“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” – John Steinbeck
The past two weekends, I had every intention of going to the Friday morning Souk Al Bahar farmer’s market. However, late night Thursdays have spilled into late morning Fridays and lethargy prevailed. I was worried I would have nothing to write or cook about this week, but a look inside my pantry revealed some suitable inspiration.
Three weeks ago, I extolled the virtues of fresh, organic produce. This week, I regress to canned and frozen vegetables. And while many gourmands, including myself, would wrinkle their noses at even the thought of preternaturally preserved veggies, in some situations they are a viable option.
To prepare for the summer months, when fresh produce will no longer be available and we will be left with the withered imported offerings of the grocery store, it is important to know what frozen or canned vegetables work well in recipes. These vegetables are preserved in-season at their peak ripeness, usually within hours of harvest. This ensures that, as much as possible, the taste and character of the vegetables are retained. Canned tomatoes, used in stews or sauces, will taste much better than imported ethylene-ripened tomatoes. Frozen sweet corn is far better than the waxy varieties that are often sold here. Frozen peas add a touch of Spring in any dish, in any season. For those of you concerned about the nutritional value, be assured that the US Food & Drug Administration confirmed that frozen fruits and vegetables provide the same essential nutrients and health benefits as fresh ones.
There is an environmentally ethical debate about the energy that is required to can and freeze. While it is true that these processes consume quite a bit of energy, this is still less than the energy it would require to fly, refrigerate and shelter produce from far flung corners of the globe. We also cannot ignore the fact that this saves a considerable amount of another important type of energy – that of the cook ! They are godsend for the short-on-time cook who does not have to slavishly wash, peel or chop a mountain of veggies.
In this recipe, pancakes get a healthy makeover with the addition of whole wheat flour and canned pumpkin puree. Though perhaps more known for its use in Thanksgiving pumpkin pie and a low-fat brownie recipe, canned pumpkin is packed with vitamin C and adds a velvety texture to both savory and sweet goods.
Things are a bit topsy-turvy here with our winter farmer’s markets that go dormant in the summer. Right now, I could also make these pancakes with fresh UAE pumpkin. But, it’s comforting to know that I can enjoy this same leisurely, weekend breakfast a few months from now in the summer, or any other weekend I decide to sleep in.
Enjoy your long weekend!
- 1 cup of whole wheat flour
- ½ cup of all purpose flour
- 2 tsp of sugar
- 1 tsp of baking soda
- 1 tsp of baking powder
- ½ tsp of salt
- 1 tsp of cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp of ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp of ground clove
- 1 cup laban or buttermilk
- 1 cup of canned pumpkin puree
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp of melted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ¼ cup of water
1. In a large bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices) together
2. In a separate bowl, whisk all the wet ingredients (eggs, laban, pumpkin puree, butter, vanilla, water) together
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until it is just combined. Do not overmix or you will get tough pancakes.
4. Drop the batter ¼ cup at a time on a greased skillet on medium-high heat
5. When small bubbles form on the surface of the pancake, flip them over
6. Serve immediately with maple syrup