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The simplest cracker recipe ever (and one of the best).

A long time ago a reader asked for cracker recipes. An old friend of mine once told me the simplest cracker recipe ever, and I think one of the best.

Take any leftover cooked grain -- oatmeal, rice, bulghur, cornmeal mush, whatever -- add some water if it's dry, add some oil or butter, sweetening if you like, a bit of salt, and then mix in flour until you have a very stiff dough. You can also use such things as sesame seeds, poppy seeds, fresh or dried onion or garlic, herbs or spices.

Using more water for the liquid will make a tougher cracker; using more shortening will make it flakier and crisper, and more flavorful, at the cost of putting more fat in your diet.

Roll out this stiff dough very thin, put it on greased cookie sheets, and score it with a knife so you can break it into squares or diamonds after it's baked, at about 350 degrees until it looks done (say, 20 minutes). Put it out on racks to cool, then break it into pieces. Store the crackers, if you get to store them, in paper bags so they will stay crisp.

This is a good way to use up leftover grains, and always makes the most delicious crackers you've ever eaten. (Remember, those store-bought ones may have been baked months ago!) Don't feel bounded by a recipe here; there's no way to do this wrong!

A kitchen hint: The absolutely best and quickest way to season your iron frying pan is as follows: Pour just enough cooking oil into the pan so that it puddles slightly on the bottom. Heat over medium heat until the oil smokes. Take pan off heat, sprinkle table salt on bottom of pan (you can pour off the extra oil if you want to). Salt should cover the bottom of the pan. Heat again until the oil smokes, and then leave it to cool. After the pan has cooled, wipe off the salt and oil. This gives you a silky finish that lasts a long time. The pan can be washed gently in dishwater without destroying the finish.

A related household hint: a sprinkling of salt rubbed into blood or wine stains will take them right out. I have been told, though I'm no chemist, that both these things work because of the affinity of salt for iron (in both the stains and the pan).

How to make tomato figs

A reader with a long memory asks, "How did those tomato figs you made several years ago turn out? How were they made? "

For those who like sugar, they turned out just fine. Much to our dismay, during the final stage of drying, the dog ate about half of them, so he apparently liked them too. We used roma tomatoes, and they actually were fig-like.

Figs of tomatoes (1898 recipe)

Pour boiling water over the tomatoes in order to remove the skins; then weigh and place them in a stone jar, with as much sugar as you have tomatoes, and let stand two days. Pour off the syrup and boil and skim it until no scum rises. Then pour it over the tomatoes, and let them stand two days, as before, then boil and skim again. After a third time they are fit to dry, if the drying weather is good; if not, let them stand in the syrup until drying weather. Then place on large earthen plates or dishes, and put them in the sun to dry, which will take about a week, after which, pack them down in small wooden boxes, with fine white sugar between each layer. Tomatoes prepared in this way will keep for years.

(If the dog doesn't get them.)
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Author:Joos, Carol
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:May 1, 1993
Previous Article:Waiting for spring ... and asparagus and rhubarb.
Next Article:How I grow tomatoes.

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