Sunday, January 28, 2007

Crackers

We're having friends over for lunch today, which means I get to splurge just a wee bit on the food budget. I'm serving a frugal muffin and soup main course, but the big to-do is the feta walnut pate I'll serve beforehand. I picked up the feta and fresh parsley, then headed for the cracker aisle. I've been trying to avoid buying snacky things, so it's been awhile since I've perused there. I was shocked at how expensive organic crackers were. There were a few conventional brands that were $3-$4 a box, but the organic crackers were $6 and up. With our frugal cooking lately, even $3 seems like a lot to spend on one item. My neighbor gave us some crackers a while back. She had made them while experimenting with different recipes to accomodate her daughters many allergies. I decided to give it a try myself.

I found a simple recipe on Allrecipes.com. This is a nice recipe website because you can read reviews by other users and see what modifications they made to the recipe. It's a very simple starter, and I decided to make them straight up this first time around. The dough is made from:
  • 1 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
It's a very easy dough to work with. Once the dough is formed you roll it to approximately 1/8" thick. For the first batch, I laid a piece of parchment paper over my rolled out dough, and used a pizza cutter to make straight edges and trim the dough to fit the baking sheet. (The recipe instructions call for an ungreased cookie sheet, but I love my parchment paper!) I also used the pizza cutter to mark the lines for the crackers. You score the dough, but don't cut all the way through. Next use a fork to pierce a few vents into each cracker. Bake the crackers at 350 for 15-20 minutes. (About 18 minutes worked for me.) While my first batch was baking, I collected and rolled out the trimmings from my first batch to make a second batch. For this one I left the edges ragged so as not to waste any of the dough. My second batch turned out crispier. I think I may have gotten them a bit thinner with less dough to work with, so next time I'll probably seperate the dough into two before rolling it out. These are a very basic cracker, perfect for highlighting the intense flavor of the pate. They are also a great springboard for making any variety of crackers. You could try adding dried herbs, parmesan, cracked pepper, paprika, or any number of flavors. This box-worth of crackers probably cost less than $1 to make, and was quite simple. I may never buy crackers again!

8 comments:

Matt said...

I've tried some recipes before and I wasn't impressed, but yours sounds a lot better. I'll give it a shot the next time I'm making crackers.

Thanks for posting it.

Anonymous said...

You should figure out the cost of your labor here and see if it matches the $3 for the box of crackers.

Mia said...

Dear Anonymous Commenter, I understand your concern, but in my life view it's not really applicable. Time is really the only thing I have that is free. Since we're trying to save money, packaging, and miles traveled by our food, things like making our own crackers and bread, growing our own vegetables, etc. always pays off. Additionally, the end result is often higher quality (in this case, I got organic crackers instead of the $3 conventional). I don't see the "cost" of my labor factoring into it at all. What's more, I enjoy cooking and baking. I didn't lose any billable time by making crackers. Think of the cost of sitting in front of the TV for 30 minutes instead and having nothing to show for it! This sounds like a post waiting to happen...

Anonymous said...

Mia,

These sounds fabulous, thanks for taking the time to share. I've never tried crackers before but I'm bookmarking your entry to try soon.

Any chance you'd share your pate recipe? It's making my mouth water!

Jenn (cndrocks)

womynrev said...

wow. how pretty. and I bet they'd take well to a recipe revision including my magic gluten free flour mix!

will you come to my house and be my mother?
kemp

Mia said...

Jenn, You bet! Klo(kanek) made this at our Virtual Veggie retreat in Kansas City this past November. It's become a staple for all of the Virtual Veggies I think!

Feta Walnut Paté

1 cup walnuts, chopped
A handful of fresh parsley
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup water or milk
optional: 1 small garlic clove
1 tsp paprika
cayenne, to taste
Garnish: olive oil, dried or fresh oregano

1. Dump walnuts and parsley into bowl of processor, and pulse in short spurts till blended.
2. Add everything else except garnish, and purée till smooth.
3. Adjust seasonings.
4. Transfer to small serving bowl, cover tightly, and chill. Just before serving, drizzle the top with a little olive oil, and garnish with small sprigs of fresh (or a light sprinkling of dried) oregano.

Note: Good feta makes a big difference, and I like to get naturally pacakged feta so that I can use the brine it's packaged in in place of water or milk!

Mia said...

Kemp, I will be your Mother if you will be my Reverend! Come to Wisconsin!

Anonymous said...

thanks for the recipe!! I've names it Klo & Mia's Virtual Veggie Feta & Walnut Pate.

:) See you on the VB!
Jenn