Total Clarity. Then You Fall on Your Ass: Cheese Bikkies

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

-The remedy for both bruised butt and ego.-

I am not Michele Kwan. Let’s just be clear about that. Hell, I’m not even one of the Peanuts Gang, who all seem to be able to glide across the ice with ever fluid, though somewhat repetitive motions. (I am, however, a far better dancer than any of their lot.)

No, rather my ice skating is as awkward and clumsy as a first date. My knees shake and swivel like a teetering toy top at the end of its run while my arms flail about in unstable gyres. There will be stops made only by the fact that there is a dependable wall - one of Gods of the ice rink that all beginners prostrate themselves on time and again - in front of me.

Yet, I never fall.

Or, well, rarely. I rarely ever fall.

-I'm not clumsy. I just have an endearing lack of self preservation.-

Thing is for all that tottering around the ice and almost taking out a few small children who have no concept of one-way rink traffic I actually have good enough balance to keep my rubber-boned ankles vertical. I blame it on years of gymnastics in college carefully running balancing beams and flying through the air where having a firm understanding of my center of gravity meant the difference between a solid landing and dreadful tumble like a quail shot out of the sky. I can stay up and, given a few minutes to recall my younger years in the 90’s on roller blades, can eventually move with enough grace (for lack of a better word) to look like I know what I’m doing.

Frontwards and backwards, none of it becomes a problem after a good twenty minutes of finding the steels on my feet. You won’t see a lutz or spin, but you won’t see me falling face first.

So, like every year, I had arranged some time to go ice skating. Fiance’ stayed behind on account of, “I don’t want to spend an hour falling on my ass,” which meant I would go alone with my friend Mike who was better on the ice than me and eager to bundle up for a bit of weekend winter sport.

We walked many blocks from Mike's place to the rink allowing the stroll to warm us up. The air was crisper than a wafer cookie and each puff of hot breath hung long in the air like small persistent ghosts following us down the street.

-So you know, about five seconds later those two kids just ate it face first.-

We arrived, paid for our tickets and rental skates, and laced up. The first few minutes were rather precipitous, lots of wavering arms and near crashes due to kids, twigs, or sometimes nothing at all. Mike found his footing first and soon began to zoom past me time and again. Once in a while he would turn and flash me a facetious little smile like a child tightly holding onto a secret. This would almost immediately be followed by his total lack of focus and a small dance on the ice as he tried to ready himself back up and avoid the hard, hard ice.

A few circles around the rink and soon I was fine. My legs found rhythm in slow, steady glides that paced themselves appropriately. The blades slipped across the water as effortlessly as I could hope to guide them and, damn it, I began to have a blast. We dodged first timers with ice walkers and jived around fallen heaps of people as they moaned and rubbed whatever part of them had made first contact with the ground.

Still, Mike and I were just dandy. Little gay ice rinkers in cute hats and coats.

-See? I am god damn adorable.-

At then, rather suddenly, a small child cut across the rink right in front of Mike. Mike, having at least 34 years and 120 pounds on the kid, stopped in a way that shall we say successfully enables him in falling in a confused thud with all the grace of heroin addict suffering a stroke. In skates, of course.

The next two in a half seconds was one of those odd moments where it becomes surprising how many slow, lucid, and rather contemplative series thoughts can all hit you at once and where time seems to come to a crawl.

In that prolonged instant I thought the following:

“He just fell down right in front of me. Like, four feet in front of me and I’m coming in right behind him at a frightful speed. Hmm, I can’t go around him in time. I’m pretty sure if I try to jump over him I’ll probably crack my skull open on the ice and take out a few other people too. That would be bad. Mostly for me. Well, fuck. I’m going to fall.”

-The slow thought crawl for these bikkies is: They smell good. I will eat them. I am eating them. I am eating more.-

A half second of mental silence later and bam, I tripped over Mike’s arm and in a ragdoll pirouette fell to the ice.

It was okay though. My tailbone broke my fall.

Also, I re-learned a lesson. Ice is hard.

Still no time for whining. We laughed, got up, brushed ourselves off, and got back to skating. Eventually we had to get off the ice a bit early as the lip of one of my skates was biting into my ankle. Some bandages and alcohol and I was good to go.

We eventually retired for hot pizza and cold beer at a place with cushy seats for our sore bums. After food and light hearted prattle about not much at all we parted ways.

-With a gentle hug so as not to bother the fresh and tender bruises.-

Still, I was tired from the rink and still rather cold. All the walking, skating, and falling had taken all the energy out of me and I needed something rather warm, caloric, and tasty to eat.

These cheese bikkies (a term for biscuits) were just what I needed.

The recipe comes from my friend Peg Tomlinson, who is a genius and possibly modern day God of the kitchen. These homemade cheese crackers are probably the most epic crackers you will ever have. This is no exaggeration. In fact, it's probably one of the best recipes I've ever shared with you all. They're warm, just a hint spicy, and have plenty of sharp cheddary flavor. They're also crazy easy to whiz together and cheap to make. I promise that these will become a regular recipe in your baking rotation.

