Saturday, 30 January 2016

A Better Bake

There are two baking memories that stick with me from my childhood: beating Stork margarine with white sugar in the big red bowl as the first step to making a Victoria sandwich and using a Betty Crocker box mix to make awesome chocolate brownies after doing The Big Shop on a Friday evening (before Friends came on TV).
I also remember my mum being a good baker, although I don't think we baked that much.  We had an old Good Housekeeping recipe book and, in time, Delia's Complete Cookery Course.  I kept a folder of snippits from magazines (still do), although I rarely referred to them (still don't).

Whatever the bake, it always involved granulated (white) sugar, cooking margarine, white wheat flour and eggs.  That's all there really was, as far as I knew anyway.
So when I started really reading cookery books and food magazines, and being more aware of how ingredients go from origin to packet, it blew my mind that these basics could be replaced!  These people are magicians, I thought.  Usually due to health reasons or dietary choice, ways around the old sugar-marg-flour-eggs combo were just run-of-the-mill to some.  Flour blends?  Flax 'eggs'?!  "I'm not going to get into any of that weird stuff," I told myself.  But then I tried it.  And sometimes it worked.  So why not make something without eggs if it means that everyone can enjoy it?  Cut down or eliminate the gluten so that people won't feel left out?  Replace high-GI, nutrition-free white sugar with more natural, beneficial sweeteners so that treats can be guilt-free whilst still tasting great?

And this is how my real passion came about.  Sure, I like to use 'clean' ingredients that haven't had the goodness stripped out of them through processing, but I also love exploring the chemistry of ingredients that I would never have thought of putting together.

I'll be making a list of some of the more unusual ingredients (I'm relatively new to all of this, after all, so I'm very much still learning the characteristics of lots of them) but, for the time being, here's a clean little something to whip up without too much consequential mind-blowing .

Pear & Buckwheat Cake (GF, vegan options)

(adapted from Love.Bake.Nourish by Amber Rose)

what you'll need
3 pears, peeled, cored and quartered
2 TBSP maple syrup, agave nectar or date syrup*
20g butter or coconut oil
1 tsp ground ginger
a star anise (optional)
150g unsalted butter, softened
75g buckwheat flour
75g ground almonds or sun flour** (or a mix of the two)
2 large eggs
half tsp baking powder
half tsp cinnamon
100ml maple syrup
An oven, preheated to 170C and a lined cake tin, about 21cm across.
what you'll do
  • prepare the pears: melt the butter/oil, spices and sweetener together in a frying pan over a medium heat.  When the mixture starts to sizzle, add the pears with their thin ends meeting in the centre of the pan.  Turn every couple of minutes until they are tender (a sharp knife slides in easily) and evenly coloured (about 12 minutes).
  • cream the butter in a large mixing bowl until pale and fluffy (this can take up to 5 minutes with an electric mixer).
  • add 2-3 tablespoons of the buckwheat flour and then beat in the eggs, one by one.  Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy (adding a touch more flour if it curdles - you won't have much flour left)
  • fold in the remaining flour, along with the rest of the ingredients
  • pour the mixture into the tin and level it with a spatula.  Place the pears on top, again with their thin ends meeting in the centre and drizzle any pan juices over the top (once, I had about a mugful but it all got soaked up so go ahead and pour it all in).
  • bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer or toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in the tin for a few minutes and then on a rack to cool completely.
  • enjoy with a nice cup of tea, on its own or with some cream or yoghurt
*I've also made this with date or raisin 'mush' (puree), which give different flavours and levels of sweetness, and also a little, umm, texture, like in the this photo.
**because ground almonds are so expensive, one day I decided to take a punt on grinding some (much cheaper) sunflower seeds in our coffee grinder.  I figured that they'd be a decent replacement, being of a similar fat/carb/protein content and, guess what - they've worked in everything I've tried so far.  You can taste them a little in a plain cake like this one, but their nutty, wholesome favour really suits it.

So there you are: no white sugar, no margarine and no white wheat flour (we still have eggs, but their rep has been salvaged so I've nothing against them).  And so begins our trip into the wonky world of Better Baking.  See you next time!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Clean books everywhere!

