That’s me as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras. I lived in the far Southwest corner of the country in San Miguelito in the province called Intibuca. It’s a mountainous area with lots of pine trees, and is the home of the Lenca, an indigenous group who live on small farm plots growing corn, coffee, cocoa and sugar cane. Folks are very poor here, and many children suffer from malnutrition. My job was to work with the midwives to improve nutrition and general health information. Through a small grant, we acquired large quantities of seeds and worked together to build seed-beds, compost piles and then small vegetable patches. I also had this crazy-huge wood-burning oven in the back of my house, so the midwives and I would get together every week to bake. I provided the sugar, flour and yeast and they brought eggs and fruits. We made cookies, yeast breads, sweet breads and pizza.
The second year in Honduras I moved to Santa Rosa de Copan to teach fifth grade at a bilingual school. I loved living in Santa Rosa but missed my oven and pizza. My school co-workers soon got wind of the fact that I enjoy cooking and heard stories of my “Pizza for Midwives” project in San Miguelito. Coincidentally, the fourth grade teacher at the bilingual school, Warren Post, an ex-pat, was planning to open a pizza place in Santa Rosa, but the week before opening night, his newly hired Honduran staff, not really understanding the pizza concept, quit. Warren asked me to help open the restaurant, but I knew I couldn’t do it alone, so we enlisted Jeff, who grew up working in his family’s restaurant, and another PC couple with lots of restaurant experience. Together, we created the recipes and cooked to a large opening crowd. We ran the kitchen at Pizza Pizza its’ first week of existence until Warren found Honduran staff able to help. I hear if you travel to Honduras, Pizza Pizza is still putting out some of the best wood-fired pizza in Central America!
Jeff and I dream of having another pizza oven some day, but for the time being, we have found that we can whip up some pretty mean ‘zahs in the oven on pizza stones.
Last night my family joined us for make-your-own pizzas. I put together little bowls of toppings, got the dough ready on the peel, and folks made a personal pizza the way they wanted it. I followed Heidi Swanson’s recommendation to use Peter Reinhart’s dough recipe, but replaced one cup of the flour with whole wheat. This is a great recipe to work with because it all gets put together cold, no need to rise, and it’s a very malleable, easy to toss and stretch dough. The pizzas only take a few minutes in the oven, so I like to be able to get the next guest assembling their pizza while the others bake. In a kitchen, timing is everything. To find the recipe and details of how to prepare the pizzas, follow the above link to 101 Cookbooks.
This evening’s toppings included pineapple, mock duck, BBQ sauce, a saute of caramelized red onions, brussel sprouts and swiss chard with garlic, fresh asparagus, red peppers, jalapenos, goat cheese, mozzarella, pecorino romano, crushed tomato bruschetta, and a micro greens salad to top. Fabulous!