Tuesday, March 20, 2012

what to make for dinner after a horrible day

Last Wednesday was the longest and most painful day I've had in Ethiopia yet.  The morning ride to school was an hour long with both girls complaining and whining about the temperature, the sun in their eyes, being hungry even after I fed them breakfast.  Traffic was terrible and we got Addie to school but had to sit in the car for another hour on the ride home.  Bella was not happy and the car started to over heat and the battery lights went on. We get home thankfully with only about an hour of down time before I had to get right back in the car to go back and get Addie from school.

The ride back to school we weren't as lucky and the car just died on the side of a highway on ramp about half way to school.  Our driver had to deal with the rental car company (we have a POS rental right now because it takes 3-5 weeks to get the plates changed to our name on the 4-runner-don't get me started) to get it towed and fixed and I had to sit on the side of the road getting gawked at by the locals while I waited for Justin's office driver to come pick me up.  I accumulated a big late fee picking Addie and her friend (who was coming to play at our home) 30 minutes late even after calling to notify the preschool I was having car troubles and would be late for pick up.  The worst part was having an Ethiopian man walk by making comments insinuating I was a hooker and he'd heard through the grapevine I was good at my job!  Awesome.

At home things weren't looking up.  The kitchen sink backed up and our guard decided it was the day to wash and hose down all 57 of our balconies.  Only the city water wasn't running that day and he used our tank water.  Completely used the entire tank to scrub balconies we never use.  That means there was no water to cook dinner, wash our hands, give the kids a bath that night or even flush the toilets.  The water delivery came about 8 PM that night.  That's when we noticed that even with a full tank of water we weren't getting water to the bathrooms on the second and third floor.  The night guard had to bring in the emergency water maintenance team to fix our water pump.  As Justin and I were falling asleep that night we were serenaded by the sound of all the toilets and hot water tanks bubbling and filling with water as when the pump was finally fixed.

It was a day I wanted to forget.  The very next day I went straight to the store and bought a bottle of wine and popped it open at 1:30 PM.  I will never again make the mistake of not having a bottle of wine to open on a terrible day.

Through it all I had to feed my family.  If you are having a terrible day and the last thing you want to do it cook a meal, this dinner is perfect.  It's a snap to prepare and tastes so yummy and comforting.

Mediterranean Stromboli  
Prepare your favorite pizza dough.  Mine is the following.  It's so easy I can't believe I ever bought the pre prepared pizza dough at Trader Joe's.
2 1/4 teaspoons instant dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons white sugar or honey

Mix the dry (flour, instant yeast, sugar, and salt) add the wet (water-thank God for our distiller, olive oil, and honey if you are using it instead of the white sugar).  Stir with a spoon until it's combined and sticky.  Form in a ball in the bowl, cover with a towel and let it rise until doubled in size.  Here at 7,000 feet above sea level this takes a very short amount of time.  At lower elevations it will take longer.

Pull out the risen dough on a floured surface.  I like to use my Silpat so I can just transfer it to the baking sheet.  Knead 8-10 turns with a bit of flour on your hands.  Roll out with a rolling pin to a large rectangle.  I use my Silpat as the dimensions.  Silpats are awesome.

I covered the entire rectangle with stuff I had in the fridge.  Dry salami, sliced fresh mozzarella, fresh parsley, spinach, sliced tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and sliced red pepper.  Next I started at one side of the rectangle and carefully rolled it up as you would a log of cinnamon rolls.  I pinched the edges and laid the Stromboli seam side down on the Silpat and baking sheet.  Rub the entire roll with olive oil and bake at 425 degrees until golden brown 25-30 minutes.

I need to give Real Simple recipes most of the credit for this idea and the baking time.  I got th inspiration from an article about 10 new ways to use pizza dough.  It was from my May 2010 issue.

The girls gobbled this up.  Addie picked out the spinach and parsley but Bella ate it all.  My biggest accomplishment of late is getting the girls to love bell peppers!  WooHoo.  They even eat them raw with hummus.  You can put anything in your Stromboli.  Italian sausage and feta, mushrooms and Gouda, chicken and Fontina, or just veggies.

This Stromboli was warm and gooey.  All the insides were hot and melty while the outside was a nice crisp dough.  An added bonus was that the house smelled like baked pizza dough which has to be one of my favorite scents!  It's what my psyche needed after that terrible day.


meredith said...

Personally, I am starting to think that there needs to be a FS wine delivery service, that is supplied along with our water, no?

I am running home to pull my Silpats out of the "send to San Salvador" pile, and put into my UAB pile -

Muchas Gracias!

Sara said...

wonderful idea about the wine! I didn't bring home my Silpats and missed them.

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Julie B. said...

Your story made me laugh... and cry. Having survived three sub-sahel tours I can certainly relate. Of course the water only runs dry at 5 pm when you have dinner to cook and kids to bathe. Wine is always most definitely a must! You should see us when we do our consumables shipment. The people at Costco must just look at us and wonder.