I have no idea what you’d do without carrots. I think I just couldn’t cook without them.
I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about, “Oh, I love carrots,” but there isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t buy them. I can’t imagine my crisper without carrots. But I don’t think I ever thought much about them before.
Two carrot stories come to mind…after this gorgeous salad:
|Moroccan Carrot Salad|
We were camping in Texas once where we spent long days tubing on the Guadalupe River. (Folks floated by with six-packs tied to their inner tubes.) It was so hot the ice was a constant puddle in the coolers and we worried about our food. (Why didn’t I sell ice in south Texas? Once again I had chosen the wrong profession.) Insert bad language; there were six of us to feed three times a day for a week. One poor woman stopped to say only one thing to me, “Even my carrots rotted today.” I knew how she felt; I was down to cabbage, potatoes, and onions, though I always have cans in the back of the van. If your carrots betray you, you’re in trouble. She was heartbroken and I understood why.
And the other story….
Once, when I’d been on Weight Watchers forever, Dave said,
I liked you a lot better when carrots were no points.
You see, carrots, along with all the other vegetables in the world, were FREE–point-wise, that is. Until one year, somebody smartened up and figured out they had a little sugar. Wowee-zowee; they were then 1 point. Broke my heart. (Since then, a WW friend reports carrots are once more free. I’m breathing a bit easier though I simply use myfitnesspal.com to track my weight and exercise now. Love that site and there’s an app for it.)
|Took this at Pike Place Market. Gorgeous sentiment, “Carrots on-the-loose.”|
Carrots make nearly everything taste better. Without them, how could you make soup? If you skip them and just add the onions and celery to flavor the broth, it’s just not the same. What about stew? Roast chicken with vegetables? Salad? Veggie tray? Pot Roast? Carrot cake?
|I make carrot cake cupcakes at Easter; recipe here. It’s for the sheetcake, but works just the same.|
|Alyce’s Egg Salad?|
|Split Pea Soup for One?|
|Pasta out of the Frig and Pantry??|
|Could you bring potato salad?|
|Make your own Chicken Noodle Soup from scratch?
Chicken Noodle Soup in Under an Hour (above) has morphed into a soup with a 30 minute finishing time for cookbook I’m working on…It works. Just wait and see how.
Unless you have spent a lot of time thinking about it, you’ve just realized the cooking world
would be a very different place without carrots. (One note: if you like them in spaghetti sauce or marinara, be careful; too many and you’ve ruined it. I sometimes like just a bit of carrot in my marinara.) Naturally, they’re good for you. Didn’t your mother tell you to eat your carrots so you could see better? A deficiency of vitamin A can cause night blindness, according to several sources, but it doesn’t appear carrots truly help you see better.
Did I mention they keep a good long while? How long?
2-3 weeks fresh in the refrigerator
12-18 months blanched and stored well-wrapped in the freezer
Read a poem about a pea who wants to be a carrot here.
National Carrot Day? February 3, naturally.
38 Power Foods is a group effort! Stop by these other blogs and see what they’re cooking each week as we team up to bring you some of the healthiest cooking available.
Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
Anabanana – adobodownunder.blogspot.com
As we go along, I’m guessing we’ll get some other writers involved. If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits: Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com
two-dog kitchen and around the ‘hood
|Our eastern view the morning after the big rain storm. Roads washed out and a bridge collapsed.|
|My temp office to write the book. I love being alone to write. We moved out the bedroom furniture to give me space.|
|One of two soups I worked on this week: Alyce’s Spicy Cucumber-Feta photographed in my tiny herb garden.|
|Cupcakes–Make them and freeze them tonight. Defrost and frost Saturday or Order plain from the bakery and decorate at home.|
no hassle Easter menu serves 8
Make-ahead Green Bean Salad with Shallot Cream Dressing**
Pan-Grilled Double Lamb Rib Chops with Tapenade**
Oven-Roasted Rosemary Whole Carrots**
Czech Easter Bread, optional *
Cupcakes with Jelly Bean Frosting (Buy or Make)*
*Click link for recipe/choose your own
|Czech Easter Bread (Link to recipe above.)|
|Just a few tulips–the perfect centerpiece.|
Or why do it all yourself? You might get your cousin to do the cupcakes, your sister to do the salad, and so on. Make the day easy on yourself since someone had to clean the house and put out the egg-shaped candles, afterall. But if you’re doing it all yourself, here’s how:
