One of the things I never pictured in my life is the explosion of mothers in my circle of friends. It makes sense, but when I was younger, I had visions for my life and how it would look. I forgot to envision everyone else. It’s a strange thing, getting older. Years and years ago, I had a list of all the things I would have completed by 21, 25, 29, and so on. Being married with children was on there, but the age I had in mind has come and gone. Marriage and children haven’t happened, but I do have many women in my life who have been there and done that, or who have just started along the road. Ziploc® brand contacted me about a recipe development and product review opportunity that would be helpful for all the tough mothers out there. I immediately thought of three women who have impressed me with their tough mom abilities.
The three friends at top-of-mind came into my life in completely different ways. One is in her 50s with a large brood of teenagers and a young adult, the other is in her 40s with a couple of little ones under 10, and the last is in her 30s with a newborn. What I’ve learned from the two with older children is patience is tested, but always renewed, someone is always asking for something, and children have very sweet ways of showing you that they love you. Watching my friend with a newbie reminds me each day feels brand new. Looking at the world through a baby’s eyes can completely change how you react to life, as well as how you appreciate what you have. Each one of my friends balances their lives, along with the lives of children, plus the entity that is their family, and they do it well. I’m sure they doubt that at times, but I don’t. When I think about these women, as well as my own mother and grandmothers, I know that they’ve all done that balancing—and sometimes stretching—thing oh so well.
I admire any woman who has chosen to devote a large portion of her life, energy and resources to care for others. When I think about being a tough mother, I just imagine someone who works hard to juggle all of the balls in the air. From sports games to birthdays, dance recitals and sleepovers, last minute art projects and injuries on the playground, there’s always something pulling your attention in another direction. It’s nice when some things are easy, or at least they are set up to make your life easier. Even if it’s just a tiny part of your life. Because another thing I’ve noticed about the tough moms around me is that they know how to get a job done efficiently.
In my culinary production work, I spend a lot of time prepping, measuring, packing and storing food. In addition to deli cups and resealable containers, I buy a lot of resealable bags. A lot of them. I have a few bins of equipment for various jobs, and one is piled high with boxes of foil, parchment paper, wax paper and Ziploc® brand bags of all sizes. Everything from snack-size to two gallons. A day’s commercial, television or magazine shoot could include anywhere from five to twelve recipes a day, so you have to stay organized despite any hectic situation. And trust me, they occur on a regular basis. I pack everything in containers and bags, label and sort them for easy retrieval, and it helps the day move along seamlessly. This was my first time using the new Ziploc® brand bags with Easy Open Tabs—pink for storage, blue for freezer and green for sandwich and snack bags. They’re designed to provide secure grip and pull, so you don’t waste one second. Have you ever been to the grocery store produce aisle and spent way too long trying to open that plastic bag for your fruit and vegetables? All you want to do is throw a few apples into your cart, and before you know it, you’ve spent a minute just trying to rub the bag open between your hands! Even the toughest, multi-tasking mom would find that difficult while one kid is asking what’s for dinner, and the other has drifted off towards the cereal aisle. Maybe those bags need Easy Open Tabs.
This past December, I spent a week in Atlanta, and the day after Christmas, my parents and I spent an evening at a family friend’s home. One of the appetizers was a warm dip with these seasoned crackers. My mom’s friend told me she tossed salted crackers in a bag with spices and oil, then let them sit overnight. Recently, I researched the method and decided to make the crackers with the tough mom in mind. The recipe is simple and pretty much takes care of itself. There’s no babysitting involved with this one, so you have plenty of time to check on the kids when things get too quiet upstairs. The best thing is, the recipe only requires one piece of equipment–Ziploc® brand bags with Easy Open Tabs.
Za’atar is the star player in this recipe. Za’atar is the name of an indigenous plant in the Middle East, as well as a spice mix with herbs, sesame seeds, sometimes sumac and usually a bit of salt. The plant itself is often referred to as wild thyme or Lebanese oregano. The blend of spices will often include that wild thyme, oregano, and marjoram, and other versions may feature cumin, fennel seeds, caraway or coriander. Although there are variations of za’atar based on where you are in that region of the world, the purest form has a high ratio of wild thyme to sesame seeds. You can buy the mix from specialty grocery stores or Middle Eastern markets, or you can make it yourself. The spice blend works very well for a batch of seasoned crackers, and they pair well with hummus or a warm feta dip. Break them into large pieces and toss over a salad for crunch, or crush them and use as breading for poultry or mix into meatloaf. I suggest serving them with that Lebanese garlic sauce called toum and an array of colorful vegetables. Look out for the recipe for toum in another post.
This recipe is very easy to adapt, so that it pleases your taste buds. And those of your family, of course. You can even create your own spice blend based on whatever’s in the pantry. Keep it simple, and choose your favorite blend of dry spices. Stay tough all you wonderful mothers out there. And make your life a little easier when you can.
- ¼ cup za’atar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 sleeves saltines (approximately 80 crackers)*
- Whisk the za’atar, salt and olive oil together in a medium bowl.
- Transfer the crackers to a gallon-sized resealable bag, and pour the seasoning mixture over the crackers. Seal the bag, and carefully turn the bag over a few times to distribute the seasoning evenly.
- Let the crackers sit overnight, or up to 24 hours, turning the bag over a few times. Serve as desired.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Ziploc brand, and I received compensation as well as product for participation in the program. All opinions are my own.