Crackers for veterans day because the task of feeding an army is a challenging one. Hungry soldiers render moot the details of any campaign; first comes figuring out how to supply food to thousands of troops in faraway places. During the two world wars, rationing across Europe and in the United States limited what civilians ate. Governments transformed entire economies to redirect precious coffee, tobacco, butter, flour, and meat to the front lines. U.S. soldiers carried individual rations into the field until 1963, when military planners began developing the MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat), at the height of the Cold War.
In two centuries of combat, the only constant in the U.S. army's individual ration was a cracker or cookie with a long shelf life. Civil War fighters ate hardtack, a molar-cracking biscuit made of flour, salt, and water. Baked several times and carefully stored to keep away moisture, hardtack was designed to stave off mold and rot.
Thanks to modern methods of transportation and storage, food in the military has since improved. So have the crackers. Once you make your own batch, crackers from the box will never again taste that fresh or crispy. On that note, I just saw a post at TheKitchn on how to send food to troops overseas.
Parmesan Rosemary Crackers (adapted from Williams-Sonoma)
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
- 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
- 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
Combine flour, salt, pepper, and rosemary in the bowl of a food processor and pulse twice to mix. Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 pulses. Add the cheese and pulse twice to combine. With the motor running, pour in the cream and continue processing until the dough forms a single mass. Transfer dough to a work surface and roll into a log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.
Preheat an oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut the dough into 1/8-inch-thick slices and place on the prepared baking sheet. If desired, using miniature decorative cutters, cut out the center of each slice, then place the cutouts on the baking sheet. Bake until the crackers are light golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes.
Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack. When the crackers are cool to the touch, transfer them to the rack. Makes about 25-30 crackers.