pizzazz for the pizzas

Barcelona, 2007

me, saying to the waiter at a restaurant: i’ll have the burger and fries, please. thank you.

husband, looking at me with bewilderment (after the waiter had gone away): that’s the third time in a row you ordered that meal here. aren’t you going to try the pizzas? they’re so fresh & good.

me, thinking of the Pizza Hut & Izzi Pizza back in Indonesia and Koti Pizza in Finland, and wondering what could be so special about pizzas: no, thanks.

14 years later, and he still hasn’t let me forget this conversation. πŸ˜…

as a silly Asian tourist, back then when we had our first trip abroad together as a married couple i chose to eat burger (what? i love meat!) rather than try a fresh pizza that was–according to my husband–different than the other pizzas we’d had. in my head, pizzas were just pizzas no matter where you go.

that was before i got to know what a Neapolitan pizza is.

based on a page in Wikipedia, Neapolitan pizza is different from the other pizzas from the fact that it has to have specific tomatoes in the tomato sauce and Mozzarella di Bufala Campana in the topping, and also that when the pizza is done it is soft & tender from the middle part.

my first experience of eating a Neapolitan pizza was actually done in Finland. there is this hip & trendy Neapolitan pizza restaurant in the city center, and after our first try, my husband & i fell in love with it. we’d go there for special occasions, and for the first time in my life, i really understood what my husband meant when a pizza can be ‘so fresh & good’.

the restaurant’s pizza con salame.

the restaurant’s diavola pizza.

and then, just like the other things, 2020 happened and ruined it.

for over a year, we couldn’t go to that restaurant and we missed those pizzas so much.

but 2020 didn’t only bring bad things.

it brought me new friends, and one of them is my lovely Italian friend, E.

during my mental health problem days in 2021, i asked if she knew how to make Neapolitan pizza dough. to my delight, she said yes, and generously gave me the recipe!! 😍

i was so excited to try it, and even though we don’t have stone oven (my Italian friend doesn’t have one either), we decided to give it a go.

FYI, before that, i had never made pizza dough on my own in my whole life. so when it all came out perfectly & the taste was exactly the same as the one we used to buy from the restaurant, i was so damn proud of myself!

kneading the dough by hand is supposedly a ‘must’ for making Neapolitan pizzas.

i’m too shy to share the actual recipe (because who knows, a Neapolitan might see it and scold me that it’s incorrect or whatever), but i can tell you that the dough consists of flour, yeast, water, salt, and sugar. olive oil is optional, but of course i use it all the time. i personally think this is what makes the dough taste exactly the same as the restaurant’s pizza.

olive oil… yum!

the original recipe from my friend said to use less amount of yeast, and the rising time is 12 hours.

let it rise… for 8 hours!

12 HOURS?!?!?! yeah, i might have fainted when she said that. but then she said if i double the amount of the yeast, i can let it rise for ‘only’ 8 hours, so i opted for this method!

slice into the tomatoes just a tiny bit…

for the tomato sauce, my friend said it’s okay to use canned tomatoes, but we really wanted to have the best ingredients possible, so we found a recipe online on how to make a Neapolitan pizza tomato sauce. just like the Wikipedia page said, it needs San Marzano tomatoes.

… and let the tomatoes simmer in boiling water for a few minutes.

it may sound like a hassle for some, but believe me, it’s actually kind of addictive. being able to do everything from scratch gives a new meaning (to me) to eat this delightful food, as if there is a purpose to everything i do. ❀ it gave me back my appetite which wasn’t around for a time back then, and it made me love eating again.

now the tomato skin gets off very easily!

so for the tomato sauce, we used fresh San Marzano tomatoes (peeled and crushed), olive oil, salt, oregano, and basil leaves.

crush, crush.

before reading the Wikipedia page about Neapolitan pizza, my husband and i planned to copy the topping ingredients from the restaurant’s menu. our faves were the Con Salame pizza and Diavola.

more olive oil.

i asked my Italian friend if she knew good mozzarella cheese for the pizzas. she was the one who told me about Bufala mozzarella, and trying our luck, we searched for it.

chopped basil leaves: check!

luckily for us, we found it, and also found some salami that is also from the Naples, and even Nduja sausage (a very spicy sausage ‘spread’), all of which are the very same things that were written on the restaurant’s menu!

the wait was finally over! phew!

out of laziness (hello, this is me we’re talking about), i always spread the dough by hand. and funnily enough, now that i found that Wikipedia page, it turns out that it should exactly be made like that instead of with a rolling pin!

i do try to make it as thin as possible, but since i’m not a pro, i guess sometimes they’re still a bit thicker than 3mm.

con salame: Neapolitan salami, Bufala mozzarella, basil leaves.

