Archive for the ‘Snacks’ Category

Hello blog readers. Today I am handing over the reins to my friend Robyn. She is a master of all things snackalicious and a self-proclaimed “snackologist.” We here at STC headquarters agree. So, you’ll hear from her occasionally about her snack-tastic creations and learn more about the art – and science – of snackology. Because really, sometimes all you need to satisfy the craving is…a snack. Enjoy.

When it comes to snacks, I have a problem. Wandering the supermarket aisles, my mind is on overdrive in an attempt to decipher what my stomach is longing to tell me. It wants snacks – it needs snacks – but what kind? Salty or sweet? Spicy or sour? Squishy or scrunchy? Sinfully decadent, as in “I’ll start eating better Monday, I promise!” or stick to my guns, recognizing that a diet consisting primarily of sugar isn’t good for anyone apart from dentists. Twenty minutes later I’m no closer to putting anything in my basket than I am to taking a stand on the issue of global warming. 

If you must know, I completely blame this problem on two things: my upbringing and my father. In my house, Friday’s “special treat” was popcorn and New York Seltzer. For us kids, the only “sweet” cereal option was Kashi. My father honestly enjoyed the taste sensation of tomatoes on his vanilla ice cream as much as the shock value his taste buds garnered.  Are you beginning to understand my genetic necessity to “think outside the box” in order to satisfy my seemingly insatiable cravings?  

I’ll be honest – one of the best days of my life took place in Nampa, Idaho, in 1999. It was there that I learned customers can add a second flavor to a Blizzard for only 30 cents more. Are you understanding the significance here, people? A second flavor for 30 cents more – incalculable combinations of soft-served goodness. It doesn’t even matter that I have since graduated college, traveled the world, and gotten married; in the scrapbook of my memory it is that day that will forever live in infamy.

That glorious fall day wasn’t the start of it all; far from it in both time and distance, the taste bud extravaganza of my earliest recollections occurred while eating tacos for dinner at my best friend’s house. I asked her mother for ketchup; but she didn’t want to give it to me because she thought I couldn’t possibly like the taste of ketchup on tacos. Little did she know the refined palate of my 8 year old self. I calmly explained that tacos were very much, in fact, similar to hamburgers, what with cheese, meat and lettuce. Since I liked ketchup on my cheeseburgers, shouldn’t it stand to reason I would like it on my tacos? Touché, little girl, touché.

But I digress. If I were to highlight each and every flavor discovery I’ve ever made, this post would likely rival that of Clarissa, and since I’m really supposed to be working now, I will keep it to this: everyone loves to snack; what makes me different is the way I pimp my snacks on a regular basis. Yup, I’m a self-appointed Snackologist and proud of it.

My only rule in the science of snackology is trying everything at least once before I judge; there is no such thing as a bad idea, there are only bad implementations of possible gold mines. From cottage cheese and horseradish pairings to peppermint bark and peanut butter cups, I follow my impulses like a crack whore looking to score; and score big I do!

Thankfully, at least once a month at Soup Night (a monthly gathering at Sonja’s house), I have a willing and captive (if not a little scared) audience where I can test out my latest creation. Last month’s snacktastic mix – Cheezits and Hot Tamales – not only went over budbusters, but, as most of my stomach-brained unions tend to do, sparked childlike wonder, excited laughter and endless possibilities. The key to Hot Tacheezils? Mixing ahead of time to soak the flavor, and a 2 to 1 ratio that, like your political position, depending on what side you come down on, tends to say a lot about you (in case you’re wondering, my 2 to 1 is Tamale to Cheezit; texture is king!).

One thing is sure: snacks are not the end, but rather the beginning; the very paints and brushes, the tools of living a pimped-snack life available to all, yet present only to those who seek, not with eyes, but with an inner passion for taste adventure. We must rise above the limitations of the finite options found in boxes on store shelves. We deserve more. We deserve snackology.

Read Full Post »

Kettle Chips

Potato chips may just be my kryptonite. Like a magnet, I am drawn to them at parties, in vending machines and at the grocery store. My worst encounter with The Evil Potato Chips is always at Costco. They sell these ginormous bags of Kettle Chips for about four bucks and I can never resist buying a bag.

Well, sure enough I succumbed to the temptation again this week. I went to Costco for my usual staples: sugar, chocolate chips, cat litter, cream, Triscuits, Parmigiano Reggiano and honey. What? Those aren’t your Costco staples? Whatevs. The minute I walked in the door, I was faced with The Evil Potato Chips. There is evidently a big sporting event on teevee tomorrow and Costco was pushing snack foods and flat screen teevees right as you walked in the door. Sometimes, sometimes, I can avoid The Evil Potato Chips, but not this time.

