Pita Pizzas, Precarious Parenting and Pam

Day 295

“But Mom…everyone is going to be there,” she says to you, not in an overly-emotional way but matter-of-factly,…slowly,…tinged with disappointment. (Almost echoing her younger brother’s cries from the week before, “But Mom…everyone has one.”) And you feel for her, you do. And channeling your 13-year-old-self, you know that you would want to be there too. But alas, you’re not 13. You are a parent now. And sometimes this role of “parent” feels overwhelming. You feel a bit weary from constantly trying to guide your children into knowing what’s appropriate to wear, to do, to say, to partake in, to buy. Knowing when to open the door just a little wider for them. And when to keep it pulled shut. And it’s in those instances of feeling in your heart that the door should remain shut while your child is begging to open it more, that become the most trying. Especially, when it feels to her, that “everyone else’s” doors have been opened.

Day 292

And so you agonize…for days. Trying to make the right decision for this particular situation. At this particular age. In this particular decade. You call friends. You email other parents. You call more friends. You stay up late talking to your sweetie. And you remember back to when your father…or perhaps it was your mother…wisely said to you that as a parent you can only lay down the foundation. How the house gets built is up to your child. And so you check the foundation. You gather all the facts at hand. You summon up your own 40+ years of life experience and….you open the door just a little wider for your child.

After delivering her safely into the hands of another caring parent who has struggled with the same decision, you stare at the clock. You tick off in your mind where she should be when.  In an effort to keep your mind from running amok with all of the “What if?” scenarios involving your daughter, you check on your littlest one, move away from the clock and then, curl up on the couch with your sweetie and your 11-year old to watch a favorite show.

Day 290

Sunday evening finds you all gathered around the kitchen table for your family dinner. The family dinner you always spice up just a little bit more than the usual weeknight meal. The warm, comforting smell of caramelized onions still lingers in the house even after the Pita Pizza appetizers topped with those onions have been devoured. All five of you now sit with steaming bowls of White Bean and Sausage Cassoulet in front of you and plates of salad greens, fennel and blue cheese to the side. You talk about your weekend. The football game. The lego “Skype date.” The blustery weather. And in talking about the weekend, you realize that in your daughter’s life, this opening of the door registered barely a ripple for her. And in a way, you almost feel relieved. Because in some strange way, this lack of jubilance, makes you feel like it was the right time to open the door.

Day 294

Your boys are upstairs, all three of them, and you stand in the kitchen with your daughter. Both of you scraping the bottom of your goblets trying to mop up the last little bits of your Gingersnap-Caramel Pear Parfaits. Your daughter looks up from her goblet and says to you, “Thank you for letting me go……and thank you for wanting to keep me safe.” And you look right at her and say, “Thank you for letting me do my job to keep you safe. You are so precious to me. I love you, sweetie.” And she says, “I love you, too.” And with that, you put the empty goblets in the dishwasher and set your mind on the week ahead.

Pita Pizzas with Caramelized Onions, Dried Cherries and Gruyère

I know that I’ve talked about Pam Anderson before, here and here, because she is the author of one of my all time favorite cookbooks, “How to Cook Without a Book.” The other weekend, when I was in San Francisco, I had the incredible opportunity to meet in person not only Pam but her two delightful daughters as well. The three of them author the blog, “Three Many Cooks” and just recently Pam released a new cookbook entitled, “Perfect One-Dish Dinners.” When she and her daughters asked some of us if we would cook from the book and then post a favorite dish, I didn’t hesitate. How could I possibly refuse one of my all time favorite cookbook authors?

As I mentioned above in my little narrative, I made from her book the Pita Pizzas, her Cassoulet-Style Italian Sausages and White Beans, her Baby Greens with Fennel, Blue Cheese and Red Onion and for dessert, her decadent, Gingersnap-Caramel Pear Parfaits. Each one was scrumptious in its own right but the clear winner in our family (including a stray neighbor boy who was over playing legos) was the Pita Pizzas…although, the Pear Parfaits were a very close second. With the holidays on the horizon, I can’t wait to set these appetizers out for guests. I can see mixing it up and using dried cranberries instead of the cherries or bits of browned pancetta. I did not soak the cherries in the kirsch since most of my “audience” was the under-21 bunch but I did add the cherries to the onions at about the 8 minute mark to soften them up.


