Sunday, October 23, 2011

Crackers - Developing my signature style

Cooking can be very creative. In fact, it's my favorite "Right Brain" exercise. Crackers are one of my favorites. Easy to eat anytime, easy to carry around, great grab-&-go food that's healthy, too. Most important, they are super easy to make!
Crackers by CD, Bowl by Dale Larson
David (Nittmann) went over to Tom Wirsing's house a few weeks ago, and took a bowl of my home-made crackers to supplement the beer drinking they planned to do. I guess the crackers were good; Tom asked for the recipe (must have been the beer....). My first thought was, "I didn't exactly follow 'the' recipe".

The next thought was, "Amazing how similar cooking is to woodturning!"

I just got home from a trip to the San Diego Woodturners club to demonstrate and teach my style of woodturning. (click here for the pictures posted on Facebook) In the demo, I went through my processes, shared all of my "secrets", and completed 2 of my signature pieces. At the Hands-on Workshops in the days following the demo, I guided the participants through making a copy of my signature Finial Box. Kind of like following a recipe. Mostly, the boxes came out looking a lot like mine.

Just like the first time I made Elana Amsterdam's Sesame Crackers! The next time I made crackers, I started experimenting. I thought the almond flour had enough oil, so I subbed whey or yogurt for the oil. Flour is flour (more or less), so I've subbed all different kinds of flours for the almond in the original recipe. Maca powder, chia flour, cocoa powder, all count as "flour", too. (Grain flour, I found out, needs a lot more liquid than nut flour.)

Seeds are seeds, so hemp, sunflower, pumpkin seeds, or ground nuts, sub for the sesame seeds. Shredded coconut works as a sub for the seeds, too. Combinations of seeds, coconut, nuts, also work.

Pretty soon, I have crackers in my own style! Just like the next Finial Boxes that my hands-on students will make! Isn't Woodturning wonderful?

Here's Elana's original recipe:

Sesame Crackers

  1. In a large bowl, stir almond flour, salt, sesame seeds, eggs and oil until well blended
  2. Separate dough into two halves
  3. Line two large (12 x 16) stainless steel baking sheets with parchment paper
  4. Place one half of the dough in the center of each lined sheet
  5. Cut another piece of parchment paper and place it over one of the balls of dough
  6. Roll dough out between the two pieces of parchment paper, until it is ⅛ inch thick and covers the entire baking sheet; remove top paper and repeat process with the other piece of dough
  7. Cut the dough with a knife or pizza cutter into 2 inch squares
  8. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown
  9. Cool and serve
Makes 96 crackers

Here's what Tom and David had with their beers:
  • 5 cups organic blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 cup organic sprouted chia flour
  • 1/2 cup organic Maca powder (from Whole Foods)
  • 2 teaspoons celtic sea salt (from Whole Foods)
  • 1 or 2 cups organic sesame seeds, white and black mixed (from Whole Foods)
  • 4 eggs (pasture raised, from a local organic/biodynamic farm)
  • 1/4 cup raw goat whey (from making cheese)
1. Mix dry ingredients well with a wire whisk
2. In a 2 cup glass measuring cup, whisk the eggs and liquid of choice. Mix wet into dry. The dough will be very stiff. If it is soft enough to roll easily, it will be too sticky to release from the paper easily. I find it easier to add flour if it's too sticky than to add liquid if it's too stiff. Based on my experience.
3. Roll out between parchment paper to 1/16 - 1/8 in thickness. With crackers, "less is more"- more crackers, that is!
4. Cut with pizza cutter to fit baking sheet & cut into squares
5. Bake at 325º for 7 - 12 minutes, or until "done". Crispy or soft, your choice. Time depends on your oven, your baking sheet, how "done" you want them, and how thick your crackers are. If you don't want to be paying so much attention to the oven, baking at 300º allows for one more cut at the lathe before running back into the kitchen (it's more forgiving of time to cook at lower temp)

Here's what I made last night:
  • 5 c almond flour
  • 1/2 c chia flour
  • 1/2 c organic cocoa powder (Whole Foods)
  • 2 t salt
  • 1 c sesame seeds
  • 1 c finely shredded organic coconut
  • 1 tablespoon organic dried vanilla powder (heavenly!)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup whey
Directions are the same.

And it doesn't stop there!

For Hummus crackers: add a teaspoon or 2 of garlic powder, some lemon juice as part of the liquid, and use garbanzo flour.

