Anniversary … And Stuffed Pizza

We’re back in Tennessee after spending most of the week in Chicago, where we celebrated our 10th anniversary.  On the drive home yesterday, we stopped to take a tour of a working dairy farm in Indiana as a bit of educational fun for the girls.  I’ll write about that later.  As for my own education, I learned that the three most annoying words in the English language are ROAD WORK AHEAD.

Orange cones aside, it was a fun trip for both us and the girls.  Sara and Alana went swimming every day, played tag and hide-and-seek with their cousins, rode on the “Iowa-Ashland” train line my father-in-law built around his property, and had their first experience eating burnt-marshmallow s’mores.  (In their opinion, the burnt ones taste best.)

The picture below was taken inside church where we were married.  If that fabulous woodwork looks familiar, it probably means you saw the movie Home Alone.  The director, Chris Columbus, lives next door to my wife’s parents and used the church for the scene in which Kevin finally talks to the scary old man.

My wife’s mother planned our wedding for us, since we were living in Los Angeles at the time.  Ten years later, I’m still dazzled by the memories.  At one time, my mother-in-law sang in the Chicago Metropolitan Opera (she has an amazing voice), and she called upon some friends for the wedding.  I walked into the church to hear a handful of musicians from the Chicago symphony playing, while a baritone from the opera belted out a song that gave me shivers — and it wasn’t because of wedding jitters. 

This was all a wedding-day surprise; she didn’t tell us everything she’d planned.  I remember looking around, wondering if I’d walked into the wrong wedding.  I didn’t sleep a wink the night before — every time I started to drift off, I snapped awake thinking, “Oh my god!  I’m getting married tomorrow!”  But the grandeur of the church and the music energized me, and I didn’t feel at all tired once the wedding began.

The next picture is of the girls, standing on the spot where Mommy and Daddy were married.  They are constantly demanding I tell them stories from my life, so now they have a visual to go with the wedding-day story.  (Their current favorite is the story about the floating hairball, which I recently recounted on my other blog as part of a longer post about my experiences with wasps.)

I didn’t exactly stick to a low-carb diet during the trip, but so be it.  For the night of our anniversary, I had planned to take my wife to the seafood restaurant where we had our second date.  Just one problem:  that restaurant doesn’t exist anymore.  So we ended up going to the Greek restaurant where we had our rehearsal dinner.  I’m sure it’s possible to order a low-carb meal in a Greek restaurant, but I was there to celebrate, so I enjoyed the works … lemon-egg soup, flaming cheese, spinach pie, moussaka, pastichio, lamb, stuffed grape leaves, wine, and a Greek liqueur after dinner, compliments of the house in honor of our anniversary.

As promised in an earlier post, I also indulged in a Giordano’s stuffed pizza during the trip. (If you’re going to break training for the sake of pizza, this is the one to choose.)  The picture below shows what an entire pie looks like.

People who’ve never tried a stuffed pizza often confuse it with deep dish.  It’s not the same thing.  Deep dish — even the legendary stuff from Uno’s — is “deep” because of the thick crust.  A stuffed pizza, on the other hand, consists of a thin crust on the bottom and another on the top, with a thick layer of ingredients in between, as you can see in the picture below.  It’s delicious hot with a cold beer, and even more delicious cold with a hot cup of coffee the next morning.  Skip the thick crust around the outer edge (which I do), and you’re eating way more meat and cheese than crust.

(By the way, if you ever want to try a Giordano’s stuffed pizza, they’ll make it, half-bake it, freeze it, and ship it to you.  Then you just finish baking it in your own oven.)

We don’t have a scale in the house, and I probably wouldn’t dare step on it for a few days if we did.  I enjoyed the bit of indulgence, but now it’s back to the meat, eggs, berries and vegetables.  After all, I don’t want my wife to start wondering why she married me.


16 thoughts on “Anniversary … And Stuffed Pizza

  1. RacineDKringle

    I’m in Lafayette Indiana and have definitely seen quite a few good farms around this area (Traderspoint Creamery, Swiss Connection as well as the farm where our cow share cows live) – I’m excited to hear about your trip!

    (and drooling over your ‘za. True Chicago style pizza rocks!)

    I’m kind of glad there’s no Giordano’s here. Either I’d order it too often, or it wouldn’t seem quite so special.

  2. Valerie

    Very enjoyable post! I like that fact that you’re not a food nazi and understand that in a carb loaded world, sometimes you make a conscious decision to indulge, as long as it’s not an everyday thing. You only live once!

    If anything, I enjoy my rare pizza indulgences more than before, precisely because they’re rare.

  3. Tom Miller

    Looks like you guys had a nice anniversary trip! My wife and I recently relocated to Jacksonville, FL from Fort Wayne, IN area. In Fort Wayne they have a pizza place called Oley’s and they make a large stuffed crust pizza like the one at Giordano’s. They weigh almost 10lbs and have enough cheese to constipate a cow for a week! LOL! I too have been hitting the carbs a little harder than usual. I usually eat Paleo most of the time, so I need to refocus and get back to it! Happy 4th of July to you and your family!

