Lottie (+ Graham Crackers)

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I missed a very important occasion: my 100th post. It is hard to believe it’s been that long already and even harder to believe that you all found me! The internet is such a vast space full of people with things to share, and I am always grateful that some of you keep coming back to see what I have been up to in the kitchen. It is also satisfying for me to look back at the past 100 recipes and see a record of what I have been eating for these past few months. It is like a living cookbook. One of the most common questions I get from readers is about the name of this site: Lottie + Doof. I think it is about time I talk a little about Lottie.

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Lottie was my grandma and, unlike me, she hated cooking and saw it as a chore. As a woman who came of age before the woman’s rights movement, cooking was a requirement of her role as wife and mother. She was feisty (her relationship advice to me was to make sure I lived with the person before I married them because “marriage is bullshit”) and critical of the status quo (two qualities I inherited from her). She also had an amazing sense of humor which is what I enjoyed most about her—she and I would laugh so hard we would both be crying and trying hard to catch our breath.

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As she got older she got even more ornery and rebellious. I will always remember the Thanksgiving we all showed up at my grandparent’s house to be presented with take-out menus from local restaurants that happened to be open on the holiday. She excitedly told us that we could order anything we wanted from the restaurant of our choice. She was clearly very excited that she didn’t have to bother with preparing a meal for us. As we sat around the dining room table eating an odd combination of pizza, Chinese food, and Italian beef sandwiches, I thought about the differences between her life and mine. I could make choices about the food I ate and my role in the preparation of it. My embracing of home cooking was simply another choice, never a requirement. I sometimes wonder how she would have felt about cooking if it had been a choice for her. I think about her life a lot and she has played a big role in my work as an artist. There was never a question for me that this blog would be named after and dedicated to her. So, that is Lottie.

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One of Lottie’s favorite things to eat was graham crackers. There was always a box of Honey Maid Grahams in her pantry and I associate the sweet crackers with her. I have been considering graham cracker recipes for a couple of years and following other bloggers in their experiments. I can’t imagine a better recipe than Nancy Silverton’s, which I initially read about on 101 Cookbooks and then more recently on Smitten Kitchen. These are perfection. They taste like the graham crackers of your childhood. I have made them twice in the last few weeks and each time Bryan and I stand around the kitchen saying “mmmmm”. You will be so impressed with yourself for making these, I promise. You can use them to make smores, spread them with some cream cheese frosting, turn them into a crust for a cheesecake or pie, or simply enjoy them on their own.

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Happy 100 everyone! Thanks for all of your support over the last few months and I look forward to the next 100.

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Graham Crackers (recipe by Nancy Silverton)

  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
  • 1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
  • 5 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

For Topping:

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.

To prepare the topping: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon, and set aside.

Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers, or cut into whatever size/shape you prefer. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.

Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350° F.

Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and re-roll. Dust the surface with more flour and roll out the dough to get two or three more crackers.

Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough. Using a wooden skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the tough, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.

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59 comments to “Lottie (+ Graham Crackers)”

  1. Tim, I can’t believe I just found your blog today! I have been looking for a cooking blog for some time and never have been very impressed. I found your blog while trying to find something to make out of the three bags of apples that my father just dropped into my kitchen. I will be trying the apple jellies tomorrow. Thank you for making exploring in the kitchen more enjoyable! Can’t wait to read on.

  2. In 2009 I barely knew what a blog was.I figure my 200th post should be out by Valentine’s day, in time for my Dad’s 90th. His mom was an awesome Jewish cook, with melt in your mouth food, a seemingly happy wife and balabusta (homemaker). She was a sweety, but I envy you your grandma who rebelled and gave you such joy and such insight.

    Your writing and your taste buds are irresistible.

  3. Tim I had a grandmother named Lottie also! She was an excellent baker and loved the kitchen! I think she would have loved your graham crackers.

  4. pippilotta says:

    March 21st, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    hey tim,

    i love your page…did you know..i guess not ;-P that doof is german for stupid? so i guess your are not doof ;-) well i searched and read like a fool to understand lottie and “doof” ;-) btw my granny was named charlotte – a lottie too. go on with that great blog. greetings

  5. Hello Tim,

    that’s really a lovely story.

    Btw I’m from Germany and the word “doof” means in german “stupid/foolish/dumb” :-D

  6. The One-pot-pasta is delicious! Thank you!
    In Afrikaans and English, “doof” means: English=deaf(cannot hear);
    Afrikaans=doof(kan nie hoor nie)

  7. Tim, I’m newly introduced to your blog and I love the stories you share about Lottie. I love the idea of presenting my dinner guests with takeout menus and just going with it:). Your grandmother had a wonderful, creative sense of adventure.

    Many thanks for your beautiful blog and all the best to you.

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