Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Homemade Nut & Seed Crackers and A Brand New Year

Happy 2011, all.  It's that time of year again.  That time when people are attempting to conjure up whatever momentum they lost around mid-March last year and focus it on starting anew.  The ball drops, the booze and the cookies run out, and people tell themselves that they're going to lose those pounds, quit that habit, take up that hobby or make themselves over in this way or that.

While I'm all for self-transformation, I think that it's more lasting and successful when approached as a consistent effort, completely separate from the calendar.  I think that the word "resolution" has become a synonym for the word "failure".  So in order to avoid the epic fail, I want to suggest a new word.  One without the excess baggage of cliche or the burden of defeat.  That word is intention.  Say it with me now.... inteentioonnn...

Webster's defines the word intention as, "a determination to act in a certain way."  Considering the polluted and watered-down nature of resolutions these days, I'd say that a determination to act makes a person way more capable of succeeding than one who's romanticizing another throw-away, New Year's Day resolution.  Maybe that's just me.

All this talk about words and whatnot was instigated by another blogger that I follow who writes at Tea & CookiesShe published a post just a few days ago where she explained her choice to select 5 words on which to focus during the coming year.  She describes what those words mean for her and how they will aid her in 2011.

I like that idea.  It's as if she has some... you know... intention, or something.  So I've come up with my own 5 words, after much deliberation.

5 Words for 2011:

Balance:  This elusive quality is one that I've always struggled to latch onto.  In my case, it applies to everything from my emotions to my intestinal flora.  I'm working hard these days to keep my footing even, so to speak, and I know that as long as I continue to do the work and take care of myself, I will achieve the balance I so desire.  And that's where word #2 comes into play.

Ambition:  I'm the kind of gal who tends to say, "Ah, oh well, it can wait until tomorrow."  I've never been a goal-oriented type of person, and, without surprise, I feel like my accomplishments aren't up to par with my potential.  That trend is definitely shifting, and I'm excited.  I've got goals out the wazoo.  School-related.  Career-related.  Blog-related.  Travel, education, health, community... I feel myself waking up and going after what I want.  It's pretty bad-ass.

Pleasure:  With all of that ambition I've mustered, sometimes I forget to just let things go and enjoy.  I am exceedingly guilty of overdoing the no pain, no gain mentality.  My game face just doesn't come off often enough.  I want to bask in the gloriousness of everything.  I want to be consumed with the pleasure of my meals, my friends, my life.  I want to writhe, people.  I deserve it.

Confidence:  This is difficult for me for some reason.  I worry about judgments, about perceptions, even though I know what kind of a person I am, what my strengths are, and that I pretty much rock all the way around.  This word is the most important one to me on this list, and one that I've been getting to know more and more over the past few years.  I want to get seriously cozy with this word in 2011.

Herbs:  On a slightly different note, I want 2011, and every year thereafter, to be loaded, I'm talking stacked-to-the-brim, with the flavor of fresh herbs.  Ever since I hooked up with Hometown Seeds and started my little indoor herb garden, I've been obsessing.  I've also been pouring over the books by Chef Jerry Traunfeld of the Herbfarm Restaurant here in Washington.  That man does a great, many things, but he does not mess around when it comes to flavoring food with the likes of thyme, lovage, lemon verbena and their legion of herbal cousins.  I'm adopting Jerry as a personal mentor.  Hopefully he's cool with that.

And this is where I segue into the crackers.

You see, I'm already executing my herbal intentions.  I borrowed a wonderful, yet herbless recipe for homemade crackers (courtesy of Green Kitchen Stories - thank you, thank you!) and imbued the fragrance, personality and wisdom of sage.

These crispy, nutty snacks are simple, yet loaded with flavor.  Stacked-to-the-brim with it, even.  They are the ultimate hors d'oeuvres for those living with or without gluten.  I like them better than any store-bought, gluten-free cracker I've tried.  Which is pretty much all of them.

I wanted to make a tasty dip to go along with these crackers that would have a healthy, good-for-you vibe (balance!) but also be packed with yummy goodness (pleasure!).  What I came up with turned out to be so fresh and bright.  It perks you right up with its brilliance.  What more can you ask for in a mid-winter snack?

Nut & Seed Crackers with Lemony Yogurt Dip

For the crackers:
2 C. almonds, soaked in water 8-12 hours, drained and rinsed (soaking increases digestibility)
1/2 C. pumpkin seeds, also soaked, drained and rinsed
3/4 tsp. sea salt
3 T. fresh sage, finely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the almonds and pumpkin seeds in the food processor and grind.  They won't be a fine powder but more of a coarse, sand-like texture.  Dump this into a large mixing bowl.

Stir the salt and sage into the nut mixture until well combined.  Add the egg and stir to incorporate.

Add water, 1 T. at a time and stir until the mixture is just moistened, not wet, and will hold together.  It may help to use your hands for mixing.

Divide the dough in half, placing each half on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Cover the dough with a second piece of parchment, and roll it out into a 1/8" thick rectangle.  It's important to get the dough rolled out as thinly as you can in order to end up with crispy crackers.

Carefully remove the top piece of parchment and cut the dough into squares.  Pop the pan, parchment and future crackers into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Keep an eye out, though, they burn easily.

For the dip:
1 C. plain, full fat, Greek-style yogurt or other thick yogurt
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 T. chives, finely chopped

Mix the ingredients in a small bowl and chill in the refrigerator.

Serve this dip in a bowl alongside your nut and seed crackers, or dollop the dip on top and garnish with more chives for a dainty appetizer.  However you decide to serve it up in 2011, make sure to do it with... you guessed it... plenty of intention

Happy New Year.


  1. I decided to make these today for my children for an after-school snack. After reading through the recipe, I realized I wasn't prepared to just whip these up. On a whim, I substituted blanched almond flour for the soaked almonds and pumpkin seeds. My children really liked them, though I am sure the texture and taste is different than what you intended. Next time I will plan ahead more and try soaking the nuts. Thanks for another great recipe that I feel good about serving to my children!

    1. Yay! I'm glad you were able to work with what you had to make these crackers happen :) And I'm super stoked that you're making my recipes! Thanks again for the feedback!


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