Peaches and Memories
The air is still. The house is quiet. I sit in the living room watching the leaves outside slowly float to the ground.
It is a day of heaviness in the heart. Time stands still. And yet, as I watch the brown leaves fall, I am witness to the exact opposite: time, unstoppable, passes.
My grandfather passed away a couple days ago.
He was 88 years old. His life was long, full, and happy. He was ready to go.
But it is still hard to say goodbye.
I sit here, feeling the loss, and I find myself grasping for memories. I want to remember it all...the laughs, the games we used to play, how he used to call me his poupée, his princesse and twirl me around the living room.
As I let my mind wander, I am brought back to my childhood and all the summers I spent in the mountains of Switzerland where he and my grandmother lived. I remember him bringing fruit out, sitting on the porch together, feeling the bright summer sun warm my skin, and biting into the ripest most delicious peach I had ever tasted. I can still feel the tickle of the juice as it ran down my arm. We didn’t have peaches in Africa and I thought they were the best thing on earth.
I remember him asking me and my brother if we wanted to dance, a twinkle in his eye, and then laughing as we jumped up and down excitedly shouting “Oui! Oui, grand-papa! La Danse des Canards!” We would watch intently as he pulled out the old record and placed it on the record player, gently, allowing it to crackle a couple seconds before the music came on and filled the room. Then we would all quickly move to the middle of the living room and the three of us would start dancing around in a semi-crouched position, wiggling our butts, flapping our “wings,” and altogether being as utterly duck-like as was humanly possible. We sang at the top of our lungs, and my brother and I tried not to fall over laughing watching my grandfather do his best to be as silly as he could be. No matter how many times we danced to that song, I felt the same thrill and excitement every time.
Those are the memories I cling to...cheeks aching with laughter, deliciously sweet peaches, and endless bear hugs.
So this morning, searching for some comfort and the memory of childhood summers spent with grand-papa, I found myself in the kitchen baking peaches.
Gluten-Free Peach Muffins
In an attempt to make these muffins healthier, I replaced the oil with unsweetened applesauce. I was thrilled with the result! If you don’t have applesauce, you can use canola oil or melted butter instead.
1 ½ cups gluten-free flour mix of your choice
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 small to medium peaches or 2 large ones (preferably organic as they are not peeled)
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Mix well until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl mix the eggs with the applesauce, and vanilla extract.
Wash and dry the peaches. Cut them into slices and then cut the slices into small chunks.
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour the liquid ingredients into the well. Mix slowly with a whisk until just combined. Add the peaches and gently fold into the batter with a wooden spoon.
Line a muffin pan with paper liners and fill each cup 2/3 full. If you have batter left over, distribute evenly across the cups. Mine all ended up being completely full. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out clean.
When ready, take pan out of the oven and let sit for one to two minutes. Take out muffins from pan and put on cooling rack.
There is a lot of fruit in these, so they are very moist and don’t require any toppings.