Thursday, January 6, 2011

Crackers and noodles

Yesterday afternoon, while going about the daily chores, I started to get this deep down feeling that I actually WILL recover from this injury ! I felt a glimmer of a basic core strength, and it reminded me that while the progress is very slow, it is happening. As long as I drink about a quart of Nettle Tea  a day and take time to elevate my leg, I can live with a Tylenol in the morning and on going to bed , and the mobility increases. Still working on being stable enough to get in the shower instead of a sponge bath, but I can feel it right around the corner. Yay ! Hopefully  come May 1st I will be able to take my cane, tie ribbons on it and dance around it because I will no longer need it to walk . My own Maypole of celebration there.

 The other day Nick grabbed some very old, very stale Graham crackers from the cabinet for a snack, and ate them but requested that we make our own. Which translates to "Mom, I bet you could do a lot better on your own"- he has come to see that the home made alternative often tastes a lot better. I have made crackers in the past ( easy to do) , but never graham crackers. I came across a recipe from one of the blogs I read ( cannot remember which one- sorry !) , and told him we could definitely make our own

Whole Wheat Graham Crackers
 2 1/2 cups  white whole wheat flour
  1 cup  dark brown sugar -- lightly packed
  1 teaspoon  baking soda
  3/4 teaspoon  sea salt
  1 stick  unsalted butter -- cut into 1-inch cubes  1/3 cup honey
 1/3 cup  whole milk
  2 Tablespoons  whey
  2 tablespoons  pure vanilla extract
  1 1/2 teaspoons  cinnamon

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, whey and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight
When ready to bake:Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat Roll the dough  about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into rectangles or use cookie cutters. Poke with a fork bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Warning- the smell of these warm from the oven can produce a feeding frenzy !

I also decided to experiment with Sourdough Pasta. I have made sourdough pancakes and breads before, and home made pasta, but have never combined the two . Sourdough is a beneficial thing- saves money spent on commercial yeast  AND it is a beneficial food stuff to our digestive tract.There is a lot of information out there that would lead one to belive establishing a sourdough culture to be a tricky thing, but it is very simple. Pioneer people did it all the time with no special things. Here is how to create a good starter

Sourdough Starter

2 cups rye flour
2 cups warm water

Mix, cover with a wet paper towel and let sit 24 hours at room temperature. Remove 1 cup of starter and add 1 cup flour and one cup water . Cover and let sit another 24 hours- should be foamy and sour smelling. At this point your starter is ready to use or refrigerate. If you refrigerate, take out every 5-6 days , remove one cup and feed with one cup flour and one cup water.

The disadvantage with sourdough is that you have to plan ahead. You must devote time to making the starter ( if you do not have one) and you must feed the starter and create a sponge the night before you plan on baking. If you are in the rhythm it becomes second nature, but getting into it is "thoughty". In the case of pasta making, you really do not need a special machine or attachment- all you need is a rolling pin and a knife.If you are making it to cook that day , the only other thing you will need is a pot of boiling water. If you want to dry it, the time honored way is a broomstick handle suspended between two kitchen chairs, or a wooden clothes drying rack.

  1   cup  whole wheat  flour.
 1/8      teaspoon  Celtic sea salt.
 2 teaspoons lard or bacon grease ( I used bacon grease caue that is what I had on hand)
 1/4 cup  sourdough starter.
  Kefir whey or water.
  Olive oil.

In a bowl mix the flour and salt, then finger in the lard. Add the starter and enough kefir whey or water to make a heavy dough. Knead for a few minutes, wrap in baking paper and put aside to work for 8-24 hours.
Just before you are ready to make the pasta, knead the dough then roll out with a baking pin to about 2mm thick. Cut the dough into narrow strips with a sharp knife, or into pieces to make your favourite pasta shapes. You may cook the pasta immediately or put it aside to dry and cook later. A clothes rack makes a useful frame to hang strips of pasta.Cook the pasta in vigorously boiling water for 5 minutes, then strain before returning to the saucepan and tossing with a teaspoon of olive oil. Serve with your favourite toppings.

It has been a few years since I made fresh pasta, and I am a little out of practice, but here are pictures from the process

After mixing, ready to rest for a day
ready to roll- it gets a little darker after it rests

rolled and cut - because I could not stand to roll it , they came out very thick noodles- a cross between a noodle and a German dumpling. Then I made the mistake of not bringing the water to a rapid enough boil before putting the pasta in and they started to fall apart when I stirred the water. I did not want to toss the noodles after devoting so much time to them, so I opted to cover them in Alfredo sauce. I thing my family would eat a motor engine if it was covered in Alfredo sauce - or placed in a meat loaf !

The verdict ? Tasty. They do taste like any whole wheat pasta in the form of texture, but the twang of the sour dough with the smoky taste from bacon grease made them really satisfying and interesting. This is something I will definitely be making more of in the future, and I plan on experimenting with other flours as well.


Marisa (Loser for Life) said...

Your crackers came out amazing, Diane! I'll have to try those!

~ Darla ~ said...

My own maypole of celebration - love that, Di.