My husband and I started fostering dogs from the Humane Society earlier this year as a way to help us heal after our dog, Brea, passed away in 2015. She died suddenly, so it took us a long time to get over the shock and decide that we were ready to take care of another dog.
So far, it has been a rewarding, but difficult process. Shelter dogs, even ones that get a training, walks, and attention from staff and volunteers, often have a lot of emotional and behavioral issues. The first dog that we fostered, for example, had the most severe separation anxiety of any dog that I’ve ever met. You couldn’t leave her in the house for 5 mins without her destroying something, peeing in the house, or trying to injure herself. Aside from that, she is a sweetheart who loves human companionship, so we were delighted when she got adopted by people who fell madly in love with her and understood that she needed a lot of attention.
We are currently fostering our second dog, Bosco. He’s a cuddler, a talker, and a snorer. He also learns really quickly and has recently discovered the joys of paddling pools. Like most pitbulls, he also has a giant smile and the prettiest eyes. His only fault is that he is very picky about the dogs that he likes, and will get so excited when he sees another dog that he will make weird and scary banshee noises. We are training him to react less strongly when he sees/meets other dogs, and he seems to be making steady progress.
I wanted to share my experience with fostering in case it might inspire you to volunteer at your local Humane Society, adopt a shelter dog, or donate to your local animal shelter. Fostering is not for everyone, but there are many ways to give back if you love animals.
I also wanted to share this experience to briefly talk about how changes, even positive ones, force us to make adjustments in the way we eat. We took a short break between fostering our first dog and fostering Bosco, so it’s taken a few weeks to adjust to a new schedule that revolves around doggy needs. I’ve noticed that when a big change happens in my life, I usually have to rethink the way I plan meals and cook. For those first few weeks at least, I tend to opt for simpler meals that take less time to prepare; otherwise, I often end up feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.
Pizza is one of those fast, easy dinners that I tend to fall back on when I’m dealing with life stuff. I definitely don’t eat it every night because my husband and I have been trying to eat less carbs, but it’s nice to have a great pizza recipe that you can rely on when guests drop by unexpectedly or when you don’t have a lot of time to make dinner. This fig, jalapeño, and salami pizza is my favorite one, not only because the crust only takes 40 minutes to make, but also because it has the perfect balance of sweet and spicy.
Let’s Talk Crust.
The single most important thing for me when it comes to pizza is the crust. I don’t really enjoy thick, bready pizza crusts; I’m more of a thin and crispy kind of girl.
If you have had really good thin-crust pizza, you know that this is a challenging thing to achieve at home. You need a dough that will allow you to roll it out super thin, and an oven that is hot enough to crisp it up. There’s nothing we can really do about the oven except get it nice and hot before the pizza goes in, but the pizza dough recipe that you’ll find here will definitely deliver when it comes to pliability and crunch.
Full disclosure: this is not my recipe. My friend Elaina invited me over to her house one night and made this dough, and I immediately asked her for the recipe. She gets full credit for coming up with something that is this easy and delicious.
The Easiest Pizza Sauce You’ll Ever Make.
So, I don’t understand this obsession with making super labor-intensive pizza sauces from fresh tomatoes. Some of the best pizza sauces I’ve had have been nothing but crushed San Marzano tomatoes with a little bit of salt and pepper.
Since San Marzano tomatoes are expensive and often only come in huge cans, I’ve devised a super simple pizza sauce that will impress even the pickiest pizza eater. Funny story: I made this sauce for a pizza party at which other guests had made pizza sauce from scratch, and people kept asking me for the recipe. I was embarrassed to admit that mine took mere minutes to throw together and was made from canned tomato sauce.
In addition to the tomato sauce, the only other ingredients that I put in mine are minced garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper. Yeah, it’s that easy.
Let’s Talk Toppings.