Today was the second time since New Year that I've been surprised to stumble across a big selection of "healthy" cookbooks in a high street shop.  I mean, there was a whole table of them, right beside the main door.  A few of them I'd never heard of and others I have sitting in a pile on my kitchen table (much to the annoyance of The Husband).  They're from the library though.  Have I mentioned that I'm Scottish and, therefore, hate spending money?
Each book has its own story and its own favoured ingredients.  Some of the writers are, like me, into mushing up soaked dates and using the resulting sweet,
caramelly pur√©e in all manner of ways, from simply stirring into yoghurt to replacing sugar in cakes and breads.
Each has their own top fat (coconut, olive, rapeseed, avocado...), flour (almond, buckwheat, sorghum, millet, spelt...) and inventive way of using vegetables (spiralising, processing to crumbs and sticking back together, shaving, making into smoothies).  Some use eggs freely; others come up with cunning ways in which to replace them (chia, flax, psyllium...).  Whatever the point of view there are fundamental similarities: they avoid processed ingredients and try to keep things whole and natural.  So, in my own (imaginary) book, that's great.
The problem with referring to five books at a time, as I am currently doing, it that you can't get in to the story of any of them very well.  Some of the writers (Ella Woodward, Susan Jane White) have found their larder staples after illness caused by poor lifestyle and poorer eating habits, while others (Jamie Oliver, Lorraine Pascale) have taken nutrition courses and are advised by teams of professionals, some might say (cynically) in order to jump on the bandwagon.  But beyond these summaries, I know little of the people behind these books and, even worse, I can't match together something I've made with the book it came from.  I have no sense of whether a books suits me and so I don't really feel that I recommend any or choose a favourite.
And then sometimes - just sometimes - every recipe I try by one author works out great.  Mostly, though, the results are hit and miss.  So far, I am enjoying the savoury recipes from Susan Jane White (I like her chat, love her photos and am looking forward to getting my hands on her "The Virtuous Tart" book) and Anna Jones and the sweet ones from Amber Rose.  Next month, though, I may be feeling very different.
So I'm off for a pot of tea and a flick-bookmark-flick-bookmark-shut of the book that takes my fancy today.  I'll let you know how I get on...

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Faux-sages: Chestnut, Quinoa & Black-Eyed Bean Sausages (GF, vegan)

A friend mentioned that she was happy to have something new to do with ready-packed chestnuts when she read my 'Chesto' recipe which, incidentally, was sent to her by email after she signed up via the little box on the right sidebar just over there ---> (spot that double self-promo?)
Well, one thing you'll soon learn about me is that I like any sort of binge.  I'll go crazy on one thing for a few weeks, usually until I'm fed up of it, but sometimes good things come along the way.
So the other afternoon, as thoughts of dinner crept into my mind, I decided to give chestnuts another new spin, spurred on by - of all things - The Big Small.  I asked him what he'd like for dinner and I wasn't surprised by his answer: "peasandpotatoes".  Apart from "meat", his answer is pretty much always "peasandpotatoes".  Now, what goes better with peas and potatoes than sausages, right?  But, for reasons that I won't go in to just now, I've been cutting down my red meat (beef, pork, lamb) intake over the last year or so and, by extension, that of my family.  I'm also trying to avoid processed meat completely, as it's the latest food to be considered a creation of Satan (for actual information and not just a bias-filled soundbite, take a look here).  So I decided to do something I've never done before.  Something that I've previously thought to be a sign of lunacy: make my own sausages.  With chestnuts.  And all sorts of other things in there.
I started off by looking at this recipe for gluten-free, vegan sausages over at One Green Planet.  Every other veggie sausage recipe I found involved copious amounts of leeks (no bad thing) and cheese (a bit of a bad thing).
My version of this recipe veers off quite severely, mainly due to my lack of pre-planning, but also because I actually found them too flavourful!    So instead of mushrooms, enter the trusty chestnuts.  And because I'm not veggie or vegan, I've substituted some other ingredients.  Use the original, use mine, use neither, please yourself.  And I'm not going to lie to you: these are a bit of a palaver (especially if you cook the beans and quinoa from dried) but they really are delicious and pack a good nutritional punch.  Just don't say anything about the photos - I was under pressure from The Smalls to get food on the table and had no time to, well, avoid them looking like turds!