the first few times we made the pizzas, i cut the Bufala mozzarella into small pieces like the picture above. lately, though, i’ve been cutting them in thin slices but let the whole width be the way they are.

fresh from the oven!! πŸ˜‹

the first time we made this pizza on our own & ate it, i almost cried from happiness. it was just so surreal to taste the exact same Neapolitan pizza as the ones we used to buy from the restaurant after more than a year of not having them, and the fact that we did it ourselves was just an unforgettable experience.

sometimes we add chili flakes to the con salame pizza just for a bit of spiciness.

we’ve been making these pizzas now at least once a month. not only does it save a lot of money, it gives me such a pleasure to make them.

diavola: Nduja sausage, Bufala mozzarella, pecorino romano cheese, basil leaves.

even when it’s a workday for me, i’d just get up an hour earlier to make the dough in the morning, leave it to rise as i go to work, and then after coming home we’d continue the rest of the process.

a slice of the diavola pizza, before the Nduja sausage is spread.

if you ever want to try making your own Neapolitan pizza, i suggest you splurge on the topping ingredients. try to go as close to the original ingredients as you can. believe me, you won’t regret a single penny you spent on it!

after spreading the Nduja sausage, this is what it looks like.

next time we can travel again (and i’m already dreaming of going to Italy, of course), i’m definitely going to try to eat the local pizzas. who knew there are all kinds of pizzas out there?

for now, at least, these pizzas are my newfound treasure & hobby. πŸ•πŸ₯° buon appetito!

when life is ‘so sew’

before we start: I FOUND THE CLASSIC EDITOR BUTTON!!!! i’m so happy! hooray!

alright, now we move on to the next exciting topic, which is no longer a surprise if you’ve read my post early this year… that is: i’ve been sewing again. πŸ₯²

the real chronology of things is that i was happily sewing earlier this year. when i had my winter holiday, i sewed 4 things (2 of which will be featured here in this post) and thought for sure i was gonna be sewing once a month at least from that point onwards.

but that wasn’t what happened.

as mentioned on my previous post, i had mental health problems which made me lose my appetite, not only toward food, but also toward sewing. it wasn’t nice. but it wasn’t the first time i had it either, as old readers of this blog might have noticed. so i gave myself time to heal and time to rest.

it wasn’t until about 2-3 weeks ago that i finally got the will and strength to pick up my sewing hobby again. in a matter of a week, i sewed 6 items of clothing. 😱 i haven’t taken pics of all of the newer ones–i need another form of will and strength for that–but with that kind of achievement, i now finally feel ready to post about my previous sewing projects (the ones i made in winter). just 2 of them per post, so this post won’t be too long.

the very first project i made this year was nothing ‘extra special’, but it was out of necessity.

it’s a fanny pack. it’s a necessity for me at work, as i need to have all kinds of tools with me all the time! and it was my very first time trying to sew a real, functional fanny pack, so of course it wasn’t all trouble-free. (btw, in case you’re wondering, the background of the picture needed to be edited because otherwise you won’t be able to see where the fanny pack is. πŸ˜… so sorry for the weird pic!)

anyway, i didn’t use any pattern for this, but a lot of calculations. i used a sort of awning fabric because i thought it’d be durable, but holy moly… it frays a lot! even after i serged all the edges, they still fray! πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

also, i’m not quite sure how it happened, but even when all my calculations were correct, i still managed to have extra length on one side of the fanny pack when i was sewing the back side, so as you can see on the above picture, there’s quite a big of a ‘folding’ on the seam between the back side and the left side part. i was too tired to fix it, and i doubt anyone will see it, so it stays that way till now.

other than those mishaps, i also sewed the elastic band inside out (you probably won’t be able to see it from the pics, which is a good thing). of course i also realized it too late and was again too lazy to fix it. i had meant to attach plastic clasp on the elastic band, but in the end… just couldn’t be bothered. πŸ˜…

when it was done, i felt quite proud of having made something like this… but couldn’t help feeling like it was too plain. so i added the ‘handmade’ label which i bought from a small haberdashery store in Krakow in 2019.

i’ve been using this pack every day now at work, but sadly it’s been fraying too much that the zippers have gotten stuck in some places. i’ll just have to sew another one with better fabric next time. well, it was good while it lasted.

my next sewing project was not made without mistakes either (after all, what am i, if not a lazy and full-of-mistakes seamstress?) but let me start off with the good things first.

self-made dress, flight socks, Zara boots.

when i saw this viscose crepe fabric, i just had to get my hands on them. i mean lions! zebras! leopards! what’s not to love? me and crazy prints belong together forever. ❀ even if the base colour is beige (me and beige do NOT usually belong together, ever).

i made this dress using the same pattern i used for this one. i even used the same lace on the back shoulder part!

