Carrots: New Twists on an Old Favourite

Carrots: New Twists on an Old Favourite

As a garden staple, carrots are familiar and well-loved for their crisp, snappy flavour and texture. Though some gardeners find them most delicious when eaten right out of the ground, those who like to experiment in the kitchen will find that a little imagination can lead to great culinary rewards.

Carrot Cake

2 cups (500 mL) flour
2 cups (500 mL) white sugar
2 tsp. (10 mL) cinnamon
1 tsp. (5 mL) allspice
3 cups (750 mL) finely grated carrots (approximately 2 lbs.)
1/2 tsp.(2 mL) salt
2 tsp. (10 mL) baking soda
1 cup (250 mL) vegetable oil
4 eggs

Sift dry ingredients into bowl. Add oil. Stir well. Add eggs one at a time and mix well after each for approximately one minute. Add carrots. Blend well. Grease and flour 9” (25 cm) cake tins. Bake at 350° F (180° C) for 40 to 50 minutes.

Puree of Turnips, Parsnips and Carrots

1 large turnip, sliced
2 med. parsnips, sliced
8 med. carrots, sliced
3/4 cup (180 mL) 2% evaporated milk
6 tbsp. (90 mL) butter

Cook the turnip in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Add the parsnips to the turnips and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the carrots and cook until all are tender, about 10 minutes more. Drain well.

Puree 1/2 of the mixture in the blender. Add 1/4 cup (60 mL) evaporated milk and 2 tbsp. (30 mL) butter and whirl.

Repeat above step twice more with remaining vegetables. Place all in a well-buttered, 2 quart (2.5 L) casserole dish. Dot with butter and refrigerate until ready to bake. Bring to room temperature. Place in preheated 350° F (180° C) oven and bake for one hour. Note: Puree may be prepared the day before serving.

Carrot Orange Cookies

1 cup (250 mL) grated raw carrots (2 medium small or 1 large)
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) all purpose flour
1/2 to 1 cup (125 to 250 mL) sugar
1 tsp. (5 mL) nutmeg
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter or margarine
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. (7 mL) grated fresh orange peel
1 tbsp. (15 mL) orange juice
3/4 cup (180 mL) chopped walnuts or pecans

Grate carrots and sift flour with baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Cream butter with sugar until fluffy and beat in egg, orange peel and juice. Stir in flour mixture alternately with carrots until dough is well mixed. Blend in nuts. Drop by overloaded teaspoon onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375° F (190° C), 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly tanned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Store in tightly covered container. Makes 5 to 6 dozen cookies

Carrot Slaw

2 cups (500 mL) shredded green cabbage
1 cup (250 mL) shredded raw carrots
2 finely chopped green onions
buttermilk dressing (see below)
2 tsp. (10 mL) sugar
1 tsp. (5 mL) Dijon-style mustard
chopped salted nuts (any kind)

Mix cabbage with carrots and onion. Season with salt and pepper and toss with about 1/2 buttermilk dressing, flavoured with sugar and mustard. Chill. Top with chopped, salted nuts when ready to serve. Makes 4 servings

Buttermilk Dressing
Combine equal parts buttermilk and mayonnaise and stir until smooth and creamy. Add herbs, garlic, parsley, chives or other seasoning. Also tastes good without herbs.

Lois Hole’s Cream of Cold Carrot Soup (Delicious hot, too)

2 medium onions
3 tbsp. (45 mL) butter
1 tsp. (5 mL) curry powder
1/2 tsp. (2 mL) dill seed
2 lbs. (1 kg) carrots (about 12 medium carrots)
5 cups (1250 mL) chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of nutmeg
1 1/2-2 cups (375-500 mL) heavy cream
fresh parsley or dill (for garnish)

Chop onions into coarse chunks. Sweat onions in saucepan or stock pot until translucent. Stir in curry powder and dill seed and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Slice carrots (reserving 1 for garnish). Combine carrots and onion mixture and add chicken stock. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. (Use salt sparingly if you’ve used bouillon for stock.) Cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes. Puree the mixture in a separate bowl in 3 or 4 batches. Chill thoroughly. Just before serving, stir in cream, adjust seasoning and garnish each bowl with a carrot curl and a sprig of parsley or dill.

Variation: If served hot, add the cream gradually to pureed carrot mixture and heat
gently, without boiling. Serves 6-8

One Bad Potato

Around mid-September, we would always keep a close eye on the forecast to figure out the best schedule for harvesting our vegetables. Squash, pumpkins and tomatoes had no frost tolerance so there was always a bit of panic to get them out of the field before temperatures dipped below freezing. 

At the other end of the spectrum were vegetables like rutabaga and parsnips that could not only tolerate hard frosts, but actually tasted better when they were hit by a hard frost. These vegetables were always the last to be pulled from the field. However, I do remember a few years when we would get caught by an unseasonably early snowfall and these frost hardy – but not winter hardy vegetables - remained in the field all winter.

The one vegetable that always worried me were our potatoes. A light frost would kill the potato foliage that, in turn, would cause the skins of the tubers to "set". Without the tops being killed, the tuber skins would remain thin and slippery and were only capable of storing for a few weeks rather than throughout the winter. 

But the problem with waiting for a hard frost was that cold air could penetrate down through the cracks in the soil and damage the odd tuber that was near the soil surface. The old adage, "One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch" applied equally well to potatoes.

I remember storing huge piles of potatoes in our barn one year where just a few tubers had been exposed to frost. These small pockets of frost-damaged potatoes did spoil the "whole bunch", and the following spring I remember literally pumping potatoes out of our barn. 

 Imagine wading into the middle of a huge pile of rotting, stinking, "potato soup" and dropping a sump pump in the middle. It’s a vivid memory that sticks with me to this day.

OK, sorry about that imagery! You won’t have to contend with any potato storing disaster like this but keep in mind that garbage-in equals garbage-out. Store only high quality vegetables and use those that don’t quite make the grade within a few weeks. If you don't adopt this strategy, I think it is safe to say that you need to keep your sump pump on standby. 

Perish the thought.

~Jim Hole