I try to buy as little preprepared food as possible. Some years ago when we were both working long hours and the girls were younger we used to eat quite differently. With school lunches it’s easy to fall into the trap of buying the little prepacked snacks and then to sit down to a frozen meal for dinner. We had never eaten that way when we were growing up so in the end it wasn’t too difficult to go back to basics and to start making things again. I will admit that significantly reducing my working hours also helped. When you have more time, cooking becomes a real pleasure rather than a chore. In the end I didn’t stop at cooking dinner – today I make a fairly large percentage of what we eat. I developed a passion for preserving, I bottle whatever is in season, I make jams and cordials, sauces and pastes. I’ve had disasters making vinegar (which I have yet to perfect) and some success making cheese. I bake bread, biscuits, cake and crackers.
This cracker recipe I came across last Christmas while we were staying in Queenstown, New Zealand. At the time I had been trying a few different cracker and crispbread recipes but was having difficulties getting the texture right. This recipe was in a magazine, the name of which I can’t remember and neither can I remember the originator of the recipe. I scribbled the recipe on a paper bag not thinking that sometime down the track I would be sharing it on my then non existent blog. This is a shame as the developer of this recipe really deserves the credit for these fabulous crackers.
I have a hard time keeping up the supply of these crispbreads, the more I make the more they get eaten. The quantities here are for double the original recipe but as they keep forever there seems to be little point in making any less.
Oat and Seed Crispbreads
- 200g oats (not quick oats)
- 100g rye flour
- 100g Sunflower seeds
- 100g linseeds
- 50g sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon salt
Line two 20 x 30cm (approximately) baking trays with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 140 degrees.
Put the oats in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 3 minutes. Drain the oats and then add the remaining ingredients. Stir until well combined. Let the mixture cool for a little while.
Spread half the mixture over each baking tray. The mixture is quite gluggy and I’ve found the best way to do this is to use damp hands to spread the mixture thinly.
Bake in the oven for 1 hour. remove from the oven and peel off the baking paper. Cut or break the mixture into approximately 12 pieces. Return them to the oven with the side that had been attached to the baking paper facing upwards. Bake for another 40 minutes.
Take care not to over bake the crackers as the linseeds in particular tend to go bitter if over cooked. You could try the same recipe using buckwheat flour instead of rye. You could also add some herbs such as rosemary or thyme and some black pepper, even some chilli.
Around 1991 I bought a book called ‘Foodcraft – gift food for gourmets’ by Nerys Purchon. It’s the type of book that probably wouldn’t sell very well today. It’s not written by anyone famous, it’s got very few pictures and even fewer coloured ones and it is seriously dated. I’m fairly sure that it is now out of print. It is however, still one of may favourite books. As Nerys says in the introduction “it’s as much a ‘Storeroom’ recipe book as it is a food gift book.” It is mostly for this purpose that I use it. It has wonderful recipes for mustards and cordials, ginger beers, sweets, chocolates, teas, dressings, pickles – all sorts of things. There are a few recipes that I go back to time and time again and Nerys ‘Golden Granola’ is one of them.
After reading in the newspaper a couple of weeks ago that Sanitarium is currently issuing cafes with notices to stop using the term granola on their menus as the word is owned by Sanitarium, I thought it wise to stick with toasted muesli. The original recipe called for buckwheat and oatbran as well as oats but it depends on what I have in the pantry as to what finds its way into my version. Similarly the nuts and dried fruit I use also depends on what I have in. The one part of the recipe that I never change is the peanut butter, honey and oil mixture that is mixed through the muesli before toasting. The quantity of oil isn’t much so don’t worry about including it. The recipe below is as I made it today but feel free to make substitutions.
Nerys’ Toasted Muesli
- 5 cups oats (don’t use quick oats for this)
- 2 cups quinoa flakes
- 2 cups wheatgerm
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 2 cups raw nuts, chopped if necessary (today I used pistachios, macadamia nuts and pecans)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup peanut butter (I use the crunchy, unsalted version from the health food shop)
- 2 cups dried fruit, chopped if necessary (cranberries, sultanas, apricots and prunes were what I used today but I have also used figs and dates in other versions)
The oat, grain, nut and seed mixture before toasting
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Mix the oats, quinoa flakes, wheatgerm, coconut and nuts in a large bowl. Put the honey, canola oil and peanut butter in a small saucepan and melt over a low heat. When it is well combined pour it over the grain mixture and mix it really well. Divide this mixture between a couple of large roasting pans. Put it in the oven to brown. You will need to stir the mixture often while it is cooking and don’t go away and leave it as it will catch very quickly. When the muesli is a golden brown and no longer sticky remove from the oven and cool. To the cooled mixture add the dried fruit and mix until well combined.
Don’t leave the muesli while it’s toasting – it will burn very quickly
I usually make a double batch of toasted muesli each time and keep it in the freezer.
The finished version with yoghurt and a drizzle of honey
Nerys Purchon also wrote a number of books about herbs and I also have a book of hers called ‘Bodycraft” which has instructions for making your own soap, shampoos, moisturisers and the like. After making the toasted muesli today I decided to google Nerys and learned that she passed away in 2010.