Just be careful eating them if you're on the ice...

Cheese Bikkies
Makes about 40-60 bikkies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup self-raising flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
200g or 7 oz mature cheddar cheese grated
250g or 8 1/2 oz unsalted butter, chilled and diced
2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C or 350 Fahrenheit. Put the flours, salt and chili flakes into a food processor and whiz them until well mixed. Add Parmesan and cheddar and blend until cheeses are thoroughly mixed. Add butter and process until the mixture resembles course breadcrumbs.

2. Drizzle in the lemon juice and let the machine run until the mixture forms a ball around the blade.

3. Halve the dough, and knead each into a ball; then roll each ball into a log about 1 ½ in diameter.

4. Chill in fridge for ½ hour to make it easier to cut the dough. Cut the log into rounds approx ¼ inch thick (cut both or freeze one half in foil). Put slices onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

Voila! Enjoy one whilst still warm.


  1. I have a cheese cracker recipe that I just love, but yours looks much easier. I love the slice and bake method! I'm adding this to my Pinterest collection to save for later.

  2. Love your story! Recipe will be made, if I have any self-raising flour! And I'll bet the pizza place had warm seats, not sheets. Unless pizza places are different in California. (Sorry, I hate sounding like an English teacher.)

  3. Kath: Thank you, Kath!

    burnttoast: D'oh. Thanks for the catch. As for the self-rising, you can always substitute it with 1 cup all purpose mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt

  4. You were lucky to get off easy. I went with an ex once who brought his hockey skates. A woman fell behind us as we talked at the wall, he stepped back to look, sliced her hand and we had to take her for stitches. Of course, those crap rental skates couldn't scratch your name in a plate of jello... Point is, there are worse injuries to be had at an ice rink. Glad you didn't break anything.

  5. Oh. Wow. I laughed my ass off reading this, but it still probably isn't as sore as yours. I too, am not known for my beautiful swirling ice skating, but rather for crashing in a horrible purple knee heap on the ice and bursting into tears while my little sister looked on, aghast and panicked as she was the only member of my family there at the time. If only we'd had some biccies afterwards, our evening might have been a bit smoother...

  6. Sparrow: You can always make them sans skating. ;)

  7. Garrett, you can even make an amusing blog story out of falling on your butt. That's an accomplishment! Haha. I used to figure skate competitively for several years, so I have many a memory of hitting the ice with great momentum. (the best is when the whole rink reverberates with the sound of your entire body smacking against the ice.) The cheese bikes sound amazing - definitely something I want to try!

  8. That was highly entertaining to read ... And the bikkies look so good! I have been searching for something simple and savory to bake, to counteract the overwhelmingly large number of sweet things littering my house right now .. I need to try this out!

  9. Hmm, I don't do chili, period (which is extra weird considering I'm Indonesian, they give you chili sauce where you'd expect to get ketchup). Do you think coarsely ground black pepper would be an acceptable substitute for us pussies?

  10. Ryou: Indeed, that would be just dandy. =D

  11. I decided to make a half batch of these, and happened to have the exact amount of Herb/Garlic butter in my fridge. FANTASTIC. I also subbed golden balsamic vinegar since I didn't have lemons and was making these impulsively, and it worked out beautifully. Thank you for the excellent recipe! God, these are really good... And yes, you ARE adorable!

  12. Craft S: I will have to try these with the vinegar. (And thank you ;)

  13. Oh you do make me laugh , I just couldnt get the picture of your ragdoll like piroette from my mind. You arte brave and probably very bruised. I love trhe cheese biscuits

  14. These cheese bikkies were the maiden voyage of my brand new food processor. They taste amazing. I'm eating them with the lovely Assam my aunt sent me from London. I'm used to cheese biscuits tasting flat, but the lemon juice livens them up so much. Thank you for yet another wonderful blog post.

  15. Can I just say how awesome it is that you put everything in Metric AND Imperial? Makes a huge difference not having to do the calculator thing every time. I'm definitely going to be trying these crackers very, very soon.

  16. Hi Garret nice to meet you and your beautiful blog! I love your cheese bikkies, and I will try them soon! I've made some time ago some Sablè al parmigiano, with pretty much the same technique but little slight different ingredient. I think lemon juice gives a perfect touch to the recipe! Ciao Francesca - Bologna, Italy

  17. Mhmm I need me some cheese crackers. I hope your tailbone is okay! I used to take skating lessons as a kid, but then... I fell on my chin and had to go to the hospital to get stitches and my skating career was over. I've been meaning to get a pair of skates now that my feet have stopped growing, but I'm still iffy about the whole stitches thing.

  18. You know that quail don't fly, right? *ducks*

    And the pun of me saying "ducks" when telling you quails don't fly us not lost on me.


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