I don’t know about you, but I remember having a wonderful childhood.
Being the eldest of three siblings, I spent an incredibly large amount of time playing and fighting with my brother Ronald and my sister Valerie.
But while fights were commonplace and tantrums were thrown, and there were stages of comparison and grappling for our parents’ attention, what I remember of my childhood were happy times, particularly those years we’d spent living in a neo-classical red brick house on a street called Sea Breeze Road. No sea breeze actually blew on that street, but I thought the name was pretty cool anyway.
You could say that it was the house of our childhoods – because I’d spend at least 20 years of my life there before we moved onto greener and larger pastures.
This little two-storey cottage-style house sat right at the top of a slope, and I remember afternoons trudging up atop the little “hill” in order to get back home after a tiring day at school. But in this house, my siblings and I made memories that always bring me a smile.
I remember us in our yellow and green “Katong Park” kindergarten uniforms, playing in the backyard, and us riding on our tricycles, which we later upgraded for bicycles when we were finally able to balance on two wheels. There was the mango tree, which used to bear sweet ripe mangoes which we’d wrap in newspaper until they reached their prime, and then one year, there were no more mangoes anymore. And then, on our red-tiled patio floor was one of the highlights of our childhood – a small standing swing which could sit up to four skinny kids or two large adults. We’d play on the swing until it was time for dinner, when our domestic helper would call us in to eat.
I also remember how my dad once took us camping – in our own backyard.
We’d spent the evening preparing for the “adventure” in our garden, helped him set up the tent, and had settled on the mat to sleep for the night, when halfway through, I decided camping wasn’t for me and I escaped back to the comfort of my air-conditioned room, away from the blood-sucking mosquitoes. I think my siblings stayed in the tent a bit longer than I did, but I’m pretty sure that Val and Ron followed suit slightly later.
When we were slightly older, I’d have friends over at home and we’d play multiple rounds of Marco Polo in my room, us climbing over my double-decker bed until we’d fall over from laughing so darn hard.
And sometimes during the holidays, I’d go crazy and pretend that I was running a restaurant, taking out our fancy place mats and whipping up some version of Western food (at that point of time, I only knew mashed potatoes), and I’d serve it to my siblings, forcing them to eat every bite.
It was a pretty wild and fun childhood, and somehow, one of those things that I’d always associate with those days were cheese crackers – the sort that came with 5 crackers in a plastic packaging along with liquid cheddar cheese.
I don’t even remember the brand anymore, but in those days, these crackers were the bomb.
A few weeks ago, I found a recipe online from Smitten Kitchen that brought these crackers and the memories of my childhood back to mind.
I can promise you that these are so easy and fool-proof, you can sing and dance while making them and the crackers will still come out fine. The results were just incredible.
I’ll also tell you just how easy it was to make these. If you have a food processor, or a juicer, the whole process becomes even simpler. Throw the floor, salt, cheese and butter into the processor and then pulse gently until a rough dough forms; after which you add in the cream and pulse some more until the dough comes together without being too sticky – you might need to add a bit more of cream or water to get the dough to come together, but that’s easily fixed.
And, even if you don’t own a food processor or a juicer, you can bring the dough together by stirring the ingredients in a mixing bowl, until you get the right consistency. It might take a while longer, but put on some good music and you have a free work out of your arm muscles. Tell me, just how cool is that?
Later, on a floured surface, flatten the dough with a rolling pin until it is about half a centimeter thick. Now comes the fun part – you can cut the dough into any funky shape you like – fish, dolphins, birds, airplanes, hello kitty, whatever you wish. Or you could be classic like me (I prefer the word “classic” to “boring”) and cut them into small easy rectangles, with just a normal kitchen knife.
Arrange these little dough cut-outs on a parchment paper-lined baking tray; poke them with a fork so they don’t inflate when baking, sprinkle salt sparingly over, and then pop them in the oven until they’ve turned a light golden brown.
Before you know it, these crackers are done and cooling on a rack, and then all you need to mix some cream cheese and freshly chopped chives together, serving the dip with these amazing crackers.
Voila! How much easier can these get? Bon Appétit!
1) 1 cup of all-purpose flour, or more as needed
2) ½ teaspoon of salt
3) ½ cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4) 60g of butter
5) ¼ cup of milk cream
6) Salt for sprinkling over
7) ½ cup of cream cheese + 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh chives (optional, for the dip)
1) Sift the flour into a food processor, add in salt, grated cheese and butter, and pulse until butter and flour is well combined
2) Pour in the milk cream and pulse a bit more until a dough has formed (you can also add dried herbs such as oregano, thyme or whatever suits your fancy at this point)
3) If the dough is still dry, add a bit more of cream or water, one teaspoon at a time, until you get a dough that comes together without being sticky
4) Pre-heat oven to 200 deg cel
5) On a cool, smooth surface, place a sheet of parchment paper, sprinkle flour over and then roll out the dough into a rectangle shape over the parchment paper as thin as possible (about 0.5 cm thick)
6) Use a long knife to cut out small rectangles to form individual crackers (or you can use a pastry cutter, or anything that you have on hand)
7) Line a baking tray with parchment paper, and place the individual rectangles of dough on the parchment paper, making sure there is a small space between each rectangle
8) Use a fork to poke holes in each triangle to ensure the crackers do not bloat up
9) Sprinkle salt very lightly over dough, and bake for around 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
10) Cool on a rack and serve with a mixture of cream cheese and chopped fresh chives
Sift the flour into a food processor, add in salt, grated cheese and butter, and pulse until butter and flour is well combined. Pour in the milk cream and pulse a bit more until a dough has formed. If the dough is still dry, add a bit more of cream or water, one teaspoon at a time, until you get a dough that comes together without being sticky:
On a cool, smooth surface, place a sheet of parchment paper, sprinkle flour over and then roll out the dough into a rectangle shape over the parchment paper as thin as possible (about 0.5 cm thick):
Use a long knife to cut out small rectangles to form individual crackers (or you can use a pastry cutter, or anything that you have on hand):
Line a baking tray with parchment paper, and place the individual rectangles of dough on the parchment paper, making sure there is a small space between each rectangle. Use a fork to poke holes in each triangle to ensure the crackers do not bloat up. Sprinkle salt very lightly over dough, and bake for around 10 minutes or until lightly browned:
Cool on a rack and serve with a mixture of cream cheese and chopped fresh chives: