garlic flatbreads with fresh herbs

It’s marvelously dark and dreary today. Cold, too. I got up in time to go running before it rained, the clouds so low my head practically brushed against them. Now, my exercise gotten, I can actually enjoy the closed-up, cozy house.

I’ve been drinking lots of coffee, and this morning when I was writing, my younger son brought me a mason jar of steaming hot chocolate. I procrastinated on eating breakfast and ended up missing it altogether — but hot chocolate is practically a meal, right? — and then when I went downstairs around noon to check on the kids’ jobs and school work and pull out leftovers for their lunch, nothing appealed to me. Instead, I mixed up a batch of herby garlic flatbread dough — and I got a hunk of feta out of the freezer to thaw — before disappearing back upstair to my room with an apple.

Soon, though, I’ll go back downstairs and fry up the flatbread. I want to take photos so I can share the recipe with you. And I want to eat some. It’s nearly two o’clock, and I’m beginning to get hungry.

But first, let me fill you in on some ailments that I’ve been meaning to tell you about. Maybe you’ll have some advice.

***

Ailment 1
I have a problem with my eyes.

During the night, or after sleeping, it sometimes feels like the insides of my eyelids are covered with hard bumps that grate against my eyeballs. Sometimes this happens for weeks on end, and then I’ll go for weeks with no pain at all. When it’s really bad — and by “bad” I mean it feels like my eyeballs are being scraped with a cheese grater, or an ice skater is waltzing over my retinas — I have to sit up in bed, unmoving and holding myself at a weird angle (I can’t lay on my back), until the pain subsides.

This all started soon after I had that horrible case of pink eye several years back, so I just assumed that I had some scar tissue on my lids. Over the phone, I asked my eye doctor’s receptionist about the problem, and he said that yes, pink eye can leave scar tissue, but when I asked the doctor himself, he looked at my lids and said, Nope, no scarring, just mild eye dryness. And then he suggested I make moisturizing my eyeballs a part of my nightly regime.

Which I’ve done to little effect: It helps in the moment sometimes, but it doesn’t do a thing to ease the whole problem.

So now I’m thinking I either need a new eye doctor or eye surgery to remove the scar tissue that I don’t have. Or maybe I ought to learn to sleep underwater.

Ailment 2
Earlier this spring, I suffered a horrific case of allergies. For weeks, my sleep was interrupted with nose-blowing. I’d even sneeze while sleeping (except then I’d be awake). Over-the-counter, 24-hour allergy pills did little to help — I tried two kinds — and even Benadryl didn’t do much. Since nothing worked, we started wondering if I was allergic to something in our room. The pillows, perhaps? So I stopped sleeping with them. It helped, for a little, so I bought an allergy-free pillow. But then the sneezing and sniffling came back anyway.

At my husband’s routine appointment with the allergist, he asked about my situation. The doc brushed it off, saying that it’s very unusual that adults develop seasonal allergies — which surprised me. Is that really true?

Anyway, after a couple months, the problem disappeared and now I’m totally fine — no meds and back to sleeping with my feather pillows.

Humph. Maybe we need a new allergist, too?

Ailment 3
Last week I cut off the tip of my finger. I was slicing a hard crust of sourdough bread with the serrated bread knife and, well, then I wasn’t.

Hearing my shouts, my younger daughter came, took one look, and walked off, so then my younger son stepped in, ransacking the house for bandaids and helping me slap them on.

My finger (and thumb, because I’d nicked that, too) bandaged, I sat down in the rocker and, furious and hurting, began crying, which scared my younger daughter who then called my husband who was in the middle of lifting a wall and, upon hearing the tale, got woozy. He offered to come home but I told him no — since the tip of the finger had still been attached (I had contemplated tearing it off the rest of the way but, deciding that the wound would be less painful with a lid on it, I just put it back down and bandaged it on), I figured there was nothing to do. Either it would reattach, or it’d fall off and I’d have a permanently short finger.

(And then my older son got on the phone. “Hey Mom. I understand that being a new amputee can be hard. Would you like me to arrange a therapy session for you?”)

That evening, when I rebandaged the finger with supplies my husband had bought at the pharmacy, I discovered that I’d taken off a part of my nail, too, and that actually, it ‘twas but a mere flesh wound, all things considered. Two days later, I started running again and it didn’t even throb.

And now it looks like the top of the finger may actually be reattaching, whoo-hoo!

***

Now, my ailments covered, how about some flatbread?

Ever since failing at Nadiya’s flatbread (why the hype over yeast-free flatbread when a little bit of yeast makes such a difference?), I’ve had a craving for the stuff. Yesterday I researched a bunch of recipes before landing on one that called for mixing fresh minced garlic and herbs into the dough. It was spectacular. Pliant and tender, billowy and flavorful, it’s the perfect addition to any curry dish or Middle Eastern meal.

This afternoon, I ate it warm, wrapped around kalamata olives and chunks of creamy feta. It was truly sublime — the perfect afternoon snack — and so incredibly easy to make.

This recipe, I think, is one you’ll want to memorize. Get to it!

P.S. My younger son just came down and reheated the last piece, brushing it with butter and then sprinkling it with feta and drizzling it with lots of honey:

Um … wow.

Garlic Flatbreads with Fresh Herbs
Adapted from The Minimalist Baker.

If you don’t have fresh rosemary, you can use fresh thyme or oregano or dill. Or use all dried herbs — they’ll rehydrate when you add the warm water. Basically, try to aim for a tablespoon of fresh herbs, and a pinch or two of some dried, if you want. But whatever you do, you must use fresh garlic. It’s what makes this bread.

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup spelt flour, or whole wheat
2 teaspoons yeast
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
2 cloves garlic minced very fine
1 tablespoon of minced fresh rosemary (or thyme or oregano)
a pinch of dried thyme (or rosemary or oregano)
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for frying
¾ cup warm water

Measure all the dry ingredients and herbs into a bowl and stir to combine. Add the oil and most of the warm water and stir to combine, adding more water, as needed (I’ve never used the full amount). Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead for several minutes. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with plastic, and let rise for an hour.

Divide the dough into eight pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into thin, flat blobs (circles, ovals, squares, rectangles, triangles, whatever).

Drizzle some olive oil in a hot skillet. Fry one of the flatbreads until it’s bubbling on top and kissed with brown on the bottom. Lift the flatbread, drizzle in a little more oil, and flip, cooking the other side of the bread until golden brown. Wrap the flatbread in a towel to stay warm. Repeat with the remaining flatbreads.

Serve the flatbreads warm, with curry, butter and honey, cheese, olives, hummus, fresh tomatoes, etc.

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (5.21.18), sauteed lambsquarters with lemon, after one year: Costco reflections, finding my answers, the trouble with Mother’s Day, the quotidian (5.21.12), rhubarb streusel muffins.

14 Comments

  • Lissa

    1. Eyeballs: get a new ophthalmologist now. This isn't normal. Doesn't even sound like typical dry eye syndrome which I have. Until you can get an appointment get some gooey optical ointment to protect the inside of the lids. I never mess around with eye issues. If a physician isn't sounding logical or intuitively making sense, get a 2nd opinion.

    2. Adults do develop seasonal allergies. Talk to your pharmacist about the top 5 things s/he would suggest

    3, The nearly severed finger. Why didn't you go to the ED. It would have had an excellent chance of reattaching. Being an intercity clinic, we saw all sorts of severed digits. Call you doctor about next step after he/she sees it. Up to date on Tdap? These things can get infected easily.

    Flatbreads looking might fine

  • Kris

    What length of fingertip are we talking here? Were you at serious risk of having a noticeably shorter finger, or were you exaggerating for dramatic effect? Have you ever used finger cots? They're single finger gloves. (Basically a finger-sized condom.) My hands are so constantly wet in the kitchen that I can't keep a bandage on very long. The finger cot keeps it all dry and one bandage lasts all day underneath. Find them in a pharmacy near the bandages.