Quinoa, Bean and Chestnut 'Faux-sages' (GF, vegan options)

makes about 12 sausage-shaped guys
What you'll need
Spice mix
  • 3 tsp crushed fennel seeds
  • 3 tsp powdered garlic (if you don't have any, just up the fresh garlic, below)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp sweet paprika
  • 3 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice 
Sausage mix
  • 2 TBSP rapeseed oil
  • 200g cooked chestnuts (by chance, the typical size of a vacuum-packed bag)
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cups (about 320g) cooked black-eyed beans (aka black-eyed peas)
  • about 120g cooked quinoa
  • 1 TBSP tomato puree
  • 3 or 4 large sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • about 50g parmesan, finely grated*
  • 1 egg, beaten*
  • 2 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce*
*For a vegan mix, replace the cheese with nutritional yeast, the egg with 2 tsp xanthan gum and the Sauce with a vegan version. 
A potato masher, cling film and a food steamer (I used a metal basket over my boiling potatoes).
What you'll do
  • Make the spice mix.
  • Fry the onion, garlic, celery and chestnuts in the oil gently until softened (about 15 minutes) and then leave to cool.
  • Meanwhile, mash the beans roughly in a large bowl.  I used a potato masher to keep a coarse texture.
  • Add all the other ingredients and the cooled chestnut mixture (if still a little warm, that's ok) and mix well.  The mixture should be moist and stick together easily.  If it's too dry, just add a little water.
  • Form into sausage shapes in the cling film.  After a couple of tries, it got pretty quick and easy to spoon the mixture onto the film, wrap it over, pinch the ends and push into the right shape.  Twist the ends closed to seal the mixture in.
  • Steam for about 15 minutes.** 
  • Reheat as you please (frying pan, grill, BBQ...)
  • Serve with peasandpotaoes!

** The original recipe said to cool and keep in the fridge for a few hours (or overnight) to firm up before reheating.  However, we ate ours straight away and they held together pretty well.  I fried some and left others steamed (see pic) and the fried ones held together much better.  We also had some the next day and I didn't see a lot of difference so I reckon you could skip the chilling step.
I hope you enjoy these bangers.  I gave myself two as a portion and ended up eating four!  Moreish, healthy, protein-rich and visually reminiscent of a meaty sausage.  And the gravy?  Instant!!


Sunday, 17 January 2016

Sweet, spicy, cheesy, now: Quick Chestnut Pesto

Tis the season of slow-cooked, one-pot meals and soups in this house at the moment.  I began making a dark veggie and lentil stew this afternoon, with the "help" of my 22-month-old.  (Quick digression: before I had kids, I would scoff at the mention of a child's age in, days, weeks and months.  Why couldn't they just say their kid was one?  Or even one-and-a-half?  Now I know that, from the first birthday, these little crazies can basically do something new every day, so calling my 22-month-old just one-and-a-half would be doing him out of those 120-odd extra skills.)  Like standing up at the kitchen counter and moving ingredients from one container to another; an activity which buys me relatively peaceful time at this hardest part of the day with wilting, moany, hungry and restless Smalls flopping about the place, hurling hard toys at each other and practising fairly sophisticated wrestling moves.
So as my 22-month-old moved cooked chestnuts from one little dish to another, we tasted one, and realised that it was far too good to boil up in a stew for half an hour.  The sweet, creamy, rich flesh was so delicious that my first thought was to puree them into a sweet butter, but then it struck me: chestnut pesto.  "Chesto", surely.  What a result!
And so, while this recipe - and I almost don't want to call it that, as it's so simple - came about during a slow-cooked meal, it can be whipped up in a few minutes and melted through pasta or slathered on oatcakes for a super-quick meal or snack.  I'm going to make vacuum-packed chestnuts a new cupboard staple, for that day when it's suddenly twenty minutes before dinner time and I've nothing planned. 
A quick search online reveals that I am not, of course, the first to give chesto a go.  There are various recipes but this is mine and, as a first attempt, it'll no doubt evolve over time.  As usual, I added what I had around.  I'll probably try it with basil or maybe a little mint next time.

