If I think too hard about how my habits, decisions, traditions and routines might ultimately impact my kids, I can get really bogged down in my own head. It is a bit overwhelming. Like attempting to wrap my mind around the size of the universe, trying to really grasp the impact our families of origin have on us stretches my brain to its breaking point. It is the sort of contemplation that is probably generally best left to poets, or astrophysicists.
(Who sometimes have a lot in common, by the way).
Even too much positive thinking about your own influence can be detrimental. If I focus on the amazing possibilities we are giving our boys, I can wind up thinking, we are totally rockin’ this parenthood thing. Inevitably, those are the precise moments when I will hear something crash, or someone scream, or – worst of all – an eery silence will descend and I will know with absolute certainty that somewhere (most likely deep in Kyle’s closet), something poisonous is being thoroughly explored by a toddler and a preschooler, who lately have gotten the hang of working in cahoots.
In the kitchen, though, I do make an effort to focus on the positive. We try not to be a family of nay sayers – rather than “You can’t have Pop Tarts,” we try “Let’s make Parp Tots!” And though I carefully work to reduce or eliminate processed ingredients, sugars, “bad” fats and the like I try not to make a big deal about it. My hope is that my kids will develop their palates on real food, and through conversations and exposure to food supply issues they will ultimately possess an ingrained consciousness about food production and processing. I firmly believe that ultimately, that combination will lead them to good food choices. So I work hard to have them see what real food is, what it tastes like, and how easy it is to prepare. We avoid processed foods, and I especially try to keep ‘snacks’ out of the shopping cart. I remind them, we make special things at home instead. Sounds great right? Everyone’s happy.
But then, sometimes, there are little things. Little things like crackers. Crackers in shapes – bunnies or dragons or penguins or whatever. Those shapes seem to make the crackers taste better, or at least you’d think so based on my kids’ reactions. Lucas literally shrieks if he spots those ubiquitous rainbow fish ones. Fun times at the playground. Not to mention the grocery store, doctor’s office waiting room, in line at the post office – do kids really eat those darn fish at every waking moment?
To make matters worse, moms have little things too. There is a particular cracker that often finds its way to the parent room at our nursery school – versions are sold by both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. It has a slight tang from buttermilk, a hint of rosemary, sweetness from raisins, and a terrific crunch. It is somehow perfect either with a little piece of cheese or dipped in hot tea. Yes, it is rather an amazing little cracker, okay? I indulge whenever I see them around. I might even shriek a little, on the inside.
So you see my conundrum. I was looking for a special shape for the kids … and a special flavor for me. Not just any special flavor, but a pretty specific one.
And then Alana posted her naked cracker recipe. She posited that perhaps crackers would be the break through food, would get people started on the happy trail of home cookery not just for dinner, but for every-day staples too. I hope she is right. But for me, that naked cracker offered up an opportunity. Maybe, just maybe, I could dress that naked cracker in rosemary and raisins, and fancy it up with a cookie cutter or two …
So, much like poetry and astrophysics, it turns out that kid crackers and mom crackers have a lot more in common than you might think.
The poetry of astrophysics:
Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand … You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements – the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life – weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way for them to get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode. So, forget Jesus. The stars died so that you could be here today.
– Lawrence M. Krauss
The kid and mom cracker:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup whole milk yogurt (the runnier kind, not Greek)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup chopped raisins
2-3 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (to taste)
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment and have them ready for laying out crackers.
In a medium bowl, combine the flours, salt, sugar and baking powder. Whisk to combine.
In a liquid measuring cup, mix the buttermilk, yogurt, and canola oil. Add half the liquid mixture to the bowl, and using a fork incorporate it into the flour mixture. Then, slowly add the remaining liquid as you knead the dough with your hand in the bowl. Continue to knead until the dough becomes smooth and elastic, about 2 minutes. (My dough was very dry initially, and I added a little drizzle more of canola oil – just a couple drops really – to help it come together). Once your dough is smooth, knead in the raisins and rosemary.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter. Put half the dough between two sheets of wax paper, and use a rolling pin to roll the dough. Work from the center out, as you would a tart or pie dough, to get the thinnest roll. Because I wasn’t sure how thick I wanted the crackers, we made thin ones (1/8 inch, stars) and thicker ones (1/4 inch, moons). (See photo for comparison). The thinner ones were crispier, the thicker ones chewier, both were excellent.
Cut the crackers into whatever shape and size you like. We used a tiny star cutter and our second-smallest biscuit cutter to make “Moons and Stars” because that was what Jacob picked out. Little animals (perhaps fish!) would be fun, or use a pastry or pizza cutter to make squares. Lay the crackers on the baking sheets, leaving 1/4 inch between crackers. Re-roll and cut any scraps. We ended up using about 2/3 of the dough to fill our cookie sheets. (The other 1/3 kept, wrapped in plastic and refrigerated, and we rolled, cut and baked it the next day)
Bake for 10 minutes–then switch the position of the trays in the oven. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until the crackers are crisp-looking and starting to turn golden at the edges.
This made about 70 crackers in the initial run, and another 30 the next day. We stored them in an airtight container and I meant to have crackers all week.
But they were all gone by Monday morning :)