Last week memories of my early days of parenting came flooding in as I crept out of bed and tip-toed into my grandson’s bedroom to watch his chest rise and fall while he slept. I needed to be sure he was breathing.
Getting up in the middle of the night was not what I had envisioned for our 2nd annual “Tree House Camp” which the two of us had begun planning months before. We had schemed up all kinds of things to do while we nestled into the trees whiling away our warm afternoons.
His asthma had other plans. The wish for a pollen filled garden to support my newly installed bees suddenly became my worst nightmare as Patrick began to wheeze.
During the first couple of days we kept his inhaler on the ready but in the wee hours of the night through sleepy-eyes we’d often need to connect the pieces of his nebulizer in the hopes of relief.
When silliness prevailed, as it did coming home from the grocery store one night, his belly laugh caused his asthma to flare up. He couldn’t catch his breath and my heart sank for him. “What would it be like if I couldn’t laugh with reckless abandon?” I wondered. This was certainly giving me a new perspective on little things we take for granted.
Phone calls and texts flew back and forth with his parents as I gained expertise from them about what it means to be asthmatic. I pondered whether to cancel the rest of our week together but Patrick wasn’t willing to call it quits. “Grandma,” he said nearly aghast, “Tree House Camp goes to Friday!”
If we were going to see the week through we had to get flexible with our plans. No problem. As a bread baker I’m always reconsidering my ingredients. Geez, I even wrote about it in Revamping Recipes, Revamping Life! Why couldn’t we reconsider our camp week ingredients???
We took “sleeping in the tree house” off the list of possibilities and headed, instead, to the hardware store to buy a small air conditioner for his bedroom which would be help him breathe easier.
When we discovered my old set of watercolors we started experimenting!
With a little imagination we found there was no shortage of things to do. Our creativity even spilled into the kitchen one afternoon when we started making dinner plans.
Stromboli seemed the perfect choice. Like us, it could be flexible. In theory, it’s the same as Scavenger’s Bread because you can just rummage through the fridge and use what you’ve got.
Patrick, being no stranger in the kitchen, pitched right in. In the past he’s helped with Biscuits and Biscotti but this time he took the lead in kneading dough and even created a short instructional video to show other kids how easy it is to do!
For our stromboli, we used the basic No-Fail-Anybody-Can-Do-It-Focaccia cutting back the water to about 1 1/2 cups so it wasn’t a sticky dough. All other ingredients stayed the same. Remember that flexibility is the key this week so if you have a favorite bread dough go ahead and use that!
Here’s a list of the ingredients we used in our stromboli but feel free to snoop through your fridge and freezer to see what you’ve got. A little bit of sausage would’ve been a great addition if we had it and I wish I’d thought to go pick a little rosemary and oregano from the garden to sprinkle in!
cold cuts (ham, salami, and/or pepperoni), about 1/4 pound each
Darrell’s roasted-pickled-red-peppers (not yet available in stores!) You could also saute some peppers, onions, and garlic for the filling if you don’t have pickled peppers
tomato sauce for dipping
Divide dough into 4 equal pieces and roll or stretch into a rectangle. Be sure your dough is very thin! (somewhere not quite see-through, but thin!)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush the tops of each stromboli with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes. If desired you can then sprinkle them at this point with a little parmesan cheese. Continue baking about another 5 – 10 minutes until golden brown.
Let cool at least 15 minutes before cutting; more if you can stand it. Serve in slices or wedges (like a submarine sandwich) with tomato sauce for dipping if you have it.
Enjoy! Hope to see you around the bread bowl one day soon!
PS: Here’s a few other great posts about Patrick (my little Buddha) and the things he’s taught me through the years!
The Game of Life (my all time favorite story about how he helped see me through my mother’s struggle with dementia)