Chestnut 'Pesto'

makes enough to fill a 280g jar
What you'll need
a food processor with the main chopping blade attached
200g chestnuts, cooked until soft (roasting gives heaps of flavour) or buy ready-cooked
2 garlic cloves, smashed open (this makes for a good, strong garlic taste so use a single clove if you're not into that)
approx. 25g grated parmesan (or more, to taste)
small handful dill (or whatever mix of herbs you like)
approx. 30ml extra virgin olive oil
What you'll do
  • Tip the chestnuts into the processor and pulse to crumbs
  • Add the parmesan, herbs and garlic and pulse until chopped and well-mixed
  • Gradually add the oil through the processor's funnel and pulse until the pesto comes together and is the consistency that you like
  • Transfer to a jar and store in the fridge
Mine is on it's fourth day and still going strong.  The garlic develops over time so it's getting quite fiery now!  Try it through hot pasta, on toast, as an alternative to standard pizza sauce, stirred into some yoghurt as a dip, on top of hummus, add it to a sandwich...the list is endless.  Chesto, chesto, chesto!

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The Ubiquitous Granola

Homemade clean granola recipe
This wouldn't be a "healthy" eating blog without some mention of granola, right?  This was actually going to be a post about my other breakfast staple but, due to lack of photos, you'll have to wait for peanut butter.  It's on the list.
I've come across heaps of granola recipes and have a page in my recipe book which has been scribbled on and scored out, added to and amended over and over again.  So here, in its current incarnation, is my simple homemade granola recipe.
You'll notice that there's no dried fruit here.  That's mainly to keep the sugars down but also because I'm not always in the mood for sticky fruit getting stuck between my teeth first thing in the morning.  You can add some, of course, but make sure you do it near the end of the bake otherwise it'll char.  Or just throw some into your bowl when you serve it.  If you're used to a store-bought granola, you may find this version isn't sweet enough for you.  Why not give it a try and add a little sweet stuff at the table if you still feel the need?  Then a little less of it the next day, and the next...
You'll also notice that it doesn't sit in big clumps like many of the packet versions.  That's because I use minimal sticky stuff.  If you're looking for greater clumpage, I've seen a recipe where a beaten egg white was used as a binder but never tried it.  You could up the maple syrup or <gasp> even use a little golden syrup.  I use homemade applesauce (is this one word this side of the 'pond'?) which is basically any mix of apples you like, boiled until mushy with water, cinnamon, nutmeg, a couple of slices of lemon and a touch of salt.  Cooking varieties like Bramley are typically quite tart so avoid or mix them with eating apples for this no-added-sugar applesauce.  I puree it with a stick blender and freeze it in small blocks until I need it.  It's a great, general sweetener so think of substituting it for sugars and syrups, particularly in recipes where mixes are quite wet.  You can always reduce another wet ingredient to make up for it.
This granola is very forgiving.  I usually decide to make a batch without planning for it and use whatever nuts and seeds I have.  Walnuts, almonds, cashews, and Brazil nuts, pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds are all a hit here.  It's never tasted anything but delicious.  My favourite accompaniment is Greek yoghurt, maybe with a drop of water to thin it down.  I also like a handful of the dry stuff as a snack. Slightly sweet, wholesome, crunchy and surprisingly filling, whip up a batch next time your oven's on and get ahead for that week's breakfasts!

Super-clean Granola

makes enough to fill a cereal container;  half the batch if you're short of cupboard space

What you'll need
500g rolled oats (check for a GF variety if you need it)
100g desiccated or flaked coconut (I use medium desiccated)
250g mixed nuts, roughly chopped to the size you want, and seeds
a pinch of salt
1 TBSP ground cinnamon
1 TBSP maple syrup
2 TBSP coconut oil, melted
2 TBSP applesauce
An oven, pre-heated to 150C and a couple of large baking trays or tins to spread the mix on.  No need to line them as this is not a sticky mix.
What you'll do
  • Stir the oats, coconut, nuts, salt and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
  • Pour over the melted coconut oil, maple syrup and applesauce.  Mix well to coat all the dry ingredients.
  • Spread the mixture out on your baking trays, aiming for a single layer.
  • Bake, moving the mix around every ten minutes or so to avoid uneven cooking or sticking.  I also turn the trays around as my oven seems to be much hotter near the door.  It should take about 40 minutes for the mixture to roast and colour to perfection but keep and eye (and nose) on it.  I can usually smell when it's ready!
  • Cool completely on the trays before storing in an airtight container.
A full batch of this 'super-clean' granola will last me a couple of weeks, depending on how much the husband and The Smalls helps out.  "Ola!  Ola! <frantic pointing>  Ola!"  Enjoy!

