This change in the weather has put me in a "gather-around-the-hearth" kind of mood. That always means food of a more soul-warming nature.
Like pizza — homemade, of course! Making your own creations is really a whole lot of what eating pizza is all about. And the great thing about assembling and baking your own is that you can control the serving time instead of being at the mercy of a delivery person.
Although homemade pizza dough is a snap to make, you can get a giant head start by using raw dough from a local pizza parlor. Most establishments will sell it to you at a very nominal price: $2 to $4 for a medium to large glob. Pick it up on your way home from the office or, better yet, at any off-hour when there aren't a bunch of other pizza patrons milling about. Restaurant staff will wrap it up for you, and it will keep that way in the refrigerator for several hours, or even overnight.
Raw dough also can be found in refrigerated sections of well-stocked supermarkets, particularly a local, whole foods-themed store.
Even a frozen pizza can be a marvelous jumping-off point once you ditch the fake cheeses and flavorless pepperoni. Pile on a whole bunch of fresh and tasty toppings — hearty cheeses, zesty meats and sausages, even dollops of pesto — and you'll end up with a fabulous version.
Anyone counting calories can consider my "diet pizza" concept: Set the oven to 475 F and place a pizza stone, if you have one, in the oven for 30 minutes (if you don't, use a baking sheet; the bottom crust just won't be quite as crunchy and wonderful).
Meanwhile, brush the edges of a thin, unbaked pizza crust with olive oil and cover the top with any combination of seasoned, grilled vegetables, seafood and chicken, as well as roasted garlic. Sprinkle the pizza with a couple of tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, then transfer the pizza to the stone in the oven (or onto a large baking sheet that has preheated in the oven for a few minutes). Cook for about 12 to 14 minutes.
You won't have all the goo of a typical pizza, but you will have something great — and healthful — to eat. I'm also providing you with my homemade pizza sauce recipe. Fast and simple to prepare, it tastes fresh and wonderful.
Jan Roberts-Dominguez is a Corvallis food writer, artist and author of "Oregon Hazelnut Country, the Food, the Drink, the Spirit" and four other cookbooks. Readers can contact her by email at email@example.com or obtain additional recipes and food tips on her blog at www.janrd.com.