I strongly believe that the cakes and ale we share with the gods during ritual should be prepared by hand if at all possible. Not only do you have the opportunity to put energy and purpose into the creation, but–frankly–you’ll probably have a better food item to share when you’re done. All these crackers and cookies you buy in the grocery are full of artificial colors, preservatives, trans fats, and all manner of very non-sacred things.
So to help me focus on what I could prepare for ritual food, I’m starting this “Snackrament” series: recipes that make delicious–but easy–things to prepare for the ritual cakes and wine. I’ve decided to I begin with Cheez-Its in honor of the Church of All Worlds, who coined the word “Snackrament”. In their article “Sacraments and Snackraments” in Creating Circles and Ceremonies, Oberon Zell Ravenheart and Lisa Gabriel humorously put Cheez-Its in a whole separate sacramental food category. They write:
The first heresy declared by the Roman Catholic Church was the Artotyrite heresy–named for a practice of the Montanist sect, who ate cheese on their communion bread. For over 40 years in the Church of All Worlds we have affirmed the right to diversity in “snackraments” by honoring the Artotyrites with Sunshine Cheez-Its (accompanied by an explanation of the symbolism, as well as jokes: “What a friend we have in Cheez-Its, Cheez-Its saves, etc.)
This one is for you, Church of All Worlds. Thanks for keeping ritual funny!
By the way, It takes 30 seconds to throw this dough together in the food processor and about 4 minutes to roll and cut the crackers. They bake for less than 30 minutes. Now tell me that’s not faster than a trip to the grocery store! Magically, I think the salt in the crackers and the protein provided by the cheese will be very grounding. There’s some good biology behind that: muscle tissue requires both proteins and salts to continue functioning, especially under fatigue, and salt stimulates the brain. Still, the fat content here is going to make this a Snackrament that should not be a full meal!
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening (or another tablespoon butter)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons ice cold water
coarse salt for sprinkling
Using the grating disk of a food processor, grate the cheese. Then, switch to the regular chopping blade and add the butter, shortening, salt, and the flour. Pulse to begin mixing, then leave the machine run until the mixture resembles coarse sand. While the machine is running, add the ice water. You may add a few more drops of water to help the dough come together into a mass or into large clumps, but be careful not to add too much. You don’t want a wet dough.
Pat the dough into 2 discs, and wrap the discs in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes (or longer).
Preheat oven to 375⁰F.
Using parchment paper, wax paper, or a silicone mat, roll each disc to a sheet 1/8-inch thick or less and cut the sheets into 1 inch squares (a pastry wheel or pizza wheel is easiest). Use a toothpick to punch a hole into the center of each square.
If you have difficulty separating and transferring the crackers onto the baking sheet return the parchment paper/mat to the refrigerator for 10 minutes (while you roll out the 2nd dough disc).
Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until puffed and browning around the edges. If you pull them out too soon and the crackers don’t have the desired crispiness you want then simply return them to the oven for 2-3 more minutes.
Move crackers to a cooling rack, then serve when cooled.