The Pizza Cookery

The Pizza Cookery

After securing the pizza ingredients, it was time to channel my inner Master Chef. I feel confident with this challenge, I have been perfecting this dish for over a decade. That said, you do not win Master Chef by playing it safe, so I decided to try a few new things such as garlic salt to stand out from the competition — I can hear Gordon Ramsay asking me in his British accent “Why on earth would you choose to try something you’ve never done before on such a crucial night?

Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately for me, today’s dish will not be evaluated by our standard judges; but rather, by the most important person on earth, my stunning wife. She has flown all the way from the living room to be in this Master Chef kitchen with us tonight. I feel privileged and honored to be cooking for such a distinguished guest tonight.

I am looking at my fresh basil, succulent Roma tomato, and spicy jalapeno, and I feel good about what’s in my metaphorical basket. I am ready when suddenly, in an unprecedented turn of events, a new judge emerges from behind the scenes, right in the middle of the competition — a first in Master Chef. Introducing for the first time, our beloved third member of the family, Bagheera.

Bagheera, or Baggsy as I like to call her, is an even tougher judge. She’s been in the eating business for 3 years, and has an insatiable desire to eat all the cat food worldwide. Now, she’s looking for the one person good enough to become America’s first, Baggsy Chef. Just look at her intently evaluating the freshness of the basil. With 90 minutes on the clock, the competition begins, now!

Graham Elliot approaches my station and asks me why pizza. “As an American of partial Italian descent, pizza is very close to my heart” I reply while focusing on adding the right amount of salt to my flour. “What’s the most important thing to do right now for your dish?” he asks. “The dough, I need to make sure it has enough time to rise” I respond as I begin to knead the dough. “Will you have enough time to let the dough rise?” he follows up. “Yes Chef” I assure him. “Good luck!” he says with skeptical undertones. “Thank you Chef” I conclude the conversation as I move on to the sauce.

With just enough time for the pizza to bake, I place it in the oven and hope that the risks pay off. I stare at my pie through the oven window as the crusts begin to turn golden brown. The clock keeps ticking. I look at the pie, then at the clock, and back to the pie. We are down to the last few minutes. I open the oven door, confirm it is cooked, and take the pie out. “60 seconds remaining,” I hear the judges say. I briefly let the pizza cool down before plating. “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, hands up!” they shout.

It came down to the last second, but I did it! Feeling accomplished, the judges ask me to come up. Joe Bastianich makes his way to me, “describe your plate” he commands. I imagine him throwing my plate in the trash, then snap out of it. “Today I present an American rendition of a traditional Margherita pie composed of fresh mozzarella, Roma tomatoes instead of San Marzano, and organic basil, drizzled with garlic-infused olive oil.” He looks at my plate, then at me. We make eye contact when, enter our guest judges, wife and Baggsy.

The wife is pleased and the Baggsy is satisfied just sniffing. I exhale a sigh of relief! That was an intense challenge, one that ultimately was worth it just to see my gorgeous wife smile.

Tell me, have you ever made pizza from scratch? Do you enjoy cooking, or do you prefer take-out? What is your favorite dish to cook?

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(Featured Image by: Mr. Ramdolfi)

The Pizza Ingredients

The Pizza Ingredients

The wife and I have been watching Master Chef lately — a famous cooking competition show that we had somehow managed to unintentionally evade since its inception a decade ago. It was originally intended to be background noise as we took care of chores such as folding laundry or washing dishes. But with time, we started to pay attention. Before we knew it, we were invested. Now, I am inspired to cook.

I, like most people, have passionately loved pizza since, well, since I can remember. For that reason, 13 years ago I decided to try making my own, from scratch. Long story short, it was disgusting. The dough was under-cooked, the sauce was unbearably salty, and the toppings were sub-par — the memory still haunts me. Over a decade later, through perseverance and multiple, multiple attempts, I have perfected The Ramdolfi Pizza™ (not actually trademarked).

Master Chef in mind and inspiration in heart, we drove to the grocery store to acquire the freshest of ingredients for the freshest of pizzas. Admittedly, Mrs. Ramdolfi is vastly more talented in selecting the perfect fruits, including tomatoes — and yes, they are technically considered fruits. For that reason, the stunning wife pictured above helped me pick the perfect tomato for this pie.

Ready to create the perfect pizza sauce with the perfect tomatoes, I proceeded to inspect the store’s basil for freshness, as pictured above. Satisfied with their selection, we moved on to the garlic, mozzarella, and other secret ingredients. It’s actually a rather simple recipe, but it is one that I’ve been developing since the mid 2000’s.

Fun fact: The wife enjoys riding the ends of shopping carts — up until I decide to take pictures, then she is just unamused. I like to give her a hard time, but the truth is that I think it’s adorable, which is why I also tend to encourage it.

Back to Master Chef. Upon securing the most delicious ingredients, I spotted some items that beckoned me with their tempting convenience…

I entertained them for an instant, and even lifted them just to confirm what I instinctively knew, they were but a mockery of Italian cuisine. Could they make a decent pie? Maybe. But would I have to turn in my Italian card? Absolutely. Unamused by these Americanized ingredients, we headed straight to the self-checkout stations, and on to our Master Chef challenge at home.

