Oat Flour Vegetable Crackers Recipe

We hardly ever have crackers in the house.  Not because I have anything against healthy, wholesome crackers, but because every time I look at them in the grocery store I think to myself “I can make those” and I pass them over.  Then I go home and don’t make them.  Crackers aren’t hard to make, but if you have kids in the house who would eat them like chips given the opportunity, they are hard to keep in stock.

A lot of commercial crackers contain preservatives, artificial color or flavour, and possibly high fructose corn syrup or trans fats.  They are for the most part, just another processed food.  They don’t have to be though.  Tasty crackers can be made from good, wholesome ingredients as well.  This recipe tastes something like vegetable crackers, but the ingredients are much more simple.  Check out Nabisco Vegetable Thins.

Ingredients: ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID), CANOLA AND/OR SOYBEAN AND/OR PALM AND/OR PALM KERNEL AND/OR PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED PALM KERNEL OIL,  DEHYDRATED VEGETABLE BLEND (CONTAINS CARROTS, ONIONS, CELERY, RED BELL PEPPER, CABBAGE, TOMATO, PARSLEY), SUGAR, SALT, LEAVENING (MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE, BAKING SODA), DEXTROSE, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, ONION POWDER, HYDROLYZED SOY AND WHEAT PROTEIN, MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (FLAVOR ENHANCER), NATURAL FLAVOR, ARTIFICIAL COLOR, DISODIUM GUANYLATE (FLAVOR ENHANCER).

NOT good.  MSG, HFCS, Trans fats, artificial color and flavor.  Try this recipe that contains nothing but good, wholesome ingredients!

Homemade vegetable seasoning. Dehydrate then grind the vegetables to a powder. Green onions, zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, leeks and more!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½  to 1 3/4 c. oat flour
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
  •  ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • ¼ c. water
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla
  • salt to sprinkle on top

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Whisk first  6 ingredients together.
  3. Cut butter into dry mixture with a pastry cutter until it is pea-sized and crumbly.
  4. Mix water and vanilla together.  Toss into dry mixture with a fork until dough makes a ball.  If dough is too sticky add more flour by the Tbsp. as needed.
  5. With a sheet of parchment paper over top, roll out dough on a baking stone (or on any cookie sheet, but with parchment underneath as well.)  Roll as thin as you can.
  6. Sprinkle with salt as desired.
  7. Cut into squares.
  8. Bake at 400F for about 8-10 minutes or until crackers are starting to turn golden and getting firmer.  Don’t bake them so long they crumble!
  9. Cool a few minutes on baking sheet then using a metal flipper, transfer to cooling rack and cool fully.

Notes:

  • This recipe can be made with whole wheat or spelt flour in place of oat flour.
  • To make a plainer version of this cracker omit the vegetable seasoning and sesame seeds.
  • I make my own vegetable seasoning by dehydrating and then blending to a powder vegetables such as green onions, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and more.

Adapted from Kitchen Stewardship’s Cracker Recipe.

This post has been shared on The Morristribe’s Homesteader Carnival #17.

Raising Our Own Food in a Food-Dependent Society.

Vegetables from our garden.

Before we had kids we were pretty mainstream.  We bought the products we saw advertised.  We ate our (non-organic) vegetables.  We shopped for the best deals.  We cleaned with harsh cleaners.  We threw away our plastic and pretty much happily lived our life with our heads in the sand.  Until we decided to have children.  And couldn’t.

After years of trying to conceive I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis.  The lining of my uterus was growing not only in my uterus, but outside it as well, on my bowel.  My bladder.  My ovaries.  This all created a toxic environment for fertile embryos, and I couldn’t get pregnant.

I started researching my disease and discovered that there was no cure, and no definite cause.  There was some indication that diet could help control it, and some indication that toxins absorbed by the body through food and body/cleaning products could have caused or exacerbated it.  Major changes started to be made in our lives.

Our own goat’s milk.

I started choosing green cleaning and personal care products.    The food we ate was “free range” or “hormone-free” or “organic”.  Eventually, we did become pregnant and gave birth to our son.  We went on to conceive two other children, although not without difficulty.

While raising our children, we became more and more aware of the food we were putting into our and their bodies.  A gradual change occurred.  We started questioning where the food came from, and what the ingredients really were.   No longer were we interested in putting just plain organic food into them.  We wanted to know exactly where the ingredients came from.  Exactly what the animals were fed that we were eating.  Exactly what organic meant.  We wanted NO pesticides, not just “safe, organically-certified ones”.  We didn’t want produce picked on massive production farms in Mexico.  We wanted our own.

