beet thins

These crackers were first inspired by a millet cracker recipe in Ruth Yaron’s Super Baby Food (page 509). As I gushed in my book review back in March, I adore the book’s simple, practical language, and brief, to-the-point recipes. Her style makes it easy to experiment, using her recipes as templates from which to swap ingredients and play around a little with flavors. Some of my experiments are abject failures.  This one is, hands, down, my favorite cracker. Ever.

After making a few batches of these beet crackers with millet and pumpkin seeds (falling quickly in love), I swapped in quinoa, which I have since stopped using because the deep earthy grain flavor overshadowed the other subtle flavors.  The beets (which I’ve sourced from several farms, including Broadhead Mountain Farm, Double H Farm, Lettuce Grow Farm, and Bellair Farm) and figs combine with rosemary and sea salt to generate a sweet and savory quality without any added sweeteners. After making these with local pastured butter for many weeks, I responded to requests for a dairy-free cracker and managed to create a vegan version that should still satisfy crunch-craver. No one wants something that called itself a cracker when the crunch factor just doesn’t hold up to expectation.

These are tasty on their own and even better with some Caromont Farm goat cheese. A groggy post-nap Fionn gobbled several after sneaking them from the still-warm cookie sheet on top of the oven. Enjoy, and thanks for the inspiration, Ruth!

Ingredients: locally grown beets, organic golden flax, organic millet, organic pumpkin seeds, organic dried figs, himalayan pink salt, lemon juice, fresh rosemary

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sesame zuccumin crackers

Last week at the market (August 1), a palate-savvy young customer asked if I made anything with sesame. Though I do have a pumpkin sesame cracker recipe, it occurred to me that, with pumpkin season a couple months away, I should come up with something a little more summery to go with sesame. This cracker pairs fresh zucchini, onions, and tomatoes with organic flax, sunflower, millet, and sesame, cumin, and brava sea salt from generous fellow market vendor Jane Gregg of Spanish Food Works. I’ve been looking for a cracker to use my beloved Egyptian Walking Onion, which creates small bulblets at the top of the stalk (not underground, like most onions), and this was the one.  In late spring, the plant is glorious and alien (see photo below)– by now, the bulblets have made the plants so top-heavy that their dry brown stalks lay on their side, seeming to nap on hot August Days. 

The resulting cracker is more subtle than the vegan three seed pesto cracker I have been making the past few weeks, meaning that it could be good to eat with a variety of bean or pepper dips.

Ingredients:
organic zucchini (Whisper Hill Farm), organic millet, organic flax seeds, organic raw sunflower seeds, organic sesame seeds, egyptian walking onions, cherry tomatoes, filtered water, organic extra virgin olive oil, brava blend sea salt (Spanish Food Works), lemon juice, organic cumin

mexicali green bean crackers

With the spinach season waning for my local source (Broadhead Mountain Farm) and most other farms in the area, I set to work finding a replacement for tangy three seed spinach crackers, which seemed popular at market these past two Saturdays. What green vegetable could I transform into something crunchy, savory, and snackable? 

Our garden had the answer. Back in mid-March, when no one in their right mind would plant summer crops without some kind of row cover, my husband and his visiting father dutifully heeded my suggestion to go make themselves useful in the yard.  When he told me he planted peas and bush beans, I rolled my eyes? “Beans? Seriously? It’s way too early.” Scoff I did, and those few little seedlings struggled sadly as if to substantiate my skepticism. But now, three months later, they are going gangbusters. And in perfect garden irony, volunteer cilantro thrived temptingly right next to the tomato plants that we still a month from fruiting to salsa satisfaction. Every year, I bemoan the fact that by the time tomatoes are ripe, the cool-loving cilantro has bolted, set seed, and become bitter enough to ruin any attempt at salsa.  So I enjoy it when I can, making cilantro bean dips and salad dressings throughout the spring. Thus, in the garden, the inspiration for this new cracker was born, and I like how thin and crisp they can get if I keep a watchful eye to prevent burning!

I jokingly called this the Seedy Mexican Cracker around the house (it’s like two bad racial jokes in one!), but thankfully one of my farmers market customers offered an alternative that allowed me to re-name version 2.0. By weight, they are mostly fresh green beans and golden flax seeds, but the cumin and cilantro shine through nicely without overpowering. Next time, I might add some sun-dried tomatoes (we still have some from last year’s garden) for some specks of color.

p.s. Props to Southern Exposure Seed Exchange for selling a Provider Bush Bean that can survive planting in a wet chilly spring. Here’s to good genetics!

Ingredients: homegrown green beans, organic flax seeds, organic sunflower seeds, organic pumpkin seeds, organic seedless raisins, extra virgin olive oil, homegrown onions, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh cilantro, sea salt, organic cumin, organic garlic powder, organic orange extract.

tangy spinach crackers

Last Monday, I helped the PB&J Fund wrap up the semester’s Chef-in-Training program, working alongside Chef Harrison of Brookville Restaurant.  The challenge to the two teams of middle-schoolers was right up my alley: “Here is what is available from farms locally right now. Make a meal.” Spread on their prep tables were:

  • 3-4 pounds of fresh chicken drumsticks and thighs from Timbercreek Organics
  • a quart of fresh strawberries
  • a big bag of fresh Red Russian kale (baby leaves)
  • asparagus
  • a gigantic bunch of fresh tarragon

I was shocked at how quickly the two teams plunged in and rolled up their sleeves, leaving Chef Harrison, the PB&J staff, and myself to mill around for a while, making observational comments (kinda lame ones, in my case) and offering minimal suggestions as a sous chef and dishwasher. I won’t bore you with the menu details, but they definitely deserve some kudos for creativity and speed!

 

As I walked home with a little of the leftover tarragon in my pocket, I wondered what the heck I was going to do with it, excited by a little kitchen challenge of my own. Somehow, I had gotten through life thus far never growing or cooking with tarragon, and I was a little at a loss for what to combine it with. So… (insert “doodily-oop doodily-oop doodily oop” fast forward time warp a la Wayne’s World here), I researched online and played around with a test batch of crackers, adding some curry, anise, and a little sweetness from currants to my standard base of sunflower seeds, flax, and spinach. I really like the result, and might be experimenting more with tarragon!

Each bag contains two servings of 1.5 by 1.5 inch crackers, which are a good source of Vitamin K, Manganese, and Magnesium, with only have 2 grams of sugars (from the raisins) per serving.

Ingredients:
organic golden flax, organic millet, local organic spinach, organic pumpkin seeds, filtered water, organic raisins, organic extra virgin olive oil, raw apple cider vinegar, fresh ginger, sea salt, locally grown tarragon (Planet Earth Diversified), organic curry, organic anise seed