Local Food and How to Cook It (Carrots)

My winter vegetable bed in front of the porch.

I’ll get to the cooking in a minute, but I wanted to share this bit of news, to me at least.  Because of my discovery that someone was using my debit card number to buy weird things on the internet, I have discovered that my food could even be more local than I had thought.  Saturday, I placed an order for polenta from Anson Mills.  Saturday afternoon, I looked at my bank statement and discovered that there was a problem.  I called the bank and had them cancel my card and stop all charges to it.  Well, then I remembered that I had ordered that polenta.  So I called Anson Mills and left a message about my predicament.  I didn’t want them to think I was a ne’er do well charging stuff to a card that did not work.  Anyway, to my amazement, on Sunday, Glenn Roberts himself called me back and told me that they would cancel my order, and that I could just order again when I got everything straightened out.  Then in the course of our conversation about the merits of local food and where he grows the corn for the polenta, I found out that right here in my neck of the woods were growers he knew and used, namely Nicholas Donck of Crystal Organic Farm, among others.  Wow!  So my polenta and grits and cornmeal from Anson Mills are possibly even closer to home than I had thought.  The corn is grown in Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina, as well as in the Northeast to avoid total loss if one area is hit by weather issues or other problems.  He talked about how this area of Georgia, from Covington up to Athens and Washington, Georgia  is a wonderful place for small farmers who grow organically and sustainably.  So take advantage of living in this wonderland of sustainable farming and growers who go beyond organic.   

Pulling up the first carrot I have ever grown.

   One of the yummiest foods of the winter in the south is carrots.  To the left, is me just a few minutes ago pulling up the first carrot I have ever grown.  (You can click on the small picture and see it much larger.)  I planted carrots and beets and green onions out there in front.  Green onions are the only one of those crops that I have ever grown before.  The carrots took forever to come up, but they did.  The beets are probably still too close; I have been thinning them for weeks.  They haven’t made much in the way of roots, but this first purple, forked-root carrot looks pretty good.  I will have it in my salad tonight.  Sometimes the simplest way with food is the best.  I’ll just wash it and slice it up.  If I had more than one, I could cup them in chunks and toss in a little olive oil and roast them in the oven.  That really brings out their sweetness and is really good. 

There is a lovely carrot salad in The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters.  It goes like this:

Peel and grate 1 pound of carrots.

Make a vinaigrette of 1 tsp red wine vinegar, 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  Whisk in 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1 T fresh orange juice

Toss the carrots in the vinaigrette and stir in 2 T chopped parsley.  (I actually put about twice as much parsley.)

It's almost out.

In Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen I found this especially yummy Roasted Carrot Soup.

1 pound carrots cut in chunks, 2 small potatoes cut in chunks, 1 large onion cut in chunks, 5 garlic cloves peeled, 2 to 4 T of olive oil, sea salt and pepper, 2 hefty sprigs of thyme,and one bay leaf. 

Toss all above together, and spread in large baking dish.  Roast at 425 degrees about one hour, turning 3 or 4 times.

Transfer to soup pot along with 1 quart of vegetable stock or water.  Simmer about 20 minutes.  Puree until smooth.  Return to pot, season with salt and pepper if necessary and stir in 1/2 cup cream.  When you serve, stir in a dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream.  Put a little chopped parsley on top.

And, it's out!

When you need a crunchy snack, what could be better than a carrot.  They are good all by themselves, fresh out of the garden, but this recipe for pickled carrots makes them even more interesting. 

Bring 2 cups apple cider vinegar, 2 cups water, 1/4 cup sugar to a boil. 

Add 2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch sticks, 1 T dill seed, 4 cloves garlic, peeled, 2 tsp mustard seed, 2 tsp dried dill weed, 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes.  Cook, covered on low for only 5 minutes.  Pour into glass canning jars, place lids and rings on them.  Let them cool and refrigerate at least 24 hours.  They will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

My first carrot, whee!

Roasted carrots are really good.  Here is a variation on the basic roasted vegetable theme.  This could work for any root vegetable, like beets, turnips or parsnips, as well as carrots.

Slice one pound of carrots thickly.  Toss with 3 T Balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp italian seasoning.  Let marinate for 1 hour.  Spread on baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

So, now you have a few ways to cook your carrots.  If you grow them yourself or find some attractive bunches at a farmers market, give these recipes a try.


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