The recipe I tried is Asparagus and Watercress Pizza. It's in the April issue of the magazine, and can also be found at the link I've added here. This pizza was fantastic! It was easy to make, delicious and quite healthy. The children didn't enjoy it as much as the Bear and I did (we had a feeling they wouldn't, so we made an additional, plainer pizza for them), but oh, did we enjoy it!
There aren't many ingredients in the recipe. Prepared pizza dough is suggested, which is fine by me. To start, asparagus and onion are tossed with oil, salt and pepper and set aside while you work with the dough. (I loved the way the vegetables looked together. Purple with green is among my favorite combinations. Artichokes bear one of nature's best color palettes, I think.)
I substituted baby spinach for watercress, simply because I couldn't find watercress in the stores! That was disappointing, but we love spinach so it wasn't a big deal.
We make a lot of pizza around here. It's just so easy and good. You can put anything on a pizza. This is my first pizza with this particular combination of toppings, though. It's always nice to try something new. The Bear is our resident dough-roller-outer and I do the toppings. A rectangular shape was suggested, along with baking in an oil-coated pan. We really like our round pizza stone, so we did it our way instead, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon with the doors open and Paul Simon on the stereo.
The cheeses browned beautifully in the oven and it all smelled wonderful! The greens are scattered on top of the pizza as soon as it comes out of the oven, so they can wilt in the residual heat. Coarse salt and red chili flakes are sprinkled over the greens. It looked so fresh and clean.
This pizza was absolutely delicious. I loved the way the spinach, onion and asparagus stayed a little crisp, so there was a bite to it. The ricotta was creamy and smooth and there was just enough mozzarella (I like very cheesy pizza sometimes, but I enjoy a fresher take too). This was a decidedly grown-up pizza and the Bear and I loved it.
I chose the fabric to coordinate with colors already in the living room - gray, gold and other soft tones. The dining room and living room are an open L-shaped space; I have dark plum-colored covers on the dining room chairs. The fabric is cotton duck, purchased at Hobby Lobby. The colors work well with the room and the big, graphic design seemed easier for a beginner to stitch.
My embellishment is simple; I picked out part of the scrolled gray design with gray needlepoint yarn (the yarn is Trio by Brown Paper Packages, in a silk and merino blend, purchased from Purl Soho). I used one ply (consisting of two threads) for my embroidery. I enjoyed the stitching, for the most part, but it could get tedious. It seemed best to keep it interesting by doing just a little at a time. By the end of March there was still a lot left to do, so I gave myself more time with it and found myself enjoying it a little more in the process.
In the end, I stitched an area that formed sort of a corner around the large purple and brown medallion shape. I didn't want so much stitching that it looked fussy, just enough to dress up the fabric and create some textural interest. My stitching improved a lot from the beginning of the project, but it's not perfect. Mostly, I used stem stitch. It was interesting to stitch along all the different curves and curlicues; I found it required a little planning to be sure I could get around a curved area without making my stitches too long or short, or going off the outline too much. All in all, I think this was a great way to get more comfortable with an embroidery technique.
I made a basic pillow cover. The embroidered area forms the front of the pillow; I cut the fabric so that the embroidery would be near the center of the pillow's front and cut another square piece for the back (each about 15.5 inches square; I used a 14x14 pillow insert). Then I hemmed one side of each piece with 1/4-inch rolled hem and sewed the other three sides together with right sides facing, leaving the hemmed edges open. I clipped the corners and poked them out with a pencil to make them pointy after turning the pillow cover right-side out.
I considered putting in a zipper but in the end I went with buttons. I didn't have a zipper in the right color, and anyway, they're harder to do. I used my sewing machine's buttonhole feature and two large fake-shell buttons.
I really like my pillow. I think it looks modern and a little funky with the stitching. It was interesting to make, if not always relaxing. I do think my embroidery skills have grown, and I love machine-sewing so that was a wonderful plus for me. I'm really glad I stuck with it and finished my pillow. I think I would like to try some more embroidered embellishments on fabrics sometime, maybe as part of a wall-hanging or pillow for my little girl's room.