Thursday, February 26, 2015

Want a cracker, Polly?

Well hello there faithful readers. As Facebook likes to remind me, "my fans haven't heard from me in some time." Argh, Facebook. Facebook reminders are like the pet who is constantly licking your face while all you're trying to do is eat your breakfast, so that slobber keeps getting into your oatmeal and puts you off your appetite. Go away, Facebook reminders, you're annoying.

Anyhow, the time has come to do two things I probably shouldn't. One, is reveal yet another secret ulterior motive that this blog has (beyond me getting rich and famous and finding fame and fortune through it, I mean); and two, is show you a picture of my fridge.

My fridge is getting scary. Here is a picture of my fridge.

And the scary thing is, I haven't actually even started cleaning for Pesach yet

I may have mentioned, some time ago, that I was going to make an attempt to eat through our pantry. And we did some of that. Our stores of barley, chia seeds, wheat bran and barley are lower than they have ever been before. (We still have so much celery salt. Soooooo muuuuch celery salt.)

So that + the fact that we hosted on Friday and had so many leftovers that we haven't yet finished them + this morbid fascination I have with depression era cooking, has left my fridge looking FRIGHTENINGLY BARE. Like, old mother hubbard bare. Fetch a poor dog a bone and had none kind of bare. I mean that literally - and you know I don't use the word literal lightly. I was actually making vegetable-scrap soup (see last blog post, replace vegetables with scraps, and voila, you have vegetable broth) and I remarked to hubby that a hambone sure would have come in handy, yet oddly enough, our kosher kitchen did not have any hambone in it. (If you know not of the cultural reference that I make, I refer to this song and tradition, and you should definitely read up about it because it's very cool.)

In a previous life I studied typography, can you tell?

Anyway. So I've been reading various blogs about not spending any money, and eating through pantry as mentioned before, and depression-era cooking and foraging, and I find it SO fascinating. It may be something that's only really feasible in America (motto: Land Where People are Obsessed with Food, Possibly because They Have Way Too Much Of It) because I honestly do not have enough food in my pantry stored to make it through the month - I'm already almost out of flour and oil, and it's only been a week. So I don't know how they do it, but I'm fascinated. It's like watching a cockroach that got flipped on its back in a sink - you know you shouldn't watch, but you really can't seem to look away.

So, without going completely crazed pioneer-women-eating-only-greens-that-I-picked-from-our-lawn kind of frugal, I've been attempting, just a little, to cut back on food-shopping, and making creative things that I wouldn't cook otherwise. And wouldn't you know it? Some of them actually taste good.

And that brings me to my blog's ulterior motive - that this here blog is functioning as my comprehensive cookbook. I own tons of cookbooks. In addition to my cookbooks, I have hand-written recipes. In addition to my hand-written recipes, I have recipes bookmarked in the iPad. In addition to my bookmarked recipes, I have recipes in my email. In addition to my emailed begin to understand? Now, I have a remarkable memory, luckily, and can mostly remember where each recipe lives. But I'm going to get old and forget, and I might even die one day, so this blog is a great place to store my recipes. Until Google gets greedy and takes over the world, that is, but we'll probably (hopefully) already be long dead at that point.

To summarize, here is what I made when I had a pretty gosh-darned bare larder, and here I am setting it down in pixels so that I pass on my legacy:

Food! Out of nowhere!
  1. Squash - there was a half-consumed, not-quite-dead, raw squash in the fridge. It got peeled, cooked, and deseeded. The cooked part I put away in the fridge, and will become soup or go to the freezer in a day or two. The seeds got cleaned, separated from the strings (not a SINGLE tip on the internet that I could find to make that go easier), and roasted to go on top of salads or bread or something. Finally, the peel got washed and made into...
  2. Soup - the squash peel, some onion peel, and some fennel ends got fried and steamed, and are well on their way to becoming a broth. I wish I had a hambone...
  3. Bread - made from a fairly simple bread recipe which only needed flour, oil, sugar, salt, yeast. But now I'm out of oil, and running low on flour, so instead of making 100% flour crackers I made...
  4. Crackers with flour, buckwheat, rice, and wheat bran. (None of those specific things were necessary - crackers could also have been made out of rice and red lentils. Or red lentils and chickpeas. Or buckwheat and mung beans etc. etc.) I used my crappy blender to blend to a semi-fine flour (read, not fine at all) and mixed with flour, salt, water, and butter. Topped with seeds and coarse salt. Man, those were some good crackers.
  5. Coleslaw, made out of the very few bits and bobs of vegetables that I still had, and finally, 
  6. Calzone, AKA sambusak, which was basically of pizza dough filled with potato + onion (yeah, depression-era food! Carbs stuffed with more carbs! That's what I'm talkin about!) and  leftover hummus. 
And there you have it. I have officially survived six days without spending money on food. Don't think I can make it to seven, though. We're running low on toilet paper.

Really good cracker recipe

Based off a recipe by Mark Bittman, the man, who has now officially trumped my Alton Brown recipe for crackers.

  • 65 grams all-purpose flour, which is about 1/2 a cup
  • 65ish grams of rice, buckwheat, or other
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 30 grams melted butter or oil
  • 60 ml water or more if needed
  • Toppings: fancy salt, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, poppy seeds, or other
  1. Preheat oven to 205c. Spray oil a baking sheet (MB says lightly dust with flour. That might work too.) 
  2. Measure out appropriate amount of other grain to make into flour (or be lazy and get pre-ground flour in the store.) Grind in crappy blender. Yes, this is essential. No, you cannot use a fancy blender. Must be a crappy one. Make a lot of noise. Scare husband and cat.
  3. Take other crappy appliance - food processor - and process flours, salt, and fats together. Then take water and add a tiny bit at a time until it comes together in a round cohesive dough-ball.
  4. Sprinkle flour all over your counter, dough, rolling pin, cutting board, shirt. Roll out the dough until it's thin - MB says 5 mm. I dunno what that means. Until thin. 
  5. Transfer carefully to baking tray. Top with toppings and use rolling pin to lightly mush them into the dough. Use knife or pizza slicer to slice into cracker shapes. I poked holes in it with fork, too, not sure why MB wanted me to skip this step.
  6. Bake for 10ish minutes. Devour, because pioneering is hungry work.

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