It’s Crunch Time here at the Miller hacienda. Once again. Every spring we get together with an enthusiastic group of home schooled students in our area and their parents and we produce a Melodrama. This year we have nearly 30 enthusiastic, conscientious students that we’ve been spending two evenings a week with, since November. It’s a blessing. They are great kids. They are very excited about performing, and they soak up everything we teach them, like eager sponges.
Can sponges actually be eager? (This is the type of question that my sponge-son little Mack asks me during the day, hundreds of these questions, in rapid succession.) He’s an eager sponge and by the end of the day I am a thoroughly empty, weary, squeezed-out one.
My friend Chef William Chaney writes a blog about healthy living and wellness, and he has been sending me interesting e-mails about how to boost my brain function. Here’s a handy tip for your next post, Chef: Boost your brain function by spending a day with a 7 year old boy, sans electronic gadgets, natch. Mack asks questions constantly, and so I have to answer them constantly, which (I believe) keeps my brain supple and active. Well, at least suppler and more active then it would ordinarily be.
So Mom, can sponges actually be eager? Well, they do start out as living creatures, don’t they? But do they have emotions? Is that even possible? Um, I believe they can be eager. Grab the encyclopedia and let’s read about sponges. Then let’s draw a picture of sponges in our sketch books. This is how a lot of our schooling gets done these days, but it’s hard to beat a good encyclopedia and a good drawing for teaching science. Especially during Crunch Time.
Mom, why do we hear coyotes howling outside at night? I thought coyotes hibernated every winter. Why don’t we have more threatening animals in Nebraska? Like, say, bears and wolves and mountain lions? I’d like to be able to protect you from something.
Speaking of Crunch Time: we’re only three weeks away from Show Week, the thought of which sends shivers of nervousness and excitement down my spine. Bryan has been building: stage extensions, a stair case, pillars, and horses’ bottoms. I’ve been designing firemen’s logos and ordering t-shirts and organizing rehearsals and choreographing songs and learning music and paper machëing very large horses’ bottoms.
It’s that kind of a show. A show with large horse bottoms.
Is paper-machëing a word, Mom? What are the origins of paper machë? What did they make it out of, before newspapers were invented? When were newspapers invented, Mom? Oh my.
One of the biggest jobs yet, for me, is coming up in a few days: we’ve got to paint flats and set pieces. We’ll have some help, but I’ll be in charge of the design and buying the paint and making sure that I’ve got a good grasp on what paint goes where.
It’s a big job.
And I’ll be in charge of providing food. Working at building and painting set is hungry work. And I don’t know about how things operate at your house, but when people at my house are doing hard work, they are not content to sit down to, say, peanut butter on toast. Or a bowl of cold cereal.
For myself, peanut butter on toast would be just fine, thank you very much. Especially with a dribble of honey on top. And a big bowl of apple slices. And maybe some cheese. And some leftover pie for dessert. Maybe just a scoop of ice cream on that pie. My needs are simple. But usually the hungry hordes around here prefer something hot and toothsome.
Something like Stromboli.
Before I launch into why I love this recipe so much, I have to sing a few praises about my bucket dough. I have mentioned it before: it is a necessary foundation of several meals at our house every week. Most weeks I make 3 or 4 buckets of whole wheat dough, and squirrel them away in the basement refrigerator, in a very smug manner. With these buckets of dough I can whip out, in just a few minutes, a hot batch of honey-cinnamon rolls. Or, some hot and crusty olive bread. Pizza for lunch? Sure, I’ve got dough in the ‘fridge. It seems so impressive to be able to make these meals at a moment’s notice, but with this secret knowledge about the basics of bucket bread, you can do it easily, too, Gentle Reader.
And that brings us back (again!) to Stromboli. I was thinking very fond thoughts, the other day, of a celebratory meal that my sister Mollie made for a bunch of people a few years ago. It was dough, wrapped around a plethora of tasty ingredients (think pizza toppings) and then rolled up (jelly-roll style) and baked. What was the name . . . oh yes, Stromboli! Since it’s Crunch Time here, I hadn’t been eating very well (think peanut butter and honey on store bread) and the thought of my sister’s Stromboli really made my mouth water.
But wait. I realized that I had one last bucket of dough in the ‘fridge. I pulled that puppy out with a choked cry of joy, and found a few other things–a pound of bulk sausage, a bell pepper, an onion, and a few jalapenos, and some shredded cheese–and in just a few minutes I had three Strombolis rising on the counter. For our lunch. Impressive, eh?
They were absolutely delicious. Amalia, little Mack, and I inhaled one of them in a starving-wolf-like manner, and I (smugly, smugly) tucked the other two away for the next day’s dinner. And then, I was pleased to find out that they were just as good the next day, heated up for 20 minutes, in the oven. Yum.
Finding such a delicious and satisfying and easy-peasy way to use bucket dough meant, of course, that I would have to share it with you, my Gentle Reader, because I know that I’m not the only one who finds herself a little busier, at times, than she is comfortable with, and yet still needing to produce good hot meals for a number of people. Sigh.
So here goes. Make yourself some bucket dough, then make yourself some Stromboli. Then get ready for compliments!
- one bucket of dough
- one pound of ground sausage
- 1 cup sliced onions
- 3-4 diced garlic cloves
- ½ cup thinly sliced green peppers
- ½ cup thinly sliced red peppers
- 2 Tb thinly sliced jalapenos
- 1 tsp dried herbs (cilantro and parsley are great) or 1 Tablespoon fresh
- ½ cup sliced black olives
- 3 cups grated mozzarella
- Parmesan cheese
- egg, beaten lightly with 1 Tb water
- Cook sausage in big skillet with onions and garlic, add Italian seasoning, and drain well.
- Add peppers and olives to the skillet and saute until very soft, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Cut dough into 3 pieces. Roll out each piece very thin.
- Layer on each piece of dough: one third of the sausage, veggies, and cheese.
- Roll up each piece of dough, jelly-roll style, and pinch edges to seal.
- Place on a greased cookie sheet and let rise 20 to 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven during this time to 375 degrees.
- Brush the top of each Stromboli with egg wash. Bake until nearly completely golden brown and starting to crisp, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle each one with Parmesan cheese and return to oven until cheese is melted and dough is golden brown, about 5 minutes.
Yum. Better make it, don’tcha think? And . . . here’s an idea. Make an extra and wrap it up in a freezer bag and then sock it away in the freezer overnight. The next day, take it to a new mother, or an old father, or somebody who could use a hot, easy-to-prepare meal. It’s love, folks. Love does these things.
Also, Love shares. If you love this idea or this recipe, would you do me the favor of sharing it? Thank you!
- On Things Undone
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