Home made crackers

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Junk Free June in the Fig House is going quite well all in all. We’ve have had zero crisps/chips and zero shop bought biscuits woo hoo! However, the Figlets haven’t been missing out. They enjoyed the bird seed slice that I made last week, banana cake, popcorn and veg sticks and hummus. They’ve also developed an obsession with pistachio and cashew nuts. Funny because I thought they’d miss the junk but apparently not 🙂

To keep things interesting I’ve been browsing through My Petite Kitchen Cookbook which is chock full of whole food, gluten free recipes. This morning I tried the home made crackers.

Sunflower Herb Crackers
145g sunflower seeds
1 tsp sea salt
3 tsp garlic granules (or three peeled garlic cloves)
75g seseme seeds
1 handful chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbsp olive oil
Water to bind

Preheat the oven to 180c and line a baking sheet 32 x 42cm with baking paper.
Put the sunflower seeds, garlic and salt into a processor and blitz for 2-3 minutes until the sunflower seeds form a dense kind of breadcrumb.

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Add the sesame seeds, thyme and olive oil and process again. Add 3-5 teaspoons of water one at a time as you blitz until the mixture comes together as a dough.

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Transfer the somewhat crumbly mixture onto the lined baking sheet. At this point you need to cover with baking paper and roll to 5mm thickness with a rolling pin. My rolling pin is longer than my tray so I couldn’t roll any further down than the sides of the tray would allow. Therefore, you may find you need to transfer the baking paper onto a work surface to do the rolling. I also found that making a square shape was tricky because this dough is very sticky. That’s why I ended up with the shape of Nebraska…… will aim for a more square shape next time!!

Before popping into the oven, score lines across the dough, then cover with a sheet of baking paper and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Make sure you score quite deeply as this will make it easier to break them up after cooking. Leave to cool completely on the tray then break into pieces and store in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks.

I have to admit that I thought the Figlets would find these too garlicky but they loved them.

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In fact, Mr Fig and the Figlets loved them soooooo much that when I went to take a photo to blog there weren’t many left to photograph!

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Just one and a bit….. I think a double batch might be worth it next time seeing as they can keep for 2 weeks.

I’m wondering if I would be able to make a balsamic vinegar and sea salt flavour? If I have a go I’ll let you know how it turns out. One thing I am realising is that cooking with whole foods is very simple. Once you’ve got all the new ingredients it’s a cinch so don’t be put off if you need to buy a few extras from the supermarket or health food shop. Happy junk free baking!

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A Sweet Idea and a Bird Seed Slice

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Although we are now plunged into the deep, dark depths of winter (probably being  a bit over dramatic here but you get my drift) there is still some new, fresh green growth going on in my garden. I have various little pots of cuttings and seeds that I just managed to germinate before the Cold Snap that had us all reaching for the thermals, but the ones I’m most excited about are the Sweet Peas. I’m growing the solstice variety at the moment because these guys are tough. They are the SAS of the Flower World. They laugh in the face of short, dark days and they not only accept the challenge to Flower In Winter, they relish it! Yes! A sweet pea in winter! This is the first time that I’ve tried this variety so I’ll report back. But whether Solstice variety or Spencer variety all sweet peas need good support. Over the years I have always suffered from saggy nets (eek!) dragged down by the tenacious, snaking stems of my sweet peas. This year it’s going to be very different because I had a Lightbulb Moment. Now, these don’t come around very often so I just had to share it. I was toying with the idea of using wire to thread along the top of the netting but I didn’t have any. Rats! As I started mumbling at the dog I noticed a pile of bamboo canes that we harvest frequently because the bamboo is a complete delinquent and threatens to take over not just our garden but the whole world. They looked very light but also very solid and long. Long enough to thread through the netting and balance on top of the posts!

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And lo! The first Bamboo Curtain Support for Sweet Peas was created (as far as I know anyway!!) All looking very neat and tidy and Well Supported!

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It’s just a case of threading the cane through the squares…..

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Mr Fig banged in a couple of nails to stop the bamboo from sliding off the posts and making me really cross. He’s thoughtful like that 🙂

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We also constructed a support outside in the vege garden for more sweet peas and planted spinach, silver beet and beetroot in front.

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From the greenhouse to the kitchen….. Not sure if anyone else is doing Junk Free June but I’ve been quite keen to Have A Go. I always feel really guilty buying up processed snacks for the Figlets. I always seem to succumb to the pressure though. I’m always really shocked at the cost of them too (especially as they’re gone in a flash as soon as the Figlets find them). I do quite a bit of baking anyway so I’ve decided to up the baking and try a few new snack ideas to keep the wolves from the door and the Figlets from lynching me 🙂 Now, I’m interpreting Junk Free as not buying processed foods so the baking ideas I’ll be using do contain sugar (we’re not saints you know). First up is this gorgeous recipe from a fabulous cookery book called Ripe named after the author’s Auckland cafe. Their philosophy is… “simple, fresh, quality, seasonal, healthy food that’s good value for money.” Couldn’t have said it better myself and here’s one of my favourite recipes.

Bird Seed Slice

150g raisins
120g unsalted butter
1/2 cup golden syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
90g smooth peanut butter
150g rolled oats
150g pumpkin seeds
150g sunflower seeds
150g sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 170c. Grease and line a 20 x 30cm tin. In a small bowl cover the raisins with water and leave for 20 minutes to soak and plump up. This helps prevent them from burning.

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Place a small saucepan over a medium heat. Melt together the butter, golden syrup, brown sugar and peanut butter stirring constantly until thick. Remove from the heat. Drain the raisins.

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In a large bowl combine the raisins with the oats and seeds.

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Pour the melted butter mixture over and stir to combine.

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Press the mixture into the tin and cover with baking parchment or foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper or foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until golden. Cut while still warm and in the tin. Place in fridge and allow to set.

Other snack substitutes that I’m hoping will become the norm include:

Toast with honey
Yoghurts and Suckies
Home made hummus with veg sticks
Sunflower seed pate
Four Seed Crackers
Pizza Crackers
Pistachios, cashews, macadamia, brazil nut mix
Freshly popped popcorn
Fruit

Some of these we have as snacks anyway but I’m looking forward to trying the sunflower seed pate, the crackers and making my own hummus again. Always good to have a challenge. If you have any healthy snack ideas to share please do! I’ll post up the new snack recipes when I’ve tried them out. Happy gardening and baking!