We live on just under 2 acres in a city on the coast of Western Canada.  Most of the acreage is forested.  We have learned to make good use of the unforested areas.

A pumpkin growing in our garden.

I have always had a garden. But each year my garden doubled in size, to what it is now.  This year, we have a good sized glass greenhouse with 58 tomato plants, various pepper plants, lettuce and more growing in it.  We baby our vegetable plants through typical wet springs and fight slugs with ducks rather than pesticides.  We are growing carrots, corn, cucumbers, squashes, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, potatoes, onions, leeks, herbs, peas, beans, chard and more.  We have raspberries, strawberries, currants, blueberries, blackberries, cherry trees, apple trees, pear, plum and apricot trees.   We can, dehydrate, juice and freeze our produce.

We stopped buying processed, prepared food.  We began to make our own bread, cookies, cakes, muffins, granola bars, crackers, yogurt, cereal, soup, dinners and so on.  Our meals are prepared from scratch with a lot of our own food produced on our own property.  That way, we know that the food we are feeding our children is not genetically modified, contains no BPA, preservatives, artificial ingredients, artificial color, or fillers etc.

Our homemade bread.

A few years ago we decided to raise a few chickens for eggs.  It grew from there, and now we regularly have 40 layers (we sell the extra eggs)  and we raise our own meat birds every year.  We feed them organic feed and kitchen scraps, and they free range on our property.  We process them ourselves.  We know exactly what food has gone into them and how they were processed.

One of our Black Copper Marans hens and babies.

Not long after, we decided to raise dairy goats.  Organic milk is expensive, and we go through a lot of milk.  Unpasteurized goat milk does not taste or smell like store-bought, pasteurized milk.  It has no scent and tastes like rich, creamy cow’s milk with virtually no stereo-typical “goaty” after-taste which comes from the pasteurization process.  We have Nigerian Dwarf goats which are capable of producing up to 1 L of milk a day.  Nigerians are compact, clean, friendly and full of fun!  They are just the right size for our small property.  Our goats add a flare of personality and a whole lot of fun to our homestead.  We know what our goats have been fed, how clean our barn is, how clean the goat was before she was milked, and how good that milk is!

Lulu, our milk goat, and her babies.

Honeybees seemed to be the next logical step.  We built 2 top bar hives and now have thousands of bees making pounds of honey.  Bees survive the winter in their hives by eating their own honey.  Store-bought honey is typically made from bees who have been fed sugar-water or even worse, high fructose corn syrup and water.   Nature makes a perfect food for the bees, but we greedy humans prefer to take their honey and sell it, and provide sugar which is essentially the same thing as baby formula: a substitution.   We allow our bees to keep some of their honey so that they can overwinter as nature intended.  From our bees we receive perfect, raw honey and pesticide-free bees wax for candles and body products.

Our honeybees at work inside our hives.

Raising our own food hasn’t come without its difficulties.   Farms require maintenance and my “muscle-in-the-arm” who also has to work a full time job always has work to do around the farm.  My husband has to work long hours so that I can stay home and raise our family.  This places a lot of the daily workload squarely on my shoulders.  As a result we don’t go on holidays a lot, we stay near the farm during the day, and the daily household duties including childraising and housecleaning add to the workload.  Good hard work only makes you stronger!

One of our daughters and a baby goat.

We have lost animals to predators from mink and bears to neighbouring dogs and coyotes.  Bad weather has almost wiped out our bees and our gardens.  I have to do things I never thought I would ever do in my life, such as disbud baby goats, put down suffering chickens, hunt mink and chase away bears.  But we also reap the benefits.

Fresh eggs!

My children have learned the value of food.  They see the hard work involved in harvesting it, preparing it and storing it.  They see the sacrifice made when lives are given for our food.  They have learned how to love and let go of animals that have left our farm by sale or by death.  They have seen and handled the heartache of loss and the rich satisfaction of plenty.  They pick their own snacks, and help make their own meals.  In a day and age where many children have never seen a dairy animal or tasted a carrot fresh from the ground, our children have milked a goat, picked berries and vegetables, held baby chicks and collected eggs.  Food is very real to them.  And valued in a way that many children do not have the privilege of experiencing.