    And to you and yours as well.

  4. mrfreddy

    whenever I travel, even for work, my brain shifts into vacation mode and I always end up cheating… and when it rains it pours, I eat anything and everything forbidden. And I always start to feel like crap and gain 8 pounds. Takes about two weeks of “eating right” to get the weight down, a couple of days to get rid of mild carbo cravings, and less than a day to start feeling much better.

    that pizza looks awesome, gotta try it next time in Chicago. After my obligatory stop at Gibson’s steakhouse, of course.

    I know what you mean. I used to grant myself far too many vacation and “special occasion” cheat days.

  5. Leta

    What is the stuff in the middle layer of pizza? It looks kind of like lard in the photo, but I seriously doubt that’s what it is. I know people LOVE deep dish, but I’m a thin crust kinda girl, myself. So I might really dig stuffed pizza, being as how it’s two thin crusts. Mmmm.

    Tom, I’m guessing you don’t read Huffpo, but they’ve had two columns this week (Drs. Andy Weil and Mark Hyman) about how a low fat diet does not help most people to lose weight. They both touched on the role of insulin and simple carbohydrate. It seems to me that folks are starting to come around.

    The lighting wasn’t flattering. The middle layer is cheese, sausage, green peppers, onions, and black olives.

    I’m delighted to see how Dr. Weil has come around.

  6. Gwen

    The best stuffed pizza in the Chicago area is not made by Giordanos, though theirs is good. The best is made by Uncle Pete’s in Naperville. ( They also make the best thin crust, in my opinion. I grew up on Uncle Pete’s, and it puts Giordano’s to shame. The big difference is the crust — Giordano’s uses a “buttercrisp” crust, which is very crackery, almost like a big Ritz, while Uncle Pete’s uses the usual yeast-dough pizza crust, which I prefer. I happen to know how much a large Uncle Pete’s cheese and sausage stuffed pizza weighs – 8 lbs. And it’s worth ever delicious bite.

    I was back there for a convention recently with my partner, and we had a thin crust pepperoni and sausage pizza, and it was utter heaven.

    I’ll give it a try next time I visit my buddy who lives in Naperville.

  7. Michelle B.

    Hey Tom,

    I grew up on the south side of Chicago, and when I go back home, I too indulge in Giordano’s pizza. I usually go to the one on the south side, 63rd and Cicero. I also indulge in a Chicago style hot dogs. I figure I only go home once every year or two, so I like to eat the foods that remind me of my childhood. I also like Geno’s East Pizza.

    Like you, once I am back home, I go straight back to low carb eating

    Also, I won your DVD Fat Head from Jimmy Moore’s Blogerversary. Thank so much for autographing it and sending it to me. I watched it 4 times. It is so hilarious. I plan on showing my brother and his wife.

    Glad you won, Michelle, and sorry it took so long to arrive. Took awhile for my distributor to get me another box of DVDs.

  8. Michael

    lemon-egg soup, flaming cheese, spinach pie, moussaka, pastichio, lamb, stuffed grape leaves, wine, and a Greek liqueur after dinner, compliments of the house in honor of our anniversary.

    Actually for the most part all that sounds pretty healthy. Too bad you didn’t include a pic.

    But the pizza? Now that is something I want to try. 🙂

    The dinner pictures didn’t turn out well.

  9. Leta

    This isn’t really paleo (but then, dairy and lunchmeat aren’t either, so I’m guessing you aren’t TOO hardcore), but I was making a low sugar dessert for my kids today and thought of this blog. It’s really easy, everything is just “to taste”. We don’t eat a lot of dessert, and I like this one because there is some actual nutritional value.

    You can use any fruit, we are drowning in rhubarb right now so I’m using that. Cut your fruit into bite size pieces. Squeeze some lemon juice over the fruit. (If you are in a pinch, balsamic, apple cider, or white vinegar with some lemon flavoring will all work, too, but I like lemon juice.) For a brownie pan’s worth of fruit, use 1/4 tsp of baking soda. For a lasagna pan’s worth of fruit, use a 1/2 tsp of baking soda. Sprinkle the baking soda over the fruit, and stir to blend *very* well. There will be some foaming. That’s fine. Sprinkle with stevia to taste. I usually three packets of stevia for a brownie pan’s worth. Then I put a tablespoon of white sugar in, too, but that’s optional. Honey would work, too. Mix well. Almond and/or vanilla flavoring are good, too. (The base baking soda cuts the tartness of the fruit, and the acid of lemon juice or vinegar breaks down the fruit’s cell walls to release more natural sugar- like a forced, controlled ripening, almost to the point of rot, which is okay b/c you’re going to eat it right away. This makes everything taste sweeter so you need very little sweetener.)

    Put the fruit mixture in par baked pie crust, or top with equal parts butter and old fashioned oatmeal. You can use some stevia with just a couple drops of molasses to sweeten the butter oatmeal topping if you want to.

