Ok, maybe not the cheapest, but pretty close. I am almost certain that my love of cooking stems from my husband (who inspired me to be “thrifty”, as he calls it) awkwardly exclaiming “They want $30 for something you could make at home?” in the middle of a restaurant. That said, he doesn’t care about food the way I do; I would happily pay exorbitant sums for a perfect wild mushroom risotto or a rack of medium rare wild boar chops smothered in apple bourbon sauce or a deconstructed creme brulee or . . . I have to stop now, or I’ll just keep going, but you get the picture . He wouldn’t ‘happily’ pay for food at a grocery store; it just not what he likes to spend money on. So I started cooking more and more of the foods I wanted at home, and somewhere along the line fell in love with the process as much as the end results. This recipe however, stems entirely from my now well developed sense of “thriftiness”. This is a recipe for homemade fig and fennel raincoast crisps; I love the store bought ones – and nothing pairs better with a good piece of cheese – but cannot bring myself to pay $8/box. I have looked at a few different versions of this recipe, but have turned it into my own over time. I think the original inspiration comes from Dinner with Julie, but this flavour combination comes from a brainstorming session with my sister and a good friend; it is by far my favourite. But feel free to play with different fruits, nuts and spices to find your favourite combination (or just to empty out your pantry); cranberry/rosemary is second on my list. Also, I have mainly been making these with seeds due to several friends and relatives with nut allergies, but feel free to use nuts in here as well; just sub them for some of the seeds.
2 tsp baking soda
1 heaping tsp salt
1 rounded Tbsp fennel seeds, lightly bashed in a mortar
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup honey
In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, then add the buttermilk and honey, stirring until just combined. Then fold in:
1 cup chopped, dried figs
1 cup large seeds (I use a combination of pepitas and sunflower seeds)
1/4 cup each, flax seed and sesame seed
Divide between two greased loaf pans and bake in a preheated 350 oven for 40-45 minutes or until browned and springy to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes before flipping out to cool completely. Once cooled, place in an airtight bag or container and place in the freezer. Leave until frozen solid or until you want to use them (I often make a batch when I have some buttermilk to use up and then leave them in the freezer until I need them).
Once frozen, slice the loaves as thinly as possible using a very sharp carving knife if you have one or a really good serrated knife. Lay the slices out on a parchment or silicone lined cookie sheet and pop into the oven at 300 degrees for 13-15 minutes, then flip and put back in for another 10 minutes or so, until dry but not overly brown. Let cool and serve any way you want to. This will impress the pants off your friends – “Homemade crackers! Where do you find the time?”. Little do they know this took about 20 minutes of actual work. These will stay good in an airtight bag or container for 6 weeks or so.