Photos by Zachary Cross
A while back Cortney Geary, market customer and former board member, gave me a suggestion for a new recipe of sorts. At first I wasn’t sure if I’d like it, then once I did I wondered why I didn’t make it right away!
Do you make meal plans for your household? Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. There are different ways to plan, for instance sitting down to plan a week’s worth of meals and then shopping to fit those meals. Shopping at the market often takes a different approach, combining a general idea of the seasons and what farmers will be bringing along with plenty of surprises. If you participate in a weekly CSA, though, you often don’t get a choice and you are probably going to have to work with what you have. That might sound negative, but the years we were part of a farm’s CSA I enjoyed the freedom from decision-making!
A few years ago Alice recommended An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler (thanks Alice!). The book is a wonderful ramble on food and cooking, not a cookbook, but it does have ways to prepare food. And Adler has a video showing how she uses her week’s worth of farmers market produce, prepping it all as soon as she gets home and using it all week in simple, quick meals. In reading the comments about her video, I saw that some people thought this was unrealistic because she has such a wonderful kitchen, with no children or pets running around underfoot. While there is a difference between cooking all that she does and me making five times that much all at one go, I do find that prepping my market haul (that’s me, staggering back to my car on several trips, multiple bags on each arm) as soon as possible makes not only for an easier week of cooking, it also saves room in the fridge!
If you are a planner, I highly recommend signing up for the weekly market newsletter. It includes a list of what farmers are planning to bring to market. Weather, crop issues, and other factors can change that, but you can get a general idea of what to expect. I also recommend, however, that you learn to shop by “Pantry Principle” style. Although this method is mainly aimed at cost savings, it makes sense for shopping seasonally as well. Essentially you make your meals based on what you have, not plan your shopping based on what you want to eat. The cost savings comes from stocking your pantry with sale items. This method works whether you are trying to figure out what to do with your share in a given week, or if you do want to stock up in season, say, with canning tomatoes or applesauce-grade apples. It was difficult for me to wrap my head around the idea until participating in a CSA. The next year I added a decent-sized home garden and was in a community garden as well. It was pretty important to figure out how to use what I had that year!
Amy Dacyzyn helped make the pantry principle well known in her Tightwad Gazette in the 90s. Although Dacyzyn describes a meal-planning technique that involves planning the night before, she also describes saving time and making certain dishes over time, for instance, pumpkin pies from scratch. I found this week’s recipe to be a good candidate for cooking over the course of a week.
Cortney’s suggestion was more of an idea rather than recipe, but it’s a simple and adaptable one. Faced with leftovers during the holidays, she used sweet potato casserole in her usual pancake recipe and enjoyed the results. My initial resistance to this idea was that I find sweet potato casserole too sweet so I don’t often make it. I decided to make a less sweet batch and go from there.
I did not anticipate not having leftovers! My family is pretty mixed on their feelings about sweet potatoes. They will all eat them but some are more enthusiastic than others, and opinionated about their preferred form. Jeffrey, for instance, loves sweet potato casserole with browned marshmallows on top. Tiny cubes of browned sweet potato are loved by another family member. I figured the response to a relatively plain, lightly sweetened casserole would be lukewarm. Well, they ate it all so I had to try again.
I stretched the cooking out over the course of a week by first serving the potatoes baked. I used the oven, but a slow cooker works well, too. I made plenty!
A couple of nights later, I made a simple casserole and doubled the recipe. The recipe I used has a nut topping but I skipped that because of the nuts and flour. It also adds a lot of sugar to the recipe and I did not want that. I did add a little bit more sweetening to the casserole in the form of maple syrup, mostly for flavor. I exchanged the vanilla extract for pumpkin pie spice. Those are all my preferences, make the casserole to your taste, thinking about its next use.
In a few more days I was ready to make pancakes. Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes from the More with Less Cookbook is basic and easily multiplied to make as large a batch as you want. It’s unsweetened, which makes it a great base for topping. And what toppings there are at market! Our farmers have honey, maple syrup, and all sorts of jams and preserves.
Your favorite pancake recipe should work fine, and the best one is the one you are most familiar with, so you can tweak it as needed. I replaced some of the buttermilk in my recipe with the sweet potato casserole. My casserole was a fairly dry one so I used about ½ cup casserole and ¼-½ cup buttermilk for the cup of buttermilk called for. I ended up with the same consistency as usual, but the pancakes seemed lighter and fluffier than they typically do. The batter tasted fine, but the end result was amazing! These were the best pancakes ever (we did not, but should have, christened them Richard Scarry pancakes). I typically prefer a plain pancake and find that pumpkin, apple, or other flavors seem weak in pancakes. I assume that sweet potato’s strong flavor is what made the difference in these. A bonus is that they gave my grain-free pancakes (I use the same recipe and replace the flour with a plantain) a better texture than usual. I’m not sure if it was the extra egg, fiber, or starch from the casserole, or maybe a combination of all three, but I was pleased.
I’ll share the recipes I used, but feel free to make this all your own, an extended, if not everlasting meal.
From Food Network
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for buttering the baking dish
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (3 to 4 large potatoes; about 1 3/4 pounds)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans
Special equipment: a 2-quart baking dish
For the filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 2-quart baking dish.
Whisk together the butter, mashed sweet potatoes, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and the eggs in a large bowl. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
For the topping: Combine the flour, brown sugar, butter and salt in a medium bowl until moist and the mixture clumps together. Stir in the pecans and spread over the top of the sweet potatoes in an even layer. Bake until mostly set in the center and golden on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.
For a printable recipe go here
Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes
From More with Less Cookbook via Our Family Cooking
Combine in a bowl and mix with fork:
1 cup buttermilk**
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
Add and mix only until moistened:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour*
1/2 cup unbleached, white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fry in hot, lightly greased skillet.
1/2 cup whole wheat; 1/4 cup unbleached white, 1/4 cup wheat germ or wheat hearts
**No buttermilk? Put 4 teaspoons vinegar in cup, fill with milk to 1 cup.
Copyright 2009-2017 All Rights Reserved | Main Street Farmers Market, P.O. Box 4552, Chattanooga TN 37405 | Email: info@MainStFarmersMarket.com