Rosemary Parmesan Crackers

Rosemary Parmesan Crackers

I ran into an old friend a couple of weeks ago while shopping at the supermarket. Her name is Rosemary and she is someone I knew back in elementary school. I  happened to have some fresh rosemary in my shopping basket at the time. It was a coincidence that I found amusing so, true to form, I made a joke of it.

“I have a friend name Ginny too but I practically never run into her while buying gin.”

Rosemary’s reaction told me that she didn’t think the joke was all that funny and so I moved the conversation quickly along –even though we don’t have much of a list of available topics. It had been decades since we last saw each other and, well, we weren’t  all that close to begin with.  I braced myself for one of those awkward ‘re-meetings’ that one might have every now and then running into former schoolmate you were never really friends with.

But Rosemary’s enthusiasm over the chance encounter surprised me. She excitedly revealed that she had something “very important” to tell me and had been wanting to find me for quite a long time. She gestured to the coffee bar near the entrance to the supermarket.

Rosemary’s name isn’t really Rosemary. It’s Lauren. Just about everybody who first met her in elementary school will still call her Rosemary even though long ago she asked us not to.  What you call someone is one of those things that are quite hard to unlearn once your brain’s neurons have formed around them. (Like using two spaces after a period when typing.)

Lauren and I first met when we were 10 years old.  I first noticed her out on the grass field at school all alone wandering aimlessly near the back playground fence. Occasionally she would stop and point her front leg out in front her her before sniffing and stomping on the grass with her feet. Every five minutes or so she would lope around in a circle and shake her head as she came to a quick stop.

“That’s Lauren,” my new friend David would explain to me later in a rather matter of fact tone. “She’s a horse.”

“Oh. Ok.”

Its far easier for a 10 year old to make these kinds of leaps without much judgement or concern. Besides, David’s tone was one meant to communicate what should have been obvious. I was the new kid in town so David’s matter-of-fact explanation gave me all the assurance I needed that Lauren’s behavior was normal.

All of Fifth Grade accepted the fact that while on the playground at recess Lauren was a horse.

One day a year or so later after we had all become junior high schoolers, Lauren informed us that her new name was “Rosemary” and would we please refer to her as such from now on. We obliged even though it seemed far stranger to have a friend just up and change her name than it was to think of her as a horse. Rosemary seemed like a nice enough name though and what would a bunch of 11 year-olds know about the mechanics of name changing anyway?

Certainly Lauren, er, Rosemary, had cleared this with her parents?  When a horse asks you to call her by a new name shouldn’t you do it?

* * *

Rosemary and I wouldn’t share an actual classroom together until we hit the advanced 7th grade math class. There she would sit in the back row, sporting her outdated horn-rimmed glasses and never speaking to anyone unless answering the teacher’s direct questions. Her tone would be reluctant when called on since she didn’t seem to enjoy speaking much but her answers were always correct.  Its really too bad that 11 year-olds aren’t wise enough to regard intelligence as a prerequisite for popularity because if they had Rosemary would have been our school’s head cheerleader and class president.

This girl was clearly smart but quite far from being popular. She was an outcast and her strange, loner-type behavior only ensured it.

Somewhere before high school she had stopped being a horse although every once in awhile she would unthinkingly let out a long, labored breath from the bottom of her lungs and let her lips flutter. When this happened the entire class would titter and she would be embarrassed — before she remembered not to care.

Some habits are indeed hard to unlearn.

We would never be actual friend- friends even though she lived only a few suburban blocks from my home.  Mostly I would see her on our daily walks to and from school although we never made the journey together. Rosemary seemed too busy being a loner and I was busy perfecting what I would later refer to as my ‘protective cloak of invisibility.’

I was learning that you can’t be bullied in school if they can’t see you and Rosemary’s inability to go unnoticed probably made it all the more easier for me to fade into the background. Horses and invisible boys can only get so close after all.

* * *

Which brings me back to the encounter a month or so ago with Rosemary, the kind-of-friend while I was shopping for rosemary, the herb. Rosemary, who now always goes by Lauren, had just told me that she had something important that she had been wanting to tell me for quite some time.

She asked me if I remembered the day when I had found her eye glasses on the running track and brought them to her home after school.  The look in her eyes told me it was very important to her that I remembered this event from so many years ago which made me feel all the more frustrated for her when I couldn’t.  It must not have seemed important to me.

Why would I remember a small thing like that from over 35 years ago?

She explained that I had stood outside her front door and rang the doorbell and knocked on the door until she reluctantly answered it. Startled to see me, she took the glasses out of my hand quickly, said thank you, and then immediately shut the door in my face.

I don’t remember any of it.

