Cooking With a Writer – Ghostly Pizza

As you know, I’m trying desperately to make the family vegetarian and I am TOTALLY failing.
But here is my recipe for Halloween pizza. Halloween is a frantic night for us because we get about 800 – 1,000 trick-or-treaters. So, I tend to make things that are fast and easy like calzone snakes or mummy Stromboli, but this… this, my friends, is the ultimate in easy. It’s sort of embarrassingly easy. Stay tuned below for the story of my first-ever ghost sighting.

Ghostly Pizza

So, sometimes I cheat because on Halloween things get hectic here. 

Course dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword ghost
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 338 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Frozen Pizza Doug do not judge
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • .75 cup pizza sauce
  • .5 lb mozarella slices
  • some little capers for the eyes

Instructions

  1. Realize that you have no time to make food that isn't candy.

  2. Preheat oven to 475ºF. 

    Spray bottom of a 16-by-11-inch rimmed baking sheet with the stuff that makes things not stick. Or use olive oil, but olive oil is expensive, so maybe don't. I mean olive oil is awesome, but we're already using pre-made pizza dough here so pretension is gone, right? 

    Spray the darn sheet.

    Celebrate by eating candy.

  3. Stretch that dough evenly to cover bottom of sheet. 

    This is a lot like stretching your 20,000-word story into a 50,000-word novel. You might have to take a couple of rounds, and rest in between to get this stretched.

    Do not give up.

    Celebrate by eating candy.

  4. Open the jar of sauce. 

    Cry because you have no wrist strength.

    Celebrate when you finally open the jar. Celebrate by eating candy.

    Spread that sauce over the dough. Try to make it even. Leave a border on all sides of the rectangle. Try to make that border a 1-inch border. 

    Celebrate with candy.

    Set a timer. Put it in the oven.

  5. Bake about 15 minutes. 

    Celebrate that. Celebrate that with candy.

    Now, you get to have fun! Yay, fun! Remember fun?

    Scrounge up a ghost-shaped cookie cutter and cut ghosts out of cheese. 

    That is so cool.

    Put the ghosts on the pizza. It is hot. Be careful. Obviously these ghosts have been hanging out in hell. The sauce is like red flames. And the whole scene is hot. 

    Celebrate liberating the ghosts from hell with candy.

    Hide the candy wrappers in the garbage during the final five minutes of baking.

  6. Take the pizza out. Look how cool that is! 

    Put caper eyes on each ghost.

    Let is stand for five minutes. Eat it. Eat it with a celebratory side dish of candy.

Man Verdict: It needs meat and more cheese.
My Verdict: Seriously? I’m so full from the candy.
Dogs’ Verdict: We agree with the man. If you’re going to dress us up, the least you can do is add more meat.

GHOST STORY TIME!

This is the story about the first ghost that I ever saw. . . Or the first possible-ghost I ever saw for you nonbelievers.

I grew up in what used to be rural Bedford, New Hampshire and I lived up on a hill on the corner of Hardy Road and Route 101, which was then a little two-lane highway that led from Manchester, New Hampshire (a thriving metropolis former mill town) to points west. People thought my house, a dark brown ranch with red shutters, perched up on the hill was creepy. It was the kind of house people would dare each other to go to. On a positive note, we didn’t get a ton of  door-to-door solicitations.

I remember when I met a girl in second grade and told her where I lived she said, “Oh. But you’re so normal. You’re not creepy at all.”

And I was like, “Huh?”

“Your house,” she said. “Your house looks scary.”

My house was scary, but my house was also home, which is sort of this weird concept for some people, a dichotomy that doesn’t make a ton of sense. How can your home be scary but also comforting? They have created entire entertainment enterprises out of this concept – things like the Addams Family where the macabre is comforting. Or the vampire family in Twilight where their vampyric nature is hidden by the clean, modern lines of wealth and big windows and good hair.

In the last ten years, I’ve incorporated a lot of the scarier things that have happened to me into books. That’s because they seem more presentable and understandable when they are fiction instead of shouting to the world, “Hey! My house was weird. Maybe haunted. Who knows?” Or, “Yeah… this happened at a seance I had in fifth grade.”

