Sweet potato, goat cheese and rosemary-sage pizza

May 7, 2012 § 1 Comment

The following is a paraphrased and nearly completely inaccurate account of a recent text conversation.

Text from Nan: J’s sick, can’t use tix to tonight’s show at Club Passim. Can you use them?

Text from Dainty: Uh … wha? Tonite? Sure! Who’s playing, where’s it?

Nan: Meg Hutchison. She’s great. H Sq.

Dainty: We’re in! Coming after Baptiste yoga, could eat a cow. Do they have food?

Nan: Veggie Planet serves their food. Order Henry’s Dinner. On a pizza. Trust me.

Jennifer and I do indeed trust Nan—she’s a lawyer, after all, and we love her. We go to Club Passim, ravenous, and after a cursory glance at the menu, immediately ordered the Henry’s Dinner, pizza version. Something about sweet potato, goat cheese, asiago, rosemary and sage—oh, don’t forget the caramelized onions—all atop a whole wheat pizza.

First thought: Um … yeah. It’s really good. Things that should come together as a side dish at Turkey Time turns out to be a great topping for a pizza.

Second thought: I could totally make that.

And I did Here’s my version.


  • 2 pizza doughs from the Biga-Based Pizza Dough recipe (which makes a total of four)
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 sweet onion
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • fresh rosemary and sage, ground in a spice mill together, about 2 tbs each
  • a log of goat cheese
  • asiago cheese (we used parmesan)
  • salt and pepper go without saying …

-We had a gigantic sweet potato, so we spiked it with a few holes and popped it into a 425F oven for nearly an hour. After 45 min you want to keep poking a fork in it to see if it’s done all the way through. When done, let it cool enough to handle. The skin will just peel right off with your hands. Slice it into 1/4-1/2 inch think rounds.

baked sweet potatoes

Baked sweet potato

-While the potato is cooking, slice up that sweet onion. Add about 2 tbs olive oil to your trusty large skillet, set on medium high, and toss the onion in there. Add maybe 2 tbs balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt. Toss often. After a bit you’ll want to turn the heat down low and let it saute low and slow. Half hour, maybe. Give the onions a taste halfway through – you might want to add more balsamic to your liking. When they’re done, let them cool, too.

-Heat the oven to 480F. Got a pizza stone? You need one, seriously.

-When you’re ready, flour your counter and roll out that pizza dough – thin but not super super thin. Sprinkle a pizza peel with fine corn meal and lay that dough on there.

-Next, brush the dough surface with some olive oil. Now you can arrange your ingredients however you want. I put the caramelized onions on the bottom. Next I layer with sweet potato – I broke my potato slices into chunks and spread them out a bit. Same with the goat cheese – I just broke chunks off the log and applied liberally. Next, a generous dusting of the rosemary-sage mixture, followed by Parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper on top.

-Slide the pizza onto the stone. 6-7 minutes is all you need. You should have enough ingredients for two pizzas, so while the first one is cooking, get the second one all set to go.

-Wait 3 minutes before cutting into it. You gotta let that thing set up.

sweet potato, caramelized onion, goat cheese and rosemary-sage pizza

sweet potato, caramelized onion, goat cheese and rosemary-sage pizza

Jennifer just took the leftovers for lunch and popped it into the break room toaster oven. A colleague asked, “Hey, is that the Henry’s Dinner pizza from Veggie Planet?” Looks like I got it right.

NPR’s Three-Minute Fiction: Better Late Than Never

May 6, 2012 § 8 Comments

Okay … now for something a little different.

So, professionally, I’m a writer and editor. For a trade magazine. I write about new flowers and tricks about how to sell them to you, the unsuspecting consumer.

Non-fiction, all of it. Except for a few marketing spins I will occasionally put on some side projects, of course. There’s not much leeway in my writing life for creative expression, not much chance for letting words form that which has never existed before, or ever has much chance of existing.

Every once in a while I get an itch to go there.

Apparently I’ve been blind as to the forays into fiction that are open to me around this. For instance, NPR has this Three Minute Fiction contest. Who knew, really? Here’s the deal with it: They give you an opening sentence; you write a piece of fiction built around that first sentence that can be read in about three minutes (roughly 600 words); and may the best person win. Win what? I dunno. But it’s intriguing, isn’t it.

I missed the deadline for Round 8 of course. (Round 8?? Seriously, where have I been???) But I’m eagerly awaiting the sentence for Round 9, as the judges are still pouring through the submissions for the previous round.

Encouraged by a few supportive friends, I decided to exercise my fiction-writing skills. What’s below is my attempt at being creative—no mention of flowers, no marketing spin, no attempts at humor even … it was refreshing, actually.

*Ahem* Just a few notes before you get reading:

  • The mandatory opening sentence is “She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door.” I HAD to start with that.
  • When you read it, read it out loud, pretending like you are at an open-mic night at a spoken-word performance or something. You’ll get what I mean …
  • Contrary to what it says, this did not happen to me. But it happens.

Comments? Questions? Leave ’em below. And, thanks.

Okay, here you go …

She Closed the Book

By Ellen C. Wells

She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door.

The woman had been reading the slim novel—a smutty 1950s paperback she pulled from the cottage’s shelf—while eating a microwaved burrito over the kitchen sink. The book was a lark, a piece of mindless romance for an absent-minded vacation at the lake. The lake, the cottage, a week of worthless reading—she wanted her most immediate concern to be the turning of the next page.

She had turned the page. Read the words. Then felt the words, felt them as they fell onto her skin, pressed from behind her eyes. As the taste of beef and cheese melded with the memories, she stood there, stomach knotting.

The woman vomited neon orange.

This happened to me. This happened to me. The obligatory romanticized assault scene in dime-store novels happened to me.

Except the woman had been a girl. The room was strange and filthy, the boy she knew only a little. Her kicks and pushes and spit didn’t meet their target, only provoked it. She recalled the pink and green fleur de lis wallpaper, peeling; the child had calmed, breathed through it, took herself elsewhere.

And now.

The woman can still see the brown and black-spotted dog with its ratty collar, fraying leash, she had spotted later from the window. Can still hear its constant barks from its own dose of filth and bruises. She hadn’t known this place and wondered if it had been his. It had barked anger. The child could only simmer and forget.

Again, now.

The door shocked itself open with the woman’s will. Wooden steps ached with her footfalls. The late-afternoon air rushed forward as she made her way across the pine-patched forest floor toward the lake.

After years of not knowing, she remembered.

A few sailboats squirmed across the lake’s surface, pushed along by the same hesitant breeze that played with the woman’s hair. The woman didn’t notice. The woman didn’t notice she had walked ankle-deep into the cocktail-cold water, barefoot. Shards of rock slashed her feet. Pain outside matching pain inside. Zero sum.

A boulder, dropped like a tear from a glacier long ago, held her above the lake’s edge. Warmth from the day flowed from it into the woman. She removed herself from herself, as she had done that day, as she had done many times before, not knowing why it had come so easily. Rock, water, sky…this is all she had at this moment, all that would sustain her. Fixed gaze on pines. Breath.

Stars touched her hair, made it sparkle like light on water. It stirred her mind, gone missing for hours. Like life coming to Lazarus, her lungs filled, chest heaved. The woman had come home.

She stepped down from the ancient hold, noticing the cuts on her feet as she walked along the shore, through the woods. The owl, a dream last night, spoke to her now, soothed her soul as she felt her way.

Here, now.

The woman stood. She breathed in and understood. She understood and released herself into the open night air. Finally, she walked through the door, picked up the book, and continued to read.

Where Am I?

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