This piece began life as a slice of life on The Messy Table. Christiana saw the recipe and enjoyed it with her family, so she thought that it might be a good fit here. Thanks for that invitation! I wondered if I should just copy out the recipe with a brief introduction, but looking over the original post, I realized that context is important, too. Half the fun of shared recipes is the story that produced them. So, here you are. A glimpse of my family and a taste from my table.
It began with a week of procrastination and a new cookie cutter.
You see, the Spouse was away and I was managing the family juggling on my own. I tried to find something each day that would stand out and be a bit out of the ordinary. The festival helped. It sprang up in the park near our house – and by festival, I mean crazy collection of rides and tents and stalls and music and beautiful randomness. We have to walk through the park to get anywhere. So we got pulled in. Aside from the dog show (yes), and the hoola hoop lady (fantastically yes), and possibly the homemade candies stall (oh yes), the most compelling thing about the festival was the jumble sale. The kids loved it – they sell everything, Mummy! – and I loved it, too. We collected a lovely array of treasures. Antler napkin rings, a pirate card game for Blue, an eraser than looked like a meal and one that looks like a dog’s head, a book of craft ideas all involving glitter, and the cookie cutter. Fish shaped. Small. Perfect. (Note to the Spouse: yes, we have a large collection of cookie cutters already. Yes, they do tend to spring from the cupboard uninvited, and no, you haven’t had any maple-leaf-shaped cookies in a very long time. But seriously, this one is a fish. Perfect for homemade fishy crackers. You wouldn’t deny me that. What kind of tyrant are you, anyways? Love, me.)
So, home we came with our loot, and I intended to make fish crackers that afternoon, but time slipped away. We got occupied instead with our Love Wall to Daddy. Each day he was gone, the kids made cards showing something of that day. A running shoe for Sports Day at the school. A sausage commemorating a good dinner. That kind of thing. We also made a fair number of heart cards, too, because we missed him. Then, of course, we stuck them all up on the wall using washi tape. (Basically, masking tape in lovely colours and designs. Useful all over the place.) The Love Wall was a non-negotiable project. It had to get done before Daddy came home. So it did.
And the crackers didn’t. It’s not that time has been hectic – just that I’ve been letting intentions go a little. Maybe I’ve been dreaming up too many projects. Maybe it’s just the juggling of all things. Maybe if I worked harder?
Eventually, I did manage to get the dough made and popped in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
Days went past.
Goodness me, I need something better than good intentions.
But then Sunday came, and then there was time. We got home from church and fed ourselves lunch. The kids settled down for some “alone time” – a post-lunch liturgy around here and a life-saving habit, at that. (Thanks, Mum, for the gold star tip.) And I went into the kitchen to play. I dug out the dough. It looked a little petrified. I tried to knead it, but it crumbled. So I took out the food processor and popped in the dough. And an egg for encouragement. And a couple more handfuls of flour. Then, astonishingly, it rolled out beautifully. Much better than my cheesy crackers usually do. I rolled it out with some rye flour to give the biscuits a nice texture. I used my new fish cookie cutter. I lined up the unbaked biscuits head to tail and interlocking and felt like Escher. I had fun.
Eugene Peterson influences my Sundays. I love how he wisely defines Sabbath as time to pray and play. He has discussed this theme in many places, but you can find a nice clear conversational run-through here in an interview with Peterson on Sandra Glahn’s blog.
Peterson’s call to Sabbath is a necessary one in today’s church. It is another life-saving habit. I love that this week I heard that call from underneath all my rocky procrastination. Sometimes, the call to accomplish gets so loud in my ears and then days fill up and I put things off. Then, just when I thought all my good intentions had turned to stone, I got pulled into play in my kitchen and a spot of Sabbath found me. I’m so glad to get interrupted like that by blessing.
Here’s the recipe, as amended by Sabbath play.
Cheesy Fish Crackers
These are ridiculously simple to make. You can use whatever hard cheese you have on hand. Sometimes I add some parmesan. This week, I had a little Lochnagar on hand – you can see the orangey flecks in the photo up top.
And yes, I used a food processor. I see the irony crashing into my last post here. But there it is – we live in paradox. You can easily make these by hand, too.
I don’t think that the days in the fridge are necessary, but you’ll probably want to let it set for about half an hour before rolling it out. But be gentle with yourself – that 30 mins is by no means absolute…
100g cheddar cheese, grated
25g soft butter
¼ tsp baking powder
Put everything in the food processor and keep your hand on the button until everything comes together into one ball of dough. Take out of the bowl and put into a plastic bag, then put it in the fridge for about half an hour.
Roll it out on a floured counter top to about 3 mm, then use your preferred cookie cutter. Bake on parchment paper for 10 mins at 350°, then transfer to a rack to cool and crisp. Enjoy.