i had had that previous dress for ages and only now (well, earlier this year, before i sewed this) i began to wonder why i hadn’t made any new dresses using the same pattern. it was fairly easy to make, very easy to wear, and this style seems to be trendy at the moment.

since i got about 2 meters of this fabric, it was just perfect for this project.

on the left circle up there, you can see that the topmost button is a different colour than the rest of the buttons. this was partly due to the fact that i didn’t have enough of the other buttons and partly because i saw my husband’s button-up shirt from Zara with similar design and thought it looks so cool. so i decided to copy that style. πŸ˜‰

this time i wanted the hem to be longer so i won’t have to fuss around with it when i wear it to work.

having this in viscose also means that it won’t get static in the dry winter here.

looking at these pictures you might think there are absolutely no mistakes made here. well….

as you can see from the right picture above, that’s how crazy my sewing went under the collar! πŸ˜‚ the first stitch did not attach the lace to the collar at all, so i had to do another stitch, which was the ugly one. and of course i decided not to take off the first stitch, because two stitches will hold better than one, right?!? and it’s under the collar all the time, so no one else but me (and you) will ever know about it. ha!

this dress went straight to my list of fave dresses to wear to work this year, so i’m very proud of it. my life right now may be just so-so, but with this newly refreshed appetite for sewing, i’m hoping to turn it into a ‘so sew’ instead. 😊

as always, thank you for reading wherever you are, and i’ll try to be back soon with some more sewing & baking stuff. have a wonderful August, everyone!

butter makes everything better

raise your hand if you agree with me. πŸ™‹πŸ»β€β™€οΈ

okay, so i haven’t been exactly diligent when it comes to writing blog posts these days, but i’ll blame it on the pandemic, along with everything else that’s been wrong with me and my life. it’s the truth, though.

earlier this year, i had some health problems that made me unable to eat as usual. and i used to LOVE eating. when we go traveling somewhere, eating something new and unique is one of my fave things to do. it made me double sad when i couldn’t go anywhere during the pandemic time and couldn’t even find the joy in eating.

so i pushed myself to start learning new recipes. together with my husband, we learned to cook new things. food that we usually bought ready-made or frozen, we now do from scratch.

and, i pushed myself to bake new things. it had been a while since i last tried any online recipe for sweet stuff, and the first thing i decided to try to make this year (because it looked so simple) was something called voisilmΓ€pulla in Finnish. the name literally translates to ‘butter eye bun’, hence the title of this blog post.

i used this recipe and it worked out so well!

there’s always something magical about seeing your dough rise. kind of like watching your baby grow, in a lot smaller scale! πŸ˜„

this bun recipe is slightly different from my mom-in-law’s bun recipe, but i followed it to the t and it was a successful experiment, even for a beginner like me!

time to add the butter! ❀

so where does the butter go, you ask?

right to the top center of each bun! the above picture was taken when i first tried the recipe, which was why the ditch were quite small. i have since learned to make them bigger so i can fit more butter into the bun!

the white thing is the additional flour after the butter and sugar are inserted to the ditch.

time to bake them!

needless to say, just smelling the fragrant scent of the butter made my mouth water already. and because i did it all from scratch, it made me feel useful (like i had a purpose) and want to eat them, because otherwise it would be such a waste!

so buttery. so good.

yes, they tasted as good as they looked!

after baking these, i started seeing food the way i used to again. it made me work up my appetite and the more i cooked & baked, the more i felt like eating normally.

and you know what? having good food always make me feel instantly great. for me, it’s the butter that did it this time. it really did make my life better!

i’ll try to post more from now on, as i do have more baking/cooking/sewing stuff lined up for blog posts. in the meantime, i hope you’re all keeping yourselves healthy, both physically and mentally!

PS. i’m having a hard time using the block-editor to post this, as the image captions can never look like the way i want them to anymore. 😒 since there’s no way i’m paying to upgrade my blog to be able to have the classic editor plugin, i’ll just have to live with this weird-looking caption now.

not-so-classic Provence

as you might well know, velvet was all the rage last year. from interior textiles to clothes, everything had to be in velvet. they even sold velvet swimsuits (though i can’t imagine what they would look like after you swim in them…). i wanted to jump into the velvet bandwagon, but didn’t get the chance to until now, when the velvet fever has died down.

self-made dress, Norlyn tights, Zara boots.

this Provence-style pattern captured my eyes, and though this same fabric was available in black, for some reason this beige one seemed like a better idea to me. i got the fabric, thinking i might make some leggings or pants with it, cause i wasn’t sure the beige colour works for my face. after asking my friends’ opinions (they all said this colour works fine for me) i finally had the courage to make a dress instead. and thank God i did.

