Pass the crackers please

First We Eat: Many of us may be snacking too much as we watch too much TV. Try this healthier choice instead

I for one am thoroughly sick of screens, and those viewing snacks have caught up with me. The recipe below for these whole wheat crackers may be just the thing you’re looking for.

Don’t you wish you could have your buddies over? Miss those chances to get together and just hang out? Me too. I miss parties. I miss hanging out. I miss visits. I miss shared meals. Who knows when we’ll be able to celebrate like that again as we move into our second year of COVID lockdown. 

Back in the day, we threw some dandies. A birthday bash for Dave a few years back, and there was our wedding party. Our annual bon- spiel on the lake happened on New Year’s Day for the seven years we had the lake until it dried up, and was the ideal mid-winter antidote when the thermostat dipped too deeply into the minus range. Nothing like hot cider lakeside, along with friends willing to join you in sliding frozen articles down the ice, followed by chili and cookies and camaraderie indoors to take off the nip in your cheeks. 

So what are we using as an antidote to the chill of loneliness, overwork, or simply isolation, these bubble days? What has taken the place of those crowded houses? The drone of the television screen. Maybe too much wine. Too many snacks. 

I for one am thoroughly sick of screens. And those viewing snacks have caught up with me. Yes — the chocolate mousse and flourless chocolate cake on special occasions, the chocolate bars, chocolate-covered ginger, chocolate-covered almonds, and chocolate-drizzled popcorn on all the everyday occasions. So I’ve upped my exercise regime. 

The best cure for the blues, and for the screen of the computer and TV, is movement. That is one thing I can do alone, without feeling let down or isolated, that will actually make me feel better. A walk, gardening, run, a second round of Frisbee with the dog. Then when the dog and I nap in the afternoon, I feel justifiably ready to let myself drop off. 

When my sister found this cracker recipe and sent it to me, I made them, thinking of more healthful snacking — and less screen time. 

So first we eat some of these yummy crackers, and then it’s time to get outside.

Stella Parks’ Knockoff Carr’s-Style Whole Wheat Crackers

This recipe comes from seriouseats.com, posted by award-winning American pastry chef Stella Parks. You may agree with Parks and me that Carr’s whole wheat crackers are the best in the known universe. Grainy, nutty, a hint of sweet — they’re the perfect foil to cheese, nut butters, olive tapenade. I used Saskatchewan-grown Red Fife flour. Use a scale for most accurate measurement if you have one. Thanks to Chef Parks. 

Makes about 60 2-inch crackers. 

  • 1/3 c. (55 g) wheat germ
  • 1 c. + 6 tbsp. (160 g) whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 c. (70 g) sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. (1 g) kosher salt (less if using table salt)
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 6 tbsp. (85 g) unsalted butter, cold, cubed
  • 1/3 c. + 2 tbsp. (100 g) buttermilk or kefir (not milk + lemon juice) 

Set oven to 350 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Spread the wheat germ on the tray and bake for 3 minutes, or until toasty. 

Combine the wheat germ with the remaining dry ingredients in the work-bowl of a food processor or in a bowl if you are working manually. Blitz to blend. Add the butter and blitz into finely textured powder. Add the buttermilk and pulse just to blend. 

Turn onto a floured counter and roll out thinly (about 1/4 inch), flouring surfaces of counter and dough as needed. Dock the dough at regular intervals with the tines of a fork to minimize excess rising. Cut into 2-inch squares with a large, floured blade. Transfer to the baking sheet with an offset spatula or the knife blade. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, depending on how brown you like your crackers. Cool on the tray and store in a tin at room temperature.

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