Try adding cinnamon for a graham-cracker-like flavor

Corn flour with chile powder and cayenne = hot & spicy!

Add spices in your choice of intensity: Curry powder, Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, Chives (dried)

Other flours that I've tried: Amaranth, Quinoa, Rice, Buckwheat. Ground pecans, walnuts, other nuts can be used as flour. So can nut butters.

Sugar is an option, of course. We're trying to cut down on sugar, so I don't add any.

This cracker non-specific-recipe makes a great gluten and grain free pie crust, too.

Go ahead! Make your own Signature Crackers! And then turn a bowl to put them in.
Have fun!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Free Sharpening of Drozda Woodturning Tools!

Sharp tools are really good to have. In fact, it's almost impossible to get good cuts without a sharp edge.

You probably bought my Signature Woodturning Tools so that you would have the same tools that I use in my work. That's the reason I make my favorite tool grinds available. I want you to have all of the advantages that I have. But, as good as Henry Taylor Tools is, the factory grind is often not quite perfect. At the very least, the tools will "need honing before use" as they say.

To make it easy for you to use my tools, I am offering to sharpen them for free! All you pay is the shipping (both ways).

If you have a Cindy Drozda Signature Woodturning Tool, whether you bought it from me or from a tool supplier, just send it to me. I'll sharpen it, and send it back to you ready to use. How can you get a better deal than that??
Here's what to do:
Send the tools to me at this address, include return postage (stamps, check, credit card info):

Cindy Drozda
PO Box 19065
Boulder CO 80308

You'll know how much return postage is. It'll be the same as it cost you to send the tools to me.

Please contact me by email to let me know your tools are on the way. If you prefer to use UPS or FedEx, email me for a street address.

If you're local, bring your tools to my shop, or to a RMWT or FRW meeting.

Happy turning!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Too Much Dill Biscuits

This is not a food blog, I promise. I am a woodturner, and I blog about woodturning. Well, when I manage to blog at all......

This past year I have been embarrassingly lax in writing to my blog. To snap out of it, I gave myself permission to blog about whatever subject hits me at the moment. At this moment, it's food.

On to my subject -  Too Much Dill Biscuits

How much is too much? Dill is in season here. It's a short season, but the dill plants make up for that with abundance. A woodturning friend, Katherine Kowalski, (whose gardening abilities make me "green" with envy) gave me some of her dill harvest.

It was A Lot Of Dill. Even as much as I love dill, I would be hard pressed to use it all up before it spoiled. My challenge: To see how much dill is "too much" in a recipe.

Biscuits are fast to make, and David and I both love them. Great with dinner or as a snack the next day. Any biscuit recipe will do, but here's my current favorite:

Gluten Free and Grain Free Biscuits:
This recipe is adapted from Elana Amsterdam's website, Elana's Pantry. check it out for more great gluten & grain free recipes.

2 1/2 cups organic blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup yogurt, kefir, milk, whey, or other liquid (I make my own raw goats milk yogurt)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Mix dry ingredients
Mix wet ingredients
Combine the 2
Drop by appropriate amounts onto greased baking sheet (or stoneware baking pan like I used). They don't rise much, so "appropriate" approximates intended finished size.
Bake at 350ºF for 15 - 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top and done in the middle.

I added 2 tablespoons of finely chopped dill leaves and flowers to a half-recipe (1 1/4 c flour). I don't think it was too much. Might be a waste of dill, though. The flavor would probably be dill-y enough with half that much. Great with lots of butter!

You can see from the photo that splitting the recipe didn't work perfectly. It's hard to split 3 eggs in half, and I also used too much yogurt. The results "spread" more than I wanted. Still tasted great, though.

The first time I made these, we had them with a baked pasture-raised chicken cooked with an excessive amount of dill and green onions (also from Katherine's garden). Oh, and did I mention massive quantities of real butter???

There is a tie-in to woodturning, here. In my pursuit of the artistic side of working in wood, I like to exercise my Right Brain in the kitchen. Cooking is creative, the ingredients are inexpensive (compared to exotic burl wood), results are immediate. It is something that must be done everyday anyway, if we want to eat a healthy diet. Cooking is a way to improve my woodturning skills! Who would have thought??

Thank you to Katherine for the garden delights, and to Elana for grain free biscuits! Now, off to do some woodturning........