first of all, let me tell you that the myth that says sewing velvet is a pain in the a** is 100% true. it IS. the ‘fur’ of the velvet is just a nightmare to work with, no matter how you try to align the fabrics from the wrong side (right sides facing each other) they will just get stuck together and you will end up with non-aligned pieces. and since this particular velvet is a knit AND polyester one, well… it stretches and becomes static all in one as well. seriously, after doing this project, i can’t see myself sewing any velvet fabric anymore, let alone imagine myself making pants/leggings out of this fabric.

but let’s move on to the good parts now, shall we?

so i used another pattern from the magic book Breaking the Pattern, called Ruska. the varieties of this pattern in the book consist of a midi-length dress, body-hugging short dress with knotted top layer, t-shirt, loose tunic/dress, and also 2 different collar band heights. i used the body-hugging short dress variety for this project but without the knotted top layer, and chose the lower collar band.

remembering the fact that when i made this dress the size 3 pattern turned out to be so big for me, i decided to read the book carefully from the beginning. guess what? it turned out that the patterns in this book already included seam allowances. πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ d’oh. so when i added seam allowances to that dress, it’s no wonder the end result was so big.

for this dress, though, since i wanted it to be quite body-hugging, i thought i would try the size 2… i checked the table of the finished garment measurements and also the elasticity of the fabric itself, and only then i decided it would be okay. so i did it correctly now, without adding anymore seam allowances.

the reason why i wanted the dress to be body-hugging is because i wanted to make slits on the sleeves. learning from my previous project, i found out that if the sleeves & bodice are slightly loose, the slits won’t really look neat. this time i think i finally nailed it. ❀

and after i was done making this, look what i found on Google when i typed ‘printed velvet dress’?

picture borrowed from somewhere on the internet

a somewhat-similar Maison Margiela dress! i showed this picture to my husband while wearing my self-made dress, and he said mine looks a lot better. 😏

well, i love Maison Margiela’s designs, but i have to agree with him for this one! 😎 the velvet material and the shape of my dress remind me so much of the lovely ’90s. in real life, i would probably even wear this dress with my Cat boots (since i don’t have any Doc Marts), just to add the 90’s grungy princess feel. though i have never been a beige person, i’m glad this time the colour works for me.

i am super happy and satisfied with the result, and i know i’ve made a similar vow before to never sew viscose fabric ever again (and look how well i’ve kept that vow… i’ve only broken it 1000 times), but remembering the hard work and cleaning the fluffs afterwards, i can pretty much guarantee that i won’t ever sew stretch velvet fabric anymore. good thing the velvet trend is passing away already! 😁

instant pancakes

the sewing fever has begun for me from the early days of January this year, except that i had also successfully failed them.

first i tried making a wallet from real leather (first time attempting to make a wallet AND sew real leather), but for one reason or another (wrong needle, wrong thread tightness) the result looked like a sad looking lump of skin. i even got worried that i broke my new sewing machine because of this project.

so i quickly tried sewing something else to test my machine, and chose this fun fabric i got last month.

looks super yummy right? i thought so too, which was why i decided to get the fabric. the odd thing is that the print makes it look like it suits little kids rather than a +35 year old woman, and yet the material is viscose jersey which is super flowy and usually works better for drapey dresses etc. for grown ups. but whatever, i thought, i’d still make it work somehow.

and on i sewed, without a pattern, using the same way & model as forΒ this top, until i finished the ruffles on the hem made out of lightweight cotton denim. that was when i realized my mistake.

since the denim is a lot stiffer than the viscose jersey, the ruffles added even more strain to the bottom which made the whole ruffle part spread out like unintended tulle skirt. (it looked much worse on me than on the clothe’s hanger.)

the failure

after i gathered more energy, i took the whole ruffle part out, un-ruffled them, and had to think of a new way to still add some sort of element to the bottom of the top using the same denim fabric (because i just couldn’t let this be a pyjama top!).

i only came up with this.

self-made top, Zara Kids skirt, necklace given by A of Indonesia in My Pocket blog, earrings from Jakarta – Indonesia

even when i have taken off all the ruffles, as you can see, it still looks like the denim part spreads out of the top’s bottom instead of falling straight down. so you can imagine what the ruffled version looked like on me.

other than that bottom part, the top itself was easy to make. this time, i decided to use the decorative stitch for the sleeves as well.

i’m sort of happy with the result, even though my husband still thinks it looks like a pyjama top. well, at least it is as comfortable as a pyjama top!

and i was even happier to find out that my sewing machine was not broken after the leather wallet project, phew! so that was reason enough for my big smile.

just like instant pancakes, the result can make you fulfilled even if the taste is just so-so. this top was certainly quick to make and makes me quite contented, even if the look is just so-so.

if you disagree with me about instant pancakes and know a good brand that i should try, do drop a hint in the comments! πŸ˜€