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A Happy Anniversary and Some Maple Fruit and Nut Crisps

October 27, 2011

My husband and I hosted a huge Halloween party ten years ago to this very day. And by huge, I mean a big white tent, a pig roast, and a DJ. Our hundred plus guests spared no detail; the costumes were over the top, especially mine–I went as a bride. In fact, I was the bride.

We were given a lot of advice as we planned our wedding, some solicited, some not, some valuable, some comical. But all of our advisers failed to share with us the one nugget that we most needed to hear: Marriage is really f*$%*@# hard. We were six years in when we understood just how hard it was and what the “for worse” part of our vows really meant. It wasn’t “he leaves the seat up” hard. Or “she spends too much time on the road” hard. It was “I’m sorry, it’s over” hard.

The most surprising part of our unraveling was that our love for each other wasn’t enough. It took a village to hold us together and carry the hope that I didn’t have the strength and conviction to carry. But in the end, we were the ones that had ruined it, and we were the ones that slowly pieced it together again. Somehow our marriage survived. It’s different now, like a second act. And it’s a damn good one. We take more care with our marriage and with each other these days. I’ll never be sure why we didn’t do that before.

So here’s the part where I gracefully segue into what these maple crisps have to do with my story. You might expect that we served them at the wedding. Or that I made them for our anniversary dinner. They’re neither. I had no urgent need to even be in the kitchen today; Greg is taking me to dinner tonight to celebrate our hard-earned double digit milestone. Today is simply a reminder that the little stuff matters–a lot. Tomorrow I’ll sneak a few of these into Greg’s lunch along with a note thanking him for a wonderful night, because I’m certain it will be.

It’s hard to choose the perfect partner for these subtly sweet crisps. They’re downright addictive on their own. Everything about them says Fall to me–the tart cranberries and sweet pears, the earthy walnuts, and the way they snap when you bite into one, like dried twigs underfoot. If forced to marry them off, I’d go with a creamy blue like St. Agur. A very ripe Camembert would be lovely too. We could keep dreaming up pairings together, but I don’t want to keep my date waiting.

Maple Fruit and Nut Crisps

Adapted from Tara at Seven Spoons and Julie.

Use your favorite fruit and nut combination in these crisps. I love pistachios with dates. Or substitute figs for the pears and cranberries and add a couple teaspoons of fennel seeds. Cranberries and hazelnuts. Rosemary, almonds, lemon zest, and golden raisins. Endless possibilities!

Ingredients

    1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
    1/4 cup green pumpkin seeds
    2 tablespoons millet (optional)
    2 cups white whole wheat flour (or all purpose flour)
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1 cup milk
    1 cup plain yogurt
    1/2 cup maple syrup
    1/2 cup dried cranberries
    1/2 cup dried pears, roughly chopped

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Lightly grease four mini loaf pans with olive oil or butter. (My pans are each 5-3/4 by 3-1/4 by 2-1/4. If your pans are bigger or smaller, simply adjust the baking time accordingly.)
  3. Toast the nuts and seeds until fragrant, about 8 minutes. Separately toast the millet for 5 minutes, until very lightly browned.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, combine the milk, yogurt, and syrup. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and stir until blended. Add the nuts, seeds, millet, and dried fruit.
  5. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans. Bake until golden brown and firm, 25-30 minutes. Remove the loaves from the pans and cool on a wire rack.
  6. The cooler the loaf, the easier it is to slice. You can finish the crisps a few hours after they cool, the next day, or wrap them tightly and pop them in the freezer. They’re actually easier to slice when frozen. When you’re ready to bake the crisps, set the oven temperature to 300°F. Slice the loaves as thin as you can and place them on an ungreased baking sheet. (I like to bake one and freeze the remaining loaves until the craving strikes again.)
  7. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip the slices over and return them to the over for 10 minutes. Scatter them on a wire rack to cool.

Makes 6-7 dozen crisps.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. itsnotny1963 permalink
    October 27, 2011 6:36 pm

    beautiful

  2. October 28, 2011 11:04 am

    Your honesty and sentiments are appreciated from this new wife as I begin a marriage that, due to my husband’s active military career, is sure to be more than difficult on occasion. I thought at first yours would be a sad story, but was glad to continue reading to find happiness’ return. Also glad to have this recipe — an edible Christmas gift idea!

    Cheers to you and yours,

    *Heather*

    • October 28, 2011 2:13 pm

      Heather, I like to think that sharing my story can help someone else even though I understand that everyone’s journey is different. I hope that your “story” has a happy ending too.

      And thank you for the great idea–I never thought about giving these crisps as a gift. Maybe even a hostess gift with a little chunk of cheese…my wheels are turning!

  3. October 28, 2011 11:27 am

    I read your post last night and it brought tears to my eyes. I decided to wait to reply until the emotions subsided. Beautiful, poignant post and you are so right, the little stuff matters a lot. Thanks for sharing and I am so glad there is a happy ending!

    • October 28, 2011 2:23 pm

      Hi Melissa, Thank you for taking the time to comment. It’s humbling to think my story can make such a strong connection with people. It is a happy ending indeed. I’m still amazed that we pulled it together. Many of our friends haven’t been as lucky.

  4. Katie McGowan permalink
    November 7, 2011 1:49 pm

    You have inspired me once again…Hope your anniversary was memorable and delicious!

  5. josee permalink
    February 4, 2013 3:30 pm

    Great story!
    I’d like to try these but am gluten sensitive. I wonder if I could substitute a combination of brown rice flour, quinoa flour and cornmeal instead of the whole wheat flour. Your thoughts?
    I just made the peanut butter breakfast cookies…Pwxsatany phil I think. they smell great! haven’t tasted them yet.

    • February 5, 2013 11:44 am

      Hi Josee, I’ve made these several times with a gluten-free all-purpose flour mix. The rice flour, quinoa, cornmeal combo you have will work, if you mix in some starches too, about 30% of the total blend. The recipe I’ve been using for the last year follows. I’ve had good luck with it, but there are lots of other mix recipes floating around cyberspace (Try the Gluten Free Goddess or Gluten Free Girl and The Chef.) If you want to keep it simple, you can probably get away with just adding some cornstarch or potato starch to the grains you have on hand. Happy Baking! Let me know how they turn out.

      ~ 65-70% grains
      85g Buckwheat
      120g Oat
      125g Quinoa
      145g Sorghum
      225g Sweet Rice

      ~30-35% starches
      150g potato starch
      100g tapioca flour
      100g cornstarch

  6. August 27, 2013 12:46 pm

    Lovely recipe. Thank you so much.

Trackbacks

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