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Welcome back, Paul, we missed you

So many thoughts flood my mind as I write, as coming back from my compulsory hiatus was an easy decision to make with some complicated emotions. Where to start?
First and foremost, I want to thank the community for everything that it has done for me and the kids and cannot express strongly enough how blessed I feel to be a part of it. Whether you are from Ocean City, Salisbury, Berlin, Bishopville, Whaleyville and beyond (many of whom we had never met before), we want to thank you. I can’t name names, simply as I am likely to miss one or two, and that would be a crime as so many people came to our rescue.
It is unfathomable that we lost Julie eight weeks ago, and I think to myself inwardly that time indeed stops for no man. But just as quickly as it happened, it was like a switch was flipped up and the juggling of the days of yore became an entirely new sort of juggling, in which I realized that I needed to download apps to track bills, make sure that I buy fresh groceries (OK, I’ve dropped the ball on that a few times), restock the paper goods, keep the medical folks at bay, get the kids to their various appointments, make the school functions and otherwise keep everything going as seamlessly as possible.
It was a few weeks after the transition that I sat back and realized that I wanted to play with food again. That feeling had gone missing a very long time ago as other priorities took the helm, and quite frankly, cooking became a bit of drudgery to me. I was just connecting the dots, coloring by number or whatever euphemism you can muster for simply not being interested.
For someone like me, that is overwhelming, as cooking has been the one thing that I have come back to time and again. Serve in the Marines? Check, now back to cooking. Graduate from college? Check, now back to cooking. Work in the corporate counsel of a bank while in law school? Check, now back to cooking (especially since I did not finish law school, a fact that I still regret).
It simply has been in my blood for as long as I can remember, and I had no control over when and where the inclination would strike to just get my hands dirty again.
But as I walked into the kitchen a couple of weeks ago, I saw a bag of Italian 00 flour that I had purchased at Dean & Deluca in Georgetown on a daily stroll and my heart swelled. I knew that it was time to make an old friend: pizza. As a family, we used to have either pizza Fridays or pasta Fridays, with either being made from scratch.
I typically made the pizza dough on Wednesday and the pasta would be a la minute, or just before service. With a good pizza dough, and this recipe is basic with the simple embellishment of some truffle salt, it will be ready in a couple of days (2-3 days are ideal) and the dough is crusty as the gluten is well-hydrated while being chewy and airy on the inside. Just think of it as making 24-hour bread, where you just stir all of the ingredients together and let it sit at room temperature, covered, for a day.
Did I mention how tasty this pizza was? The kids were happy and we all sat around laughing at the mess I had made. And it was a wonderful evening.
My mind is abuzz with all of the fun things I get to cook and play with, and I look forward to being a part of my paper-family again. Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart!
Pizza Dough
makes 4 16-inch pizzas
2 cups Warm tap water
1 1/2 Tbsp. EV Olive oil
1 packet active dry yeast
2 Tbsp. Sugar
6 cups Italian 00 Flour
1 Tbsp. Truffle salt, plus to taste

1. Combine the first four ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and allow to stand for ten minutes OR until it is frothy
2. With a dough hook attached, turn the mixer on low, remembering to follow your manufacturer’s instructions. In the case of a Kitchenaid, I believe you should never knead over ‘2’
3. With the machine turned on, add the flour slowly until incorporated. You want a smooth but soft dough, so if it looks like it is getting a little stiff, just add a small amount of warm water
4. Knead the dough until it is smooth, and turn onto a clean countertop covered with some flour
5. Cut the dough into four equal-sized balls, and roll to tighten them up
6. Place the balls in a container with plenty of space around them
7. You can either brush with olive oil as some chefs recommend, but I do not recommend that. If you are worried about a skin forming, simply place a damp paper towel in the container and snap on an airtight lid
8. Allow the dough balls to rest in the refrigerator for 48-72 hours. Patience and foresight are the keys to success in this recipe
9. So don’t forget; when you want pizza on Friday, Wednesday is your last opportunity to get it right