Sunday, November 26, 2006

Family, farm-fresh food and oyster crackers


Well, I’ve been to Texas. And while I thought most of my homesickness was rooted in missing Tex-Mex and barbecue, after spending two days at my grandparents’ farm, I realized what I truly pine for is the closeness of family. Save for one excursion into town to eat at San Miguel’s, a wonderful Tex-Mex restaurant where we all had our fill of enchiladas, tacos, burritos, chile rellenos, refried beans, rice, chips, salsa, guacamole, sopapillas and pralines, I spent my trip in the country, enjoying the company of my fun, intelligent, loving family while we shared meals based on the fruit of the land.

My grandparents are getting older, and to save time for the big meal they ordered a smoked turkey from Greenberg’s of Tyler, Texas—hailed by many the aristocrat of turkeys. This is a tender, smoky and succulent bird, so exquisite and renowned that even Oprah lists it as one of her favorite things. I highly recommend it and I could gnaw on the chewy, smoky skin for days. But even though we ordered out for the bird, everything else was homemade—with many of the ingredients sourced from my grandparents’ and other family members’ gardens: the jalapeno corn bread stuffing, the green beans with bacon and almonds, the cranberry sauces, the creamy rice casserole, several salads made with greens and fruit, sweet potatoes, chips and salsa, pecan pie, apple pie and sweet potato pie, and, well, the list goes on and on.

It was a fine, colorful feast. But there’s one thing my grandmother prepares that really makes a trip to her house complete: seasoned oyster crackers. I think the operative word is crack because once you get a bowl of these in your hands, you can’t stop eating them. We even tussled over who got to hold the bowl, but fortunately, she had made enough for everyone. She keeps a stash in a secret location and just when we thought we’d eaten them all, miraculously she’d produce more. Which was fortunate because otherwise fights may have ensued.

These crackers are so addictive, we’d be passed out on the couch, groaning as we unbuckled our belts and massaged our swollen bellies but we’d always find room for another handful of oyster crackers. Heck, I even passed on dessert one meal just to eat more of these herbalicious treats.

I’m glad everything else was so fresh, healthy and splendid, because you cannot survive on a diet of crackers alone. But if I had to choose one thing to eat when I went to her house, it just might be these—if I can wrest the bowl away from the other members of my family.

Seasoned oyster crackers
Ingredients:
1 pkg. 12-14 oz. oyster crackers
1/2 cup of canola oil
1/2 tsp fresh dill weed
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp lemon pepper
1 pkg. ranch dressing, original (do not use low fat!)

Method:
Preheat oven to 250 degrees
Mix oil with herbs and spices
Put crackers in a 9 x 13 inch pan
Pour oil and herb mixture over crackers, gently stir
Cook in oven for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally

What’s a treat your family (pardon the pun) goes crackers over?

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24 comments:

Mae said...

Both the turkey and the crackers sounds delish.

I wonder if there's any oyster cracker here... do you know why it's called oyster cracker? Is it just a name or there's oyster in it? I'm sorry if this sounds like a very stupid question. :)

christine (myplateoryours) said...

My family of origin (lovely phrase, so cozy) doesn't get together anymore. But when we did, way back in the day when we were kids, we would get crazy for my Lebanese grandmother's pickled turnips. She did not keep a big stash somewhere like yours so we were strictly rationed. One of the joys of being an adult is making a big batch of 'em and eating my fill.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

They look delicious! Your post made me dream. Thanks for that "Oyser Crackers" recipe...

Homesick Texan said...

Mae--I think they're called oyster crackers because they were made to go with chowders. I don't know if you can get them outside the US but any small saltine or water cracker will work.

Christine--Pickled turnips sound much healthier than crackers! I don't believe, however, I've ever had turnips, pickled or otherwise. Something new to try!

Rosa--You're welcome!

TexanInNYC said...

Where in Texas are you from? My Czech grandmother in El Campo (an hour outside of Houston) makes those oyster crackers -- perhaps not the exact same recipe, I'm not sure, but it is at least very similar and includes canola oil and ranch dressing mix.
My Thanksgiving was in NYC this year, but Christmas will be down in Texas, thank goodness!

Homesick Texan said...

TexaninNYC--I love it when other Texans on the blog respond, "My grandmother makes that too!"

