A Harmony of Flavors

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Cracker of a Challenge

My painting of a Current Critter on a plate for my Dad
I am a creative person. I realized this long, long ago. My creativity has come out in different areas as my life went along. I drew pictures as a child, and they were pretty good. I was still drawing, going into high school and my one semester of university. When I moved to Guatemala as a young wife, I learned to cook, finally, and this was a logical step in the creativity department. I learned to cook and eat far different foods than I grew up with. I learned to can foods; make jams. Then I learned to do macramé. I always loved plants and had a relatively green thumb. I made the macramé hangers for plants and sold them along with a potted plant to set in them. Later I learned from my friend Elena how to crochet. I made doilies, baby blankets, sweaters for my kids and lots of other things. I learned to knit, though not as well as I could crochet. I learned to work with ceramics and paint lovely pictures, copying the "Current Critters" of the era.

A Cooking Class at the Dacotah Prairie Museum
Through all this, I still did a lot of cooking with 4 young children at home. Then I met my second husband who is into computers in a huge way. We usually have software and hardware that was termed "bleeding edge", rather than just cutting edge, as it was so far out there in the vanguard of what was the norm. He taught me to use computers and my artistic creativity went wild with the advent of graphic art. I have been asked to give cooking classes at or for the local museum. And now, not quite a year ago I started a website, this blog site, a Pinterest site. I wrote about 100 articles which my husband posted onto many, many online 'zine sites. He posted them all to a Tumblr account. Many of the articles were about herbs and spices and I used sections of those to flesh out the section in my website about "Flavors."

And for the first time in my life, as I started my "A Harmony of Flavors" website I realized I didn't need a recipe to make a new food!  This was such a revelation. It shook my little world. I have been making recipes, but changing things about them to my own taste, for as long as I can recall. This first happened in Guatemala. I had a cookbook my Mom gave me, called "Jiffy Cooking". As one might expect, it used time-saving/labor-saving things like cans and boxes. All of which were not available to me in Guatemala, so I had to improvise and make those "time-saving/labor-saving" ingredients from scratch. I mean, what the heck does one do when a recipe calls for cream of celery soup and no such thing exists?

I have been merrily making up my own recipes now for nearly a year. So when Cindy, a new friend with an extremely restrictive diet gave me a challenge to make her some crackers yesterday, my mind went crazy with possibilities. I had a hard time focusing on our conversation after that little challenge was set down. It percolated in my mind all day yesterday, and this morning I got going. Before I even had breakfast, I set some brown rice to cook!

Two kinds of Crackers this morning
Cindy is not on a gluten-free diet, per se, though she is not eating gluten. She cannot eat much of seeds or nuts. Beans of various sorts, brown rice, quinoa and many vegetables are her staples, along with some little meat or fish. Nothing from the nightshade family, no citrus or anything at all with acid. I wrote down those things that she could eat, and with those parameters I came up with two different kinds of crackers for her. As they baked this morning I was so excited. The first batch smelled wonderful while baking, and my only concern was that they be too fragile to hold a topping. This seems not to be a problem after all. I called them Garbanzo Brown Rice Crackers with Herbs and Onion. I went ahead with a second variety as the first kind came out of the oven. The second variety I named Quinoa Brown Rice Crackers with Bragg's and Garlic. Both turned out so very good. Cindy loved them and was so happy with the crunch. I set some out with slices of plain avocado on top and they were excellent. The crackers are highly flavored on their own, so they do not need flavor enhancing and go well with anything not highly flavored.

These crackers are gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, vegan. Simple ingredients, with a most flavorful outcome. I hope that your diet does not need to be so restrictive as Cindy's for you to try these crackers. They are just too good to miss.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and sign up for my Newsletter