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Some clean talking

Since we're all new here, I thought I should give some background.  Why 'clean'?  Well, I've always been fairly interested in nutrition and gone through the occasional fad or trend. But if you knew me at uni, you'll probably remember me more for late nights and questionable dancing than healthy living.  Then you turn 30.  And then you have babies (actually, it was the other way around by three months for me but who's counting?) and you spend so much time and energy planning what you put into their little bodies.  And you think: Why don't I do that for myself?

About a year ago, I saw this book in the library.  They'd done this crazy thing: stood it up so I could quickly judge it by the cover.  Thanks for that. 

Now, I'm not really into 'diet books' .  Too many rules and technicalities.  So perhaps it was the cunning rhyme in the title that drew me.  Maybe it was the jumping woman.  Whatever the case, it became my guiding text.  I'm fickle like that.  And here are the key guiding principles (as chosen by moi):

1. Toxins make you fat - live clean.
2. Cut the CRAP (caffeine, refined sugar, alcohol and processed foods)
3. If it hasn't grown in the ground, walked on the land or flown in the sky, don't eat it.
4. Move your body every day: your body loves to move.

There's loads of specification beyond this of course, but I'd say these are the essentials.  And there's a caveat to the caffeine no-no.  Because it's the excess caffeine or the added sugars/syrups that he's against, he recommends no more than two cups of good-quality coffee (or tea) a day - and you should have them with double cream if you like!  SOLD!  So, I do.  Two filter coffees a day made with beans strongly-roasted and ground by ye local shoppe, with a big glug of double cream (heavy cream, if you're Stateside).  Yummmmm.  Oh, and the author is Australian; did you guess?  I'm sure I'd find it easy to go for a run first thing or eat chilled salads every day if I lived there too...

Since reading this book, I've discovered a mountain of related ones.  It seems that clean is in.  And, food-wise, it's now going mainstream (think Jamie Oliver, Lorraine Pascale, Bear Grylls (it's true - saw his book today), Davina McCall and Nigella Lawson).  If you're interested though, this is still a good place to start.  It addresses the whole way of thinking and living, and not simply the food.

But what does this all mean, day-to-day?  Well, for me it means being active - I go to the gym at least twice a week (I'd go every day if I could - I love it!) and, with two toddlers, I don't really stop to sit down until they're in bed.  I'm also good at leaving whatever I need at the other end of the room/house/city.  It also means avoiding packet sugar, white carbs, meat (except poultry), biscuits and crisps and upping the pulses, veg, nuts, seeds, herbs, oily fish and dried fruit.  Heard it before, right?  Sounds pretty boring?  Hmm, I disagree.  It just takes a little inventiveness and forethought to make spiced veggie 'chips' instead of frozen processed potato ones (takes about the same time), roasted chickpeas instead of crisps or use nutritious flours with a whole heap more flavour than the refined white wheat version for baking.  It's a sign of our times that we go for cheap, fast offerings which are bashed out by some machine in some factory.  And then, if you're anything like me, you're hungry again (if you were in the first place) an hour later anyway.  Well, the rebellion is nigh! 

(Disclaimer: I eat chocolate.  Daaarrrrk chocolate.  And drink beer.  And wine.  And hey, so what if I have a couple slices of chorizo along with some of that giant brie tonight?  Just not every day, thank you.)

Clean & Lean Chickpea and Carrot Stew

This must be the recipe I've made most.  It's from another of James Duigan's books I think.  I usually up the carrots or add some chopped courgette, leek or red pepper.  You can really get a lot of veg in here, and the chickpeas make it really filling.  Make extra and freeze it for a day when cooking isn't so appealing.  The Smalls here love it.  I think there's something about little rolly-about things (peas, chickpeas, whatever) that they can't get enough of.

Straight from the website...