You would think that having a door shut the door in your face by a schoolmate after doing them a kindness would be memorable to a young boy but evidently that is not always so.  I was probably too busy or just too eager to get home before proximity to Rosemary would pierce my invisibility cloak to give the moment much thought. Stand-offish behavior from Rosemary, at any rate, would not have surprised anyone. We were talking about Rosemary after all.

Lauren then went on to tell me that she remembered the day quite often. In fact, she admitted to thinking about that day every day since it happened! Everything changed for her that day and my very brief appearance in it after school made it all the more memorable to her.

It turns out that Rosemary was not exactly thriving at home those many years ago. Over our coffee Lauren confided  that her home life was quite dark and sometimes even violent. She had seen her mother physically beaten and Lauren herself was a frequent target of unrelenting verbal abuse and occasional physical abuse by her step-father. He was a man with uncontrollable anger issues and his brand of discipline would frequently leave small bruises and welts that Lauren would struggle to hide from her classmates.

Lauren explained to me that her childhood fantasies of being a horse were about her dreams of being able to gallop far, far away from home to a place where horses played in meadows and people who loved them brushed and took care of them.  Being a horse wasn’t some random odd-ball behavior from a pre-teen little girl, it was her fantasy of freedom and escape from a horrible home life.

I asked her if her sixth grade name change was a part of this escapist wish and she nodded her head. “Rosemary” was her much older step-sister’s name. Lauren had met her step-sister, the real Rosemary, only a few times when her mother had first married her step-father. Rosemary the step-sister never came to visit her father (we now know why) and so while Lauren didn’t really know her, she knew that she wanted to be her because the real Rosemary was somewhere far away where she would rather be.

That the day I walked up to her front door, the day I don’t even remember, Lauren was fearing her punishment for losing her glasses at school.  She had already experienced the wrath in store for her as she had lost them once.  She had looked for them in a panic all afternoon hoping to avoid -the tirade of verbal and possibly physical abuse likely to come.

Someone would get hurt. Someone usually did.

Rosemary was thinking of how she would kill herself that afternoon. Killing herself before her father discovered the glasses were missing might just be better for everyone. Perhaps if she were dead he might even leave her mother alone?

It was at this moment I suddenly appeared at her front door with her glasses in my outstretched hand. The moment I don’t even remember.

Lauren said she doesn’t really know if she would have killed herself that day. She doesn’t remember thinking about any of the necessary details so guesses she probably wouldn’t have. She just knows that she was thinking about it at that particular moment, wondering if it might be the best way to help her mother. For her, suicidal thoughts were not all that unusual.

Lauren took my brief and awkward visit as some sort of sign and it jolted her into realizing that her situation at home wasn’t going to last forever.  Someday she would be free of her step-father like the step sister she didn’t know and that someday she would have friends and a normal life. If she could just hang on, one day she wouldn’t have to be afraid in her own home. Her step-father would not be able to hurt her.

She never thought about killing herself again after that day and she wanted me to know about that.

When I got back to my home that day and started to make rosemary crackers with the rosemary I had bought when I ran into Rosemary I couldn’t stop thinking about it all. I came to understand that it didn’t matter much that I couldn’t remember my role in this important moment in Lauren’s life. All that mattered was that it was important to her. Perhaps it wasn’t even me but some other boy from the neighborhood that day who brought Lauren her glasses.  What does matter is that somebody that day did one simple, ordinary kindness for her and it played a rather significant role in her life at a time when she desperately needed some indicator of hope.

A kindness that would give her the strength she needed to hang on. A kindness she would end up remembering for years.

Rosemary Parmesan Crackers

So from now on whenever I cook with rosemary (the herb) I will be be reminded of the power that a simple act of human kindness can have whether we are aware of it or not. Whenever I make these Rosemary Parmesan Crackers I will remember how simply just being kind can have the potential for positive unforeseen consequences in people’s lives. I will think about how the small, effortless gestures (the kind that we are likely to forget) can have the greatest potential to impart real meaning — all in ways we will probably never know.

Or, maybe, if you are as lucky as I was, you might find yourself sitting down to coffee in a supermarket with a kind-of-friend and she will tell you.

Rosemary Parmesan Crackers

Rosemary Parmesan Crackers Rosemary Parmesan Crackers
Rosemary Parmesan Crackers Rosemary Parmesan Crackers

 

Rosemary Parmesan Crackers

Rosemary Parmesan Crackers

Adapted from Martha Stewart

This is what you will need:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus extra sprigs for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup finely grated (2 1/2 ounces) Parmesan cheese
  • 5 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten

This is how you make it:

  1. Combine flour, salt, pepper, and rosemary in the bowl of a food processor; pulse to combine.
  2. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  3. Add cheese; pulse until combined.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of the sour cream at a time, pulsing each time to combine.
  5. Process until dough comes together and is well combined.
  6. Transfer dough to a work surface.
  7. Shape dough into a 2-inch-wide log.
  8. Wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
  9. I wrap the log in a piece of pita bread before placing in the refrigerator so that the log holds its round shape while chilling.
  10. Set the roll so that it is propped up by the inside wall on one side and another item in the refrigerator on the other. See photo above.
  11. The log will then chill and keep its round shape. (I do this for icebox cookies as well.)
  12. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
  13. Slice chilled log into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
  14. Transfer slices to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  15. Dip a sprig of rosemary into egg white, and place in center of a cracker slice; repeat with remaining rosemary and crackers.
  16. Bake immediately, rotating sheet once, until crackers are golden brown and firm in the center, 25 to 35 minutes.
  17. Transfer to a rack to cool
http://www.sisboomblog.com/2012/05/rosemary-parmesan-crackers/


Rosemary Parmesan Crackers

About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don't know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]" means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small 'boom' in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a "food blog" or even myself a "food blogger".

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  1. What an amazing story – and your writing is so crisp and evocative, it really carries the narrative along in such a compelling way. How cool to find out, all these years later, that you had such an impact on someone’s life without even knowing it. On the flip side, I can only imagine how many lives I have ruined with a withering bit of sarcasm, unbeknownst to me. Whoops!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Fitting…as “Rosemary is for remembrance.”

  3. Wow, Trevor, I was moved to the verge of tears reading your story. I can’t ever imagine running into a school friend casually. By the time I graduated from high school, I had attended 8 different schools and spent half of my life overseas.

    FaceBook is a wonderful way to reunite with old friends – especially the ones I knew in Rome who are scattered across Europe and the United States, but it’s shattered my memories, too. It’s impossible for me to have imagined that so many friends would have died while they still lived in my memories.

    It’s amazing how much a simple kindness can mean to someone.

    And, your crackers look incredible!

    • Thank you for your comments Susan! I’ve been wanted to tell the story ever since that day! I’m glad you enjoyed my story. I don’t live so far from where I went to school but I’m still surprised to make contact with former classmates who are still local.

  4. This was a wonderful read. This really makes you think how much an act of kindness can make a big difference. I never dwell on what the person thinks of a nice act of kindness from me, but now I am giving it some serious thought. The re-connection was pretty cool and it was awesome that she conveyed her feelings regarding the return of the glasses.
    Also, I like that you made these tasty crackers with the thought of her. They do look enticing. Have a nice evening Trevor!

    • Thank you Tina! I’m glad you enjoyed my story. What was so wild was that I got to hear her story. Her strength was all her own but I was honored to hear she identified with that moment for so long.

  5. Wow, what a moving story, it gave me goose chills and also food for thought. Thank you! Wonderful looking crackers you’ve made with rosemary. I bet you will think of her Lauren time you use rosemary. Enjoy your day.

  6. such beautiful writing, Trevor! So happy I found your blog, you can see how big my daughter Lauren is now at http://www.katzfamilynews.blogspot.com. xoxo Dee

  7. One of your best posts ever. Beautifully told, Trevor.

  8. Anonymous says:

    A simple story, beautifully told: practically a fable.

    -bg

  9. It’s fascinating that something which seems to small, so inconsequential to one person can have such a profound effect on another. I stand reminded. Thank you.

    M

    P.S. You’re not all that invisible anymore, you know.

  10. Trevor, I am touched and (almost) speechless.

    I just KNEW you were a good egg.

    Beautiful post.

  11. My, but what positively touching and life lesson-y (pardon the bizarre word)post. Funny isn’t it how, something so insignificant to one can be life changing and affirming for another. Thanks so much for this beautifully written testament to human kindness and hope.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Lovely story hon.
    (JH)

  13. Trevor, I was so moved by your lovely story! We really never know how a simple act of kindness will touch someone’s life. A very good lesson for everyone! Such beautiful writing! Great post…It made my day!!

  14. wow..lovely post..very touchy..!

    Tasty Appetite

  15. I just read your story to my girls, 12 and 13 (she blushed when she recognized herself as your emotional twin, wishing for a cloak of invisibility), and we all cried. You reminded us that all the little things that carry no weight to us might be amplified if they influenced someone’s life in any manner. Random acts of kindness are a second nature to so few people, that it’s natural they do not remember.
    Lovely, lovely post:)
    BTW, in my Serbia, a rosemary sprig is fastened to the lapels or blouses of people who attend a wedding (but I have no clue why:)

    • Its a lovely tradition and I do think after this I will take to wearing a sprig now and then myself. Tell your girl that she won’t need an invisibility cloak for very long!

  16. Trevor, what an amazing post! Thank you for sharing it…..the way you weave words is pure magic!

  17. These crackers look fantastic. Congratulations on top 9 today! :)

  18. Thank you so much for this beautifully written post. As a mother, it is both heart wrenching and touching at the same time. I agree with Lana above, it is so important to teach our children to have integrity and even small acts of honesty and kindness are ultimately so important. You never know how your actions affect others. It is such a blessing to you to have seen how your small choice made such an impact! I am sure that your mother’s heart is overflowing with pride this day!