And the stories?
They add up.
You can only hear so many footsteps in so many houses before people start to think that you’re either lying or a freak. I spent a lot of time trying to quash the differences inside of me – of being poor, of slurring my s’s, of being the freak with the haunted house, the person who sometimes knew things she shouldn’t logically know.

So, yeah, I grew up in this house my dad built in Bedford, NH. It was on a hill. There’d been another house there about 100 years before but it had burned down.  And after that some people from Connecticut built a camp in the woods and would come there in the summer. That was in the early 1900s, I think. But those were the only known houses before ours.

Anyway, we had this great big picture window in the living room. My dad and mom were arguing at the kitchen table, so I toddled off and went into the living room. It was night time. I was really little, probably somewhere between three and five, because my parents were still married enough to be living in the same house.

I really hated them fighting so I waddled over to the picture window and decided to blow on it, so I could make those hand footprints in the mist that comes from your breath.

So, I started to blow on the window to see if it would frost up, but then I noticed something outside on our front lawn. Our front lawn was a big, grassy hill that sloped down to the road. I cupped my hands around my eyes so I could see better and peered out because it was getting dark. There was a woman wearing a long, white dress walking across the lawn, from left to right.

That was weird. Nobody ever walked across our lawn at almost night. We were really rural then, up a long, dirt driveway, up a hill.

I was little, but I knew it was funky.

But something else was wrong, too.

She was walking right above the hole for the septic tank. It was a big hole about three feet deep that was covered with two granite slabs. I knew it was there because my mom was always warning me about falling in and breaking an ankle. My mom was really, really worried about my ankles. I grew up thinking pretty much anything could break my ankle — holes, bikes, skis, horses, soccer….

So, anyway, even though there was a hole there, the lady walked right over it.

“Mommy!”

I yelled for her but they kept arguing. The woman kept walking. She lifted her arm and waved. She seemed nice.

“Mommy!”

“What?”

“There’s a lady in the lawn.”

“What?”

“There’s a lady…”

My mom and dad both rushed to the picture window.

“There’s nothing,” my dad said.

“I thought I saw something…” Mom interrupted. She turned me around to look at her. “What did the lady look like?”

“She was a lady… she was wearing white… you could see through her dress…”

My mom put me to bed, right away, but my parents stopped arguing, at least for that night.

Writing News

Last Time Stoppers Book

I love this book baby and you can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

I’m WRITING BARN FACULTY AND THERE’S A COURSE YOU CAN TAKE!

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

 

Apply Now!

 

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My Grandmother’s Ghost

Canadian Geese

By F.M.B.

Oct.2, ‘91

 

In the dim light of twilight you suddenly appear.

In swift and silent formation,

Determined in your flight to reach your destination,

Oh! Tell me who directs this urge

Never failing in direction?

Where are you now wondrous birds?

You break my heart headed for the land I love.

I shall remember you always

Indelibly imprinted in my brain.

Your silent flight guided by your leader.

 

When I was born, my mother was 35 and my father was 42, and he was the youngest child, too. 42 plus 18 equals 60, so my dad was 60 when I was 18. My Grammy Barnard? She was 33 when she had my dad. She was 75 when I was born, if that puts it into perspective. That’s like the age where when you die people say things like, “Well, she had a good, long life.”

She lasted in this world a lot longer than that.

My grandfather Barnard was 82 when I was born and died six years later. He was grim, austere, and full of edicts and judgements. He once ran for office as a communist. He’d been a stockbroker before that. He was not a kind man according to my mom.

He had a stroke in the bathtub and drowned, but my mom liked to pretend like Grammy Barnard finally had enough of his bullshit and held him under the water. She told this version only to me. She also would say, “You are so lucky to not know that man. He had a copy of Mein Kaumpf in the basement and when I called him on it, he said that it was good literature. Evil bastard.”

“Hitler or Grampa Barnard,” I usually asked.

“Both,” she usually said.

 

The point here is that I’d never known Grammy Barnard young.

The other point is that I’d never known Grammy Barnard not pining for youth.

The other point is that I’d never known her not stressed about death.

She would cry over the beauty of a tomato. She would cry over the pains in other people’s hearts.

