Category Archives: carrots

Winter Veggie Chowdah

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Still have winter veggies left? Yuh, me too. Fortunately it’s raining out (which means that it’s warm enough not to be snowing!), and therefore a good day for soup. And even though this contains the same old winter vegetables that you are tired of, by infusing the milk before adding it to the soup you achieve a complex floral flavor melange. What I’m telling you is that this soup is not boring, and that it’s worth more than your last turnips.

It’s ladled over toast or croutons and cheese, which makes the cheese get all melty and the bread a little soft (I recommend hearty bread that doesn’t fall apart). Altogether very satisfying.

A shareable: good old (he is getting up there) Wendell Berry has a new piece about changes in farming in the last century or so. If you don’t know Wendell Berry and you are interested in food/farming/agriculture/community/the world, make yourself familiar with his work. Start with The Unsettling of America. His main themes are the importance of place, the value of hard work, and the development of community; he is generally anti-industrialist, primarily due to the detrimental effect industrialism has had on our communities.

Recipe from Deborah Madison’s The New Vegetarian Cooking for everyone.

Winter Vegetable Chowder
Milk:
2 cups whole milk
Parsley
Thyme (fresh or dried)
2-3 bay leaves
1/2 onion
Peppercorns (at least 10)
Juniper berries (I didn't actually have any, but they would be awesome)

Soup:
Butter or oil
Leeks or onion
4 cups winter vegetables: carrots, turnips, celeriac, rutabaga, parsnip, sunchokes
2 bay leaves
Parsley (and other herbs, as you see fit)
Salt
2 tablespoons flour
5 cups water (or stock, but I would say save stock for soups that need more added flavor)
Pepper

Seedy country sourdough bread, toasted (as stated, choose a hearty bread that won't disintegrate too quickly when added to soup. This is a good use for some of those loaves that turned a little more brick-like than you usually like)
Cheese, such as Gruyère, for toast

Steep the milk first: heat it up all the “milk” ingredients in a saucepan or the microwave until boiling, then turn it off, cover, and set aside to infuse.

Chop all the veggies for the soup, in 1/2-3/4 inch chunks. Melt butter or heat oil in a large saucepan/soup pot, and add the vegetables, with the bay leaves, herbs, and salt. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned. Stir in the flour, then add 5 cups water and bring to a boil. Cook, partially covered, until vegetables are tender, another 25 minutes or so.

Pour the milk into the soup (strain if you like, although I didn’t—I find it kind of exciting to get a peppercorn in your soup, but you might not). Taste for salt, and pepper as needed.

To serve: place toast in a bowl, and cover with grated cheese. Ladle soup on top, sprinkle with a little extra parsley, and enjoy.

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Shepard’s Pie

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Although it now be spring, according to Google, there still aren’t too many greens available (they are starting!). So, time to use up some pantry staples.

I still have approximately a zillion potatoes, that I really need to use because they are starting to sprout. We’ll get there (hopefully).

I don’t remember if I’ve shared this yet or not, but particularly in regards to sourcing quality meat, apparently my generation is leading the charge at pushing for change.

I had meant to post about this last week, because Saturday was Pi Day (!) but I didn’t get around to it. I hope you celebrated appropriately! I got so excited at 9:26am, it was almost absurd. But hey, the world needs more enthusiasm.

Shepard’s pie is easygoing. A throw-everything-you-happen-to-have in kinda meal that (with a few key ingredients) ends up fantastic. It’s a good way to use random root vegetables that are staring to look a little questionable, and though it’s a meat-and-potatoes dish, I was surprised by the high ratio of vegetables I managed to stuff in, to have it end up tasting super meaty and hearty.

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This also freezes excellently. I made two (one in an 8×8 pan (which admittedly worked better) and another in a pie dish), and froze the second (let cool, then cover tightly with aluminum foil). Then when you have a potluck and don’t have time to prep a bunch of things, plop it in a cold oven and turn up to 400 or so, leaving it until it’s heated through. Yum yum yum.

My secret ingredient in this particular pie was heavily reduced lamb stock. Shepard’s pie can be made with beef or lamb (lamb is a little more traditional), but I didn’t have lamb and anyway beef is a little cheaper. I did, however, have some lamb bones from a roast a little bit ago, so I boiled those for a long, long while, at first with quite a bit of water and then I let it reduce to perhaps 1/4 of the volume. Ended up with a thick rich lamb juice that paired splendidly with the ground beef. However, if you don’t have that you can use chicken stock, and it will still be tasty.

I will also note that I screwed up the potatoes a bit, and was glad not to be serving them plain. I don’t have a potato masher, and had the bright (heh) idea of using my immersion blender (at first just as a blunt tool, and then I decided to turn it on). Turns out too much beating blows up the swollen starch cells in the potatoes and make them gluey and weird. Fortunately, if you put them on top of something (aka ground meat mixture) and bake it, they still taste pretty good. Other suggestions for rescuing potatoes here.

