The central role of the Pikelet in slow living

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It has become clear that without pikelets, we would be lost. They may be small, and innocuous, but they are the shield against the storm, around here.

So you’ve worked all day and it’s now time to magically and quickly fabricate a wholesome dinner for 6 out of carrots, potatoes and carrots. So soup it is. But with soup there must be bread. Ah, yes. I didn’t quite make any, again. Oops. Aha. Pikelets. 


My Mum's pikelet recipe, on which my world is sometimes based.
My Mum’s pikelet recipe, on which my world is frequently based. Not that I stick to it very much, but it’s good to have.

A little while ago a group of local gardeners came to check out Milkwood Farm. As one lady, who’d lived out in the central west all her days said as she got out of the car:

“Wow, you’re really far out of town. You must be pikelet people, yeah?”

It took me a while to get her drift but she was right. We are pikelet people. Pikelet, pakora and pancake people, to be precise.

One of the things I love about choosing to minimise consumption from the supermarket is that it makes you more creative when it comes to feeding yourself, and encourages you to prioritise growing amazing food.

What we don’t grow, we buy in bulk – the flour, the grains, the pulses, the nuts.

The main items on our shopping list in town now are things like milk, pasta (yes I know I should be making that too), matches, butter.

Oh and frozen berries. Hey, he’s 4 years old, and I want him to eat the whole bowl of breakfast so we don’t have a ‘I’m sooooooo hunnnnngry’ melt-down at 9am.

The point I’m coming to is that we try not to buy bread. We make it. Home made bread is the best. I personally am a big fan of the New York no-knead bread side of things (i’m not much of a kneader) but for others at Milkwood, sourdough reigns supreme (and it does with me also, when all I have to do is eat it).

So there’s no secret loaf in the cupboard, and there’s no ‘i’ll just pop out and get some’ bread action when we run out. We’re 45 minutes drive from the closest shop, so that hits that one on the head.

Enter the blessed pikelet. It might just be flour, milk, egg and oil, but it has saved many hungry souls around here.

Pikelets take about 5 minutes to mix up and then you’re pouring them into the pan before you know it. They come out warm and fluffy and they chink the cracks and soak up the soup.

And if we’re talking fresh organic flour, todays egg and our olive oil, they’re probably far nutritionally superior to anything I would buy at the shops, even if I could.

Chickens not laying? No eggs about? Have you run out of milk? Fear not. The pakora is what you’re after.

Pakoras. Like pikelets, but not. Sometimes better. These ones contain grated potato + onion...
Pakoras. Like pikelets, but not. Sometimes better. These ones contain grated potato + onion…

Pakoras might be even better than pikelets in many ways. As long as you ensure a good supply of besan (chickpea) flower is in the pantry, you are set – anytime, anywhere.

We make pakoras with a large bowl of grated vegetables (carrot and potato, at this time of year) and maybe one handful of besan flour to every two handfuls of grated veggies.

Mix it all up with your hands, add whatever spices and seasonings you like,  and add very small amounts of water until you have a mix like mud and straw cobb (or, if you are not a cobber, till it’s all sticking together nicely, but not too wet).

Then fry table-spoon lumps in your frypan in plenty of oil, on low. They come out like fritters, but with a certain meatiness to them, which goes perfectly with soup, or in lunchboxes.

Given that I can get both my father and my son to eat pakoras in quantity (both of whom have, shall we say, strong views relating to foodstuffs that do not fit within their particular spectrum of acceptability), I say pakoras are a winner.

And then there’s the pancake. Which I’m sure you know all about. We like pancakes, they make Sunday mornings roll around here.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think running out of bread is that big a deal – there’s always plenty else to eat, and we know how lucky we are to have what we have. But you know that evening when you’re knackered and trying to get everyone fed pronto?

One of the things I’m coming around to living like we do now is that the slow, handmade life is all very well until you hit one of those evenings.

It’s your turn to cook. You want to get the kid to bed within an hour or so. You did not spend all day preparing slow-cooked wonderment for everyone. You are tired and you have been working very hard and this is the point when, previous to living out on the Farm, you would make the call: we are getting takeaway tonight.

But there is no takeaway and there isn’t even any takeaway leftovers in the fridge. There is no leftovers at all. Your kitchen is bursting with wonderful preserves and wholesome wholefoods, most of which will take a moderate amount of time to transform into a nourishing meal.

