I do so love carrots! When I was a pigtailed horse crazy girl, they were my favorite snack and life was a delightful and always present struggle between me and my ponies as to who would get to the carrots that I had stuffed into my pockets first.
It wasn’t until many years later that I learned to appreciate them eaten any other way than raw. Carrots were an integral part of many a midwinters eve steaming hot bran mash for my horses at Windesphere, being a root vegetable they are such a superb source of grounding, warming and nutrient dense energy.
I loved to walk into my barn on Christmas morning, give each of my horses a flake or two of hay and grab their buckets into which I would ladle a scoop or two of bran and a handful or two of dried beet pulp beforeheading towards my kitchen. Once there I would turn on the Christmas carols and start to chop. Handfuls of sweet apples went into each bucket first as well as a cup of the flax seed which had been simmering in a crockpot all night and turning itself into a nutritious jelly. Several heaping tablespoons of local raw honey were next, as well as a clove or two of pressed garlic and a cup of dried red clover blossoms and a small handful of dried mint. Then I would add the carrots that I’d shred in the Cuisinart, 3 handfuls for each horse filled with sweet, earthy juicy goodness. I'd cover each bucket with about 2 quarts of steaming hot water, stir, let sit for about 3 minutes andserve.
Carrots are still a constant source of happiness for me and I try to always have a patch of them growing in sandy spot in my garden. I love the way that they smell when they’re just moments out of the earth, like sugar and sun and cinnamon and dirt. They’re dense, sweet and strong; they tend to be ready to eat at the same time that we’re about to turn inward, away from the cold. I must be honest here and say that the little baby ones that you find in fancy (read FAWNNNcy!) restaurants are not my favorites. I appreciate their cuteness, but they lack the meaty, earthy flavor that I crave. Carrots, like beets, turnips and rutabagas and onions and garlic need their time in the earth to be as potent as I like them. They need to live with their roots buried deep in the dirt through the first crisp snaps of fall, the first frost and the first flutters of snow. That is whenthey firmly anchor themselves to the soil, looking for warmth and producing the generous grounding energies that we use to keep ourselves warm all winter long. I love them in all of their colors, bright yellows, rich warm burgundies and even white and shades of purple! I do not like, nor will you ever see me use those cut up shaved down little ovalorange things that come in bags. By the time you get them, they’ve lost all of their carroty goodness. Don’t waste your money. Even if you think that your child doesn’t like carrots just hand your child a real one someday complete with the leafy fronds and see what happens. If you give him a homemade dip of yogurt sweetened with maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice , you’ll see a complete and total transformation!
Carrots are a simple vegetable and they do best either with simple pairings of herbs , spice and fruits or cooked for hours in long slow braises where they infuse their sweetness into the basting juices of a roasted chicken or beef roast. My mother used to cook them simply, quickly sliced and steamed, then sautéed with a knob of fresh butter , salt , pepper and dill. That’s really all they need. I think that most people’s aversion to cooked carrots comes from that hideous (and I apologize in advance if anyone truly loves these) dish called “glazed carrots". I’ve never understood that recipe, carrots being so naturally sweet that they really don’t need a glaze, especially one of thickened orange juice concentrate, sugar and cinnamon.
If you’re wanting your carrots sweetened then I think that it’s better to make a Tzimmes, which is a delicious Sephardic stew of carrots, sweet potatoes, onions and dried fruit slowly braised together with a bit afreshly squeezed orange juice and liberally laced with cumin, cardamom and cinnamon. This is actually so delicious that I’ve served it warm over fresh vanilla bean ice cream with a dollop of freshly whipped maple syrup sweetened whipped cream. Yes I know, I’m definitely not the queen of understatement and trust me, don’t be put off by the onion. Onions are sweet by nature so they caramelize and blend beautifully with everything mentioned here. In the late summer or fall, serve it with the ice cream and in the winter serve it over the top of warm rice pudding. Trust me on this.
My easiest summertime carrot recipe? Throw several large cut up carrots into the vitamix with 1 quart of chicken or vegetable broth. Add salt and pepper to taste, the juice of one lemon and it’s zest and a handful of fresh dill. Process on high for a few moments and add one large ball of fresh burrata cheese. (Burrata means buttered! Don’t you love that!) Process until smooth and reheat and serve quickly with a drizzle of walnut oil. You can serve this soup chilled by adjusting the seasonings which will need to be a little stronger. A plate of wonderful raw milk cheeses and a chilled Riesling is all you need for company! Well that and a few spritzes of Dior's Escale a Portofino & Pondicherry, my scents for today!
How do you like to eat your carrots and what's your favorite eau de toilette for these blistery hot summer days? Recipes and suggestions please!
Wishing you all a lazy, yummy Foodie Sunday kind of day!
Beet and carrot photograph from the TheLunaCafé.com
Burrata photograph origins unknown