Monday, September 3, 2012

Home-made crackers

Have you ever asked yourself "Is it worth making my own crackers?" I often have. And this reminded me of Doc from Cannery Row, always wondering what a beer milkshake might taste like, until finally he drives to a roadhouse where no one knows him and orders a beer milkshake, elucidating the mystery once and for all. So I, too, have decided to find out what it's like to make crackers. Is it a lot of work? Can I beat the store-bought varieties? Will I screw them up? are all questions that tormented me, through and through.

So haunted was I that Saturday morning I arose determined to crack my way into cracker-baking, so to say. I had some amaranth flour leftover from my gluten-free experiments that I was eager to utilize quickly, and I found a recipe online for herbal amaranth crackers. So I put on an apron and promptly proceeded to heat up the already tropical-feeling house, while I wiped the sweat off my forehead and furiously mixed dirt-smelling dough to perfection.

The result? Not disappointing. The amaranth crackers are delicious, and the fact that they were all long gone by Sunday evening is clear proof of that. We ate them in so many combinations: with sun-dried tomato hummus, with spinach dip, with beauty-nut pate, in soup, with curry, and by themselves. So versatile, and so addictive! But I'm not going to lie, they were a lot of work. Not only is the dough brittle, but it needs a lot of hand-holding. Each cracker needs to be individually dealt with and mollycoddled. If you're not someone with attention to detail, don't try this. But if you are - well, you'll be rewarded.

On another note, last week I managed a stoical 130-pound deadlift at the gym, after a sweating marathon of sprinting a 3-miler at midday under 100-degree sun. That's right, the skinny girl can! But I've much work to do still.

This weekend, however, was hiking time, and the Three Gun Spring trail was only too happy to receive us with open arms. The beautiful Cibola forest was as charming as ever, this weekend wildfire-free!

Amaranth herbal crackers
~ makes 60-70 crackers

3/4 cup amaranth flour
1/2 cup arrowroot starch or cornstarch
1/4 cup almondmeal
1/2 tsp salt + 1 tsp salt to sprinkle on top of crackers
1/4 tsp ground peppper
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp Cream of Tartar
3 cloves garlic, crushed into a paste
2 Tbsp Herbs de Provence or Italian seasoning

Place dry ingredients in a bowl and mix until blended. Add olive oil, water and garlic paste and stir until dough forms a ball. If mixture is still crumbly, add water, one teaspoon at a time, until dough forms a ball.

Sprinkle rice flour over a smooth work surface and over your rolling pin. Roll the dough as thin as you can get it without breaking. Use a knife to cut even squares. Prick top of each cracker twice with a fork. Using a small spatula, transfer crackers to your ungreased baking trays. Sprinkle some salt over the crackers.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and place crackers on a wooden board to cool.

Recipe adapted from

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