|No cupcakes for these guys.|
1. Today or Tomorrow: Do grocery shopping. Make/buy carrot cake cupcakes. Freeze plain cupcakes.
2. Friday: Make tapenade and store well-covered. Keep others out of it until Sunday. Boil eggs.
3. Saturday: Used boiled Easter eggs and make deviled eggs. Store loosely covered in refrigerator. Do not sprinkle with paprika until ready to serve. Here are three recipes or make your own.
4. Saturday or Sunday morning: Make the salad and dressing. (recipes below); refrigerate them separately until Sunday.
- In the morning: unthaw and frost cupcakes if not already done. Store out of reach of the dogs and kids.
- ” ” ” : set and decorate table
- 1 1/2 hours before dinner: Bring lamb chops to room temperature. Uncork/decant red wine.
- Set out deviled eggs and uncork white wine for starters.
- Peel/prepare carrots and place on a half-sheet pan. Prepare chops for cooking.
- Pan-grill, then roast chops and oven-roast carrots. Place chops and carrots on a large platter with tapenade and pass at the table.
- Just before eating: Spoon salad into large serving bowl, drizzle with dressing, and toss well. Pour red wine. Place bread on table if serving.
- Serve cupcakes and smile.
Make-Ahead Green Bean Salad with Cream Shallot Dressing
This recipe calls for you to blanch the beans and fresh peas briefly in boiling water, drain, and cool quickly in an ice bath. You can also cook them, separately, in the microwave for 2-3 minutes with just a couple of tablespoons of water in a microwave-safe covered bowl.
- 6 cups fresh haricots verts or green beans, trimmed, blanched, cooled in ice bath, and drained
- 3 cups fresh green peas (or frozen), blanched, cooled in ice bath, and drained
- 2 cups sliced celery
- 1/2 c each diced red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper
- 1/2 cup thinly-sliced carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
- 4 cups mixed salad greens
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
Dressing: 2T minced shallots, 2T lemon juice, 1 cup half and half, 2T finely minced flat-leaf parsley, 1/4 tsp each sea salt/ fresh ground pepper, 1 tsp grated lemon zest, 2 drops Tabasco. Place all ingredients in a jar with a tightly-fitted lid and shake vigorously when making and just before dressing salad.
- One day ahead: Mix all salad ingredients—except lemon juice– together in a large bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
- When ready to serve, add lemon juice and toss well. Drizzle with dressing and toss again. Taste and re-season. (You’ll have leftover dressing. Store in refrigerator 2-3 days.)
Note: This salad is loosely based on one from the book SALAD FOR DINNER by Patricia Wells, who is one of my favorite cookbook authors.
Pan-grilled Double Lamb Rib Chops with Tapenade and Oven-Roasted Rosemary Carrots
A. Up to two days ahead, make tapenade and store tightly covered in the refrigerator:
|Tapenade- Chopped olives, garlic, parsley and anchovies. Great with sliced baguette or crackers, too.|
- 2 cups pitted kalamata olives
- 3 anchovies
- 1/2 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1T red wine vinegar
- 1T fresh lemon juice
- Pinch fresh ground pepper
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- salt, if needed, to taste
Process all ingredients in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Taste and adjust seasonings. Store, well-covered, in refrigerator until needed. Serve in a bowl on the table for guests to help themselves or spoon a bit on each chop if you like.