I'm from Houston and I know El Campo. You pass through it when you take I-10 to San Antonio or Austin. Where are you from?

TexanInNYC said...

Wow, so few people have ever heard of El Campo. My mother grew up in Houston and my father is from El Campo, so all of my extended family is still down there. However, I am from Dallas, and only visit the other cities to see family on holidays.

We had a Greenberg's turkey shipped to NYC for thanksgiving; they're the best!

The County Clerk said...

So... you are sitting at your family holiday table and you break out the digital camera and do a photo shoot?

Ha!

Nice.

Yvo said...

Mm, that sounds so good. I think I can make those, too!!! I was just thinking how normal oyster crackers are good but they get boring if you try to eat them alone (I used to love them in my NE clam chowder). Ahh... sounds like a lovely 48 hours and a wonderful weekend.

Homesick Texan said...

TexasInNYC--Grenberg turkeys are the best! So smoky and succulent.

County Clerk--Actually, everyone in my family is nuts about photography so my camera wasn't completely out of place.

Yvo--They're very easy to make. And it was indeed a short but sweet trip.

Julie said...

That smoked turkey sounds excellent! I'm sitting here mulling over the possibilities of ordering it for next Thanksgiving. Seems like a more interesting choice than the usual roast turkey.

Homesick Texan said...

Julie,

You should definitely order one, you won't be disappointed. And ordering from the company is an experience as well: they don't take credit cards!

Margaret said...

thank you thank you thank you! i have so many memories of my grandmother making those but have never been able to get the recipe just right...these are pretty damn close!

Anonymous said...

Oyster crackers are little round, puffy crackers that I remember from my childhood ('40s) as a treat especially delishe with Oyster Stew. So glad to see the Seasoned crackers recipe; it just makes the crackers into more of a very tasty snack. The crackers are expensive these days except at Dollar Stores.,Barb.Thom, NC

Anonymous said...

Thanks to discovering your recipe for seasoned Oyster crackers, I'm ready to throw open a window and shout hooray. I can't tell you how many futile searches through cookbooks and websites I've made for this recipe.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Happy holidays! Lee Siskey, Kansas Cty, MO

Anonymous said...

I just found your site, which is something I've needed for the past 15 years or so. I am a displaced Texan (also in NYC) and COMPLETELY FORGOT that seasoned oyster crackers existed, much less how much I love them. I am making these tonight!

soontobemrs said...

I love reading your blog and all of your wonderful recipes! I make something similar, only I use cheeze-it crackers! Next time, I will definetly try the oyster crackers.
Stephanie
Cassopolis, MI

Debra McDonald said...

I have a similar recipe using Chex cereal, oyster crackers and stick pretzels. Put them in a big brown paper bag and sprinkle ranch dressing mix and dill weed over it and pour in 1/4 cup oil. Shake and shake it and put in an air tight container. Usually lasts maybe 2 days! I agree its addicting! I have to say, I love your blog. We moved from Texas two years ago to St. Louis and food is what I have missed...not the hot summers!!

Texhattan said...

Seasoned oyster crackers were a staple at my grandmother's house. We would eat them by the pound during our summers on lake Granbury - along with salted cantelope! Thanks for bring back so many great memories of cat fish fries and card games.

Mary said...

Well these are economical as I found the ingredients at the dollar store....they're in the oven now and smell wonderful....thanks again for another wonderful recipe.

Robin said...

Works great on Goldfish crackers as well. We use a 66 0z package of Goldfish (from Sam’s Club), 3/4 cup canola oil, 1 pky dry Hidden Valley Ranch mix, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper, 3 Teaspoon dried dill weed, and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less depending on how spicy you like them). Hard to stop eating them!!!

Maggie said...

I have made these for many years using oyster crackers and saltines. I don't use the spices mentioned, however. I put the oil, ranch dressing mix and 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes in a gallon ziplock bag and "mush" around at bottom until mixed. Add crackers to bag and flip around several times until crackers are all coated. (2 sleeves of saltines at a time)

Maggie said...

Sorry, forgot to mention in last comment that I lay them out on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan and bake for approximately 15 min.
LOVE LOVE LOVE these

The Supply ET said...

My grandmother used to make these when i was a kid. Never had the recipe though. Thanks!

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