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Shepard's pie
Potatoes:
Starchy potatoes
Milk
Butter
Salt and pepper
Egg yolk (optional)

Meat: 
Oil
1-2 onions
2-3 carrots
Other veggies (turnips, celeriac)
3 cloves garlic
1 lb ground beef or lamb (you can also use small chunks, if you prefer)
Salt and pepper
1-2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup or so of lamb stock (reduced) or other stock
A spoonful of tomato paste
Rosemary and thyme
A dash of Worchestershire sauce (optional)
1/2 cup frozen peas (optional)

Scrub the potatoes, and set them to boiling: cover with cold water, salt, then bring to a boil and simmer until soft (warning: if you overcook them, they are more likely to become gummy).

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Chop up whatever veggies you are using. Sauté veggies with oil, starting with the onions (everything but the garlic), until mostly soft, then add the garlic. Add the ground meat, salt, and pepper, and cook until meat is browned, stirring. Toss with a little flour, then add your lamb reduction, or other stock (it helps if this is already heated). Add tomato paste/sauce if you have it, other sauces as you see fit (Worchestershire sauce?), and herbs. If it starts getting dry, add more stock. Mix in frozen peas if you like.

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By now the potatoes should be done; drain and mash (with skins!) with butter, milk, and and egg yolk if you are feeling particularly luxurious (hopefully with a potato masher. I’m not sure what I’ll use next time as a substitute). Season to taste.

Put the meat, which should have a thick sauce, in a baking dish (I recommend 2 8×8 pans, so you can freeze one, but you could do one large one, or pie dishes if you don’t have other vessels). Spread mashed potatoes on top, and put it in the oven until the juices are bubbly and potatoes are golden on top, 25 minutes or so. Let cool slightly before serving.

Leftovers heat up well in the microwave, although better (of course) in the oven. And like I said, it freezes well.

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Winter Lentil Salad

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Yum, food. As I was derelict in my previous post, I am now providing you with a lentil recipe. With winter vegetables, no less (and admittedly a few additions). But first I have a bunch of fun things to share, since I’m on all these mailing lists and come across a variety interesting articles that I think you’ll enjoy.

There has been a considerable interest lately in the increasing power of women in agriculture: globally in the face of climate change, in sustainable ag generally (something to do with a nurturing spirit? Although I reject the concept that that has to be a feminine trait), and overall in the food and farming sector. This is partly because women tend to be better at collaboration, which is increasingly important to the new economy, and especially in this emerging field. And partly because the world may be changing. Slowly. Go ladies!

Related to the new economy: can farms be a part of it (think Uber for farm storage)? And to new stuff in general: what about printing 3D crackers (although I don’t quite understand how this is different from making actual crackers).

More related to this recipe: if you need another incentive to eat less meat, here’s a fun video about water use in food, from Grist. And finally, a shoutout to Montana, and growing awesome heritage lentils. Lentils are great for ecology, since they fix nitrogen in the soil, but are also packed with protein. The article also includes a lentil recipe, so… get cooking!

This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, paleo (I think? I don’t know much about paleo, to be honest), what have you… but the tahini keeps it nice and creamy. Fresh, interesting, filling, and tasty—do you need another reason?

Warm winter lentil salad (this makes a lot, so you have it for lunch)
2 cups cooked green lentils, or 1 cup dry
4 or more carrots
4 large beets, or more smaller ones
A head of garlic
Olive oil and salt
A leek or two, or an onion
Other greenery (bok choy, spinach, kale, etc)

Dressing:
Tahini (a large spoonful)
Olive oil (2 large spoonfuls)
Apple cider vinegar (a small spoon)
Coconut butter, if you have some (a small spoon)
Turmeric
Salt
Fresh orange juice, if you have it

Chop up carrots and beets—I pretty much quartered both of them (I like long carrot pieces). Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast with garlic cloves until soft and getting caramelized, at least 30 min at 350ºF or so (turn over with a spatula a couple times). Watch the garlic cloves—they burn faster than the veggies. While the veggies are roasting, cook the lentils, if you haven’t already (cover with at least an inch of water, bring to a boil, then simmer until soft. Drain as necessary). Chop up the leeks or onion (slice onion lengthwise to have it hold more body) and sauté briefly until soft. Chop up greens, if needed.

Stir together dressing ingredients (mine got a little curdled, but still tastes good, so don’t worry about it too much). Taste, adjust, and thin with water if needed. Toss lentils, carrots, beets, whole garlic cloves, greens, and leeks together, and then mix in dressing.

Best served slightly warm or room temperature, although it is also good cold.