    Bake on 350 for about 45 minutes for rhubarb, less time for a more delicate fruit like peaches or berries. Serve with unsweetened whipped cream. When I make it, I typically use about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar for the whole pan- fruit and topping. We have two close friends who are diabetic, so we make the zero sugar version for events at their places, and there is never any left, even among groups of sugar eaters. It is delicate sweet taste, not overpowering, and none of that fakety fake too much stevia/splenda/corn syrup/aspartame taste.

    No, I’m not hard-core paleo. Cream and cheese aren’t paleo, and I include them in my diet. I mostly avoid sugar and refined carbs.

    Sounds like a good recipe. My wife makes a baked dessert that’s similar. Berries, cream, Truvia, ground nuts, a little oatmeal and butter. I’m not much of a dessert eater, but the girls like it.

  10. JoshDT

    Don’t be afraid of indulging yourself a meal during the week. Very successful low-carb diet plans deliberately do this and are called “Refeeds/” The help reset the metabolic adjustments that are made during a ketogenic diet and increase Leptin (another very important hormone) sensitivity.

    Also, any weight you might have gained overnight from stuffing yourself with carbs are likely water-lbs since they retain fluid. I highly doubt you can sink a week’s worth of dieting by overeating 500-1000 calories worth of carbs in a day, the body is much more adaptive then that.

    So feel free to have a ‘free meal’ once a week, that includes carbs.

    I went to the gym today and found that I’m at the same weight as when we left, so no harm done.

  11. Keri-Ann

    I lived in chicago for 4 years (college) and grew up in northwest indiana (now live in indianapolis…)
    and i LOVE me some giordano’s!! Of course, chicago stuffed pizza is why I weighed 220 pounds in college…but I will definitely indulge done day again. :p

    and as the guy from Lafayette said – there are some good dairy farms around here. Traders Point is just north of Indianapolis in Zionsville – and while they “legally” have to pasteurize, they don’t homogenize and the dairy cows are grass fed. 🙂

    good post!

    If I ate it every week, I’d weigh 220 as well.

  12. Debbie

    Sounds like an awesome trip. My 22-year-old nephew is currently on a cross-country road trip with a good buddy of his. He’s a starting pitcher for his University baseball team, and baseball is his passion, so his trip is sort of an eating and baseball trip. For example their stay in Pittsburgh had a mandatory breakfast at the Steel City Diner which had been on the TV show ‘Man vs. Food’. Their trip to Chicago was mainly to take in a White Sox game. I told him he HAD to get a Giordano’s pizza while he was there, and sure enough he did! He even texted me a photo of it (which, sad to say, I think actually looks better than your photos), and sent me a postcard saying that I was right and Chicago was awesome and he wants to go back. 🙂

    If I were going to go off my eating plan for anything a Giordano’s pizza might just be the thing! My nephew can get away with it. He seems to have the metabolism of his dad (my sister’s husband) who at age 54, and 6’3″, can still barely manage to keep his weight above 160. Alas that is not a problem I share, so it’s a good thing Giordano’s is so far from me too. Oh well, I had to share his pizza photo on Facebook and live vicariously. LOL.

    You can always have them send one of their half-baked/frozen pizzas, but that makes for a pretty expensive meal.

  13. ethyl d

    I didn’t see Home Alone, but would like to know what church that is.

    For the exterior shots, Chris Columbus used a church in River Forest … can’t remember the name, but I’ve seen it. For the interior, with all that lovely woodwork, he used Grace Episcopal in Oak Park.

  14. Russ

    Steel City Diner? I’ve lived here my entire 31 years and never heard of the place. Most of the time seeking restaurants that were featured on the food network or the travel channel is a big let down. There are exceptions, but. Now if you want some REAL Pittsburgh food, be sure to stop by FatHeads, Primanti Bros, and possible even the Sharp Edge.

  15. Matt

    I know this blog post is pretty old, but I thought i’d comment anyways. I went to a private highschool in Oak Park, IL, and used to run by your wife’s parent’s house all the time during cross country practice. I’ve liked trains a lot since I was little, and thought the railroad was the coolest thing ever the first time I ran past, even though I never saw it in use. Anyways, I asked someone on my team who was from RF about the house and he said it belonged to Chris Columbus, and seeing as Chris’ nephew was also on my team and it seemed like something a wealthy maker of family films would have, I never even thought about it being incorrect.

    Years later/today, I saw a discussion about houses with large scale model railroads and mentioned that Chris Columbus had one, so I decided to try and find more information to go along. This page, which I found using google images (it didn’t even show up in my page search) was the only thing to mention the director and a model railroad on the same page, and confirmed another page I found saying the director lived next door. Using the “Iowa-Ashland Railroad” name you gave I was able to find some cool news articles on your father-in-law’s railroad.

    I am pretty happy to have found out more about that railroad, I hope your father-in-law is still kickin’ and keeps it in working condition.

    Yup, it still works and the grandkids still enjoy train rides when the weather permits. Chris Columbus is the next-door-neighbor, as you discovered.


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