Our local Co-Op has tons of figs available right now, and I can’t get enough of them. They add sweetness and earthiness to any dish and pair well with cheese and cold cuts, which is why I’ve chosen them for this fig, jalapeño, and salami pizza. I like to drizzle the whole pizza with a bit of honey after it comes out of the oven to highlight the sweetness of the figs and make it contrast with the spiciness of the jalapeños.
As I said, this is my favorite pizza to make at home, but feel free to top it with whatever you want. Do remember to share any amazing flavor combinations by leaving a comment below!
Also, if you would like to learn more about Bosco, please contact the Whitman County Humane Society.
Thin and Crispy Fig, Jalapeño, and Salami Pizza
This delicious pizza has a super thin, crispy crust and is topped with fresh figs, jalapeños, and salami.
- For the crust (makes enough for two pizzas):
- ½ ounce active dry yeast (2 packets)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 ½ cups warm water (to activate yeast)
- 3 ½ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- For the sauce:
- One 8 oz can tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 medium garlic glove, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Toppings (you will need to double the ingredients if making two pizzas):
- Fresh or shredded mozzarella to taste (I like to go easy on the cheese to avoid making the pizza soggy)
- One jalapeño, sliced
- Sliced red onions to taste
- 4-5 slices good quality salami, torn into smaller pieces
- 5-6 fresh figs, halved or quartered
- Honey (for drizzling)
- Step 1 Make the crust. The water should be between 100-110℉ to activate the yeast. Put the water in a medium bowl and add the sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the yeast and stir it a little bit. It doesn’t have to dissolve completely. Let it sit for 8-10 mins. It should begin to fizz slightly and smell like bread. If it doesn’t, it means that the water is too warm/too cold or that your yeast is too old.
- Step 2 In a large bowl, combine the salt and flour.
- Step 3 Add the yeast mixture to the bowl with the salt and the flour. Use a wooden spoon to mix everything until it forms a sticky and elastic dough. If it’s too dry, add a tablespoon of warm water at a time. If it’s too wet, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Step 4 Cover with a moist kitchen towel or some cling wrap and let the dough rest for 30-60 min in a warm spot in the kitchen. It should double in size.
- Step 5 Preheat the oven to 475-500℉.
- Step 6 Make the sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.
- Step 7 Prepare all the toppings. Set aside.
- Step 8 When you are ready to cook the pizza, turn half the dough onto a floured surface and knead it well for 2 mins. Repeat with the other half of the dough if making two pizzas.
- Step 9 Lightly flour a rolling pin and roll out the pizza dough as thin as possible without it tearing. I managed to get mine down to about ¼ inch which makes for a really crispy crust. I also find that I get better results when I roll out it out into a square rather than a circle. Size will vary depending on how thin you get it. Repeat with the other half of the dough if making two pizzas.
- Step 10 Using a fork, poke the pizza crust all over. This will prevent it from rising too much during baking.
- Step 11 Transfer the pizza crust to a lightly oiled baking sheet. Top with half the pizza sauce, mozzarella, onions, jalapeño, and salami leaving a one-inch border. Brush the exposed crust with a little bit of olive oil to ensure that it browns. Reserve the figs.
- Step 12 Place the pizza in the preheated oven and bake for 12-15 mins. The edges should turn a deep brown color and be very crispy when done.
- Step 13 Remove the pizza from the oven, and top it with the fresh figs. Drizzle the whole thing with a little bit of honey.
- Step 14 Let the pizza cool for 5-7 mins before cutting into slices.
- Step 15 Serve warm.
- If you would like to make only one pizza and store the rest of the dough, don’t knead all of it at once. Instead, place half of the pizza dough in the fridge without kneading it and cover it well with some cling wrap. It will keep in the fridge for 3 days. Before using it, bring it back to room temperature so that it’s easier to knead.
- You can also freeze it before kneading it by forming it into a ball, wrapping it tightly in cling wrap, and putting it inside a freezer bag. It will keep for 3 months. When you want to use it, thaw it in the fridge for at least 12 hours and then bring it to room temperature before rolling it out.