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 SPROUTING POTATOES, HOMITY PIE, SOURDOUGH PASTRY, EATING LOCAVORE, POTATO DESSERT RECIPES —  IT’S ALL HAPPENING HERE…

I am overwhelmed by potatoes. This is because there are sacks of sprouted organic ones I am getting for free because no one else wants them, neither to buy nor be given, at our local organic vegetable shop /community enterprise.  I feel a personal resolve to rescue them.

It’s been amazing to learn, by experience, that it’s really possible to grow new potatoes from the sprouted bits of old ones.  You simply cut off the sprouts, let the exposed potato area dry out for a few days, then plant it.

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Several months later you will get new potatoes.  It’s very very easy!

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So I’ve been doing A LOT of chopping and sorting, taking care to use what ‘s still good food (not brown or sprouting or green), to roast or boil or parboil or freeze or something– a bit of a chore but I’m a determined non-waster of food.   So what was I going to do with this huge pot of boiled potato chunks?

I’m in summer tart mode in general, and have been curious to make a savoury sourdough crust, in the mode of  Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions and of Nourished Kitchen and other proponents of fermentation of wheat for health — this is the idea that slow fermentation breaks down anti-nutrients in the grain, particularly whole/ brown grains, to make them more digestible.  My experience is that adding some sourdough starter also gives the dough a little elasticity which is pleasant to work with– slightly different from short crust, but only slightly.   And I had flour of Einkorn, a very old form of wheat, in my cupboard, for all my experiments to see what I am able to tolerate.

Here is one recipe for pastry with sourdough starter.  I cannot really advocate for a particular recipe for this because so much would depend upon the flour you were using and the relative thickness/density of your starter — I have learned to use a fairly liquid starter in a small amount as a substitute for the water in pastry, but you could also use more of a thicker starter.  I promise a pastry post is pending.  In the meantime, I am leaving you to experiment on your own to flounder or to brilliantly succeed, all part of the learning.

At some point I connected the idea of pastry and potato, and Homity Pie flashed to mind. This is a beloved and very British savoury comfort-food of potatoes, cheese, onions, leeks and not much else, in a pastry case, dating back to the fab Land Girls of the Second World War.  They were original take-no-prisoners Locavores, by the necessity of shortages, rationing and really understanding the British taste for satisfying carby salty slightly cheesy STODGE.

Einkorn Sourdough Homity Pie and Personal Resolve of Potatoes

There are lots of recipes around the web.  Cranks, the wholemeal vegetarian stalwart restaurant, is pretty famous for its Homity Pie.  This Hairy Bikers’ one looks delicious except all the cream and richness really belies the history of the dish as one of wartime and scarcity– this isn’t a quiche after all, but something unique.  When I arrived on The 1940s Experiment site, I knew I’d found my guide — and a fab site in general!

It’s very easy and you don’t really need to be specific. Take your leeks and onion and saute–  I used olive oil and butter.  I had no thyme but used the Za’atar that seems to be going into everything I make.  Then I added the boiled and chopped potatoes. I mixed in an egg and a little cheese, and salt and pepper.  I’d made my pastry, which had sat, and lined these tin baking dishes I’ve come to love– they feel “authentic” too.  And in went the filling, and on top, the cheese.  And then into a medium hot oven for about half an hour.

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This is a very satisfying dish really.  For one, all the ingredients were really pretty local.  Serving in pastry and baking such simple and common ingredients kind of elevates them– it feels special.  Obviously there would be a million ways to make this dish fancier, but I like it humble– the mysterious word “Homity” conjures something like that.  Theres also the potential that with the binding of the egg and the encasement, you could really vary with whatever roots (for example swedes, sweet potatoes, oca) you wanted throw in– along the lines of fritattas., Yet somehow it feels very…  English.

Meanwhile there was a coincidence, a newspaper article today on our eating fewer potatoes.  There’s a little worry attached to the methane emissions of rice and potatoes are a food so well grown in this country.  Let alone by small farmers, and by gardeners, and even wannabe gardeners sticking bits of rooted sprouts in her containers….  Let’s fight to keep spuds sexy!  And if not sexy, then comforting…  And if not comforting, then….

Well, there are also lots of dessert possibilities for perhaps my three containers of mushed/mashed boiled potato that remain from my major encounter with those salvaged 20 kilos…..

A tempting Indian Halwa with potato and coconut

Middle European plum dumplings

A fantastic chocolate cake with potato for moisture

And so much more if you simply search under “Potato Dessert Recipes”– you will be amazed.

And lastly: how, being the vinegar obsessive that I am, could I not save the boiled peels and ugly spotted bits, put with sugar in water to cultivate a Potato Scrap Vinegar that I’m hoping will be the magic ingredient when I finally get around to cleaning my very in-need oven?  Let us wait and see if it will do the trick.

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