Friday, January 25, 2013

Pizza Foccacia and The Story of How My Fridge Died

My dear friends. I have wanted to write all week.

Rewind to Monday.

I peeked in the fridge, as we are all apt to do, and found that everything in my freezer was melting. Ice was turning into water, my frozen bananas were no longer white and pretty, but brown and mushy. Something was not right.

The temperature in the fridge was 50 degrees F (supposed to be 38 F) and the temp in the freezer was 38 degrees F (supposed to be 0 degrees F). Everything was much too hot, hot, hot.

Seeing the abnormal temperature, I called our repair-woman to have a look at it, thinking that simply the refrigerator needed to be reset. After an hour or so of working with, taking apart, hot-wiring, and looking at my fridge, the diagnosis was in.

My fridge was dead.

I was shocked. I did not expect a five year old fridge to die. My parents' fridges have all lasted what seemed like 20 years!

My beautiful, $1,800 dream fridge that Paul saved and saved to buy me as a gift five years ago when we first moved into this house. He had been saving that money for other important our future, or our children's future... Instead, he plopped down a lot of money to get me new appliances.

He saw me struggle. No dishwasher. The worst stove on the planet that was 20 years old and had only two settings: simmer, and scorch. A broken trash compactor, and a 20 year old, tiny fridge.

It didn't really sink in at first. Until Paul and I went fridge shopping and saw that the same type of fridge now cost $2,400, plus tax and delivery. Ouch.

Major ouch.

We went home feeling sick. Woke up feeling even worse. How can we possibly feel good about spending that much money on a fridge? Paul pointed out that the amount is the same as the cost of a car! When we bought the fridge in the first place, we thought we would have it for a very long time and therefore had justified the purchase.

And it didn't help that we were now having to throw everything in the fridge away.

It felt like we were camping in our house. Only worse.

My kitchen became dysfunctional.

Fridge food all over the counters, fridge parts strewn everywhere.

It doesn't seem like something as simple as not having a fridge would bring life to a screeching halt. But when you are eating mostly plants? When you thrive on a lot of raw food, and cooked veg?

I boxed up all of our food.

Something I am really grateful for is the cold. Outside. Right now. I am so glad that it is winter time and that our great outdoors can act as a pseudo-fridge until we can figure out what to do.

Paul put it outside.

We went fridge shopping again yesterday and came home hungry and tired. It's been well over a week since I have done any grocery shopping, and so our options seamed meager under the circumstances.

I needed something easy.

At first, I was convinced I would make my easy Calzones that my kids love. Despite how easy the filling is to make (as fast as a green smoothie in the blender) I couldn't bring myself to do it. Not to mention I couldn't find all the ingredients in my messy kitchen.

And so I dreamed. Of something even easier.

Pizza Focaccia.

My bread machine did all the work. I broke all the rules. And used Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

This is the kind of recipe you make if your kitchen is all torn apart.

The kind of recipe you prepare when you can't think straight, and you really don't want to hear any complaints from your kids about food.

The kind of food you eat when you are low on produce and you just need some comfort.

The rosemary, basil, and olive oil took me to The Olive Garden.

Right where I needed to be.

Pizza Focaccia (with a Gluten Free option)
Inspired by, and Adapted from, Eat, Drink and Be Vegan

Makes 4-5 servings as a side bread for a meal.

Note from Dreena: Fresh rosemary really gives this pizza a wonderful taste and aroma. If fresh rosemary is not available, you can substitute with 3/4-1 tsp dried rosemary, coarsely chopped, or crushed between your fingers.

Note from Ashlee: Many fellow moms have mentioned to me that when going plant-based, pizza becomes difficult for kids. I really recommend this easy, tasty option.

You can make whole grain, homemade pizza dough, or purchase it pre-made from the store to make this meal even easier. I was able to serve this with marinara for dipping, (which I did not use with my bread because I savored the taste without it!) with a large salad, oil free dressing, and a lot of cut fruit and pomegranate juice for my kids. They loved the bread. Toppings can easily be tailored to whatever you or your children prefer to eat. Chopped bell peppers, fresh pineapple chunks, black beans, green chile, olives, red onion, spinach, basil, etc.

Just make sure you add the rosemary, basil, salt, pepper and olive oil because that is where the flavor really pops. Be careful not to overload the bread with too much veg, or it will become soggy and the rosemary will taste less pronounced. I recommend you keep it simple the first time around you make it, and really focus on the fresh herbs and seasonings.

TO MAKE THIS GF: Bob's Red Mill brand carries a gluten free pizza crust flour mix that is easy to make by following the directions. Also, I have seen pre-made Gluten Free pizza dough in the freezer section at Whole Foods Market and Sprouts.


1 whole wheat pizza dough (I used the dough recipe from my Calzones, see below)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary (or use 3/4 to 1 tsp. dried rosemary, coarsely chopped)
1/3-1/4 teaspoon sea salt, to taste (I used 1/3 tsp)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste (I used fresh ground Rainbow Peppercorns)
1/2-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned, or chopped
Optional additional toppings we enjoyed:
Black olives, chopped, about 1/3 cup
Red onions, chopped, about 1/3 cup

Chopped green chile, or roasted red pepper flakes sprinkled on top could really add some heat if that's what you like! I have not yet tried the green chile, and it may compete with rosemary too much for flavor, or be soggy. But it is an idea. See my note above for other topping ideas.


Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a pastry brush, spread 1 tbsp oil over top of shell, then sprinkle on rosemary, salt, and pepper, and lightly sprinkle with any additional toppings of your choice. Bake for 9-13 minutes (mine baked in about 13 minutes), until edges are golden. (If using a frozen pizza shell, you will need to bake for another 3-5 minutes.) Remove from oven and drizzle 1/2-1 tbsp oil over the hot bread, then sprinkle on basil. Cut into slices or wedges.

Serve with a large salad and fresh cut fruit. I also made additional toppings available for my son who loves olives.

Pizza Dough for Bread Makers
(makes 2 lb size)


1 1/2 cups warm water
2 TBSP olive oil
2 tsp. salt
1 and 3/4 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
2 cups white whole wheat flour, or sprouted whole wheat flour (found mine at Whole Foods Market)
3 tsp. sugar
1 tablespoon gluten flour (optional, helps the dough to rise and be fluffier)
2 tsp. yeast

Combine all ingredients in your bread-maker, in the order listed. Set the bread-maker to the "Pizza Dough" setting (about 55 minutes) and push start.


Robyn Openshaw of Green Smoothie Girl mentions in her healthy book that Foccacia served with a large salad is one of her and her children's favorite meals to have for dinner. Somehow this makes me feel a whole lot more confident in serving this meal.

Other foods we've been enjoying that are easy in this time of chaos:

Rice Pudding
Bok Choy Saute (yes, again!)
Light and Tender Waffles (none of the ingredients need refrigerated!)
Seasoned Quinoa, a modified version that I need to update


  1. Oh no! I hate when things like that happen. I'm sure you've already looked into craigslist. Dang it all, I hope it works out!

  2. Looks really good! So sorry about your fridge! At least you have one and will get a new one soon! I don't have a fridge or a stove LOL so count your blessings hahaha :)