Grammy Barnard Poem #2

March 11, 1927

 

A Wish

 

Love, she goes hand in hand with spring,

To thoughts of this girl then you will cling,

Go dear, and to her tell,

Of the desire you have in her heart to dwell,

Tell her while sweet spring is here,

Tell her while she still is near,

Tell her of moonlight, tell her of flowers,

Tell her of love, and its wondrous powers.

When she died she was 104. I was 30.

When the terrifying ex-communist, ex-stock broker, also known as Grampa Barnard died, my parents were already divorced. Everyone decided that my dad couldn’t handle living by himself very well. He was prone to melancholy, according to Grammy Barnard. My mom liked to say he was depressed. My dad would just say he “gets sad.”

He went to a therapist to talk about the divorce and how it made him sad and how his dad’s expectations also sometimes made him sad. He only made it to second grade. He could barely read. He was smart, but he was dyslexic before people really talked about dyslexia.

He was a sweet man. He forgave people anything. He forgave people everything. He was like a little hobbit who watched a lot of PBS and news shows. He would ask you insightful probing questions that would hit right to your soul. He could create tools for car engines. He could make a tree grow fast and strong in ways that honestly don’t seem human.

Anyways, Grammy Barnard had lived with my dad since I was six or seven and she had always been old to me.  When I went over to their little ranch house, she always took my face in her hands and said things like, “Ah, look at your skin. It’s so beautiful. The beautiful skin of youth.”

This was awkward.

She was about four feet eight inches tall and had a hump in her back. She wore silk blouses and liked pickled herring. I’m not sure why these facts seem important but they are somehow important.

She was tiny.

She also wrote poems and made paintings and had no faith in either.

My dad liked to announce, “My mother is a poet. She is an artistic person. She cries at the beauty of a tomato.”

She’d roll her eyes and say, “Lew.”

And he’d say, “You are, Ma.”

And she’d say, “My art and poems are rubbish.”

“They are not.”

“They are!” She put her hands over her face almost always, hiding from the kindness. “I despair of them. I can’t come close to recreating the beauty of this world.”

Grammy Barnard Poem #3

Truth, May 19, 1927

 

They say how we think so we are

And I from my guess room not afar,

From the truth of the feelings you have for me

My sensing heart does well know when yours is on a spree

Delicate instrument ticking like the clock,

Accurate recorder of each emotions shock.

Timid quaking little hart,

This man who tore your life apart.

 

And then she died. At 104. I was 30.

I eventually took the money she left me and used it to help pay for me to Vermont College of Fine Arts to get a Masters in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

When I got to Vermont I heard all about the ghosts in the college. The stories didn’t bother me. I’d heard about ghosts before. But one night, during the first residency after Lisa Jahn Clough convinced me to not quit. I’d been feeling despondent because all the other students were so much more knowledgable that I was about everything.

I came from the world of poetry and newspapers. Sports writing. Columns. Play reviews. Stories about planning boards. Deadlines. Quick turn-arounds. Hard facts.

And here I was surrounded by people who were splurting out phrases like “objective correlative” and “emotional resonance” and “desire through lines.”

I was sure I didn’t belong, especially after one student berated my lack of confidence as an insult to all women everywhere. That didn’t help my confidence, by the way. Tearing people down for not being confident enough, usually isn’t the best policy for building them up.

Anyway, Lisa convinced me to stay. But when I looked out the window an hour or so after our talk, I saw in front of me, my grandfather, angry looking, wearing his austere clothes, blood coming out of his ear.

I was on the second floor and my grandfather was dead, long dead, and he stared at me with the most hateful eyes.

And then, I heard the voice of my grandmother behind me, loud and strong, “You are not rubbish.”

I whirled around. She wasn’t there. I turned back around towards the window and there was no creepy old grandfather full of judgement. He was gone.

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s  out! You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Ebook on Sale for October! 

And finally, for the month of July, my book NEEDis on sale in ebook version on Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically about human-sized pixies trying to start an apocalypse.

Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 3.56.50 PM

I’m WRITING BARN FACULTY AND THERE’S A COURSE YOU CAN TAKE!

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

 

Apply Now!