peaches

Take a peach. A Georgia peach. Hold it in your hands, that peach with its fuzzy gold and crimson skin, that peach with its dimpled crevice pointing to a core. Take that peach when it’s good and ripe, soft enough to give when you push, sweet enough to smell from arm’s length. Slice it, bite it, taste its flesh; then tell me you know all there is to know in this life; tell me you, the one with juice dripping down your fingers and across your sleeve, you who took that fruit but couldn’t create it, tell me anything you will ever design, in all your life, that will be more right than this.
basil

Smell basil. Fresh basil. Basil that’s growing in the pot on your front porch, so big and tall and strong it takes your breath away when you see it out your dining room window, leaves bowing in the breeze. Snip off a few handfuls of leaves, the licorice smell coating your fingers as you do. Take them to the cutting board in your kitchen and chop them fine, releasing their oils into the wood grain and sending you miles and years from your countertops, to summers in your grandma’s backyard and al fresco dinners on Chicago’s north side.

moundindough

Make a dough. A quick dough. A dough with no yeast and no proofing and 15 minutes of mixing time, tops. Start by combining flour and chopped basil and baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center, add oil and water, and stir it slowly with a long wooden spoon. Form the dough into a ball; knead it right in the bowl; split the dough into thirds.

three balls of dough

Then, look at them, the three of them, resting in the bowl while you gather dishes to the sink. Ask yourself what miracle world you live in where you can have all the ingredients to build everything from cakes to breads to quick doughs, always available at the store every day, prepared by other hands for you to buy, to keep in your kitchen, for last-minute crazy-fast quick pita breads you can eat when you like.

Roll the dough out, one third at a time, on the brown parchment paper you keep in the bottom drawer of your kitchen, your little galley kitchen with white cabinets and laminate counters and a permanent stain in the sink. Look out the over-the-sink window that you prayed for, back when you and your soon-to-be-husband thought you’d never find a place to rent. See the grass growing longer in the yard he mows every two weeks. You’ve never mowed the lawn because he does it for you, just like he fills the car up with gas and takes out the trash every Wednesday morning before the truck lumbers down the street.

peach and basil quick pitas

Pull the pita breads out of the oven, one by one by one, and set them on the counter to cool. Top them with creamy, sweet ricotta; then leaves of basil; then those peaches you sliced. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Drizzle honey. Cut them like pizzas.

peach breads

Tell your husband he was right to say, Let’s get three bags of peaches, the way he did Saturday morning, when the two of you knew you’d lost the house and talked about what to do next and you’d told him you were numb. “We didn’t get the house, but we can get peaches!” he’d eventually laughed to you on the sofa, where the two of you had spent the early weekend hours, reading and praying and wondering just what to feel.

Eat another slice of peach and basil flatbread. We didn’t get the house, but we can get peaches! Think about the maker of peaches, the ultimate maker of peaches, the one who planned the first garden and who sources all good things. Remember hearing, just this morning, that this Peach Maker, this Life Creator, is strength of my heart, also known as “rock of my heart,” your Bible footnotes say. Rock of my heart. Rock, like unbreaking and steady. Rock, like a thing you can trust.

Peaches ain’t no cure for heartbreak, but man, they show Who is.





Quick and Easy Peach, Basil and Ricotta Flatbreads
Makes three little flatbreads, enough to be quartered for 12 servings
Crust inspired by Smitten Kitchen and toppings from this previous post

The first time I made these flatbread pitas, I was over the moon about how fast they are. Those of you who are looking for quick, quick recipe ideas, here you go. It’s true it involves a dough, but, people, there never was a faster one. If you want a true cracker flatbread crust, you could slightly lower the flour and let the dough bake a few extra minutes; if you want a softer, pita-like crust, follow the recipe as written here.

Ingredients:
for the pita breads
2 cups of einkorn flour (or you could swap in another all-purpose flour)
1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for topping before baking
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil

for pita toppings
10 ounces ricotta
A handful or two of fresh basil, torn into leaves
2 peaches, sliced into thin half circles
Salt and pepper, for dashing all over the top
A few drizzles of honey

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450°F. If you have a baking stone, stick it in the oven as it preheats, on the middle rack. If you don’t, just put in a baking sheet.

In a medium or large bowl, combine einkorn flour, chopped basil, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and add the water and olive oil. Stir the flour into the center with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Once it comes together, knead the dough a few times right in the bowl, creating a nice round of dough.

Split the dough up into three equal pieces. Roll each one out individually on a piece of parchment paper—Mine were around eight inches in diameter when round and various sizes in rectangles or ovals. What’s most important here is that you make them thin. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt.

Bake each round of dough, one at a time, for around 10 minutes, until golden and brown. The first time I made these, I went a little over the time and got a great cracker crust; today, I went under the time and got more of a pita consistency. So how long you leave them in is up to you and what you prefer. As each flatbread bakes, transfer it to a counter or rack to cool.