The garlic is braided, the carrots are outside in a sack, the forest garden is full of herbs and you know if you could just get your head together you could whip up something zesty and tasty and new and amazing and fresh and funky and you’d all be eating in an hour, glasses of local wine being poured across a table so full of the colours and smells and spices of fresh farm food. Oh huzzah the simple life.

But you can’t think straight right now and all you know is that there are lots of carrots, and that you need to start the fire, and that you are tired. And that 5 adults and one kiddo will all tromp in and sit down for dinner in one hour. And you do remember how to make soup, at least.

Which is why the pikelet and its friends are really and truly a lynchpin of simple living. Because they provide fundamental solutions to evenings like these, without anyone getting hurt.

So pour the wine, and raise a glass to the pikelet. I love you, simple living. Thanks for teaching me tenacity, and to respect the small things in life…

>> More posts about farm life at Milkwood

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0 responses to “The central role of the Pikelet in slow living

  1. Totally. Had pikelets for breakfast at a block warming party the other weekend – heaven. Often made here with buckwheat flour, which goes well with savory dishes.

  2. Interesting – I think I’d call these scotch pancakes, to me pikelets are yeasted, more like muffins (real ones not american ones) or crupmpets but thinner! Whatever they’re called I agree with everything you say. There was a time when my daughters had them for breakfast every day for months, I got really good at making them! It was always a treat when my mum made them for us for tea, we’d have golden syrup on them too – the only time we’d use it like this. It was years before I realised she probably made them when she’d run out of bread!

  3. Having just made school lunches I was just thinking I needed something a little different to jazz things up a bit – and wammo – PIKELETS!
    Brilliant Kirsten!
    And to be honest I had never thought of serving them with soup so Im going to borrow that idea too – THANKS 🙂

  4. Pancakes/vegie pikelets are the default dinner option when the grownups are too tired after work in my house, too, and we live in the suburbs (the thought of taking four kids to the supermarket to buy bread is offputting). Love vegie pikelets as a way to use up the summer zucchini glut, with a bit of sweet chilli sauce on the side.

  5. Yes the pikelet is a winner here when my kids get the im hungry.. The thing is they are 21 and 25 and I just tell them to make some pikelets..

  6. You got Dad to eat pakoras? Well done, my good woman!
    Have you tried making cheese and herb dumplings on top of your pot of soup/stew? Sortof a scone dough with egg, even faster than magnificent piklets, and all in the one pot! Great to pad things out when you realise the other half has brought home some stray policemen for dinner…

    PS To save time/energy on the slow-cooked side of things, get/make yourself a thermal cooker (hay box cooker) – bung everything in the pot in the morning, simmer for 20 mins then insulate… last night our slow cooked goat stew was still piping hot when we opened it up… bloody marvellous when you are both dead tired and kitchenless.

  7. I like the method in the second photo for keeping the 4yo’s nether regions warm while the pikelets are cooking.

  8. being an american i’ve never heard of pikelets. i looked at the photos and the recipe and assumed they were like pancakes. but then later on you mentioned pancakes…so what’s the difference here, please? Is a pikelet a bit thicker? And even for us who live near a store, the bread isn’t always the greatest…

  9. Ha what a good, funny, useful post! When I was a kid we used to cook pikelets on the upended top of cans with a candle underneath. There is something about waiting for the bubbles to pop so you can turn them over that is kind of relaxing too. Definitely will be trying the pakora idea. Thanks

  10. I also use soda bread aka scone dough to make things in a hurry. I always have homemade pasta sauce and herbs and make a pizza-foccacia- loaf.

  11. Love this post! We are pikelet people too. We live at least 1 hour from the shops and pikelets make a perfect, quick morning tea for hungry farm workers, especially in the cooler weather. Love your blog 🙂

  12. Pasta & Pesto, another good life saver. I always try to have at least one jar with pesto (basil, rocket, parsley, garlic, olive oil, parmesan and roasted maca’s) in the fridge ready for emergency cooking.
    Pesto would also go nice with… pikelets!

  13. We’re the same, but we’re rosti people (and occasionally wheat tortilla people), not pikelet people. We only live 7km from our nearest supermarket, but weirdly it never occurs to me to go buy bread on the occasions when I’ve forgotten to make it or we’ve run out.

    After many saturday mornings that began with “oh expletive, there’s no bread for toast with the bacon & eggs” my hubby has become very adept at making potato rosti’s. Which is fine by me, because I actually prefer them with my bacon & eggs, and it means he’s on breakfast duty, not me. I may have started forgetting to make bread on purpose now.