Serves 4
2 tablespoones olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 tablespoon tomato puree (easy to make you own or buy high quality organic product)
1 tablespoon sherry vineagar
800g chickpeas
3 carrots, sliced
500ml organic vegetable stock or chick stock (easy to make you own or buy high quality organic product)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g baby spinach
a bunch parsley, chopped

  • Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions and garlic and cook gently, until softened.
  • Add the spices and fry for 3 minutes.
  • Add the tomato puree and sherry vinegar and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the chickpeas and carrots, stock and salt and pepper. Bring to a steady simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
  • FInally, stir in the spinach and cook for another 3 minutes until it is wilted, then serve with the parsley and olive oil on top.

Let me know if you decide to give it a try.  I've attempted to set up ways of subscribing to my posts so keep an eye on the sidebar over yonder --> for RSS feed and email options.  Meanwhile, I think I've just been inspired to read Clean & Lean again.  Get ready for a new-found strictness!

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

New Year, New Blogger

There's something about January 5th.  Maybe it's a throwback from school or work, but it seems to be when things return to usual.  I won't say 'normal'.  There's not a lot normal about this household (or, if there is, some celestial being help you all).
So I've decided to start blogging about what's going on here.  From my point of view, that is.  If you can tell me what's going through the mind of my 3- and/or 1-year-old, I'll give you lots and lots of cold, hard cash.
Don't get me wrong; this isn't a resolution.  The time of year is coincidental.  Writing about eating has been on the cards for months - maybe even years if I really think about it - but until now it's only been in the pages of my own Big Notebook.  And this is probably the first time that there's been some sort of identifiable focus, a genre, or I guess you could even call it a 'lifestyle'.  Do that, if you like.  I don't think I will. goes...

Lentil & Buckwheat Crackers

We've been eating a lot of cheese here recently.  But wait, perhaps I'm misleading you.  We always eat a lot of cheese here.  By a lot, I mean daily, and probably more than once daily.  I don't really know how often other folk eat cheese.  We like a strong cheddar, blues (gorgonzola is my 3-year-old's favourite, unless I can get him some Clackstone Blue), bloomies (those giant bries that appear at Christmas are a killer), hard ones (an aged Comte is pretty awesome) and, well, pretty much anything with a good, full flavour.
Now, I know there's a lot to say against mass-produced cheese from a health stance.  I've been clinging to the high protein content argument.  I figured, since there's no way I'm breaking my ties with cheese, I might as well try to add some nourishment to the Cheese Holder, if you will.
The recipe for these Lentil & Buckwheat Crackers is over at Whole New Mom's site.  Pop over for some nutritional info and other such technicalities.  Maybe I'll get on top of that someday soon!  They're vegan (you might want to avoid the honey), naturally gluten-free and dairy-free, and there are nut-free and low-carb, grain-free options.  Whilst I have none of these dietary requirements, I find playing around with loads of the ingredients commonly used by people who do pretty interesting.  But more of that another day.

These crackers worked really well first time, despite a couple of substitutions.  I used what I had in the house, including puy lentils (which I didn't puree smoothly as suggested but instead mashed roughly and left some whole) and a little agave to sweeten.  I reduced the coconut oil slightly.  I'm not into cutters, what with all that flouring and the pressure for regularity, so I just sliced them haphazardly into squectangles. 
I had to bake them for about 30 minutes, flipping halfway, to get the crack.  Otherwise we'd have had to call them benders.  Or floppers.  Or...well, you get the picture.  They were delicious!  Nutty, buttery, dark and flavourful, with great texture from the whole pulses.  They were good for the three days before they were polished off.
I'd reduce the coconut oil even more next time and see what happens.  They leave a little sheen on the fingers.  And maybe I'll try adding some chilli flakes or crushed coriander seeds.  Ooh, or fennel seeds.  I loooove fennel seeds.
The crackers stood up well to the strong, hard cheeses we have at the moment, and The Smalls gobbled them up smothered with Strathdon Blue.  Not many crumbs - mama bonus point.
Let me know what you think.  Of anything really.  Meanwhile I'm trying to work out how to make this place prettier so expect changes soon. Thanks for stopping by!
UPDATE: you can completely forget about these, leave them in the oven for an extra half hour and they'll still come out great!  Teeny bit bitter, perhaps.  Next time, I'll split the difference and bake for 45 mins!