Flaxseed, Millet, and Black Pepper Crackers

How does time go so fast?  I can’t believe it is almost November already.  When I was a young child I remember things taking so long to occur.  All I wanted was for the day to be over so that I could put my halloween costume on and go fill my pillow case up with candy.  Hours passed slowly.  Days passed slower.  Weeks felt like years… especially when Christmas was involved.  Couldn’t we just make it so that everyday in December gave birth to baby Jesus?  And therefore presents… my little brain didn’t quite understand.

Now time seems to flash by, each year leaving me feeling a little bit farther behind in the things I’d like to do, make, see, and read.  There is balance that I’m slowly learning year by year.  Each season offers different adventures, and of course, we want to do them all.  But sometimes that gets overwhelming.  Sometimes that take the joy out of the experience because the doing becomes more important than the being.

All week long I’ve been thinking that I need to make doughnuts for this post.  That was my plan!  I had to get it done.  (And I really wanted a doughnut.. duh).  But as life was happening I began to slowly come to the reality that my time table was not going to work out.  There were old friends to be around and new friends to make.  There was work and workouts.  There was sleeping in a little bit later because its too dark in the morning to actually want to get out of bed.  Doing was not going to happen.  Being was a better idea.  Engaged in the life that was actually swirling around me as opposed to planning for the things that I need to get done.

 Can I real talk you for a second?  I actually made these crackers several months ago and have yet to share them with you all.  Thats real life.  I sort of got excited about other things and these took to the back burner.  Does that mean that weren’t that good?  Absolutely not!  They are full of flavor and texture, perfect on there own or accompanied with a creamy, salty cheese.

These crackers are relatively easy.  Butter gets cut into the dry ingredients which includes two types of flour, flaxseed meal, salt, pepper, baking soda, and millet seeds for an added crunch.

Buttermilk gives this flour/butter mixture a big drink and hydrates them all up!

After a few turns on the table and rest in the fridge, the dough is all set to be rolled out and cut into perfect circles.

A prick of the fork ends the process before the oven takes over, browning these crackers to oblivion.

As far as crackers go, I suppose these could be considered “healthy.”  Whole grains and millet seeds provide lots of fiber and flaxseed have the benefit of omega 3s.

I would mostly just consider them tasty.  The black pepper adds a great savory quality that I think would be offset perfectly with a creamy cows milk cheese and blackberry jam.

Thats just my imagination talking though.

Flaxseed and Black Pepper Crackers

Recipe slightly adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup millet seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

Directions

  1. Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.  Set aside
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flaxseed, flaxseed meal, flours, baking soda, salt and pepper.  Add the butter and work the butter into the flour using your fingers.
  3. Make a well in the center of the butter flour mixture.  Pour the buttermilk into the well and use a fork to bring the ingredients together.  All the dry ingredients should be moistened by the buttermilk.  The dough will be shaggy
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead together about 10 times to bring dough together.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  5. When chilled, cut dough in half.  Working with one half at a time, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/8 inch thick.  Use a 1/2 inch round cookie cutter to cut out crackers.  Prick each cracker with a fork and place on prepared baking sheets.
  6. Bake crackers for about 15-18 minutes, until slightly browned on the edges.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before placing in an airtight container.  Crackers will last for about 4 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature.  Makes about 4 dozen.

Cocoa Hazelnut Granola

I love that food has the ability to take me back to another place in time.  One bite of something familiar and memories flow back as if it were yesterday.  Our taste buds can be path to the the past.

When I first moved to Portland I was going to culinary school in the evenings from four to nine.  I’d usually eat a late dinner afterward throwing something together that resided in my fridge.  On Friday nights the boyfriend and I would go to Whole Foods.  I got just about the same thing every week– soup, my favorite was mushroom barley, a seeded roll, and a container of granola that they made in-house.  I am definitely a creature of habit and that was my standard for a long time.

This stage of my life consisted of lots of strange, you could also say obsessive, habits.  I’d eat two crunchy kashi bars everyday- one with my cup of coffee that I ventured out to get around 2 o clock and the other at night before bed (except for weekend nights).  I did the same workout everyday.  Lots of cardio machines.  I had to be slightly insane to keep that boring nonsense up for so long.  I can’t recall what I had for breakfast but assuredly it was the same thing everyday.  I wrote my calorie intake down before I’d go to bed every night.  If it was over 2000 kcal I’d make note and go way under the next day.

This is just a glimpse of my crazy brain.  Needless to say I was in an unhealthy state regarding my relationship with food, one that had been taking place for several years prior to coming to Portland.

As I made and then ate this granola fresh from the oven Sunday my taste buds took me back to that time in my life.  It seems so long ago now.  Habits have changed, obsessions have been worked through.  But, nonetheless, I remember that state I was in.  Completely wrapped up in the outside of myself while ignoring all that was going on inside, the true driving force behind my behavior.

Food has been a double edged sword for me for quite some time now.

I love food.  I love the experience of baking, eating out, or having a meal with friends and family. I enjoy and look forward to the next meal.  I love to taste, smell, and admire the beauty that food offers our senses.

But while I greatly enjoy food I have feared it equally as much.  The fear comes from deeper places of desiring perfection or a “better” figure.  But the fear manifests itself in the same thing that I love and am passionate about.  It’s strange how that happens… one thing causing both excitement and anxiety.

I am glad to reflect on that time only to see how far I’ve come.  As I bite into this homemade granola I am transported back but I am also made aware of where I sit currently; a place where I can eat without the fear that each tiny calorie will add to my frame.  I sit more in a place of acceptance than of judgement for myself.  A place of continually seeking a healthy balance.

Alright, enough blabbing about my past food troubles.  If you made it through all that you a high five. Or pat on the back.  Your choice!  If you skipped to this part where I’ll talk about the granola, I totally understand.

This granola makes my taste buds so happy.  Its crunchy.  Its nutty.  Its crunchy some more.  Slightly sweet from honey and sugar it also has a bit of a salty bite every once in a while.  The cocoa powder adds a hint of chocolate flavor but nothing over powering.  The coconut oil lends itself beautifully against the nutty oats and toasted hazelnuts.  And millet seeds.  Oh millet seeds.  I adore them.  I really have no words.  They just make this granola a 1000 times better.  Trust me.

I enjoy my granola most topped with a little milk.  Maybe you like yours mixed with some fruit and yogurt.  Or perhaps on top of some ice cream with a touch of honey.  How-about just a handful right out of the jar?  Yeah, I do that a lot too.

Cocoa Hazelnut Granola

Adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup raw hazelnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup millet seeds
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 11/2 Tbsp honey
  • 5 Tbsp coconut oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
  2. In a large bowl combine oats, hazelnuts, coconut, millet seeds, cocoa powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, honey, and coconut oil.  Place saucepan on medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves and bubbling occurs.  Remove from heat and pour over oat mixture.  Mix until well combined.
  4. Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet and spread into an even layer.  Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Stir granola and continue baking for 10 minute intervals until golden and fragrant.  (mine was in for about 25 minutes)
  5. Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.