Sing and dance like no one is watching.
My daughter hosted a sleepover last night. I am tired. The tired where you can’t recall what you just said. Last night, reminded me how great the world is when you’re fourteen. I remembered the days when you could make someone laugh so hard that food came out their nose.
We all recognize how important and rewarding friendships are in the lives of our children. The friendship bonds that teens form with their peers can be among the most important and rewarding relationships of their lives, vital to their overall development and success. In an age of social media, conversations are 24/7 and yet only 33% of these friendships are face to face. We worry about whether our kids aren’t making the kinds of lasting friendships we valued growing up. Their way of connecting are new, but what I’ve learned is that being a fourteen-year old girl is still the same.
The night was planned as a scary “movie-thon”; in reality it began and ended as a music dance party. I-pods were plugged in and the singing echoed throughout the house, fueled by “Just Dance 4” (the X-box game which scores your dance moves to a particular song). The noise levels remained high as everyone scrambled to talk over one another. Bags, which were scattered everywhere, held all the sleepover essentials: a thousand shades of nail polish, I-pods, pillows, mobile phones, and pajama’s. All night long, through all the chatter and laughing, they only watched one scary movie. Really, who wants to watch movies when your “bff’s” are around? The girls danced, sang and took group photos (known as “selfies”) filled with smiling happy faces. The party stopped at dawn to break for a few hours of sleep (much to my relief).
Sound familiar? I recall similar gatherings with friends: the ghetto blaster blaring, singing the latest tune into a candlestick, dancing without a care.
Much later, a dear friend gave me a pair of silver candelabras after being in her wedding. She included a note, which read: “Now we can sing in style”. It’s funny to think back to those times. Life was all about boys, school, and what we should wear to the upcoming dance. Good times. Today, I still sing in the shower, “Here I Go Again”, by Whitesnake or some new pop song (yeah, I am just that cool). But I don’t dance without a care with the hip swinging, fist pumping, hair-raising kind of dancing that shakes a house. I need to dance like I am fourteen more often.
Like my daughter, my girlfriends are still as important to me today. A gal needs her girlfriends. Research suggests having a close group of friends reduces stress, anxiety and depression. Having a girlfriend helps teens feel connected, boosts self-confidence, and teaches loyalty and selflessness. They help each other feel valued and important. A recent Dove ad went viral suggesting that only 4% of women think they are beautiful. As a mom of a daughter, I am saddened by this statistic. Thankfully, companies like Dove are trying to educate women and boost self-confidence among teen girls.
Sleepovers are a great opportunity to encourage teens to connect face-to-face. In reality, I was not at the gathering; merely the person who prepared and served the food. Given that stopping to sit down for dinner is unheard of on a girls’ night (until you get to my age), they had a progressive dinner. We began with nibbles, then a delicious potato and rosemary pizza, and, later in the night, homemade margarita pizza, pasta and ice cream in a mug. These teens were not afraid to try something new. I love that this generation embraces good food. It’s not always about junk food. The potato and rosemary pizza was a hit, devoured in minutes. I didn’t plan on writing a column about it, I just can’t help but share what a great night it was – a timely reminder of how much fun it is to be fourteen and have the whole world in front of you.
Last Saturday night an awesome group of young women, with plans and dreams for their future, danced and sang till dawn at our house. I hope these girls never forget to remind each other that they are beautiful and to always sing and dance like no one is watching.
Potato Rosemary Pizza
For ease, you can purchase pre-made pizza bases at Pasta Genova, located on Wellington Street downtown Kingston and simply create the homemade toppings. I wanted to share my friend and fellow foodie lover Tony’s pizza base recipe, as it’s delicious!
Pizza Base Recipe
Makes 4 medium sized pizza bases.
600 g all purpose flour
430 ml warm water
20 g fresh yeast
1 tsp. of liquid honey
1 tsp. sea salt
2-tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Mix yeast, honey, salt and half of the olive oil and 2 handfuls of flour into the warm water, mix with a wooden spoon until smooth. Leave for approximately 15 minutes until it froths and foam appears on top.
- Add remaining flour and blend with a wooden spoon or dough hook. (It should be sticky in texture) Mix until its smooth and stretchy, add remaining olive oil and blend in.
- Cover mixing bowl and leave for 2 hours or until the dough doubles in size.
- Once doubled knead it together again, leave for another 2 hours or until dough doubles again.
- Preheat oven to 400 F. (Ovens should be hot for pizza making.)
- Remove doubled pizza dough from bowl and divide into 4 pieces and place on a greased baking sheet, cover until ready to use.
- Lightly flour counter and roll out one pizza dough per base, to desired thickness and size (thin or thick base).
- Top with favorite ingredients (see below)
Potato and Rosemary Topping
2 med sized red potatoes – peeled and sliced thin about 1/8 inch thick
Sea salt and pepper
5 tablespoons of unsalted butter
¼ cup minced shallot
2 tablespoons of mined garlic
1 tsp. of fresh thyme leaves
1/3 cup of white wine
¼ tsp. salt
Pinch of ground pepper
1 tsp. chicken base or bouillon (no MSG)
2 cups of grated Mozzarella cheese
Cook the potatoes in advance.
Line a baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. (I also cut my potatoes in advance and left them in the fridge in a bowl with cold water to keep fresh.) Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Spread the potatoes on the baking sheet, rubbing them into the oil, salt and pepper. Then flip them over. Place the potatoes into the pre-heated oven at 400 F for about 15-20 mins. The potatoes are down when they are slightly soft and brown. Set them aside until you are ready to assemble the pizza.
For the sauce:
- Slice and dice the shallot, chop the garlic quite fine or use a press if you have one.
- Strip the thyme and rosemary from the stem and roughly chop. (it smells so good…)
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt one tablespoon of the butter. (Only 1 tablespoon NOT all of the butter)
- Add the chopped shallots and sauté for 1 minute.
- Add the garlic and fresh thyme – sauté until the shallots and garlic begin to brown.
- Add the white wine.
- Squeeze in tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. (Not bottled, cut into a fresh lemon and squeeze)
- Add ¼ tsp. of salt, pinch of ground pepper. The sauce should reduce to about a ¼ cup.
- Turn off the heat and add the remaining butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Whisking after each addition. The butter will melt and thicken the sauce. If you add of the butter at the same time it doesn’t thicken as well. Trust me.
- 10. Spread ½ the sauce on the pizza, sprinkle with ½ of the mozzarella. Arrange the potato slices on top of the cheese and top with fresh thyme and rosemary.
11. Gently slide the pizza onto the hot stone or keep on a baking tray. Bake the pizza for about 10-12 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is turning golden brown.
There should be left over sauce and potatoes to make another pizza. I used the left over sauce to add to the pasta I made later in the evening. It was easy and scrumptious!
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with recipe or restaurant suggestions.