At around the one month mark of subsisting solely on homegrown foods I started craving, bready, starchy things. Prior to embarking on my homegrown challenge I wasn’t even a big bread eater, but roots have a lot of water in them and sheer volume of food I have to consume to stay active and warm in a cold New York winter has been a minor challenge. Fats are energy dense, but the only one I have in abundance is tallow, and I tolerate it in only limited amounts.
Then my sister-in-law pointed me to a recipe for pumpkin pancakes. I had a large pile of pumpkins sitting with my other squash. They were less palatable than their winter brethren, so I found they kept sitting on the shelf. I didn’t want the pumpkins to go to waste since I don’t know how big of a hungry gap I might have between the end of my root-cellar stores and the first harvests from my garden. I tried the pumpkin recipe and found the texture was precisely what I missed and craved.
I began by halving the pumpkins and digging out the seeds, which I cleaned and roasted in a pan at 350 with tallow and salt. The crunch of roasted seed turned out to be a real bonus texture that I didn’t even realize I missed until I found something that provided it. After dealing with the seeds I cut off the skin and sliced the flesh into slabs. I dehydrated whole slabs, but then my brother hit upon a much better method. He ran the slabs through the grater setting of a food processor before putting them into the dehydrator. The thin slices from a grater dry out much more quickly, and once dry, they’re far easier to turn into powder. The dried slabs are hard and brittle. I powdered some with a mortar and pestle, but it took a long time. Thin little strands can be “ground” with a regular Cuisinart blade, though the best way is to run them through a steel disc grain mill.
Powder in hand, I made some pancakes. They brown beautifully on a low heat and the texture is wonderful. The flavor of my pancakes left something to be desired, which I attribute largely to the under-ripe aspect of a few of the pumpkins I put into the mix. Also, my limited spice cupboard doesn’t allow for cinnamon and I think it would really improve the cakes to add it.
This is the recipe I used:
• 1/2 cup of pumpkin powder
• 5 eggs
• Large pinch of salt
1. Heat a large, heavy pan and skim with tallow or other fat.
2. Mix the ingredients together and pour into the pan. Wait and watch and then flip when ready. It may take a couple of tries to get the browning just right depending on the particulars of your stove and frying pan.
I doused them with maple syrup and devoured. Yum.
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