B. For chops and carrots ( recipe, see below) — about 45 minutes before dinner time.
- 8 double lamb rib chops at room temperature
- olive oil
- kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 dozen long, thin carrots, peeled and trimmed
- Olive oil
- Kosher Salt and fresh ground pepper
- 4T finely minced fresh rosemary
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place carrots on a large baking sheet/s, drizzle with oil and dust generously with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Place pan of carrots in the oven on a rack in the bottom third of the oven and roast until tender and somewhat crispy.
Heat grill pan or large, heavy skillet/s for the chops over medium-high heat. Place another rack, for the chops, in the upper third.
- Meantime, drizzle chops with olive oil on both sides and salt and pepper thoroughly on both sides. Brown chops very well on each side and remove to a roasting pan or oven-safe casserole. When all the chops are browned, place pan/casserole in the oven and roast until done to your liking.
- Use instant-read thermometer to determine if chops are done. I like mine fairly rare (quite pink) and took them out to rest when the temperature was between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’d like them just pink, try 140 degrees. Quite done is about 160.
- Remove pan/casserole from oven and remove chops to serving platter. Let sit 2-3 minutes.
- Remove carrots from the oven and add them to the platter. Serve hot with tapenade
Note: If you’d like to use nice big and thick bone-in pork chops instead of lamb chops, they’ll work just as well using the same process. You’ll want them cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit (medium rare) and allowed to rest a few minutes. Great with tapenade.
Happy Easter and Sing a New Song,
‘Farming is an attractive path for people who are getting out of school and feeling like there’s kind of a toxic consumerism and not feeling too excited about working for the Man, especially seeing as he’s been spoiling our politics and a lot of our ecology,’’ she said. (Severine von Tscharner Fleming via NYT)
#36 on Gourmet’s list of 50 Women Game-Changers in Food is Severine von Tscharner Fleming– farmer, activist, and filmmaker…
based in the Hudson Valley, NY. Over the past two years she has produced+ directed a documentary film about the young farmers who are reclaiming, restoring, retrofitting and respecting this country of ours. That film, titled “The Greenhorns” grew into a small nonprofit organization that currently produces events, media and new media for and about the young farming community. Greenhorns mission is to “recruit, promote and support” the growing tribe of new agrarians. To that end, Greenhorns runs a weekly radio show on Heritage Radio Network, a popular blog, a wiki-based resource guide for beginning farmers, a GIS-based mapping project, and dozens of mixers+ educational events for young farmers all around the country. Greenhorns actively works to provide venues for networking, collaboration and communication within their large, and growing! network. Severine attended Pomona College and University of California at Berkeley where she graduated with a B.S. in Conservation/AgroEcology. She co- founded the Pomona Organic Farm and founded UC Berkeley’s Society for Agriculture and Food Ecology and is a proud co-founder of the National Young Farmers Coalition. (courtesy The Greenhorns)
I was interested in this carrot salad because it sounded:
- like it might hold a few days in the frig
- unlike my mother’s carrot salad!
And it was all of those things. Even though I had misplaced my Cuisinart grating disc in the move to St. Paul (I know; I’ll get another one) and had to grate the carrots by hand, it was a simple chore and done easily. Carrots grated by hand contain a lot less liquid than carrots grated by Cuisinart anyway, so it was probably the method of choice. While spring definitely hasn’t sprung around here, I kept thinking what a quick and delicious side this would be for grilled food come better weather. Since nearly everyone likes carrots, including children, it’s probably a good idea for a BBQ or potluck dish. The recipe indicates a one-hour marinating time. I tasted it right after it was made and after the hour at room temp. The flavors definitely were damped by the hour wait (cumin particularly); you might want to add a little extra of the spices if you’re going to wait or eat this over a couple of days. Did I mention this little ditty was scrumptious? I just couldn’t believe that was all there was to it. But that was it. Just lovely fresh food.
|Wednesday’s yard photograph–Not thinking garden quite yet.|
Moroccan Carrot Salad
From Winter Harvest Cookbook, a vegan and gluten-free recipe. Serves 6.
