Life in Colour: Brown in Plants, Plus Sourdough Crackers

Primula auricula 'Lincoln Chestnut' (brown double)
Primula auricula ‘Lincoln Chestnut’

I’m turning to the world of plants to help HeyJude celebrate the colour brown.

Brown flowers are unusual, but Primula auricula breeders have had centuries to push the boundaries. (See my post from the Cheadle Auricula Show)

Brown leaf of Rodgersia podophylla at Gresgarth Hall
Rodgersia podophylla

Plants with brown leaves are more common.

Hen and chicks with coffee coloured leaves
Hen and chicks with coffee coloured leaves
Fluffy seeds
Fluffy seeds

Seeds are often encased in brown, as are nuts.

Pecan nuts
Pecan nuts

As an extra, I’m throwing in something I made from the grain of plants:

Brown sourdough crackers
Brown sourdough crackers

One of the major irritations of baking sourdough bread is what to do with the excess starter gloop produced in large quantities, especially when you first start and haven’t got the confidence to ignore the instructions.

If you’re tempted to try baking them, the King Arthur recipe is here.

You’ll note my sourdough crackers look nothing like those in the recipe. I’ve found the recipe very flexible – you can use whatever you have. Mine are made from a mix of rye, brown and white flour starter discard. I add in rosemary or cayenne pepper and black pepper, and sometimes finely grated hard cheese if I have any going spare. I use about 10% less fat as it just works better for me that way. I’ll drawn your attention to the instructions to roll them as thinly as you can handle, and to watch them like a hawk as they draw close to being ready. In my oven they all cook at different speeds and have to be turned and taken out in sequence, but they’re worth it!

Shared for Life in Colour: Brown.

58 Replies to “Life in Colour: Brown in Plants, Plus Sourdough Crackers”

    1. Stephen has suggested a Kapok tree below, but my memory suggests these were almost weedy and not very tall – more like a native annual or perennial. They were in a garden in Mississippi. What did you remember about the ones you saw?

      1. They were in a garden-like environment, as well — at a Buddhist temple only ten or so miles away. They definitely weren’t Kapok. The seeds were more like those of basketflower than milkweed, and the plants themselves were more shrub-like and low growing. As I recall, they were only as tall as I am at their highest point: perhaps five feet. I’ve planned to visit again once spring has set in; I’ll have to check them again. There were some lovely people working in the garden when I was there, but we didn’t speak each other’s languages.

          1. You’re right. By the time I found the seed pods, there weren’t any leaves left — at least, that I remember. A new season will cure that.

          1. I must say that there’s a resemblance between the two, although the photos of the Hibiscus seed I’ve found seem to have the seeds ‘loose’ on the inside of the pod, rather than enmeshed in cottony material.

    1. These are the seed pods of the Kapok Tree, a tropical plant. During and just after the Second World war, it was. I think, used as a substitute for cotton.

      1. I would be surprised if this was a tree, although I had been thinking it looked a bit like cotton. It was only 3-4 feet tall and covered in upwards facing seeds. Would a young Kapok tree behave like that, do you think? I have seen Kapok tree elsewhere in flower – once seen, the flower is not easily forgotten!

      1. These are beautiful leaves – love the colour and they way their deep veins make them look as if they’ve been quilted. And those crackers look yummy!

  1. Some unusual browns here Susan, the Primula auricula ‘Lincoln Chestnut’ is fabulous. I have a couple of auriculas that have a brown edge that I find quite underwhelming.

    1. Brown is a strange colour for a flower. I used to love wearing brown when I was younger, but haven’t found anything I like recently.

    1. It’s a liquid mix of flour and water left until natural yeasts develop that you use to make bread. I don’t know if I’d go to the trouble to make the starter if I didn’t plan to make bread… unless I could eat an awful amount of sourdough crackers! There is a recipe for it on the site and you can also buy it. Another idea is to search the site for crackers and try a different recipe.

  2. There’s no want of brown in my world right now, but these seem more interesting than the browns outside my windows. The Primula auricula looks carved — it’s hard to believe it’s a plant — and I especially like the fluffy seeds. But of course the brown grain in your crackers is the very best of all — those look delicious! No brown study, this!

    1. The double auriculas always seem like tiny roses. I was very sorry about all the sourdough starter discard before I discovered this recipe. It just doesn’t seem right to waste all that flour. The walnut sourdough bread recipe I use is profligate – I cut down the starter to about a quarter and still have plenty.

  3. That’s an unusual auricula. 🙂 🙂 I like the sound of the crackers but I’d never bake them. I’m sure you must be able to buy something similar?

    1. I do buy crackers, but for once I actually prefer my own. I probably wouldn’t have thought of making them but for feeling bad about throwing away the discard.

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