1 tbsp olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, halved and thinly sliced. (I used one of Oregon’s Hermiston Sweet onions.)
3/4 dried cherries
2 tbsp kirsch (cherry brandy)
4 large (7-inch) pocket-less pitas (These are thicker than ordinary ones.)
2 c grated aged Gruyère cheese (about 5 oz.)

Adjust rack to lower-middle position (in my oven, the middle position worked best) and heat oven to 450 degrees. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. And onion and cook, stirring frequently, until caramel brown, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat cherries and kirsch in a small saucepan over low heat until cherries soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Or, to do what I did, skip this last step and add your cherries directly to the onions when the onions have about 2-3 minutes left to cook.

Scatter a portion of onions and cherries over each pita, then scatter over cheese. Bake until cheese melts and crust is golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. Cut each pita into 8 triangles and serve immediately.

Yield: 32

Spreading the Perfect One-Dish Dinner love, below are all of the other incredible posts, highlighting recipes from Pam’s book. Each is beautiful and heartfelt. 

All original text and photographs copyright: Carrie Minns 2009-2010


  1. Angie Muresan says:

    Yes, but what's wrong with keeping them under lock and key until they're at least eighteen?! Ah… You are a wonderful mom and you did the right thing. I dread those days, and they are fast approaching.

  2. Nice job with your oldest and what an awesome Sunday Supper! Your whole family is very lucky to have you. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Loved your story…we are living dual lives by the way! Your Sunday Supper was lovely, the pita pizzas are a must for me this week!

  4. Maggy@ThreeManyCooks says:

    I love this post. It sounds like the way things were in my house. Love your honesty – makes it that much easier to appreciate the beauty of the Sunday Supper and the importance of coming together around the table before the start of the week. Your photos are also gorgeous!

  5. Kristen Doyle says:

    So lovely Carrie. I got teary eyed reading this because I know exActly what you feel like!

  6. Paula - bell'alimento says:

    I completely relate! So true, oh SO TRUE! Loved your honesty and how important Family dinners are : )These pita pizzas are going on our list. My kids would love them {& who am I kidding so would I}

  7. Anonymous says:

    I too got teary. I have a 4 year old and wonder about the teenage years that will be upon us soon enough. I'm always stressing to her that my job is to protect her. I'm happy to hear that it is possible that they do understand and accept our job to keep them safe and out of harms way. Thank you for sharing your story every week and for being so really. Your family encourages me to look ahead while I'm still in the stages of little ones.

  8. Michelle (What's Cooking) says:

    It was so nice to meet you in San Francisco – I hope to see you again when I visit my sister who just moved up to Portland.
    I agree – family dinners are an amazing time to connect. Thanks for the great post!

  9. Angie, Sometimes I wish we could keep them under lock and key….but then they might get antsy and bang on the walls and that would make us crazy too. We just can't win.

    Melinda, thank you dear.

    Wendy, Just think what it would be like if we lived closer…sharing a glass of wine in the afternoons, commiserating over the trials and tribulations of raising teenagers…."sigh"….

    Maggy, thank you, you generous soul you. And thank you for letting me be a part of your Sunday Supper round-up.

    Kristen, thank you my friend…..xo

    Paula, Yes, my children loved these pizzas but I have to admit that I devoured an entire one by myself, alone, at home. Didn't save a single morsel for anyone else….yum!

    Thank you, anonymous, for your kind words. Parenting definitely wears me down sometimes but I wouldn't trade it…bring on the teenage years!

  10. Michelle, I would love that. Perhaps you, Gina and I could, you know, go eat some food together…. 🙂

  11. Loved your post…and the food looks wonderful too! 🙂

  12. Thank you, Tracy….


  1. […] a little something extra special for Valentine’s Day, here are some ideas:Appetizer: Pita Pizzas with Caramelized Onions, Dried Cherries and GruyereMain Course: Simmering Ragu over spaghetti, Caeser salad, fresh bakery […]