
Hello, Fergus! As you’ve seen, my boys are vegetarians, too. The older one, Malcolm, ordered salmon at a restaurant once. (I guess he was 9 at the time). I’ve always said that when they were old enough to decide for themselves, I’d let them eat meat, but I was much more upset by it than I thought I’d be! I tried not to show it, though. I’m not sure he liked it much, and he hasn’t asked to eat any since. The little one is a big fan of “mother nature,” so he doesn’t seem to have much interest in eating meat. They are the only vegetarians in their school, other than some teachers, but they don’t seem to mind (yet). They like being different, so far. We’ll see! All of our families eat meat, so they don’t think of it as a bad thing to do, or a thing that bad people do. We’ll see!! It’s a funny thing, because so many children’s movies are about talking animals – Babe, Bambi, Charlotte’s Web, Chicken Run… So that makes them less eager to eat meat. Of course we’re not vegan (I think that would be so hard with children) so many people would say we might as well eat meat. I’m sorry to go on and on! You’ve obviously brought up an issue I think about a lot!!
I looked at your blog – it’s lovely!
Thanks for your reply Claire & thanks for the comment about my blog where you can see that my 4 know exactly where meat comes from and more to the point how to respect and cook it properly. They still love to watch some of the movies you mention and I have to say that it sure does not putting them of eating a “Babe”! which I guess you have seen on my blog!
You’re right! If you’re going to eat meat, you must respect it, and understand where it comes from! I think, for so many people, meat is something they buy wrapped in plastic at the grocery store, and the disconnect is so great between that and the animal that it’s quite depressing. (Especially here in America!) I work in a restaurant, and it’s shocking to me to see how much meat we throw away on a daily basis. It makes me sad! The idea that you can buy a “burger” at McDonalds for practically no money, and you know it’s horrible, seems like such an awful way for a living creature to end up.
That being said, I realize that if I really thought about where my organic eggs and milk come from, and everything involved in the process, I might not eat them!
“I realize that if I really thought about where my organic eggs and milk come from, and everything involved in the process”
I don’t understand that comment, I know where my organic eggs & milk come from……….well looked after animals, it’s not a “process” its a natural thing for a chicken to lay eggs & a cow to be milked – I even know who the farmers are, is it different in the USA?
Hello again! I think it is more of a process here. You could buy straight from the farmer, but we can’t afford to! So I buy supermarket-brand organic eggs and milk. They have to adhere to certain rules of course but you never know. And as you say yourself, in your blog the cows and chickens probably don’t enjoy a happy retirement!
Here in Europe there are strict rules for supermarkets selling organic labeled produce, all of the animals involved must have a happy normal outside life before they are killed humanly for consumption (The price is probably cheaper direct from a farmer, as I would imagine the case in the USA as they would miss out the middle man so to speak) I have never said in my blog that organic animals don’t have a happy retirement, you must have misunderstood. please tell me what you read and where you read it in my blog.
I’m so sorry! I didn’t mis-read, I mis-wrote. You never said that organic animals didn’t have a happy retirement! It’s just that they are killed humanely for consumption, which is the part that gives me pause, as a vegetarian. (Not a judgement in any way! I understand why it happens!)
You know – you’re probably right! I bet eggs & milk might be cheaper from a farmer. I live in farm country!! I’m going to look into it. Thanks so much for the tip!
Good I am glad we understand one another, Humans on this beautiful earth that we are lucky to have are sometimes treated worse than organically farmed animals, from what I know this happens in the good old US of A! Rainforests are being destroyed left right and center. Humans should be in control, but as a race of the most intelligent mammals we are not!
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