    • Jennifer Jo

      It really is but a mere flesh wound, I believe. Think of when you cut the heel of a loaf of bread — all that crust but not much of the inside part. That's how this is. That I got part of the nail makes it a little worse, but it's still not deep. And I DO think it's reattaching. It was kind of black, but now there's a healthy pink color. We'll see! (And John did buy me finger condoms, but I haven't used them yet — they're so tight and, up until now, they'd put too much pressure on the wound. )

  • Cheryl

    I agree with Lissa…don't mess around with your eyes.

    You may not want to go to the doctor (I didn't when my sciatica went haywire last month) but I did and am feeling better.

    Glad that your finger is better, and it sounds as if your son or maybe even both sons…will make great doctors one day. Always a good thing to have a doctor in the family.

    The flatbreads look awesome.

    Feel better. I find during this whole pandemic I am constantly worrying about this thing or that, usually related to my health. It doesn't help that I have a crazy imagination.

  • Mary

    I never had allergies until about 4 years ago — when I was in my late 50s, so yes adults can develop allergies. Whenever I use 24 hour medication it never helps. I think it wears off long before I can take another dose. I have to take a 12 hour medication so that I can take another dose just as it is starting to wear off. I take Claritin 12 hour.

    I agree with Lissa about the eye problem.

  • Mowsy

    I have moderate dry eye. I take a flaxseed capsule once a day. I use lubricant ointment at night and moisture drops during the day. Still bad. Stay away from allergy drops and drops that take away redness, like visine. You can buy a microwavable eye compress on Amazon. Heat it up, put it on and relax for ten minutes, then do it again. It feels so good. It really helps.

    I'm going to try that flatbread recipe tomorrow. Yum!

  • Trish

    Try the flatbreads sprinkled with some za'atar and good olive oil and then add feta or olives as you wish. Also really good with grilled halloumi and some finely chopped chilis.

  • Margo

    That flatbread looks amazing! I like to grill flatbread in the summer.

    Adults can absolutely develop allergies! And they usually have good instincts about what's causing it, too. My husband has pretty bad allergies and I've learned lots from him. We have a threshold, so our bodies can handle allergens until a certain point when the number exceeds the threshold – whichever allergen it is – and then we have an attack. This even happens to me like maybe once a year. One time it was so bad I thought I had pink eye and my doc even gave me drops for pink eye!!! It didn't subside until I used my husband's allergy drops. Sheesh. Also, my husband switches up his allergy drugs every few years – seems like you really have to try a few to get one that works. He's had tremendous success with Flonase the past few years.

  • Karin

    About the eyes; I was sure I had something in my eye or a scratch on the lens. It was so irritated and it was just one eye. My eye doctor said it was dry eyes due to getting older. I didn't believe her but I tried the drops anyway. She prescribed 2 kinds of over the counter eye drops to use 2 or three times a day (alternating systane ultra and systane balanced). After a couple or maybe 3 weeks it got better. Are you using good quality eye drops? Have you used them at least twice a day for a few weeks?

  • Steve

    Have you found a way to prevent flat breads from cracking when folded? When I top my homemade flat bread with taco fillings and then fold it in half to eat it, it always splits on the fold and falls apart. 🙁

    • Jennifer Jo

      A couple thoughts:

      1. Don't roll them out too thin — else portions of the flatbread may toast up like crackers.
      2. Make sure you're stacking them in a cloth-lined basket and covering the pile with a cloth after each addition. The trapped steam helps to keep them soft.
      3. Eat them fresh.
      4. When reheating, spritz both sides with water to soften them and then reheat gently (or microwave them) and thoroughly.

      I've found this recipe (and my flour tortilla recipe) to be exceptionally pliable. Both recipes have a touch of oil in them — maybe that's key?

      Good luck!

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