Foodie Friday-ish: Shepherd’s Meal and Wheat Thin Crackers

Sorry for the late post – we have been a house full of sickies.  😦  I was sick on Friday (dehydration??  I usually drink tons of water, but we were in the wow-it’s-really-hot sun for quite a while on Friday, and I guess I didn’t drink enough.  By the time late afternoon rolled around, I pretty much laid on the floor while the world passed me by.)  Judah has also been sick, and since he slept about 2 1/2 hours Friday evening (and that’s generous!), we didn’t sleep much, either.  Every time I thought about disappointing our dear Friday-blog-checkers, I thought about sleep, too – and sleep prevailed.  Judah seems like he is finally getting better, though.

…But guess what’s annoying when sleep finally didn’t prevail and I actually wrote something?  Typing out an entire post and having the blog lie to me with its falsely reassuring (and unsolicited, might I add!) pop up words of, “Don’t worry!  We’re saving for you as you go!”  Lies, lies, lies!!!  Why, oh why, don’t I ever learn and just SAVE?!?!

A-hem.  We now return to our regularly scheduled (and not bitter at all) blog. 

Some of you may remember in our Advent post that one of the activities we were planning on doing was a Shepherd’s Meal.  Not that we know what shepherds eat.

The idea, though, was a simple meal in front of our (teeny tiny) Christmas tree with candlelight (Candlelight that we chose, darn it, and not dictated to us by the lack of electricity.  Such a feeling of control!).  We had pepperoni (Why, yes, we did bring it from the States, and yes, it was worth all 3 pounds of luggage space.), cheese, apples, carrots and crackers.  Though it sounds really simple, it was actually quite a special “meal” for us, as everything but the carrots is quite a treat here.  Judah absolutely loved it; he kept exclaiming, “Shepherd meal!” periodically as he ate.  Several times he ran over to the manger and pretended to be a shepherd admiring Baby Jesus – though he did look around mystified as he pondered, “Me shepherd.  Where my sheep?”

Chris arranged our dinner all pretty-like, which is so much lovelier than serving them in their wrappers. Which is totally what I would've done.

 

He also really loved the cheese.  It occurred to us that he rarely gets to eat plain cheese (unless he begs it off of me when I’m cooking with it), which is funny because in the States it’s such a common snack or addition to a sandwich.  Here, though, we tend to be a bit stingy conservative with it, and boy did he take advantage of it being one of the dinner options.  He was so excited and kept saying, “Me like cheese.  More cheese, please” with this huge grin plastered on his face.  The joy on his face as he reached for the cheese and made his own little sandwiches with the crackers and pepperoni was enough to make me want to stuff his stocking with all kinds of overly priced dairy goodness.  (Of course it could also be that eating on the floor and helping yourself to finger food makes even the simplest of meals seem like a treat.)

Complementing said dairy goodness were some Ritz crackers that we found when we went to a retreat center a couple weeks ago (Okay, fine, it was more than a couple weeks ago.  I just didn’t want you to know how long we’ve been saving these crackers for such a time as this.) – and for a little more than $1!! – and some homemade Wheat Thin crackers.  Almost all the crackers we have tried here have been tinged with a bit (or a lot) of sweetness.  They’re so untasty that we have boycotted the buying of crackers here, but every now and then a girl just wants a snack with some crunch.

Enter these homemade Wheat Thins.  While they’re not as easy as, oh, say going to the store and buying them, they’re surprisingly easy to make, and they’re quite tasty.  The first time I made them, Chris actually requested that they be part of our regular snack rotation.  (Do you like how the simple insertion of a couple words communicates that we actually plan snacks and don’t just rummage through  the cupboards desperately looking for something that isn’t stale to give to Judah?)

So behold – yummy crackers.  That are easy to make.  (You do know I’m lazy and wouldn’t lie about this, don’t you?  Seriously – try them.  Oh, sure, you could just go buy some from the store, but where’s the fun in that?  Plus, this way you know exactly what goes into them.) 

Wheat Thins

Combine in mixing bowl:

  • 2 C whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 2 T dry milk powder

Cut in with pastry blender:*

  • 6 T margarine  (We use slightly less oil.)

Combine separately and stir in:

  • ½ C water
  • 1 T molasses  (You could also use honey.  We actually often leave this out, period, and they still taste good.  I’m sure there’s some kind of scientific explanation as to why you need this, but I’m not a scientist, and hey, ignorance is bliss.)

Knead a little until smooth.** Grease two cookie sheets and sprinkle each with flour. Divide dough in half. Roll out half of dough directly onto cookie sheet with floured rolling pin, rolling until very thin.*** Sprinkle lightly with paprika and seasoned salt.**** Run rolling pin over once more. Cut into squares. Prick with fork. Bake at 350° 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Note that when you roll out your dough, it will probably not look neat, unless you’re compulsive.  The ends will be uneven, and that’s okay.  They taste the same.  Also, we’ve noticed that the edges tend to cook (or blacken, as the case may be) quite a bit faster than the inner ones, so we often remove the outer ones and continue to cook the rest for longer to make sure the crackers are nice and crispy.  They do harden after sitting some, but we think they’re better if they’re pretty crispy right when coming from the oven.

-Adapted from More with Less cookbook

  • *Pastry blender.  Um, yeah – used that once and got annoyed, so now we just stir it or mix it by hand.
  • **The dough will seem pretty dry,  (Hmm.  Maybe because I omit several tablespoons of liquid??  😉 ) but once you roll it out, it’s perfectly fine.
  • ***No, seriously.  Thinner.  We’ve found that the thinner they are, the better.  Roll it as thin as you think it should be, then roll it again after that, because it’s probably not thin enough.
  • ****Blah blah blah.  Use whatever spices you like.  Just go easy on the chili powder.  (And it’s probably better not to give the chili powder to a hot-food-loving Nigerian for “sprinkling.”  Trust me on this one.)   If you’re not as paranoid about running out of Ranch seasoning as I am, use that.  I have dreams of one day being able to liberally use it in recipes without fear of not being able to replace our stash since we can’t run to Wal-Mart and get more.  I love Ranch.  (Seriously.  Love it.  I used to dig through the bag of Cool Ranch Doritos looking for the chips that were coated in seasoning (You’d be surprised how few there are.  Such a rip off!), then I’d lick the Ranch off and put the chip back.  (Oh, come on!  Give me some credit.  Of COURSE I never put them back.  That’s disgusting!  But I did only half-heartedly eat the chips after licking them, because they don’t actually taste great soggy and with no seasoning.))

So there you have it.   Pseudo-Wheat Thin crackers.  Maybe they’re become part of your regular snack rotation, too.  😉

Oh, and by the way, I’m totally not sharing this recipe so you feel bad and send us crackers.  Scout’s honor.  And I most definitely made it all the way to Girl Scouts.  I did drop out in 6th grade when I became disillusioned after seeing my two junior leaders shoplift, but that’s another story.   😉

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