eliza came over this afternoon with her computer, hoping i could fix her mac's progressively slowing speed. but first we went to oxford spa, where she treated me to lunch. apparently it was family brunch day because all the seats were filled with couples and their offsprings, with one memorable little toddler girl sporting kewpie doll eyes staring at us with green guacamole spilling out of her mouth. with no tables available, we went back to my place to eat our lunch.

i enjoy rebuilding OS X systems. it seems daunting, but i've done it so many times, it's pretty much routine at this point. eliza's computer just needed a fresh system install to bring it back to life. first we backed up all her data on her boyfriend's external hard drive. that probably took the longest, almost an hour. we passed the time chatting and i got her creating mii's on the wii. after everything was backed up, we installed a fresh system. next i migrated data from the external drive back onto the computer. unfortunately there was another system previously installed on one of the external partitions so i restored the wrong data. i ended up installing the system one more time and doing a manual data restore.

after eliza left, i got a chance to examine one of the cardinal climber flowers that finally bloomed today. shapewise it resembles its morning glory cousins, the familiar pentagon outline. sizewise, it's a much smaller flower, with a diameter about the same as a nickel. there's no discernible fragrance but it was hard for me to get my nose into the wire shelf (morning glories are known for their scents anyway).

i've been planning this for a few days now, but i finally got around to making my own pizza. in the past i've bought readymade pizza crust, but they're not very good. this time i wanted to make my own crust from scratch. having never kneaded dough before, i relied on technology instead, in the form of the bread machine, which makes a perfectly nice dough with little effort on my part. the recipe:

whole wheat maple syrup pizza dough
1 cup of 80°F water
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1.5 tsp fast rise yeast

warm water is essential for a good yeast rise, i'm starting to realize that now. the maple syrup was an extra step, the original recipe didn't require any sweetener. the originally recipe also didn't use whole wheat. the problem with using entirely whole wheat flour is the dough doesn't rise as much, that's why it's only a third whole wheat.

the bread machine took an hour and a half to knead the dough. when the timer beeped that everything was ready, i was absolutely amazed how much the dough had risen, 3-4x it's original size. much of that inflation turned out to be just trapped air, but it was still pretty impressive. i flattened out the dough with a roller, but i forgot to flour the rolling surface so the dough ended up getting stuck on the board and i had some holes in my crust.

a layer of mozzarella cheese, followed by a layer of tomato sauce. i topped that off with hot pepper slices, then another layer of mozzarella cheese. on top of that i added anchovies and chopped garlic from 6 cloves. into the preheated oven at 450°F for 20 minutes.

the result was a very robust deep dish pizza. sometimes i get lost in the ingredients: it's hard not to think that if i throw a bunch of things i like to eat all together, the end result will be the sum of all their deliciousness. that is sometimes not the case however, and this was one them. the pepper slices made things too spicy, and the anchovies made things too salty, and i don't even like tomato sauce all that much. and the garlic? let's just say i'm glad i don't have to talk to anyone for the next few days. next time, i'll turn it down a few notches. the only thing i was proud of was the crust, soft and slightly sweet. i ended up eating 3 slices (half the pizza) with a fork. unlike last night, there was very little chance i'd be hungry again.

unlike morning glories, cardinal climber flowers last longer than a single morning. unlike nasturtium flowers however, cardinals last for just a single day before they wilt. fortunately they're prodigious bloomers, and i'll probably have some new flowers by tomorrow.