- 1 pound carrots (about 6 medium), scrubbed
- 2 shallots, chopped fine
- 2-3 T. sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- Dash cayenne
- 3 T lemon juice
- 1/2 c finely minced parsley
Grate or julienne carrots. Add shallots and toss. Combine sugar, salt, and cumin and toss with carrots. Season with pepper and cayenne. Add lemon juice and toss again. Marinate for 1 hour. Sprinkle with parsley and serve at room temperature.
If you like this, you might also like my curried cauliflower
Want to read other bloggers who are following the 50 Women Game-Changers in Food story? There’s a lot of good food out there; read on!
Val – More Than Burnt Toast, Taryn – Have Kitchen Will Feed, Susan – The Spice Garden, Heather – girlichef, Miranda – Mangoes and Chutney, Jeanette – Healthy Living Mary – One Perfect Bite, Kathleen – Bake Away with Me, Sue – The View from Great Island Barbara – Movable Feasts , Linda A – There and Back Again, Nancy – Picadillo Mireya – My Healthy Eating Habits, Veronica – My Catholic Kitchen Annie – Most Lovely Things, Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook, Alyce – More Time at the Table, Amrita – Beetles Kitchen Escapades
Sing a new song,
|Don’t know what to do with chicken? How about cook it?|
I simply don’t know how to do anything without doing it with all my heart. In fact, I don’t. Unless it’s washing sheets (yes, I’ll do it today), cleaning the stairs (twice a week with golden retrievers), driving through construction (not on googlemaps, of course), going to the DMV, shopping for a pair of black pants at Macy’s (How many places could black pants be and how much should I pay?), or picking up the trash folks leave in my yard (the price for living in the city.) I mean, boredom or even half-heartedness is not interesting and I don’t learn or grow from it. Thriving on change is a good way to live. Especially since change is the way things are. The new normal. Change, in fact, is the status quo. Hmm.
So when I look at the stack of chickens in my freezer (Book club friend’s husband has a tie to great organic, free-range poultry and the order just came a couple of weeks ago.) and go, “Oh, no!” I rear my head in disappointment at myself and begin dreaming chicken.
In the oven
On the grill
Poulet au vin blanc (chicken with white wine)
Con poblanos (with green chiles)
Next to asparagus
In the crock pot
Snuggled up in noodles, celery, and onions
In a world where the hungry numbered 925 million in 2010, I am embarrassed that how I cook chicken is even a topic. I do indulge myself on this blog, however, and go on after breathing deeply.
The other night, I just couldn’t come up with anything terribly new and entertaining for chicken (in the summer) and just began throwing the parts into the pan. They’d get done, wouldn’t they? We’d eat, wouldn’t we? But, wait: first the parts should be seasoned very well with salt and pepper. (Leaving out an entrancing snout-full of pepper is what people often do with chicken. And it’s pale and insipid and oh, you fill in the blank. Same for salt. Poultry HAS to be well-seasoned, whatever you choose to do it with. Particularly if you’re eating it as is or the poultry is of the very inexpensive sort.) And, oh, let’s roll into the pan some fragrant olive oil if we’re just cooking it any which old way.
As this what-the-hell supper began to cook, here’s what it looked like:
You know the drill; you have the picture. Well, I don’t know what you do with yours, but I’m not standing there watching chicken cook. I had other fish to fry. (Right.) After it browned well on both sides (a good 5-7 minutes each side over medium-high heat), I threw that sucker in the oven to finish cooking for another 20-25 minutes or so:
And wondered what else was for dinner. Just like you. A quick bang of the pantry and frig doors showed pasta, rice, capers, carrots, yellow squash, celery, lemon, and feta. On the counter were onions and garlic because in Alyce’s kitchen, God (and a gardening neighbor) is good and those things are always there. A glass full of basil sat at the sink. Mint’s in a pot next to the tub of rosemary (that needed water so badly it looked like a Christmas tree in January) outside my backdoor. And because there’s a difference between eating and enjoying the meal with my husband, I began to grab pots, knives, cutting board, and so on. It soon appeared that an orzo salad was coming together as orzo cooks quickly and is a great home for savory and piquant additions. And oh how I love olives! with orzo and feta. No olives, though, more’s the pity. Capers would have to suffice unless I wanted to sprint to the store during rush hour. Probably not. Before the chicken was done, the salad was ready:
So you have the idea of the chicken. Season well, brown throughly on both sides, and finish in a moderate (350 F) oven until quite browned and juices run clear or thermometer registers 165 F. Unsure about temperatures, read the USDA guidelines–very simple. While the chicken is in the oven, cook the orzo and chop the veg and cheese. While this chicken with an orzo salad isn’t an instant meal, it’s fairly quick and hits the major food groups in a tasty way. And, hey! There would be leftovers for lunch. Yum leftovers. Who isn’t, after all that, glad to reach in the frig and pull out a piece of chicken come noon?
