Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Graham Crackers

Fact: Bears love graham crackers. "Bears don't love graham crackers", you say, "They love honey. And wearing red shirts that barely cover their little bear bellies. And stealing picnic baskets." Be that as it may, bears also love graham crackers, and because I love bears, I love graham crackers. Could it be how perfectly crisp and crunchy they are? Or, their mild sweetness? Or, the fact that they are the bookends of a s'more? Maybe. Either way, I found this recipe a few months ago on Lottie + Doof (via Nancy Silverman) and made these for my mom's birthday with some salted caramel ice cream. They were so delicious i've made them a few times since, but i've yet had the time to photograph the process properly, so, I set aside this afternoon to capture graham cracker making in all it's glory. Unfortunately, even though I was anal enough to break out my ruler when cutting these guys out, somehow, I lost track of time when they were in the oven. Truth be told, I broke the cardinal rule of baking and walked out of the room in their last 7 minutes of baking. You can't smell them burning if you aren't in the room. Don't cry little bear, there are still enough to share. Try the recipe at the bottom, this is one of the few recipes i'll guarantee 100% satisfaction from.

straight edge

Yum, extra crispy.

Graham Crackers

  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
  • 1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
  • 5 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

For Topping:

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.

To prepare the topping: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon, and set aside.

Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers, or cut into whatever size/shape you prefer. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.

Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350° F.

Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll. Dust the surface with more flour and roll out the dough to get two or three more crackers.

Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough. Using a wooden skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the tough, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.

**note: I've made this dough a week or so in advance and frozen it until I have the time to roll it out and slice it up and i've seen no adverse affects.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Catch and Release Program

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Vandercook SP-20

Brad in the process of figuring out the safest way to get the
press onto the lift gate and out of the truck.

The unveiling

First run of the first job printed with the Vandercook.

Well, she finally arrived! After a little bit of head scratching on both the Georgia and Massachusetts ends of the voyage, the Vandercook was officially unloaded into her new
home in the general store on Monday night. Both Brad and I basked in the glow of 20th century proofing press beauty. Could it be, is she here to stay? Yes, children, she is. How do I know? I got to print on Miss Sp20 for 15 hours the very next day. I don't normally geek out about things, but I also never imagined I would get to own and be the sole operator of a Vandercook, and i'm kind of geeking out about this press. Don't get me wrong, the last Vandercook was great and she served me well, but having your own puppy is always better than playing with someone else's. I might even be found wearing a t-shirt like this in the near future.

Special thanks to Michael, of Kat Ran Press, who did a phenomenal job of packing the press, being patient with the Freight company rigmarole, being a mentor to me, and being such a fine steward of the press up until now.

This video isn't that eventful, but it captures me turning the press on for the first time.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Silver Bells and Cockle Shells

(above scans: Cosmos)

(pink eye purples: hull and pea)

If there's one thing i've learned about the garden this year, it is to be fearless. Take things out before they take out their leguminous neighbors. My Armenian cucumbers are getting seriously out of hand. They're reaching out for tomato cages, propping up their octopus like extensions on peppers, lima beans, and the like. It's hard to enjoy the taste when you know you're digesting a bully. Another thing is to know your crop.... it's harder than you'd think to judge when something is at its prime, ready to be plucked and enjoyed. I may have waited a little too long to harvest my pink eye purples. If I was sick when they did the "Know When to Harvest your Garden" lesson plan in elementary school, i'm paying for it now. Learn as you go. Next year i'll move up the ladder from Guppy Gardener to Minnow Gardener.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Color me Badd.

This week has felt like trying to fit a square peg
in a round hole. My dad used to tell me "Megan, you
hold the keys to your happiness.", and since I think he's right
on this one, i've been following a strict "pull through" regimen of
listening to bad top 40 radio songs, visiting our cute
new bantam chicks and repeatedly telling myself
to just man up. Haven't thrown in the towel yet.

Monday, August 2, 2010

6 CO2 + 6 H2O + light energy → C6H12O6 + 6 O2

Well kids, I never thought i'd say it, but I like Atlanta. This city has charmed me with it's Botanical Gardens, Six Flags, and Flying Biscuit Apple Butter. What it lacks in public transportation and pleasant summer climate it makes up for in beautiful old neighborhoods and a little Southern je ne sais quoi. Today is my first full day back at the farm after a little bit of dog sitting up in the city. I enjoyed my visit and thanks to my two city tour guides, I can take the sneaky back ways with the best of them. The pictures from the Botanical Gardens just don't do it's photosynthetic tenants justice. Go!