Each day as I work, WWNO/NPR is on in the background. I hit the button on my radio as soon as I get up in the morning. The last thing I do at night is turn it off. If I hear one more mention of the incoming Winter Weather Armageddon I am going to scream. All summer long we are treated to endless updates every time a dust storm scuttles off the coast of Africa. In recent years the dread has expanded to include warnings of “once in a lifetime” artic blasts headed our way. Anyone else remember the “once in a lifetime” Bomb Cyclone weather event that brought record low temperatures a lifetime ago before the pandemic? Right, it was “once in a lifetime” until it happened again two weeks later. Now it seems that winters here in the Deep South when we do not have “record” low temperatures are less commonplace than those when we do.
I am an avid gardener, so threats of hurricanes and freezes have the power to really rock my world. I drag in the contents of my yard under threat of both ‘canes and frost.
As I write I am taking a break from dragging in the contents of both my front and rear yards. Soon, both the human (2) and canine (4) occupants will be obliged to navigate narrow pathways through the clutter of foliage. Cecilia and Matt arrive home late tonight with my gigantic grand dog, Bonzo, an ogre, in tow. On Saturday evening Cecilia and Matt’s friends from their high school days at Ben Franklin will join the mix for dinner and a bonfire. As someone once tweeted, “will be wild.”
I fully expect Friday morning to reveal the destruction of those precious and beautiful tropical plants and trees that live in my garden beds. My lush and verdant Monsteras are sure to look like wilted spinach. By Saturday night it should look akin to Dresden after the war.
On a much, much happier note, Cecilia and I have settled on Crick Cracks as the annual item to gift to all. We will spend Saturday whipping up batches to share. They are a perfect thing developed by cookbook author/blogger/recipe developer Molly Baz, whom Cecilia and I follow with utter devotion. All her recipes are fresh, colorful, and easy without being the same old ho-hum. Crick Cracks are easily customizable snacks that store well in an airtight tin for easy gifting and make for perfect snackage. When they devolve down into crumbles throw them on a salad for some crunch. This is a good one for all the Keto-ers out there.
Serves 6-8 restrained people as a snack, 1-2 with no self-control
This recipe makes one tray of Crick Cracks, but you might as well double it and make two. They will last several days if you keep them stored in an airtight room-temperature container, but they probably won’t last that long. I like the combination of sharp cheddar with crushed pecans and whole cumin seeds. I also like the combo of sharp cheddar with crushed sliced almonds and Dukkah, an Egyptian spice and nut blend. Click here for a Dukkah recipe or grab a jar in the spice section of Trader Joe’s. As for the cheese, Molly grates hers from a block. Not me. I buy big bags of the cheapest, pre-shredded cheddar I can find and go with that. Works just fine every time.
- 4 ounces extra sharp cheddar, parmesan, or gruyere cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup raw nuts
- 2 tablespoons mixed whole spices (cumin, fennel and/or coriander) or Dukkah (Note, above)
- Flaky sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Line a rimmed 8-x-10-inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a 13-x-18 half sheet for a double batch
3. Spread the cheese out evenly in a single layer over the parchment.
4. Chop the nuts into pea-sized pieces (or put them in a tip-top bag and whack them with a rolling pin). Spread the nuts out over the parchment.
5. Coarsely chop 2 tablespoons whole spices (or throw them in a zip-top bag and whack them with a rolling pin, or just use Dukkah). Scatter this evenly over the baking sheet and season with freshly ground black pepper.
6. Bake, rotating the baking sheet once halfway through to ensure even cooking, until all the cheese has melted and turned light golden brown, 15-20 minutes. In my oven I bake for 8 minutes then rotate the pans and bake for another 8 minutes. The cheese will no longer be shiny when it is properly cooked. You want this crisp and crackly, not chewy.
7. Lightly season with flaky sea salt, just out of the oven, if you feel like you need it. Definitely season with pepper ‘cause it makes everything better.
8. Let cool completely before breaking it into large-ish crackers. (If making ahead, store in an airtight container).
That’s it from me. If you are celebrating this weekend, please do not drive.