10/18/2010

Homemade Crackers Using Herbs

Pardon me while I get excited. Actually, humbled is more like it - I always feel honored that you folks follow my garden adventures blog. You're like a community for me; I don't know many people locally who are interested in plants, or even food from plants, so it's always fun for me to see who's following me here. And lots of people read the blog who aren't listed as followers (I can tell from the visit counter, on the lower right of the blog page). Follower, or hidden in the shadows, I'm still pleased you stop by.

This past Friday was our Friday night dinner group's annual applesauce making. We get together, combine our apples and efforts and cook up and process apples into applesauce. Everyone divides up the sauce to take home and freeze. Sorry, but things were so hectic, there are no photos of the sauce-making process. Combined with the applesauce making was a potluck dinner for 14 or 15 people. Seth Buller, our WWOOFer, had arrived from Memphis by bicycle a few days back (yes, that's about 7 days of riding!). And he brought along Randy, who is on his first bike ride across America (starting in Minnesota) and wanted some tips on the process so they rode together from Memphis. (That's Randy, below, chopping wood in exchange for his room and board for 4 days; Randy's not a WWOOFer, nor a gardener, but is on his own journey of discovery across the country). He headed on to Tulsa from here.



Seth, who's from Virginia, has been on the road with his bike since March, with a stopover in Knoxville, where his expensive bike, along with all of his camping and survival equipment was stolen. So instead of arriving here at Long Creek Herb Farm in May or June as he'd hoped, he spent the summer working a job in order to earn about $5,000 to replace the lost in equipment before he could continue his WWOOFing journey. He wanted to learn more about herb uses while he was here, so I asked him to take my Easy Homemade Crackers book and pick a cracker to make for the applesauce party. He chose the Rustic Herb Seed Crackers. Here's the process and the recipe.


Rustic Herbal Cracker
These are an easy to make, simple and homemade-looking cracker that's great with cheese, fruit, snacks or dips.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 cup water

Seed mixture:
2 Tablespoons raw sesame seed
1 Tablespoon poppy seed
1 Tablespoon rosemary leaves (fresh or dry)
1 Tablespoon millet seed
1 Tablespoon dried basil leaves
1 Tablespoon dried dill weed (not seed)
1 Tablespoon dried *Texas tarragon
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves (not ground thyme)
2 teaspoons dried marjoram
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon coarse sea salt.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flours, cornmeal and water and mix well. Set aside for 5 minutes, then scrape the dough onto a well floured surface. Knead the dough several times, adding more flour if necessary.




Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.



Divide the dough into 8 approximately equal pieces, and roll into a ball between your palms, setting aside.



Mix together the seeds, herbs, pepper and salt. On a floured surface, scatter 1 Tablespoon of the herb-seed mixture and spread it slightly. Roll out one of the 8 dough balls until as thin as possible, less than 1/8 inch thick on the herb-seed floured surface.

Transfer the rolled dough onto a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Flip the cracker over and continue baking another 3-4 minutes. (The thinner the dough, the quicker it will bake and the crispier the cracker will be).

Continue rolling out the dough, using a Tablespoon or more of the herb-seed mixture for each ball of dough, along with a dusting of flour so the dough doesn’t stick. You can probably place 2 of the rolled dough pieces on a cookie sheet for baking.

After cooling completely, store in an airtight container or simply wrapped in cloth until ready to serve. Break crackers into random pieces before serving, or let guests break them apart themselves. I put these out at a party recently and guests simply broke off pieces of the cracker as they chose cheese sticks and fresh grapes from the appetizer tray.


*Texas tarragon (Tagetes lucida), also known as Mexican mint marigold, is an easily grown tarragon-flavored herb. You can substitute French tarragon if you wish, but if you grow your own Texas tarragon, use that as the flavor is a bit more robust and tasty.

If you'd like to check on Seth's great bike adventure across America, check his very interesting blog here. He's been a pleasure to get to know and fun to have at the farm all week. I'm sure our paths will cross again and I plan to check his blog often to see who and what he's encountering on his wonderful journey. He's heading north from the Ozarks, to Kansas City, on to Nebraska to visit grandparents, then over to Denver to spend the winter with friends. And yes, all on the back of a bicycle. I admire that stamina and sense of adventure!

5 comments:

Steven Anthony said...

those truly look wonderful, I bet they would go well with my first love, Indian food...what do you think?

lemonverbenalady said...

I love crackers, Jim and your book is just full of great recipes. Love it!

Jim Long said...

Yes, that seed cracker Seth made goes wonderfully with dal and other Indian dishes. It's similar to a cracker I ate when I was in India, just with more spicy seeds and spices, however. If you want to throw out the seeds and herbs I list in the recipe and use a good garham masalla instead, it would be fabulous! I've been hoarding some garaham masalla my Indian friend's mother made for us when we visited in 2000 and even though he says throw it out it's lost its flavor, I keep using it.

Terra said...

I am happy I found your blog and signed up to follow it, since I enjoy growing and using herbs. It was fun to read about the bicyclist, since my husband rides every day, including up and down mountains. I am a garden writer too.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Yes, even from the road I stop by to visit your blog. I love how it makes me feel connected to my dear curmudgeon herbal genius, and how I always learn something.

It is tough to be in Arkansas and not see you. We're way down on 40 and heading west. I miss my gardens and my grands. It is time to be home.

Love to you Jim,

Sharon