    • I do feel blessed. I’m sure we all do nice things for people all the time. Hearing about one thing that stands out for someone else was a real gift. Thanks for your comment!

  19. Trevor, I popped over to wish you a big congratulations on your Top 9 today….and was immediately drawn into this wonderful story. Again, you’ve reinforced my admiration of you…excellent post, Trevor.

  20. These look fantastic – I love the one sprig of rosemary on top :)

  21. Man Oh Man, I really got swept away into your story, so beautifully composed around your lovely Rosemary Parmesan Crackers! I’ve missed a few of your posts, back issues, but have returned and now you have my full attention,lol;-)

  22. What a beautiful story, and regardless whether it was you or some other boy that brought Lauren her glasses – a simple act of kindness saved someone. And these crackers sound like an amazing reminder of that kindness =)

  23. Anonymous says:

    What a beautifully surprising story of inspiration and faith. Inspiration in that we never really know (usually) of the affect of our words or actions will have to some. Faith in that Rosemary/Lauren some how managed to hang onto life from the glimmer of hope that the simple act of returning her glasses seemed to give her on that day. Peaceful feelings rise to the surface just knowing that after all these years, one made a difference to another. I hope Rosemary’s life has changed for the better, and I hope knowing that’s a very good possibility somehow brings light into your life as well.
    Great post. Wonderful story. Recipe looks good as well. Will think of your Rosemary every time I use rosemary (herb) as it’s one of my favorites.
    M/E

  24. Wow. I picked the right day to start reading your blog. Lizzy (skinny chick) drew me over (you need to thank her) and I’m so glad she did. I’ll probably think about this story every time I use rosemary now as well and I have two big bushes of it in my herb garden. Thank you for telling the tale of Lauren.

  25. A very riveting story. Very inspiring. Congratulations on making the foodbuzz Top 9!

  26. Anonymous says:

    drawn to your post b/c I have a plethora of rosemary…and since I usually kill my rosemary plants quickly, thought it smart to go ahead and use it.

    Lo and behold, your beautiful remembrance of Lauren. I just wish my younger sister had had a Trevor come to her psychic rescue in 1975. I wish I had known how much she must have hurt. I didn’t and she’s not here for me to tell her now.

    Trevor, keep on writing.

  27. Wow, what an incredible story. Looking forward to trying these.

  28. Wow, that’s an amazing story! Love your writing style, so engaging. The only thing that would make the story better is that cracker to munch on while reading it :-)

    The crackers look absolutely delicious! I love the addition of sour cream. And the photos look phantastic!

    I would like to invite you to share this post on a a new photo based recipe sharing network that launched only this Monday. The idea is simple: recipe photographs are published within minutes of submission. No rejections, no reviews. And, of course, the images link back to the author’s site.

    It’s called RecipeNewZ (with Z) – http://recipenewz.com.

    I hope you get a chance to visit and to share some of your delicious posts with our viewers. It would be a pleasure to have you on board :-)

  29. What fun crackers! If I’m feeling ambitious, I may make these the same week as Dorie’s dip later this month.

  30. Trevor, I didn’t know where you were going with that but it ended up in a very special place. Kinda taking Bruce Barton’s quote and running with it. Nothng trumps kindness. You’ve given new life to the tiny rosemary bush in my herb garden. Crackers and kindness, it’s all good.

  31. A really great story, Trevor Sis Boom. I want to burst out laughing during the horse bit but did not want to wake my children. I was to stand up and cheer because, yes, I so believe that simple kindness acts can have so MUCH power. I love the way you translated that to us.

  32. What a beautiful story. We rarely know the impact we have on other’s lives. How wonderful that she was finally able to share with you the impact that you had on her life.

  33. This story made me so happy about my decision to wake up early and catch up on my favorite blogs. I’m sun burnt from my Key West vacation, on crappy wireless at the hotel, drinking crappy hotel coffee… crying a little tear. Beautiful.

  34. wat a yummy & inviting crackers…love it..:)
    lovely story..
    Tasty Appetite

  35. I will forever be reminded of the power of the human word, because in this essay you prove that we all have the potential to have positive, often unforeseen consequences in people’s lives. Yes most of those words are yours. I lifted them to prove how universal your powerful message here is. GREG

  36. love that you show the texture so beautifully in this pic of yours!! personally i loved the recipe!!!

  37. So…I’m lounging around reading food blogs this morning. I see Rosemary Parmesan crackers and think, “I love all those things…reading it!” I’m a lover of all things crispy. I do dig your recipe but I love this story. I bet I’m gonna remember this the next time I cook with rosemary.

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