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RICE CRACKERS + CREATIVITY

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(First, ahem. I’d like to interrupt this post with some crazy awesome news: this site is a finalist in Saveur’s Food Blog Awards! I am so ridiculously excited and honored! I’d be thrilled if you took a moment to cast a vote for The Year in Food.)

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Last week I was in New York. I was there for IACP mostly, but I was also there for impromptu lunches, meetings, quick coffees with friends, long walks through huge cross-sections of Manhattan while listening to Paul Simon on repeat, epic springtime blossoms, and a moment away from my day to day.

The morning that I departed for NYC, I decided to leave my laptop and camera behind. They’re beasts. It was liberating. It meant that I would spend less time on the internet, and more time being present, engaged, wrapped up, a little lost but in a totally okay way. Any photos that week would be on my phone. I love being a free agent.

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On the plane ride home, I was exhausted. The first half was spent watching regrettable reality TV, but the second half I gave over to music and gazing out a dark, foggy plane window with occasional starburst patterns of tiny cities below. And my mind just wandered. I thought about a big project I’m working on right now and all of these stray pieces just fell into place. Things started to make sense in a way that they hadn’t before, and a whole bunch of new ideas materialized. It was awesome. It was surprisingly productive, even though that wasn’t my intent. My point is, had my laptop been with me, I might not have let myself daydream like that – I would have felt obligated to dig in to the neverending to-do list.

So yesterday morning when I heard Jonah Lehrer on the radio speaking about the value of daydreaming – of having nothing to do but let your thoughts wander, and how essential that is to creativity, I felt so validated. He also spoke about how we are often most creative when we’re very tired and that made me feel doubly validated. I always come up with the best ideas when flying, and I get it now: it’s uninterrupted time to let my mind wander, without distraction. It’s an in between space, one where some of the rules that guide our everyday lives are temporarily on hold. I guess this is why I like flying. I love daydreaming but under many circumstances it feels so self-indulgent.

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This has nothing to do with these rice crackers, of course, except that healthy snacks for long travels are a must. And rice crackers not only travel well but are great vehicles for all sorts of delicious things that need an edible spoon. Most recipes call for white rice and sweet rice flour but I made these fellows with sweet brown rice and brown rice flour and guess what? They still taste great. I’ve had my eye on them since spying them over at Spoon Fork Bacon and am so happy that I finally got around to making them.

SENBEI, JAPANESE RICE CRACKERS
adapted from Ivy’s Feast and Spoon Fork Bacon
Yield: about 40 crackers

2/3 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup cooked sweet brown rice (or short grain brown rice, or sushi rice – just use a short-grained, glutinous rice)
2 tablespoons neutral oil (I used olive oil, no probs!)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
sesame seeds for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, combine the brown rice flour and sweet brown rice, sea salt and oil. Pulse until combined. While processor is running, slowly drizzle water into dough.

Roll the dough into a ball the size of 1/2 teaspoon (or a hazelnut.) Place between two ziploc bags and roll extremely thin, using either a small rolling pin, the size of a glass jar, or your hands.

Place the thin, delicate crackers onto a greased baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes. Flip and bake for another 3-5 minutes, making sure they’re cooked through but not too tough. While the crackers are finishing up, whisk together the honey and soy sauce with a fork in a small bowl.

Remove crackers from oven and turn off heat. Brush with the soy sauce honey dressing, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Return the crackers to the oven to let sit and dry for about another 10 minutes.

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  • Erin - April 5, 2012 - 1:08 pm

    When I can actually convince myself to leave my laptop and camera at home, I also feel liberated and feel like I witness things I wouldn’t had I been buried in my technology. I love day dreaming (and I’m glad it’s good for creativity!)

    Congrats on the Saveur nomination, Kimberley!ReplyCancel

  • ileana - April 5, 2012 - 1:28 pm

    Congrats! I know what you mean about leaving the laptop behind – feels good. :)ReplyCancel

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food - April 5, 2012 - 1:57 pm

    So so so proud of you! And I can’t wait for us to meet again… one day.ReplyCancel

  • Cookie + Kate - April 5, 2012 - 1:58 pm

    Mega congrats on the Saveur nomination, Kimberley! You are such good company. I’m 100% with you on this post—planes are my favorite spots for thinking (long car rides, bike rides and walks are also great). Something about looking out the window at high speeds seems to get my thoughts moving. I’ve also recognized the need to shut down the computer and I’m craving a real vacation, from life and technology. Can’t wait to listen to Jonah speak about creativity, thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Lynda - April 5, 2012 - 1:58 pm

    Congratulations Kimberley! I am so sorry I missed the conference. Luckily it’s close to home next year.ReplyCancel

  • Antoinette - April 5, 2012 - 2:29 pm

    I always look forward to your most beautifully and deliciously photographs in your newsletter and the most creative recipes.
    Yahoo for you many times over!
    A fan, AntoinetteReplyCancel

