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.

lottie

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. That made me cry! What is “Doof” Tim?

  2. What a beautiful story! You ask an intriguing question, though, whether or not your grandmother would have enjoyed cooking if it were not foisted on her as a mandate, but was more of a choice. She seems to have had a great sense of humor, though, judging from your Thanksgiving take-out memory. :)

    I love graham crackers, so I’m adding this to my recipe list!

  3. you are spectacular

  4. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful story about your Lottie. I love the emotional connection we have to food and special recipes. Now I’m left wondering about the Doof….. More to come?

  5. Congrats on your 100th! These graham crackers are SO tempting…

  6. Congratulations, Tim! I’m looking forward to your next 100 too.

  7. what a wonderful story about your Lottie! I’m glad that I can view my time in the kitchen as a pleasure rather than a chore.

    These Graham Crackers look so amazing. I’ve wanting to make some ever since they popped up on SK.

  8. so this begs the question…are you the doof? :)

  9. Oh so yummy looking. I’ve never thought to make my own!

  10. beans…even i know what doof is…

  11. …’food’ spelled backwards?…

  12. That’s so lovely. :) She sounds awesome! i’ve been meaning to try these crackers since seeing them on SK. Now I’m gonna HAVE to do them…plus marshmallows!

    Happy 100th!

  13. mmMmmm, i bet these would be so good dipped in maple whip cream. congrats!

  14. Yeah, the “Doof” is less interesting. When I was trying to figure out what I would call this, my friend Katie suggested Doof, because it was food spelled backwards. We called it that as a joke for a while and I grew to like the sound of it. Maybe I am Doof.
    Thanks for all of the good comments, friends!

  15. schneiderluvsdoof says:

    June 14th, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    It was The Doof Network. And it really has become a network! Congratulations on your 100th post, Senor Doof. Lottie would be proud.

  16. Congratulations on your 100th post. I enjoy your blog enormously– the photos and writing are inspiring. Have adopted the Proseco and Aperol summer drink! And, thank you for the thoughtful post about your grandmother.

  17. Congrats!!
    Thanks for sharing this special tribute.

  18. Aaaah! We finalllyy know the reason behind the name! Congratulations on your 100, TIm. Gorgeous graham crackers.

  19. Great story. Really sweet.

  20. Thanks for the good wishes, all!

  21. I am awake in the wee hours of the morning, missing one of my sons, who’s favorite cookie are graham crackers. Thanks for the recipe ad the beautiful pictures. Congrats on the 100th post.

  22. Congratulations! Great post! (And I think those grahams would make a great s’more…)

  23. Lottie sounds like some trip! If you went to Mt. Holyoke College you would never eat another graham cracker…and I haven’t! (But they do look good!)

  24. Ha! The doof/food explanation is great – I never caught that. Thanks for introducing us to Lottie – she sounds like a neat lady, and I’d been thinking of asking you about who/what Lottie was. I really like the name Lottie + Doof – just saying it is fun. When I first saw it mentioned somewhere (the kitchn, maybe?) the Lottie part caught my eye because of my own sweet Lottie who is still dearly missed around the farm.

    Thanks for the reminder that I haven’t made homemade graham crackers in years. They’re so good, and yours look wonderful. And congratulations on making this milestone! Looking forward to reading your 1,000th post! :)

  25. Congrats on the 100th post, it was a really nice tribute. I love the old photos. Thanks for sharing Tim, I hope the next 100 are just as successful!

  26. Thanks for sharing that post, Susan. Your Lottie was sweet!

  27. Doof is Food spelled backwards. Just a guess ??

  28. Elizabeth says:

    June 17th, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Lovely story, Tim! And that photograph of Lottie is just amazing… such a nice tribute to a wonderful lady.

  29. Congrats on your 100th post! I love this site and look forward to more of your “Doof” adventures!

  30. Karin's Mom says:

    June 21st, 2009 at 12:11 am

    You should call them Gram crackers. Congrats on your centennial. For your 100th anniversary, I hear you are supposed to give hershey bars and marshmallows.

  31. Thank you for sharing. Your Grandma sounds like quite the lady! :)

    ~ingrid

  32. Ooops, forgot to tell you Happy 100!
    ~ingrid

  33. Thanks, Ingrid!

  34. love those top 2 photos together, and hearing about lottie. happy 100th!! xoxo

  35. the name “doof” is very funny for germans! in german “doof” means “stupid” :-)

  36. Hello- i just found your blog through design sponge and im so happy I did. love your post about lottie…she actually reminds me of my fiesty grandma (who passed a few years ago) great picture of her too!
    felicidades on your 100th!

  37. Finally had time to return to your website. Belated congrats on your 100th! Such a touching story about your gran. I like the idea of calling them; Tim’s Gran’s Crackers. I think your gran would appreciate the simple humor in “doof”. A laugh is a laugh.

  38. I like this entry a lot. And you!

  39. Great story! My Hebrew name comes from my great grandmother Lottie (Americanized from Zlata once she emigrated from Lithuania). While I never had the privilege to know her, I think about what it was like for her to leave her home forever and move to Chicago, where she had eight kids to feed. Oy. I wish I could sit down with her for just one meal.

  40. I love this! I’m definitely going to be trying this recipe, and your story was so intriguing and compelling. You’re a fabulous writer and cook; you inspire me!
    Your Lottie sounds like she’d be a riot to hang out with. Thanks for the amazing post!