They were the first thing I put in my cart.

Don’t let the package deceive you. “Lightly Salted” is abunchofbullshit – as my dad likes to say. These thick, crunchy, ridged fried chips of potato are salted with a pretty heavy hand. It’s as if the staff of Novartis Pharmaceuticals volunteered to “lightly” salt the chips. Yeah, right. Consider yourself warned.

So, if you are planning to watch some teevee tomorrow. Or, are just looking for a salt fix – find yourself a bag of Kettle Chips and dive right in.

Read Full Post »

Raincoast Crisps

Are you familiar with Raincoast Crisps yet? They are from Vancouver, B.C., from a company called Lesley Stowe Fine Foods. I don’t know any of their other products yet, which is probably a good thing. A box of those crisp, crunchy, flavorful crackers costs about $7. That was fine when I was getting a paycheck. Now? Not so much. I am thankful that I can still afford a splurge now and again, but alas I am now saving my money for the cheese not the crackers.

The thing is, I have been craving Raincoast Crisps something fierce. After a little searching online, I came across a recipe that damn near replicates the crisps. This week, I decided to give it a try.

I have made crackers a couple of times. I’ve made paper thin crunchy crackers and cheesy crackers. I know my way around a cracker recipe. They are generally pretty simple – 4 or 5 ingredients; mix; roll; bake. This recipe however is a little different. If you haven’t had Raincoast Crisps, you will probably think, “Why bother.” Well then, go on out and buy yourself a $7 box of crackers. If you develop a habit however, you may reconsider making your own.

Most ingredients you can find in the bulk food section of any well-stocked grocery store. The flax seed meal needs to be refrigerated, so you may need to look for it there. Just buy what you need for 1-2 batches, which will make these really affordable snacks.

You bake the thick, lumpy batter in a loaf pan and when it comes out of the oven it looks like a burnt loaf of bread. The next day however, when you slice up the loaf, all the treasures you mixed into the batter reveal themselves like little jewels. Sprinkle each slice with some kosher salt, then oven dry them for a couple of hours. Once cooled, they are ready to store. Or eat. I prefer to serve mine with a rich triple-cream brie, like Delice de Bourgogne.

Raincoast-type Crisps
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup pecans
2 Tablespoons flax seed meal
1 Tablespoon flax seed
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon rosemary, minced
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Kosher salt for sprinkling

Mix first 8 dry ingredients in large bowl. In measuring cup, mix buttermilk, honey, brown sugar, molasses, baking soda, and salt. Combine wet into dry ingredients. Pour batter into greased small loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Cool, wrap, and store overnight in the fridge.

The next day, thinly slice the loaf into 1/8-inch slices.

Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment; sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.
Oven dry at 200 degrees for 30 minutes. Turn off oven and leave to dry for about 2 hours. When completely cool, store airtight container.

Read Full Post »

I am heading out the door, but had to write something about “road food.” Gavin and I used to pack a bag of hoagie rolls, a bottle of dijonaise and two kinds cheese: pepper jack & cheddar. That was back in the days when Gavin had a ’76 VW camper van though…and I was a vegetarian.

Fast forward to today, we still have a VW but it is a bit sportier (not to mention faster) than the camper van. Also, I only lasted as a vegetarian a few years.

Road food today has evolved to turkey, bacon, cheddar and ranch wraps. We make them before we hit the road and pack them in the cooler.

Today I am hitting the road to Eastern Washington with the girls, so I had to pack us some “road wraps.” The cooler is packed and we are rolling out of town in 3, 2, 1!

Read Full Post »

Leek Rings

Everyone knows – grease is good for what “ales” you. Get it? Ale = beer, anyways. Nothing quite calms to aching belly from one too many nights of overindulgence like a big basket of greasy goodness. Deep frying at home is kind of a committment, so this is a perfect snack that you can make in small quantities.

Leek Rings

2 quarts vegetable oil
1 leek
1 1/2 cups milk
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning

Cut off the dark green part of the leek. Slice the rest of the leek into 1/2-inch rings, separating them into layers. Place in a bowl full of water to dislodge any dirt. Drain and move onto a paper towel lined baking sheet.

Heat the oil in a heavy 4 or 5-quart pot over medium-high heat to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. In another bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Divide the flour into 2 shallow dishes and put the milk/egg mix into a third. Take 1 small handful of leeks at a time and dip them first into one flour mixture, then into the milk/egg mix, and then into the second flour mixture. Working in batches, fry the rings for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the rings to a baking sheet lined with paper towels allow to cool for 2 to 3 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with a little more kosher salt and serve with mustart.

Read Full Post »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.