MY BODY WAKES UP BEFORE MY ALARM CLOCK THIS MORNING, so it’s at 6:42 that I’m turning off the timer before it sounds and stumbling to the bathroom a few feet away. I open the window shutters and brush my teeth, and when Tim doesn’t follow, I step back towards the bed and find myself crawling in.
“What time is it?” he asks me through half-opened eyes. “Are we getting up to walk?”
I pull the covers to my chin in our bedroom with the shades still shut and say, “Maybe we should walk tonight instead,” and Tim comes closer and rubs my side, and I think of my grandma and the way she’d scratch my back until I fell asleep at night and about the love it takes to do that for someone who is not yourself.
Yesterday, my friend Michele was in town. She took us out for brunch to Marché, my birthday breakfast choice from just a a few days before, saying, “I hope you’re not bored with this place,” to which I shook my head and said, “Listen, I could eat here every day!” Atop our white marble table we shared toast with homemade ricotta and sliced plums, and I ate a lamb gyro with the most tender meat and most buttery pita and a mess of bright tzatziki all over everything. Afterwards, I hugged my friend who is all life and travel and laughing, the same friend I feared for the year I met Tim, and I thought how sweet it is to have prayers answered and friends alive and thriving to eat brunch with, on mornings when they pass through Tennessee.
The night before Michele came, Tim’s brother was over for our usual Wednesday dinner, and he brought me birthday presents wrapped in brown paper and string, and we ate a typical Mallon hodge-podge dinner for three: homemade French fries and roasted peppers stuffed with cream cheese and pie pastry baked with tomatoes and basil into a tart.
It hit me this week that these are the things in my hands right now, in my 31st year, in August 2013. When I applied for college, back in 1999 (!), I had to predict where I’d be in five years, ten years, fifteen, and nothing I wrote in those essays figured a life that looks like this. I look around me some days and think, Why should I have a kind husband who loves me and hugs me and laughs with me early in the morning? Why should we be given breakfasts and lunches and a fridge full of food to eat? Man, we’re blessed to have friends who come take us to brunch. Man, we’re blessed to have mornings to linger in sleep longer, to decide to walk later, to be free.
And it also hits me that, from where I write this post right now, still in bed on Friday morning, my hands don’t look like yours. Maybe you have kids. Maybe you have a house. Maybe you wish for quiet mornings or maybe you wish for loud ones. Maybe you wish for hands to rub you to sleep at night; maybe you wish for fewer hands to surround you at all. Maybe you look at my hands and want to say, because they look different from your hands, “Why haven’t you guys done this yet or that?”
But whatever your life looks like, whomever it’s with, whatever work or school or family needs take up most of your days, your empty hands are being filled with it all, like my hands are being filled with it all, and, the truth is, a lot of what fills them is outside our control. It’s human to look at my hands and compare them to your hands. It’s natural to want to tell other people to fill their hands the same ways we’ve filled ours. But I didn’t meet Tim when I was 20 like I would have wanted to when I was 17. I didn’t get to have a baby at 23 and a full brood of little ones by age 30. I haven’t written a cookbook. I wouldn’t say I’ve achieved some great earthly success. Instead, I’ve been given grad school and travel and new friends and the most loving husband I have ever met, and along with them, I’ve been given a broken heart and rejection letters and a little blog that brings me a lot of joy. We all wish and desire and long for things, even as we hold good gifts of breakfasts and jobs and not getting everything we thought we would want. But it’s hitting me this week, this full week, that my hands are always holding something, like your hands are always holding something, and I’m so thankful for my somethings and for your somethings, and that they’re different. And that really our hands are always full.
Einkorn Pizza Pastry
Serves two to three
Calling this a pizza pastry is a little misleading, because mostly it looks like a pizza, but really it tastes like a fancy tart you’d order at a fancy coffee shop, the kind with marble tables and big windows, the kind sort of like Marché.
1 cup of einkorn flour, plus more for sprinkling counters
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1/4 cup water
2 to 3 tablespoons of yogurt
1/2 to 1 large heirloom tomato, stem end sliced off, thinly sliced into large rounds
A handful of fresh basil
Generous sprinkles of salt and pepper
Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling at the end
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or forks. Once it looks like sandy crumbles, add water and stir together until you need to use your clean hands to form it into a solid ball.
On a floured piece of parchment and using a floured rolling pin, roll out dough into a large, rustic shape. The size can vary here; I went with something like eight or nine inches in circumference, in a basic roundish shape. I also created slightly folded, pressed edges all around the exterior of the shape; this is optional.
Place parchment on baking sheet (trim around edges if you like to make parchment easily fit on sheet), and place in oven for 25 minutes, until just cooked. Remove to counter and let cool until you’re ready to bake the tart.
When ready to bake the tart, spoon yogurt onto center until you have a nice, smooth layer. Next, place tomato slices all over the yogurt, and add basil throughout. Generously salt and pepper the top. Slide into the oven and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and the crust is beautifully golden.
Drizzle a little of your favorite balsamic vinegar on at the end, and slice and serve!