Take the time to season this baby (the orzo salad) lovingly. It takes a bit of thought, and trial/error, but you can go from “Yeah, that’s ok” to “Wow!” with attention, care, and a bit of knowledge. Generally the wow factor comes from one of these:
The best ingredients you can find
Thorough, but not over-seasoning
Use fresh herbs (usually at the very end before serving)
Appropriate addition of acid (in this case lemon juice)
If you’re unsure, take a small portion, add the questionable ingredient and try it. See if that’s going to make the difference. Take three small portions and try three techniques…which do you like? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by this process. So here’s how I did it this time:
Alyce’s Orzo Salad on That Day (amounts are approximate) Serves 4 (as does a whole chicken)
1 cup uncooked orzo
1/2 cup each chopped finely diced carrots or cucumber, and yellow squash
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic smashed and finely minced (or more to taste)
2T minced red onion
2T ea chopped fresh mint and basil
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
Pinch of oregano
1T capers (or a small handful of chopped kalamata olives)
1/2 t grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and pepper to taste (try just a bit of salt at first as capers and feta are salty)
Big pinch of crushed red pepper
1T white or red wine vinegar
3T extra virgin olive oil, divided (You’ll use some to flavor the hot orzo and some later for dressing.)
Juice of half a lemon
Optional: Top with 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes and a sprinkle of pine nuts or toasted chopped walnuts
- Cook orzo according to package directions and drain well. Pour the orzo into a mixing bowl and stir in 1 T of the olive oil. Sprinkle with just a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Add vegetables (including garlic and onions), feta, herbs, oregano, capers or olives, and lemon zest. Stir well.
- Add salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Taste and reseason.
- Sprinkle with vinegar and stir. Drizzle in other two tablespoons of olive oil and stir again. Add tomatoes and nuts, if using. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
- Squeeze lemon over all.
- Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold. Store leftovers in refrigerator, tightly covered, for 2-3 days.
Another cook might have added finely chopped fennel, marinated artichokes, green peppers, jicama….and so on.
Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood
It isn’t quite the last rose of summer (above), but there are moments, despite the heat, that I want to run to each flower and smell each one up close while I can. I bravely planted some new things last week near the perennial hibiscus in my corner garden. I’ll show you when they bloom. (Please bloom.)
What else I’m cooking:
I’m considering some new recipes for those who are in the healing process or need softer meals:
|A lovely butternut (and other) squash soup with thyme for garnish.|
A healthier, chock-full of stuff zucchini bread is in the works and you’ll read about it here first.