Tell me, do you like to have shows playing as background noise? Do you pronounce it tomato or to-mah-to? Would you rather buy premade meals or make your own from scratch?

Thank you so much for visiting our corner of the internet! If you enjoyed this post, please make sure to subscribe and follow us on Instagram for more caffeinated content! Have an awesome day! ☕️️

(Featured Image by: Mr. Ramdolfi)

Random Ralphs Run

Random Ralphs Run

Finally back at home, the wife wanted a watermelon, for which I summoned my best Princess Bride impersonation and replied: “As you wish!” We jumped in the car and were on our way to our local Ralphs for a quick grocery run.

Mr. Ramdolfi sporting his new Shady Rays on the way to Ralphs.

A hop, skip, and a jump later, we had arrived. The parking lot was mostly full as expected, it almost always is. After catching sight of someone backing up and proceeding to take their former spot, I offered the Mrs. a hand, and we headed toward our first grocery trip as a married couple. Mundane as it may have been, it felt special.

I always try taking turns carrying the grocery basket, but somehow it always ends up being my turn…

We headed straight to the produce section at the entrance of the store. Right away we spotted the reason for our trip: watermelons! At 19¢ a pound, it was an offer we could not resist — for a second there that felt like one of my coffee reviews.

The object of our trip!

The wife knocked on each of the watermelons, listening intently for their degree of ripeness. She sought a hollow sound, which she claims means the watermelon is more crisp and juicy — likely a better method than mine, which admittedly consists of grabbing whichever one is closest.

It wouldn’t be a Ramdolfi grocery trip without the wife picking up some strawberries.

After selecting the winning watermelon (and some unscheduled strawberries), we briefly considered perusing the isles for snacks and goodies. Tempting. However, we are trying to live our best lives, and that includes healthy eating — hence the fruit instead of, say, Spicy Nacho Doritos. Those are reserved for cheat days.

Mr. Ramdolfi secures the goods.

Fruit in hand, we checked out at the self-checkout stations. We usually choose self-checkouts whenever possible, we find them to be more efficient. And just like that, our first local adventure as a married couple had come to an end. Mission Accomplished.

Tell me, do you enjoy grocery shopping, or do you consider it a chore? Would you rather have fresh fruit or chips as a snack? Do you prefer to check out with a cashier or at a self-checkout?

Thank you so much for visiting our corner of the internet! If you enjoyed this post, please make sure to subscribe and follow us on Instagram for more caffeinated content! Have an awesome day! ☕️️

(Featured Image by: Mr. Ramdolfi)

Getting (Back) In Shape

Getting (Back) In Shape

Once upon a time in my days of youth, I had all the time in the world to run cross country, track & field, and play tennis — I was in shape. Like most people in their teens, I also had a metabolism that allowed me to eat that extra fry free of guilt. Heck, I had a metabolism that allowed me to eat fries. Nowadays, not so much.

With time, and for one reason or another (mine was trading the gym for Netflix), we let go and put our health at risk. It happens, but I am not here to complain. I am here to do something about it; in fact, I have been in order to get (back) in shape in time for my wedding.

That said, my goal is simple: To lose the 50 pounds that I gained since moving back to California in 2017. It may sound like a lot, but when you do the math, it was only gaining 1.09 ounces every day for 2 years, or approximately 220 additional calories a day — or you know, a side of fries.

While my strategy consists of moving more, eating healthier, and trying to get more sleep, the following factors have been in my opinion more influential in my journey to fitness:

Mindset: Perhaps one of the most difficult thresholds to cross, is that of getting in the right mindset, that “I can do it mindset” where you actually believe you can. This, like most first steps, is admittedly easier said than done. But trust me, you can.

Goals: You may have a dream or a vision, but without goals, there is no certifiable way to measure your progress, and without these measurements, you can never know if you’re on the right track or if you need to re-calibrate.

Motivation: Summoning the will to do what is necessary to make your dreams come true, has to be by far the main reason why people fail, because it is hard. You will not always have the same fire in you that you had on Day 1, and that is exactly when you will need the right motivation to keep going.

Perseverance: For those days when you lack even the slightest trace of motivation, just keep going. Even when going to the gym or saying no to happy hour is the last thing you want to do and you feel the pain of doing so, do it. You will be happy you did.

Rewards: Last but not least, it is important to reward yourself along the way, to celebrate the small milestones and recognize your progress. It will re-energize you and make you feel better about your sacrifices.

With these tools under my increasingly less tight belt, in just over a month I have slimmed down 11 pounds, but this is only the beginning. Trust me, if I can do it, you most certainly can. So in the words of every motivational speaker ever: Do it!

Tell me, what does your journey to fitness look like? What is your strategy to getting in shape? What do you find to be more challenging, diet and exercise or the intangible hurdles listed above?

(Featured Image by: RawPixel)