Overall it has been a very rewarding experience.  We have learned so much in such a short period of time.  There is very little that is more rewarding than preparing a meal that was produced entirely on your own land.  We are a far cry from being fully sustainable, but we are thrilled with what we have accomplished and look forward to the next step in our journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

Our son with blueberries from our bushes.

This post was written in conjunction with Farmer’s Daughter’s Green Mom’s Carnival: Food Independence.

This post has been shared on TheMorrisTribe’s Homesteader Blog Carnival #16, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways # 36, Homestead Revival Barn Hop #72 and Fat Tuesday.

Why and How to Make Your Own Pectin

Last year I made several batches of jam without using pectin.  It involves  boiling the jam quite a bit to thicken it, and adding lemon peel to produce a natural pectin.  The jam turned out pretty well, but the kids weren’t so appreciative of the bits of lemon peel in the jam, and the actual process of boiling down fruit does remove quite a bit of the original nutrients.  I could have just used commercial pectin.  But I didn’t want to.

Why would I want to avoid pectin?  It’s just from apples or oranges, right?  Yes… and no.  You can’t just sqeeze an apple to get the pectin out.   There is quite a bit of processing that goes into the production of commercial pectin.

Wikipedia explains:

The main raw-materials for pectin production are dried citrus peel or apple pomace, both by-products of juice production. Pomace from sugar-beet is also used to a small extent.

From these materials, pectin is extracted by adding hot dilute acid at pH-values from 1.5 – 3.5. During several hours of extraction, the protopectin loses some of its branching and chain-length and goes into solution. After filtering, the extract is concentrated in vacuum and the pectin then precipitated by adding ethanol or isopropanol. An old technique of precipitating pectin with aluminium salts is no longer used (apart from alcohols and polyvalent cations; pectin also precipitates with proteins and detergents).

Alcohol-precipitated pectin is then separated, washed and dried. Treating the initial pectin with dilute acid leads to low-esterified pectins. When this process includes ammonium hydroxide, amidated pectins are obtained. After drying and milling, pectin is usually standardised with sugar and sometimes calcium-salts or organic acids to have optimum performance in a particular application.[9]

Since one of my primary reasons for making my own jam in the first place is to avoid processed food, why am I adding a highly-processed product to my minimally-processed jam?  Good question.  I also haven’t been able to figure out where commercial pectin is produced, yet.  I have my suspicions that it isn’t local.

So…. I googled how to make my own pectin.  Naturally, it involves more effort than buying it from the store.  But just like most things, it isn’t hard, it just involves a little bit of time.  You can make a large amount, however, and can it so you don’t need to make it very often.  You can also freeze it.

How to make pectin:

I used crab apples to make my pectin.  They are extremely tart, which means they have a lot of pectin.  You can also use green (unripe) apples, and you can make it from citrus fruits too.  You want to keep the peels on and cores in the apples because much of the pectin is in the peel and core.  So, simply wash and quarter about 18 crab apples (or 8 regular, green, unripe apples).  Cores and all.  You can remove the apple seeds if desired.  Place them in a large pot with 4 cups of water and 2 Tbsp. of lemon juice.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes or until reduced to about half.  Strain through cheese cloth and boil for another 20 minutes.  Pour into sterilized jars and seal them.  Boil them in a hot bath for 10 minutes to properly preserve them.  Store in your jam cupboard.

How to use the pectin

This part is tricky.  Because you don’t know the concentration of pectin in your apples, you can’t just throw in a particular amount and expect it to work.  For a batch of jam (6 cups of fruit) I’d start with a half cup of pectin.  Prepare your fruit and bring to a boil.  Boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Add sugar or honey and stir for a minute.  Add pectin and stir well for another minute.

Pick Your Own explains how to tell if your jam will set:

As you make the first batch, and are ready to fill the jars; first remove a spoonful of the jam, and hold an ice cube against the bottom of the spoon to cool the jam. If the spoonful sets to your liking, you can fill the jars, seal them and process them in the water bath canner.  If the spoonful does not set, add another cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of lemon juice and more of your pectin, bring to a full boil for 1 minute, and test again! Then do the pectin test.

Tips:

For a complete, cooked jam recipe from Mother Earth News using homemade pectin click here.   For more information on pectin and making your own, click here.

Here is another recipe using homemade pectin.

I would love to hear your stories on the adventures of making your own pectin!  Success?  Failure?  Let’s hear it!

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This post has been linked to Frugal Days Sustainable Ways #34 and Farmer’s Daughter’s Homestead Link Up.