Saturday, November 14, 2015

Homemade Honey Graham Crackers

So maybe making homemade Graham crackers isn't on your bucket list.  I get that!  :) But if you're a fan of Graham crackers, like I am (I often pack them to munch on at school), these lovely little biscuits are more than worth the few hours they take to make, and most of that time is unattended. They not only have a fairly short list of ingredients, but they're also really tasty. I would not, however, call them health food, though Graham crackers were originally invented to be just that.
According to a fascinating article in The Atlantic Monthly, Graham crackers are named for their inventor, Sylvester Graham, who may be one of America's first "health nuts." A 19th century evangelical minister, Graham fretted that the meat-rich American diet with its growing reliance on white flour fueled what he thought was its greatest health threat: sexual desire. To ward off those unhealthy desires, he advocated a plain diet of vegetables and whole grains. The original Graham cracker was a tasteless whole wheat biscuit. According to the article, some consider him to be "one of the fathers of the American vegetarian movement." And in fact, the article notes that Graham's greatest contribution to the American diet may not be Graham crackers, but breakfast cereal.  John Harvey Kellogg was a Graham disciple, who developed granola as a "Grahamite cereal."  
A quick look at the ingredients list on a box of 21st century Graham crackers includes "artificial flavor," soybean oil and "DATEM," a dough conditioner that staves off staleness.  This recipe for homemade honey Graham crackers skips all that stuff. I still wouldn't call them health food, though!  The recipe, with just a few tweaks from me, comes from the Good Housekeeping website.

Homemade Honey Graham Crackers

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup almond milk (or whatever kind of milk you prefer)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons honey

Whisk flours, baking soda, salt & cinnamon together and set aside. Stir milk and vanilla together and set aside.  In a mixer, beat butter, brown sugar and honey until light and fluffy, about three minutes, scraping sides as needed.  Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat well.  Scrape down bowl, add 1/2 milk mixture and beat.  Continue alternating flour and milk mixtures--ending with the final 1/3 flour mixture.  Take half of the dough, form into a disk, and roll out to 1/8th thickness between two sheets of parchment paper.  Do the same with the other half.  Place rolled dough and parchment paper onto cookie sheets and refrigerate for an hour.  Remove from the refrigerator and cut into desired shapes. (I used a fluted pizza cutter; you could use a cookie cutter or even a knife.) With a fork, prick the crackers in several places.  Return to the fridge for another 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the crackers out so that they aren't touching--they won't spread much, so they don't need to be too far apart. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, turning the pans half way through for even browning.  This recipe makes several--6 or 7--dozen crackers, depending on how big you cut the crackers. Store well sealed and they'll keep for at least a week. They'd make a great base for some desire-evoking s'mores, though don't tell Sylvester Graham!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Honey-Roasted Cauliflower

Looking for a different side dish for Thanksgiving?  This honey-roasted cauliflower may be your answer! 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Slice a whole cauliflower head into 1/4 inch slices.  There will be some bits of cauliflower that don't stay in tact--that's fine.   Tossed the slices (and extra bits)  with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil so that the slices are evenly coated and place them on the prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly-cracked pepper.  Drizzle the whole shebang with about 3-4 tablespoons of honey.  Roast for about 20 minutes, then pull out, turn the slices over.  Return to the oven for about 20 minutes more.

You can embellish with some red pepper flakes if you like your roasted cauliflower on the spicy side--or add some chopped garlic half way through the roasting to ramp up the flavor.  This is great hot out of the oven, but is also nice at room temperature, too.   I had these with some macaroni and cheese for a mid-week dinner and couldn't have been happier!