My Roma Pizza  

8- 10 inch pizza  dough or flatbread

Peeled whole tomatoes, drained -1 (14-ounce) can

Olive oil - 1 tablespoon

Oregano - 1/2 teaspoon

1 cup grated mozzarella

¼ c mushrooms, sautéed

¼ c black olives, sliced

¼ c artichoke hearts, packed in oil, drained and sliced

1 hard boiled egg

2 slices prosciutto


Make the pizza dough according to directions. Set a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 500°F.


Put the tomatoes through a food mill or pulse them lightly in a food processor, leaving them a little chunky. Stir in the 1 tablespoon olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper.


Spread tomato sauce over the dough. Leave a 1-inch border around the edge of the dough.


Sprinkle cheese, mushrooms, and artichokes over the pizza, sprinkle it with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil.


Slide the pizza onto the pizza stone and bake until cheese is melted and the crust is cooked through and browned, about 7 to 9 minutes.

Top with prosciutto and egg. Eat with knife and fork.

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Branching Out with Faith Appelquist

Questions, suggestions or comments are welcome.

Contact Faith at (612) 618-5244 or by email 


Under the Umbrella Tree 
When I was in Italy and France last month, I marveled at the umbrella pines, surely among the most beautiful trees I have ever seen. The pines tower overhead, anchoring the scenic views of the Mediterranean, Vatican City, the Colosseum ruins, and the French Rivera. Their superb, dense, flat-topped canopy is held on almost bare, sculptural branches. The deeply furrowed bark is red-orange. These trees have a magical quality that visually brings the ancient past to life.

The umbrella pine, with the botanical name Pinus pinea is also called the Italian stone pine , or parasol pine. It grows in zones 8-10 and is capable of reaching 80-100 feet high. N ative to southwest Europe around the Mediterranean to Greece and Asia Minor, the remains of the cones have been d iscovered in Roman camps, attesting to their 2,000-year cultivation. It is the see ds or pine nuts inside the cones that are a particular delicacy. The cones take three years to ripen before releasing the pine nuts. The same pine nuts can be found in supermarkets here and when mixed with basil, garlic and cheese make the best pasta sauce of all - pesto.

What I find so unusual is that this pine has a broad and rounded canopy, like a stone, while other pines are narrow and taper upwards like a Christmas tree. It does appear they have had their lower branches skillfully pruned away to the desired umbrella shape, something our native pines probably would not do very well with.

Umbrella pines define the space in Italian landscapes.

Providing shade, umbrella pines are an important part of city livability. 

Built by the Romans, this 1st century Roman bronze sculpture, called the "Pigna" ("pine cone"), was once an ancient fountain. The Pigna sculpture sits in a Vatican courtyard called the Court of the Pine Cone, and is today considered the largest pine cone statue in the world.

Umbrella pines are often planted in rows , allowing their canopies to overlap. This creates a striking ornamental effect.

A leaning umbrella pine is propped in Nice, France, attesting to their value in the landscape.

At the gardens of Monte Carlo, embracing my inner tourist.
till we meet again: farewell.
For more information on the Umbrella Tree
Wishing you all the peace, joy, and love 
of the holiday season. Season's greetings!

Thanks for reading. Happy planting!  
Faith Appelquist
President & Founder
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