Apr 14, 2010

Spring Carrots...not just for Easter Bunnies

The smell of carrots makes me think of Spring.  I don't mean carrots cooking on a stove.  I mean the scent of the plant itself...a very distinct aroma when your fist crushes the leaves as you pull a carrot out of the soil.

Most plants have their own distinct aroma, especially when the leaves are crushed.  In fact, scent is one way to identify plants--which can be tricky when flowers are absent.  If you closed your eyes and someone handed you a mint leaf to crush and sniff, you'd know what you were holding without having to peek.  Marigolds and tomato plants also release a distinct scent if you brush up against them.  Neither are pleasant in my opinion.  Something about the secnt of marigolds makes me think of stink bugs.  And while the scent that tomato plants release reminds me of summer, I still don't want to make purfume out of it.

I associate the scent of carrots with Spring because that's the time of year when my brothers and I tugged at them, pulling them out of neat rows, prying them from the grip of dark, rich alluvial soil.  I think I've mentioned that I come from gardeners. My great-grandpa had a huge garden that took up an entire lot. My grandma gardens--packing much of her tiny yard with hibiscus, ferns, tomatoes, and hot peppers. My dad gardens too. He expands his garden each spring since he doesn't have to leave a play area in the yard anymore.  Sometimes the carrots didn't always have that nice straight tap root like grocery store carrots.  Often they were forked and crooked or twisted.  As a kid, I liked them better that way.  It was fun to see what kind of mutant carrot would be pulled up next.  And (I probably don't have to say this) freshly harvested carrots are a million times better than store-bought.  Crisper, crunchier, sweeter, dirtier.  Ummm...it can be hard to wash all the garden soil away.

My brothers and I were like little bunnies nibbling our way through the garden.  Carrots were a big grazing item for us.  It was easy to pull up a carrot, wash it off, pinch off the thin, straggly end of the root with thumb and index finger, and have a quick snack without having to go inside.  Because sometimes going inside for a snack ran the risk of being told "it's time to come in anyway."  Outta sight, outta mind was our motto.

I've always liked raw carrots, but never had a taste for them cooked.  Mom tried all sorts of things (except roasting them, which I've decided that I like) but all the various intrpretations of boiled carrots never caught on with me.  I preferred the bunny way.

But the recipe below for Zippy Glazed Carrots is something I can get into.  Probably because the sweet and tangy sauce is the dominant taste rather than the cooked carrots. 

This is a little different than the typical glazed carrots because of the mustard.  It adds a surprising little twist.  The glaze reminds me of the glaze on baked ham (the only part of a ham I eat).  The recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks: Talk About Good, published by the Junior League of Lafayette, LA.

Linking with:
Food On Friday: Mustard @ Carole's Chatter

Mise en place: carrots, butter, yellow mustard, brown sugar, salt, parsley (optional)

First, the carrots need to be cooked.  Boil, simmer, steam, whatever you like.  Cook them until they're almost as tender as you'd like...they'll cook a bit more later.
Be sure to drain well.

Melt butter in a skillet.  Stir in the brown sugar, mustard, and salt.  If you like a sweeter sauce, decrease the mustard or increase the sugar.  If you like a tangier sauce, do the opposite.  See how easy I am?
When the mixture bubbles, add the cooked, drained carrots.

Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring constantly.  Sprinkle with parsley if you want.  Serve.

Want a printer friendly version of the recipe?

Zippy Glazed Carrots
from Talk About Good (with very minor changes)

2 T butter
1/4 c brown sugar
2 T prepared yellow mustard
1/4 tsp salt
7-8 large carrots, peeled, sliced, cooked, and drained
1 T chopped parsley (optional)

Cook carrots anyway you'd like, such as steaming or boiling/simmering.  When the carrots are almost as tender as you'd like, drain and set aside.  They can even be cooked ahead of time.

Melt butter in a skillet. Stir in brown sugar, mustard, and salt. If you prefer a sweeter sauce, reduce the amount of mustard or increase the sugar.  If you want a tangier sauce, reduce the amount of sugar or increase the mustard.

When the mixture bubbles, add cooked carrots.  Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring constantly until heated through and glazed. Sprinkle with parsley before serving, if desired. Serves 4.

P.S.  We'll be moving to a new house over the next couple of weeks.  I have some posts scheduled to go, but if I don't visit or comment on your blog it's because we don't have internet service at the new house yet.  It isn't because I don't care!

1 comment:

  1. Such a cute post about you and your brothers. I love the whole part about not wanting to go inside because then you might have to "come in anyway". I can remember those days of playing outside and not wanting to go in either. Nowadays it's funny when I have to tell the kids to come in. The look on their faces lets you know that it is the worst thing in the world to them.
    I love carrots. Raw. Cooked. However. I also love mustard, so this is perfect for me!


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