Spicy Birds

If you'd have asked me this morning, I'd have told you that laziness is the Mother of Invention. As it turns out, I was wrong. It is, in fact, soup.
At least it is in this case - soup in general and the canned tomato variety in particular. I had grown weary of my usual lunch (a ploughman-ish affair of saltines, good chutney, good cheese and sweet pickles) and found myself craving something warm in my belly. I was just getting really excited by the ensuing midday meal when I realized that there was not a cracker to be had.

Well there goes lunch, I thought - but wait! We have always wanted to bake our own crackers - why not take this opportunity to whip up our OWN handmade crispy, munchy crackers? How hard can it be?!

Turns out it is dead simple. A couple of cups of flour, add liquid and fat and mix until dough just starts to hold together. Roll thin, cut out, pop in oven - and you've got a cookie sheet's worth of the crunchy little darlings in 20 minutes.

Now flavourings - that's another kettle of fish entirely. I have never been one to opt for "normal" flavours, especially when left to my own devices. Combine this with the fact that I am a completely LAPSED baker and, well - you end up with such food-fiascos as the lovely-sounding Pine Nut Brittle with Lavender Blossoms. That time I managed to over-toast the pine nuts and was heavy-handed with the lavender. The entire affair tasted like burnt soap, and five years on it continues to engender comment.

Since I wanted to actually consume these current crackers I opted for the classic flavour combination of olive oil and freshly-ground pepper. Not being one to completely buck "tradition" I used a blend of multi-coloured peppercorns and edible flower petals. Old habits, etc.
Then it was time to roll and cut the crackers and with it another chance for customization. For the first batch I cut them into penguins; the following two I opted for less-intensive squares. I couldn't believe how nicely they turned out - sweet and flaky from the olive oil, with just enough peppery kick - and they don't taste soapy in the least. And just look how cute!
I toured one of my crunchy penguins around the parlour in a celebratory victory lap.
He was delicious!