Mrs. Robin was my first friend when Dad and I came to town.
He and I had been married about 10 days when we moved here.
There had been a visit to Auburn earlier that year so that I could check out the university. I met professors in the School of Human Sciences and was given a tour of the department.
Guess who my tour guide was.
That’s right. Mrs. Robin was a Ph.D. student at the time I was beginning my master’s degree, and she was the first to show me around the university.
A few months after that visit, Dad and I returned. We were married then.
By the time we paid cash for our little mobile home, covered the first month’s lot rent and turned on all the utilities, we had $400 left to our names.
It rested in cash in a little square basket on top of the fridge.
We counted out our worldly worth, and Dad placed it there when he said, “We will have jobs by the end of the week.”
And we did.
Both of us were hired at a local hamburger place. Since we had college degrees, the manager said he’d pay us more than the others.
We thought our years of study were paying off.
Our rate was 10 cents more per hour than the veteran employees. Some had been there for years. Dad and I never told anyone about all that extra money we were making, but somehow the other workers found out. I doubt they liked us very much. I would have much rather had the smaller paycheck.
Dad soon gave up that job for something he liked better. Working as a handyman at the trailer park where we lived was much more desirable to a farm boy like him. He weed-eated, cleaned sewage ditches, made repairs.
I kept selling hamburgers, and one Saturday in walked Mrs. Robin and Mr. Kim. What fun to see her again and meet her husband!
They invited us to their church that weekend and cooked us lunch afterwards, and the rest is history.
We’ve counted them among our dearest friends ever since.
Both our families ended up with a daughter and then three sons. What an amazing thing to see our children now be friends, too! I have long watched Mrs. Robin parent her girl and three boys and learned so very many things – parenting and otherwise – from her. She has been like a big sister to me.
For one reason or another, she was always feeding us. New baby. Somebody sick. Just getting together. One time she brought us stromboli. I can’t recall the occasion.
What I do know is that food really can be a language of love, and Mrs. Robin has spoken it to us so sweetly.
To make stromboli, you’ll need one bag of frozen bread dough. There are five loaves in a bag at Kroger. I don’t always find it at other grocery stores.
You have to plan ahead so that the bread can thaw.
On this day, I only wanted to make three loaves, so I put the other two in a freezer bag to save for another time. Let the ones you are cooking stay in the sealed bag on the counter for 4-5 hours or until completely thawed. You could also thaw in the fridge if you started the day before you needed it.
Sprinkle flour on the work surface.
Also spread some on the rolling pin.
Place one loaf of dough on the floured surface and press it out a bit with your hands. Sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough.
Roll out dough into a rectangle.
It often wants to pull back, so you may have to stretch gently with your hands.
Once you get it as large as you want it (about 15in x 6 in or so – there is much flexibility), gather your fillings of choice.
Meats, cheeses, vegetables, spices. You can do all kinds of things here.
This one has ham, salami, pepperonis, and provolone cheese.
I always put the cheese down first in case the seam opens during baking. It doesn’t completely eliminate the problem, but it helps cut down on cheese leaking from the stromboli.
Next I added pepperonis,
Then I sprinkled Italian seasoning.
I recommend doing the next step with two hands. I was taking pictures, so I only used one for the photo, but it takes two to get it right.
Fold over the end
and seal on the top
and on the end.
Repeat on the opposite end of the loaf.
Bring the edges together in the middle and seal tightly.
Then work out to the ends
until entire loaf is closed.
Be sure to pinch very tightly so that the bread stays together and your ingredients stay inside. Sometimes if there is a lot of flour, it can be quite difficult to get a tight seam. Wetting your finger tips with water will help with this problem. If the edges pull apart, keep pinching.
Turn the loaf seam-side-down on a baking sheet.
Break one egg into a dish and stir with a fork until well blended.
Brush the egg on top of the stromboli. This will give it a golden shine when it is baked.
Bake in a 400-degree oven until it looks like this. It will take about 15 or 20 minutes.
Let the stromboli set for 5 or 10 minutes to cool before you slice it.
The pizza sauce recipe makes a great sauce for dipping your stromboli slices.
These freeze well wrapped in foil if you want to have some for another day. Just go ahead and cook them, let them cool, and wrap in foil. On the day you want to eat one, thaw and leave wrapped in foil. Bake in a 325-degree oven until hot.
As we learned from Mrs. Robin, these are an excellent way to care for a friend, so you might want to make an extra one.
I love you,
P.S. This photo was taken many moons ago when Mrs. Robin and I attended a conference in Denver during graduate school. Thought you’d get a kick out of it!