In Shetland we have strange summers.
The islands sit at 60 degrees North, the same parallel that runs through Alaska, the Northern Territories of Canada, the tip of Greenland, the Aland Islands of Finland, and lies North of Oslo, Norway. At midsummer, or simmer dim as it’s known here, the sun doesn’t fully set, leaving us with the white nights of Scandinavia (whereas at mid winter we have fewer than six hours of daylight). We’re also a small archipelago floating around where the North Atlantic meets the North Sea, miles from any other land mass, a rather unprotected position, as is evident by the near complete lack of trees here due to the wind. So the summers are not the hot and sunny British Columbian, sea-swimming, shorts-wearing, ice-cream-truck summers of my youth. They can, in fact, be quite cold for a Canadian girl, and usually see me wearing a parka through much of it.
Occasionally though Shetland surprises me, and this last weekend, the birthday weekend no less, was stunning. The sun was shining, the wind was barely a wisp and we went to the beach and dipped our toes in the sea. It was beautiful.
I found myself quite inspired by this stunning turn of meteorological event, and that inspiration came in the form of lunch.
I’m generally not very good at lunch. I love breakfast, so will come up with delicious and sustaining meals in the morning. Dinner time always feels like the meal that you’re supposed to spend the most time thinking about, contrary to the litany of nutritional advice which proffers a light evening meal. Lunch however is the meal that always seems to sneak up on me and catch me unprepared, left to fall upon the trusty stand-by of beans on toast, or maybe egg on toast. Not very imaginative.
After my sunny weekend of birthday indulgence, however, I was ready for something new. I wanted something light, but filled with protein that would carry me through the afternoon, but not weigh me down. The answer, of course was crackers and dip. I am a cracker fiend. During both of my pregnancies one of the things that I craved above all others was Carrs water biscuits, and I could easily polish off a box in one sitting. I had never made crackers though, but how hard could it be? Really it’s just flour and water. When I found a bag of buckwheat flour and some ground almonds in the cupboard, I determined to make the cracker du jour; nutritious, protein filled and gluten free, and along with the pinto beans that I also found, a perfect lunch. So thank you weird Shetland summer for granting me a birthday weekend of glorious sun, and inspiring buckwheat and almond crackers with pinto bean guacamole.
- 75 g buckwheat flour
- 25 g ground almonds
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil (plus a little to grease)
- 5 Tbsp water
- Preheat the oven to 150C and lightly grease a baking tray.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, almonds, salt and pepper.
- Add the oil and 4 Tbsp of the water and turn the mixture around with your fingers, pressing it together lightly until it sticks to its self. Add the last Tbsp of water if needed.
- Crumble the mixture as evenly as you can over your baking tray and then press it together to form a thin, solid sheet, smoothing it with the back of a damp spoon. Prick it all over with your fork and score it into rectangles or squares, being careful not to break it up.
- Put the tray in the oven and bake it until the crackers are dry and crispy, about 30 minutes. The may begin to form cracks here and there.
- Remove from the oven and allow the tray to cool slightly on a wire rack, then carefully lift the crackers off the tray onto the wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
- 100g dried pinto beans, soaked overnight
- 2 spring onions, chopped
- 20g mixed bell pepper, sliced
- 1 avocado
- 2 finger chilies de-seeded and chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, de-seeded and chopped
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp coconut oil, or olive oil
- Juice of half a lemon
- Salt to taste
- Rinse the soaked beans and then put them in a pot and cover them generously with cold water. Cover, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for an 1 1/2 - 2 hours, or until the beans are tender, topping up with water as needed (Do not add salt to the water as this can make your beans tough). Drain and rinse again and then set the cooked beans aside to cool.
- Put the spring onions, bell pepper, chillies, jalapeno, oil and a pinch of salt into a blender and blitz until everything is well chopped up.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, along with the cooled beans into the blender and blitz until the dip reaches your desired consistency. Season to taste.