  41. My grandma’s name was Lottie too (from Wladyslawa in polish) and she was also not so much into cooking. Love your website!

  42. amazing how important grandmas are in our lives! lovely blog. keep it up. hope to make the recipe soon.

  43. Another one here who had a feisty grandma who hated cooking. I suspect in her case it was insecurity combined with being forced to cook Italian for her Italian husband (she was Polish). I’ll never forget when she quit altogether and for the next 20 or so years we had pizza on Xmas eve with that side of the family. To the extent that although I have chosen to give it up, the rest of my family carries on that tradition despite the fact that they love to cook-pizza on Xmas eve. :). Feisty grandmas rock.

  44. i can totally relate to lotti since the situation hasn’t changed yet in my country.my mother hates cooking but she has to do it anyway.i like it sometimes but not always. to me a perfect man is one cooks .but in our culture men don’t cook, that why really envy my sister because my brother in law is a great cook and he cooks.

  45. i can totally relate to lotti since the situation hasn’t changed yet in my country.my mother hates cooking but she has to do it anyway.i like it sometimes but not always. to me a perfect man is one who cooks .but in our culture men don’t cook, that is why really envy my sister because my brother in law is a great cook and he cooks.

  46. OK, so I made the dough yesterday and baked these off this morning…. The dough is sticky, sticky! I hate sticky dough, it’s so fussy and makes me throw flour around my kitchen so thick that I’m cleaning it up for days. The constant in and out of the fridge is fussy too. I hate fussy. But I definitely do NOT hate the finished product. Really, really incredible tasting. I love the snap and I was surprised by what the ingredients consisted of, not fussy at all. I love Lottie and I never even met her, she sounds like my kind of gal and I would have loved that Thanksgiving take out!

    I hope you’ll let me indulge in my graham cracker share-back story. My birthday arrives as fall in all it’s glory is ushered in, during the last week of October. I have always wanted to love my birthday. What usually happens though, is something calamitous, or awful, or tragic. It has turned into a family legend… this curse of my birthday. I have even gone so far as to lobby my Mother for an official change of date, hoping to break the cycle.

    Well these graham crackers are the beginnings of my birthday reclamation from the dark forces! I will no longer tolerate; hurricanes blowing off my roof, emergency surgery, armed robbery, international incidents, 42 stitches in my foot sans lidocaine, human bites and rabies shots, car wrecks, stolen bicycles, broken ankles, construction accidents or the very worst, my dear father’s funeral. This year on my birthday after having lunch with my best friend, I arrived home to find the back sliding glass doors smashed in and all of my jewelry stolen and my bedroom and bathroom turned upside down… completely ransacked!

    I do not believe myself to be the kind of person who dwells on these things, or allows them to stop or even hinder my forward progress. These stolen things however precious and memorable, were only things and luckily no one was hurt. But it has served as the very last straw! I am officially shaking my fist at the universe and making my stand… NO MORE!

    I have always wanted to attend a beach bonfire. My whole life. But I have never had the opportunity. I have also always wanted to eat a ‘smore… I’ve never done that either, ever. I am a late-in-life-baby and my parents were just too old and jaded for camping and ‘smores when I reached the appropriate age. Ce’st la vie…

    So, Tonight, my wonderful husband a few special friends have planned the biggest, brightest most awesome beach bonfire at the jettys on Dania Beach in South Florida as “Jeanne’s Birthday 2.0″. We are going to drink wine and eat ‘smores under a full moon and kick our heels up and maybe perform a cleansing ritual and reclaim my birthday. I will say a small prayer of forgiveness for the desperate, upside-down people who took my things and melt a marshmallow in honor of forward progress. These graham crackers will be my entrance to a future of uneventful birthdays… maybe the first in an annual tradition…. maybe just the thing to keep it sweet.

    Thanks you guys, thanks Lottie wherever you might be.

  47. Ahhh. Warms my heart. Isn’t it tantalizing to think of food and the making of food as such a “choice” of our generation? Kind of takes your breath away, in a way. We are so very charmed in this sense. Really enjoyed the perspective here. Thank you.

  48. lottie sounds like she was a woman “way before her time.” a strong soul…
    & i congratulate lottie + doof (food) on your 100th post.
    you tim, must have many of lottie’s traits & being true to one’s self probably, the most important!
    kudos!

  49. Lotte Powell says:

    May 29th, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Hi Tim,
    Not quite sure how I stumbled on your site, but soooo glad I did. It’s not often that I come accross someone with my name and to hear the story of your Grandma meant alot to me. My daughter says she sounds alot like me. I find your memories of her to be precious and uplifting. Always hold them close in your heart and know how much she loved you. You have found a beautiful way to give her a legacy she could never have imagined.
    Lotte from PA

  50. Thanks so much, Lotte! You have the best name. : )

  51. Hello there, and maybe you get this a lot, but I am another Lottie!! Named for my Grandmother Lottie and my mother Lottie. So…I saw this post on Pinterest called Lottie + Doof Marinated Mozz and I’m like, what? who? So, I really am going to be enjoying this blog…

    Thanks and Peace,

    Lottie

  52. Just stumbled upon your blog via Twitter. Great post and a lovely story. — Naveen

  53. 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.

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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

  57. Hello Tim,

    that’s really a lovely story.

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

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

  59. 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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