Thursday, March 3, 2011

Leisure Time

I spend at least one day a week cleaning.

No, wait, cooking I mean I spend a day a week cooking.

It just seems like it's a day spent cleaning.

Make the bread dough, wash the dishes. While the bread is rising, make cookies, scones or crackers; while they're baking, wash the dishes. Make stock items- baking powder or trail mix or mayo, and then lunch. Wash the dishes. (As you may have realized by now, I don't have a dishwasher. For my soapbox on appliances, see here.)

I'm not sure what it was I used to do with my "leisure" time. Did I go shopping? Walking? I never had a dog so it wasn't that. I suppose I used to spend this time with my kids, but doing what? Shopping? Playing? Commuting from lesson to lesson (not so much, actually- we never got caught onto that particular treadmill, thank heaven).

Once upon a time, we didn't have "leisure" time-- all of our time was spent householding. The cooking and washing and making and growing. The funny thing is, these activities are not unenjoyable. Yes, there's drudgery. The fourth time I have to wash the dishes, I'm thinking a little true recreation might be just the ticket. But cooking, and gardening, is fun, and everything has some level of drudgery to it. Humans are simply not designed for non-stop fun, Charlie Sheen notwithstanding.

What we have done in our society is replace these creative activities with so-called "leisure" where we do nothing but consume. Leisure time now is intimately associated with spending money: movies or shopping or water park or theme park. It's about gratifying personal desires that are disconnected from personal, family or community needs

Our leisure time is now spent consuming and extracting instead of creating and nurturing.

So here's your next challenge: next time you have "free" time, don't go to the mall, or flick on Netflix. Make some crackers.

Sourcream-honey crackers with cranberry
1 cup plain flour
1 cup wheat flour
1 teaspoon seasalt
2 tablespoons softened butter

1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup honey
2-3 tablespoons of cranberry sauce

seasoning: 1 teaspoon each seasalt, white peppercorns

Preheat oven to 150'C/ 300'F.

Grind the seasonings together in a mortar; whisk the milk, sour cream, cranberry sauce and honey together to form a little more than a cup of thick liquid. Add the salt to the flour, and in a mixing bowl or food processor, cut the butter in until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. (I start this with a knife or pastry cutter, then finish it with my hands.) Slowly mix in enough liquid to form a soft, but not sticky, dough.

Divide the dough into three to four portions and roll out one at a time, until paper thin. Some people recommend a pasta press, but I did it fine with a rolling pin. Keep turning the dough over, and lightly coating it with flour so it doesn't stick to the pin or the board.

Lightly brush the sheet with oil, then grind sea salt onto it. Using a sharp knife or pizza roller, cut the dough into crackers. Line cookie sheet with parchment (or just put them directly on an ungreased sheet), then transfer crackers to the cookie sheet if you rolled it out on a board.

Bake for 20 minutes, until lightly browned and crisp. Allow to cool on the tray and then store in an air tight container for up to a week. This recipe made about 200 1" square crackers.

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