  • Laurel - April 5, 2012 - 2:47 pm

    Wow! Congratulations! You deserve it. Your posts are well-written and your photography is beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • Diana - April 5, 2012 - 3:30 pm

    It was great meeting you at IACP over the weekend, and congrats again on the Saveur nomination. Your photos here are fantastic. Looking forward to reading more of your posts in the future!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - April 5, 2012 - 3:40 pm

    YES!! I am thrilled for you. And for me, because I’m going to be making some rice crackers.ReplyCancel

  • Veronica - April 5, 2012 - 3:45 pm

    Glad we could hang out throughout IACP and very proud that you’re nominated for a Saveur award – come back and visit soon, lady!ReplyCancel

  • Erica Julson - April 5, 2012 - 4:20 pm

    Wow, congratulations on the nomination!! You totally deserve it. I voted for you!ReplyCancel

  • Kasey - April 5, 2012 - 5:12 pm

    Girl, first off BIG BIG BIG kudos on the nom. SO well deserved! Second, I always feel like I get the best ideas, my most creative pieces of writing, and most reflective moments on an airplane. Let’s fly all day! xoReplyCancel

  • Tasha - April 5, 2012 - 6:20 pm

    It’s so true – I figured out what I wanted for my next big project while on an unplugged camping trip last summer. Ever since then if I’m working on something important or just start to feel overwhelmed, I try to give myself a little time with no computer, no NPR (even though I love it!) and it really works.

    I love your blog as well, congrats! Someday I hope my food photos look like yours. :)

    And, thanks for the rice crackers! We hit the road again soon and these would be great to have along.ReplyCancel

  • Megan Gordon - April 5, 2012 - 10:26 pm

    You rock, lady! Congrats on the nomination — much deserved. So glad you got a chance to head to IACP; I was sad to miss it this year and heard it was especially worthwhile (SF next year!)I will check out this Lehrer talk … I’ve actually been baking granola without music lately to just let me mind wander wherever it pleases. Agreed: strangely liberating. It’s just hard these days to find a noise-less minute (technology noise, co-worker noise etc.). Here’s to a few of those this weekend; congrats again!ReplyCancel

  • Reading List — Savvy Eats - April 6, 2012 - 5:23 am

    [...] 6.  I met Kimberly at IACP (she is a sweetheart) and love her post on daydreaming and creativity. [...]ReplyCancel

  • francesca - April 6, 2012 - 7:06 am

    GRACELAND FOR EVER !!!ReplyCancel

  • Jeanine - April 6, 2012 - 7:55 am

    I love this post, I can completely relate. Some of my best ideas have come while flying (except of course on Jet Blue when I can’t stop watching bravo tv marathons :)

    Congrats on your nomination, so well deserved!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth @ Saffron Lane - April 6, 2012 - 8:13 am

    Another (very) big congrats, Kimberley. I’ve loved watching your progress over the past year or so. You have so much to be proud of! Keep daydreaming and doing what you love — the rest will always fall into place (airplane or not). xoReplyCancel

  • la domestique - April 6, 2012 - 3:22 pm

    Congrats on the nomination, Kimberley! Love this post. I think sometimes you can’t force the ideas to come, you just have to sit back and let them come to you. Isn’t it great that daydreaming is productive?ReplyCancel

  • kale @ tastes good to me! - April 6, 2012 - 11:59 pm

    Congratulations on the nomination!! Very exciting. :)ReplyCancel

  • sarah - April 7, 2012 - 12:37 pm

    I connected with this post so much. I’ve been making myself do that more and more – leave the camera and computer alone, and be present. It’s been good for the soul.

    I also have anxiety, so at night when I can’t sleep and am crazy over-tired, I have my best ideas. I totally agree that being tired feeds creativity.

    And, so many congrats on your nomination! It is very well deserved.ReplyCancel

  • Laura {gourmettenyc} - April 7, 2012 - 2:26 pm

    Congratulations on the nomination!ReplyCancel

  • sara - April 7, 2012 - 4:24 pm

    1. CONGRATS!!! SO thrilled for you 2. Hugh and I go through bags of the trader joes rice crackers. love them. I would really like to make them myself, just to try ;) thanks so much for your beautiful photos and the recipe! xoReplyCancel

  • Dramatic Pancake - April 8, 2012 - 6:22 pm

    Congrats on the nomination, Kimberley! So, so well deserved. Also, I wish I could come over and watch you take your pictures. They are just so pretty!ReplyCancel

  • charlotte au chocolat - April 14, 2012 - 6:56 pm

    congrats on the nomination! so exciting!!ReplyCancel

  • Natachasteven - April 16, 2012 - 11:19 am

    I love your blog, so glad I discovered it!ReplyCancel

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