Sunday, August 29, 2010

Happy Birthday MJ

52 years ago today, Michael Jackson was born the 7th of 9 children in Gary, Indiana. Last night I celebrated by holding the third annual Michael Jackson Birthday Party with dear friends, MJ video watching, and Jesus Juice, of course. Let's take a short walk down memory lane through the first two b-day bashes.



Happy Birthday, Michael. You are sorely missed.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Crackers

I made a rather embarrassing scene at the free library last week when I struggled to heave about 40 tons of cookbooks onto the circulation desk, which took the librarian about 40 years to check out as 40 people gathered in line behind me, only to have the whole checkout process screech to a halt halfway through because I'd reached the borrowed books limit of 40 items. I saw this coming, but had hoped that repeating "Please don't reach the limit please don't reach the limit please don't reach the limit" over and over in my mind would magically prevent me from reaching the limit. This strategy proved a failure. Fortunately, the librarian lady was very accomodating when I requested to trade out certain books for ones she had already checked out, as the string of understandably impatient folks behind me continued to grow longer and longer, 'til the end was no longer in sight because it had run out the library's double doors. In line with what inevitably occurs at any event where crowds of juiced up Philadelphia peeps are provoked, a riot erupted, and the angry mob wrecked some books n' shit then chased me home where, gasping for breath, I barred and locked the door and made crackers.

Now you reap the benefits of my near death library experience. You're welcome.

Onion Crackers
adapted from Bob's Red Mill Baking Book
Call number: 641.815 Et75b


1 cup hard white whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
2 t sugar
1 t cumin seed
2 t sea salt
Pepper to taste
1 salmonella-free* egg, at room temperature
1/3 cup oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
1 cup onions, finely minced, and if necessary, drained
The first time around I used a regular old Spanish onion minced in a food processor. This time I tried chopped scallions. Both ways were equally tasty, especially when paired with dip, salsa, or hummus.


In a large bowl, sift the flours, baking soda, sugar, cumin, salt and pep. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg (remember-SALMONELLA-FREE, or you DIE), oil, and onions. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture, stirring vigorously until the dough is firm. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until smooth. Lightly oil a large bowl, put the dough ball in there, turning to coat and cover with a dish towel. Let rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat to 375. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper. Roll the dough out somewhere you'll have lotsa flat space like, oh I dunno, a kitchen table, or on this lady's behind. Cut into desired cracker size, and prick with the tines of a fork if you wanna make 'em look fancy and shit. Bake until light brown, about 10-15 minutes. Eat, crackers.

*When shopping for eggs these days, it's hard to know which ones are safe and which ones will most definitely kill you and your family. Look for the post-it note stuck near the egg section containing a sentence written in highlighter stating something to the effect of "OUR EGGS ARE NOT PART OF THE RECALL!! !" (so far, only spotted at Trader Joe's). Then you can rest assured your breakfast (or brinner) won't end your and your loved ones' lives, there's nothing to be afraid of anymore, ever again.

Graham Crackers
adapted from Nancy Silverton's Pastries from the La Brea Bakery
Call number: 641.865 Si39n

2 1/2 cups plus 2 T unbleached all-purpose flour (I swapped 1/2 cup with whole wheat)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 t kosher or coarse sea salt
7 T (3.5 oz) butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen (I was all out of butter, so I subbed in a slightly smaller amount of coconut oil, thinking it would compliment the honey nicely, which it did)
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 T milk, full-fat is best
2 T pure vanilla extract
Topping (optional):
3 T (43 granulated sugar (I used turbinado)
1 t cinnamon

Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and sift together. Add the butter (or coconut oil) and mix (with a pastry blender if you like) until the dough is the consistency of a coarse meal.
making sure the mixture is very well incorporated.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and mix until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and pat it into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Wrap it, then chill it until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight. Meanwhile, prepare the topping, if using, by combining the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and setting aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Divide the dough in half and return one half to the fridge. Sift an even layer of flour onto your work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. For the traditional graham cracker shape, trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4.5" to make 4 crackers. Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough. Using a toothpick or skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line. I skipped the traditionalism and cut mine out with some recently acquired miniature fruit-shaped cookie cutters which I am absolutely crazy for and will not freaking shut up about.
Place the crackers on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes in the fridge or 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer (I totally forgot to do this, and they turned out fine so I'm wondering why the heck it's necessary). Repeat with the second batch of dough. Finally, gather any scraps together into a ball and re-roll.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. The longer the bake time, the crispier the graham, the better the cracker, in my opinion.
Cram all that graham....into your faces, crackers.

And now for something completely different.

Oven-Fried Green Tomatoes
adapted from, I'm ashamed to say it but I must give credit where it's due, Fat-FreeVeganKitchen (carnivores, please don't hurt me please don't hurt me, I'm one of you, I am, I just wanted to add another dimension to this blog post on crackers by showcasing a soul food recipe that only vegan hippie culture ((i.e. the ultimate crackers)) could defile to such an extreme extent. Without further ado, the recipe.


1/2 cup water
1 1/2 t ground flax seed
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup flour (I used hard white whole wheat)
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t salt
4 large green tomatoes


Preheat oven to 425. Grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
Combine the water and ground flax seeds and whisk vigorously until well combined. Pour into a wide bowl and allow to sit for a few minutes to thicken slightly.
In another wide bowl, combine remaining ingredients (except tomatoes). Cut tomatoes into slices about 1/4 to 1/2" thick. Submerge a tomato slice in the flax-water, allow excess to drip off, and place slice into cornmeal mixture. Press lightly to assure that bottom of slice is covered with cornmeal and turn to coat other side. Place on prepared baking sheet.
When all tomato slices are coated, bake for 15 minutes, or until bottoms are golden brown. Turn and bake another 15 minutes to brown other side. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

I made these as part of a delicious brunch for come of my pals, complete with scrambie eggs and sautéed onions and red swiss chard. Admittedly, the maters weren't half bad (I attribute this to the fact that they were prepared by a soulful black person, that being me). Anyhoo, through conversation during said meal I uncovered an awful truth about these particular friends (names withheld to protect the guilty): 3 of the people closest to me don't understand the awesomeness known only as POGS. They all stated and I quote "I was never really into them. I mean, what was the point? Why were they such a big deal?"
My reaction:
What. The. Fuck.

Ignorance is bliss.
I think it's pretty fucking obvious what the fucking point of POGS was, and furthermore, I think it's clear as day what the big fucking deal was about.  And the Gods of POGS spoke...


I bet all y'all POG haters feel pretty stupid right about now. Ya crackers.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I Think I'm Hungry

Last night, my housemates and I were discussing our love of "American Gladiators," "Family Matters" and the marriage of those two incredible shows on Episode 1, Season 4 of "Family Matters," entitled "Surely You Joust." For those of you poor souls unfortunate enough to have never witnessed this episode, Carl and Steve face off on "American Gladiators" with exciting cameos by Turbo, Sabre (Waldo Geraldo Faldo's cousin), and the whole AG clan. None of us could remember who won in the end, though I vaguely recall someone (I think Steve) crossing the finish line of The Eliminator "by a nose," no?  I thought my mystery solving wizard aka The Internet could settle this for me, but I was wrong. My search results on YouTube failed to bring up this episode.  It did me one better and came back with this:

"Word to the wise man, don't be around Winslow when he hungry, knowwhatImean?"

That's some good advice not to be taken lightly.
So, on the up side, I gots me a new jam. On the down side, the mystery remains unsolved. Where is Robert Stack when you need him? Help me, Obi-Wan KeReaders. You're my only hope.