Top each flatbread with enough ricotta to cover it, then basil leaves, then peaches. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over the top, and drizzle honey as you like. The flatbreads can be sliced easily with a pizza cutter when they’re pita consistency; if yours are more crackery, beware of many crumbs.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 37 Comments

  1. Amy

    Sorry to hear that you didn’t get the house. My Mum always says that everything happens for a reason. She even said it after I lost my job and I got so cranky and couldn’t understand what sort of reason there was behind me being unemployed. Now, I am in a different job, and I’m on a better wage, my office is closer to home, and I am learning so much. Mum was right (don’t worry I’ve told her). I hope that the next house that comes along is truly meant to be your home. Good luck in the search, and just remember the blessings of where you are right now.

  2. Marie @ Little Kitchie

    I love this post, Shanna! So sorry to hear you all didn’t get the house. We went through a similar experience a few months ago, and it became clear how the Lord protected us by us not getting the house. We heard Tim Keller speak in Dallas a few years ago, and he said, “God doesn’t always give us what we want, but He does give us what we would want if we knew everything He knew.” Praying that you two continue to find peace in Him through this heartbreak!

  3. Kathryn

    I’m a big believer that it will all turn out okay in the end. I know that’s not much comfort when you’re going through such a stressful situation but I hope in a few weeks/months, you will be able to look back at this time and realise that everything happens for a reason.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      I went out for coffee with a friend Friday afternoon, and we were talking about the ways we clearly see providential hands when we look *back* but less when we look forward. Your comment reminds me of that true thought. And it’s a comforting one. Thank you, K!

  4. Lindsey | The Next Course

    Great writing here, Shanna! I love the way you so vividly described the peaches and the basil and their smell and look and the experience of eating and cooking with them. I’m so sorry that you all lost the house… I hope you are feeling less numb today. Have a wonderful Monday :-)

  5. Erin

    I’m so sorry you didn’t get the house. I know that can be absolutely heart breaking. I admire you though for already being able to have such a positive outlook in the midst of it. Blessings abound all the time if we look for them (even though that is so hard to do sometimes).

  6. Katie

    I was looking for a recipe to use all of my peaches and basil, and stumbled upon your page. I came for the recipe, but stayed for the writing style– it reminds me so much of a favorite piece that I read in college when I was leaving my early education coursework to take up writing coursework: http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/fms/Colleges/College%20of%20Humanities%20and%20Social%20Sciences/EMS/Readings/139.105/Additional/How%20to%20Become%20a%20Writer%20-%20Lorrie%20Moore.pdf

    I’m making your recipe this week, and I couldn’t be more excited. Thank you!

  7. Katie (A Fork in Hand)

    So sorry to hear about the house, Shanna. It sounds like that one wan’t meant to be, but I’m sure another house that’s absolutely perfect for you two will come along soon. I can’t wait to read all about it.

    Another fantastic recipe, too.

  8. lori

    Thank you for this wonderful story! I too love your writing style.

    May I ask, do you peel the peaches? I don’t mind the skin at all but I am not sure if that’s just me.

    Again, thank you.

  9. Natalyn

    It is remarkably beautiful how God can take a broken individual and, through her, outpour such beautiful wisdom. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post – it makes me want to eat peaches, but it also makes me want to give God a big hug right now. ^_^

    I want to share something with both of you. Hopefully it will uplift and encourage:
    Three years ago, my family was looking for a house. We went through house after house, and let me tell you, I fell in LOVE with so many houses. After many heartbreaks, we had just about given up, when the realtor called my mom. “I found the PERFECT house for you,” was all she said. We were all quite skeptical, especially after pulling in the driveway. The outside looked so awkward, different from any of the other houses. But as we stepped in the house, a spark of hope lit our hearts. After each room we visited, our smiles grew even wider. As we left that day, we left it to the Lord, thinking that maybe we would get better luck next year. Oh man, I’ll never forget the day I came home from school and my mom was practically giggling as she told me “we got it! We got the house!”

    True story. Three years later, here I sit, in the room I fell in love with, in the house I fell in love with, and with God who provides. And I have faith that in His time, He will provide the right home for you too, just like he did for us.

    Many hugs sent your way!

    ~ Natalyn

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Hi Natalyn, Thanks for sharing your story. It’s so encouraging when we tell each other about the things we’ve already walked through and the blessings that have come in the midst of them. So happy for your family and thankful for your words.

  10. Ashley

    Shanna, I’m sorry that the plans for the house didn’t work out but I’m not sorry that I finally had a quiet evening to sit with your words. This post is inspired and captures so much about why I love food. When you taste something so good it makes you stop, close your eyes, and allow every part of your body to enjoy it – that’s when you know that you are loved by a creator who cares enough about us to dot our days with something as sweet as a perfect peach.
    Thanks for writing.

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