Winter Staples: Beans and Slaw

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Let me tell you a little bit about winter in Maine. It’s quite chilly. And there can be a lot of snow. (You may have noticed if you live here). Turns out that you can’t grow a whole lot outside in that weather.

Fortunately, you don’t need to. Eliot Coleman, the father of four-season farming in Maine (inspired by Helen and Scott Nearing), has shown us that even unheated hoophouses can supply significant quantities of vegetables throughout the winter. To grow salad mix, you’ll probably need a little heat. But hardier crops? Take that, winter, beaten by a plastic roof.

There are also many vegetables that you can harvest in the fall and store throughout the winter in a root cellar or just a cool spot in your house. I have a large amount of carrots, beets, cabbage, leeks, onions, garlic, turnips, rutabagas, and potatoes either in a box by the door (I figure it’s the coldest spot in my house) or in the fridge. Not too much of your traditional greenery in there (although kale was going strong for a while and I expect to see it again soon) but it turns out that you can still make salads, as well as a number of other vegetable-based delicacies in the winter.

Cole slaw is definitely a type of salad, in case you were wondering.

Throw it in with some beans, maybe a little melted cheese and some spices, and you’ve a meal. This amuses me a little bit because I generally think of beans (baked, I guess) and cole slaw as a Southern dish. Yet here we are, a staple of the Maine winter.

I’ve told you how to make beans before so I won’t get into that.

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Winter Slaw
Carrots (1 large one is good for one person)
Beets (1 small one is also good)
1/4-1/2 cabbage, depending on size
A few teaspoons of your favorite vinegar
1/2 tsp mustard
A few (more than the vinegar though) teaspoons olive oil
Salt, pepper, and spices: to go with beans I like cumin, paprika, maybe a little cayenne

Grate the carrots, beets if you are using them, and chop up the cabbage (core, then slice one direction and the other. Cabbage is delightful because you can chop a lot of it in a very short timeframe). In a large bowl, mix together the vinegar and mustard, and salt and pepper. When mustard is more or less dissolved, whisk in the oil. Taste and adjust seasonings. I like slaw dressing to be a little stronger than other salad dressings, especially if it’s going to sit for a little while. Stir in the vegetables and mix well. Let sit for a few minutes before consuming.

Roasted Carrot Almond Raisin Couscous

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Dinner for a single person is delightfully simple. You can have whatever you want, combine random ingredients, and if it doesn’t taste incredible, you’re the only one suffering, which is much preferable to serving guests something less than desirable.

On the other hand, if you create something amazing you don’t have anyone to share it with. But then you can eat it all yourself, so. And share it on your blog later.

This is not one of the most delicious dishes I’ve prepared, nor the most inventive—heavily inspired by Internet wanderings. But I like it because it’s a good representation of what you can do, for yourself, by yourself. A meal is an amazing experience where a collection of ingredients suddenly transforms into a dish, aromatic and flavorful. Not all cooking has this result, I don’t know if it’s the spices or just the particular combinations of flavors, but that completeness makes meals infinitely more satisfying.

Another reason this is a great dish is because if you keep roasted carrots (and/or other roasted vegetables) on hand, along with pre-toasted almonds (both of which you should), it takes approximately five minutes to prepare (well, caramelizing onions maybe takes a little longer, but you can skip that if you’re in a hurry).

I generally think of couscous as the tiny granules of dried processed wheat, kind of like spaghetti that’s been cut up into tiny pieces. Fortunately Wikipedia agrees; and I’d definitely like to try cooking it the traditional way after reading the entry. There’s also Israeli couscous, the larger pearly chunks, but they are a little different. This kind is awesome because it cooks basically instantly, but doesn’t seem like a scary instant product like instant rice, mashed potatoes, and the like.

Roasted carrot, almond, and raisin couscous
Roasted carrots (maybe 1/2 cup?)
Caramelized onions, if desired
A few tablespoons of raisins (I used Golden raisins, but whatever you have. Cut-up prunes will also work)
1/2 cup semolina couscous (or whatever you'll eat. With equal amount of water)
A dash of each: ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, salt, pepper, allspice and cumin if you feel like it
1/2 cup boiling water
A handful of toasted slivered almonds

Heat up carrots, if necessary. Place raisins in a bowl (with heated carrots, if you like) and cover with dry couscous. Mix in spices (or you can add them later if you aren’t sure what you’ll like), then pour boiling water over the whole thing. Cover and let sit for about five minutes, then fluff with a fork, toss in the toasted almonds, and enjoy, adjusting spices as desired.

Can also be made with other roasted vegetables; chickpeas make a nice addition as well.

If you don’t have roasted carrots on hand, cook them in a pan with the caramelizing onions—they should take about 20 minutes to get soft and sweet, but still with a slight crunch.