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There are times when I find no inspiration for the daily grind of family cooking, and feel just as much a novice as anyone.  Mostly however, and especially writing this blog, there are always more food ideas that I’d like to explore than time ever allows. So I woke up last Sunday with 20 projects on the go, and couldn’t conceive how to make progress AND make lunch.  That’s when the Venn Diagram came to mind.  Why not draw some up and decide that way what we would be eating.

Number One: I’m very interested in Peasemeal as an historic Scottish staple, a flour dating back to Roman times, made of ground roasted dried yellow peas.  I wrote to the people at Golspie Mill, a restored Victorian mill way towards the top of Scotland, and asked if I might have a sample bag, and was generously obliged.  The guiding thought was that peasemeal might be a good substitute for gram flour; it’s a relatively local (at least British) staple with culinary possibilities to span the globe. And it’s a Slow Food Forgotten Food included in their “Arc of Taste,”, and interesting for this heritage.  When I asked friends what they made with gram flour, many responses looked to India– not surprisingly! — and flatbreads and pakora.

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Meanwhile, Number 2: I also am working on a piece about eating pumpkin in a no-waste way, to coincide with Halloween and  to join in from afar with the Oxford Pumpkin Festival celebrating all things PUMPKIN and educating to reduce the terrible national waste of this ritual vegetable. (I have lots to say about pumpkins — please come back soon for more.) On the go with several pumpkin experiments, I’ve had a lot of “flesh” (interesting word) I’ve roasted for different uses.  (It would be easy to do this with the bits that get cut out of jack-o-lanterns for eyes and nose and mouth, and even for a few days after Halloween, if the “meat” (ah, another interesting word) seemed salvageable after the ravages of time and candles.

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Then there’s Venn Diagram category Number 3: I’m always looking for ways to use (and use up) fermented foods when I find counter and fridge quite over-filled with delicious and sour creations.

It all came together.  Pumpkin Pakoras in a Peasemeal batter, using up some “cultured” carrots and lacto-fermentened jalapenos.  

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So I made the batter, empowered to NOT use a recipe per se,  by having read so many variations on different sites, not worrying this first time about perfection, just seeking to understand how the batter would behave.  To half a cup of the Peasemeal, I added a teaspoon of baking powder, some chill powder, some salt, and some (admittedly stale) garam marsala.  I slowly added water, whisking the batter until it reached the consistency of heavy cream, which I read somewhere (sorry can’t recall).  The aroma and colour of peanut butter really surprised me — I guess it’s the legume connection.

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Then I mixed the vegetables in different ways for different fritters.  In some of them I cubed the roasted pumpkin, in others I shredded it, and I mixed in my fermented jalapenos, and some vinegar ones too. (Fresh green chillis are lovely in pakora, but I didn’t have any.) The fermented carrots (with coriander seeds and ginger) got into some of the spoonfuls too.    Oh, some of the later pakoras included pieces of a baked potato we found at the back of the oven.  Pakoras in fact are wonderful ways to use up small bits of vegetables– just toss whatever you have in!  I learned that this time.

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Then I mixed the batter into the veg, and made spoonfuls of the mixture which I put into the pan with the coconut oil and a low quality olive oil (yes I know).  (I don’t really fry that often– what oils would you, Dear Readers, use in this circumstance?) Deep frying, at a high temperature, would have been better.  This is more the latke technique.  I can improve.  Of course when they came out of the oil I blotted them on towels.

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Here are some of the Pakora made from the larger cubes.  Need I say they were delicious?  I myself longed for something fruity and sour as a sauce on the side, but hadn’t properly prepared.   Mango chutney sufficed.  I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me to use the Plum Kimchi, which would have been heavenly.

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And the Peasemeal worked just perfectly replacing the gram flour.  And the pumpkin was sweet and moist.  Looking forward to making these, or something similar, again…

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