“Some people might call ’em spoiled, but I think that these almost ruined ones sometimes make the sweetest jam,” Pearl Smooter says to her daughter, Melanie Carmichael, in the 2002 romantic comedy film “Sweet Home Alabama.” She’s making peach jam, and providing motherly advice to her daughter, all at once.
I’ve always liked that scene.
It’s the moment when Melanie, a character who ran away from her Alabama upbringing to be someone else, reconnects with her mother — and her inner self. From there, Melanie embarks on a journey of rediscovery and finding clarity.
When I was peeling peaches for Peach Crisp, the scene popped into my head.
The peaches were a gift from a friend’s yard of trees, marked and damaged on the outside but lovely on the inside. As I cut away the peel, the orange, firm, juicy insides came into view. Just below the surface was this perfectly developed fruit, just waiting to be loved.
Cutting them into thin slices, I tossed those peaches with flour and sugar. When baking, the peaches release their juices. The flour helps those juices to thicken into a syrupy sauce. Oatmeal, brown sugar, flour and butter mixture (with a touch of salt) are mixed together and crumbled on top, a contrast in texture and flavor to the peaches. Once baked, the mixture becomes a sweet, rich dessert with a buttery topping. Inside, the lovely, mellow peach flavor, was pleasantly sweet and comforting.
The almost ruined ones also sometimes make the sweetest crisp too, I’d say.
The quiet metaphor in the movie line is that sometimes the people with imperfect pasts are among the sweetest, most generous, kind folks. They’re the ones who bring so much good to the world.
It’s those imperfections — the missteps, mistakes and detours — that help us develop into vulnerable, real, thoughtful individuals, who know the value of learning and growing from our experiences.
A trail of challenges leads to a brighter future.
Don’t discount the value of produce or people that don’t appear perfect, they have a lot of value to offer — a flavor and flair that’s worth it.
And so is this dessert. Sweet, juicy peaches bake into a divine layer, topped with a sweet, buttery topping.
Thank you to Abby for the divine peaches. They’re lovely, just like you.
- 6 peaches, peeled and thinly sliced
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp all purpose flour
- ½ cup uncooked oats
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a pie pan, toss together the sliced peaches, sugar and flour. Spread into one even layer.
- In a small bowl, stir together the oats, light brown sugar, all purpose flour, butter and salt. Crumble over the top of the peaches.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown on top. It will be juicy when you pull it from the oven, but this thickens upon standing. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.