    You should definitely make your own pasta. It’s ridiculously easy and you get really quick at it after a few goes. It also tastes SO much better than shop-bought, especially when made with home-grown eggs.

    Also, I love the term “slow living”, I’m going to steal it.

  14. This is ONE of those evenings, and your advice saved it – pakoras w autumn veg soup will be in tums once the animals are away! Hope Tassie has been good to you 🙂

  15. With pure rye you don´t need to knead the Sourdough bread 😉 different recipie much more yummy in my opinion – you can also make the picklets/pancakes with sourdough but since you need to set this up 8-12 hours before I guess it defeats the purpose of a fast meal 😉 nice lovely article thanks for sharing

  16. Thanks for this
    Understand the problem. The Chickpea flour was a reminder of pakoras and Burfi, which was alays a treat as a kid.

  17. Hiding that chickpea flour in there is smart. The extra protein will hold the hunger at bay overnight, something that soup alone won’t do for the growing babes. I also sneak in almond or coconut flour if it’s something sweet, like regular old pancakes.

  18. Sounds a bit like you are missing Miss Rose, I wish I was good at cooking for the masses I’d be there in a shot to cook for you all. My kids think my cooking is more weird than wonderful.

  19. We are piklet people too! Especially on days when we have been out fencing since 5am and come home at noon ’cause its too hot. no bread made. No great ideas. we dont even discuss it anymore. of course it will be piklets! lol
    Maybe will try your pakoras next time.

  20. Takes me back to when we lived in Glen Davis and we were pikelet and scone people! A nice cheese scone doesn’t take long to knock up and goes great with soup. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer and we’re those people once again!

  21. I can sympathise! We live on a remote island in Bass Strait – just the 2 of us – no shops – scrambled eggs work well on the days when you come in late and there is nothing premade – no microwave oven – no bread – oh dear! I will definitely have a go at pikelets – don’t know why I haven’t tried them before!

  22. Wonderful post and we also love our pikelets around here. My other two favourites for ‘no bread’ are Yorkshire pudding made in muffin cases (if we have eggs) or scones either baked in the oven or put on the top of stew/casserole as dumplings. We’ve found you can make scones from just about anything pureed and just about any liquid so it’s pretty easy to invent healthy ones for kids.

    Our favourites are made with SR flour, low fat yoghurt and soda water with just a bit of salt. We’ve also included things as diverse as pesto, pumpkin soup, left over cream, flavoured yoghurt, humous, tomato paste and apple puree. Scones are a brilliant way to use up all kinds of left overs.

    Yorkshire puddings work really well in muffin tins and fairly quickly. The key is to have the pan really hot first. Ignore instructions that tell you to use lots of oil. We get by with only about half a teaspoon per muffin tin. For extra fun use flavoured oils or mix things through the puddings, like herbs, bacon bits or parmesan. Mmmmmmm.

    Here’s my very easy Yorkshire pudding recipe:

    Beat as many eggs as you like until the eggs are pale (about 5 minutes)
    Add enough flour to make a thick batter and beat well
    Add enough mild to think it out to pancake batter consistency (or pouring cream consistency)
    Add a good pinch of salt if wanted and anything else you’d like to add (e.g.:herbs)

    Pour batter into pre-heated, oiled muffin tins and bake in a moderate oven for about 15 minutes until brown.

    By playing around with quantities you’ll get the consistency you want. We’ve also experimented with different types of flour and liquids, with interesting results. You don’t need to use SR flour for these but you can if you wish.

  23. Thanks for the tips all! Just about to have first baby and move permanently to our 50-acre block with budding (but not entirely established) veggie garden, there might be a few of “those nights” coming up very shortly!!

  24. Hiya
    I love this. We are scone people, but I’m liking the idea of the pakora, as I just bought besan flour hoping to sneak it into a bread recipe Im yet to find.
    I realise you are busy, but could you elaborate on the ‘whatever spices and seasonings you like bit’?? I was thinking salt, pepper and turmeric, but would like to hear your favourites.
    Also, do the vegies have to be grated, or would lightly blitzed ( thermomix, food processor) be ok?

    1. spice-wise i usually go whole cumin and salt… not sure about blitzing, i’ve been assuming it’s partly the thread-like quality of the shredded veggies that holds the situation together? Give it a go!