|Whole wheat zucchini bread with dried cherries, raisins, nuts and bits of dark chocolate for your heart.|
About the house:
|And will it look like this again? Guess so.|
I am finally getting my house to make sense nearly three months after the moving truck arrived. While the kitchen, bedrooms and dining room quickly fell into place (though bedding and tablecloths still seem to be in short supply), the living room defied taming. A small, but pleasant light teal room that has a 3-season porch attached and boasts a bright, clean piano window (Thanks to my friend, Chris Brown:), it just made me shake my head (read that want to puke) whenever I took the time to look at it. Now my living room, unlike some, is in constant use. I often work at home and am at the piano or on the couch (with the good lamp) reading and studying. I run between the pots in the kitchen to the hymnal on the stand to the computer to write and I need that room to not only be comfortable, but to be feng shuied mighty fine. I nurse a glass of wine in there while enjoying the Sunday New York Times sometimes in the evening. (I never get it done on Sundays.) I sit and read while Dave naps with his head on my lap. The dogs have their favorite spot on the wool rug. To say nothing of sharing a cup of coffee with a friend. But the room had its own ideas about itself and it wanted to be tilted in the direction of what appeared to be a huge (it is) piano and a squeezed in sofa with two chairs nearly on top of one another in the corner with a beautiful table that cried, “Get rid of me. I’m too crowded.” It made my lip curl like Elvis and my brow crease like Bruce Willis when he’s in a real tight place. I said nasty stuff about my furniture. Talked about paying designers. Wrote friends who WERE designers. Hemmed and hawed. (What is hemmed and hawed?)
|They aren’t concerned about what color the walls are; they just want to be together. Rightly so. Love dogs!|
Our physical selves often mimic our emotional or spiritual circumstances and, in this case, it was exactly so. (Thanks to old friend Rev. Virginia Memmott for knowing that.) As long as I hithered and thithered and dithered about the move, living in Minnesota , the hot summer, our Colorado house, the need for a job, etc, I couldn’t settle down enough to “see” how things had to be.
|Living room the day the truck arrived|
One day last week, after receiving word of my new choir director job at Prospect Park United Methodist (Come sing!), I just walked in there, started moving stuff, called Dave down to pound nails in the walls for artwork, and found a way for that room to be arranged that not only made sense, but was downright charming. After a day or so, I also saw that the light had changed. The walls were more awake and you could read more easily as the sun was now in its late August position. No more cave feeling. And I like it. And so there, room. And, while it’s still hot outdoors, my eyes fall upon space that is welcoming, comfortable, and full of the things I love. I didn’t have to go buy all new furniture or consign the art; I just had to give myself time to breathe and want the space to work. Thanks, God.
|A bit more welcoming, huh?|
Below: Late hostas blooming on the east side of the house. In other places, leaves are falling and the acorns crunch underfoot. The acorns are even falling on the patio table that sits below a maple tree. Now there IS an oak tree in the yard next door. And somehow the acorns are moving from the oak to the maple and falling on us during dinner.
Sing a new song,
|How quickly can you say Chicken and Noodles?|
|Male downy woodpecker eats fast. The female eats here, too. Not at the same time.|
|Birds were smart. They went from the tree to the feeder and back. Period.|
|Temp furniture bought for a song. Ours will arrive in two months after the snow melts. Argh.|
In a 3-4 qt heavy saucepan or small stockpot, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat and add chicken that you’ve salted and peppered well. Add vegetables, herbs, and spices. Let brown well 5-7 minutes; turn, stir, and let brown another 5 minutes.
Add stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, over low heat about 30 minutes.
Meantime, follow package directions and cook 6 oz frozen egg noodles in a separate pot for 20 minutes, adding frozen peas last 3 minutes.
Strain noodles and peas; add to chicken mixture. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot. For a more chicken and dumplings feel, add 1/2 cup milk to the pot when you add the noodles and peas.
I’m reading… Books on Minnesota (duh), The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’s Final Days in Jerusalem by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan, Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion by Sara Miles, Goat Song: A Seasonal Life, A Short History of Herding, and the Art of Making Cheese by Brad Kessler. I just bought Home Cheese Making: Recipes for 75 Delicious Cheeses by Rikki Carroll and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon but I haven’t started them. I’ve promised my Colorado Springs book club I’d read THE CURIOUS INCIDENT…by next Wed. Time to get going. By the way, Sara Miles book is life-changing and GOAT SONG is one of the most lovingly-written books of the decade. Where did he learn to write like that?
On Minnesota Public Radio this morning: We would need $21 million to feed the hungry in Minnesota; that would be for 8 billion meals.
Sing a new song,