The versatile carrot. Well, a while ago I wrote a little about carrots. Heirloom carrots are the best. So, I’ve been thinking about how I use them:
*Finely grate them and add them to meatloaf. (recipe is here)
*No celery? Add grated carrot to salads instead.
*Making a seafood salad? Add grated carrot.
*Saute’ some grated carrot, zucchini, onion, and cheese for a great topper on rice or noodles. (Heavy on the carrot for a sweeter taste.)
MAC & CHEESE: Next time you reach for one of those inexpensive boxes of macaroni and cheese, reach for your carrots, too. Finely grate them, saute’ them with some bits of chicken, then stir into your mac & cheese.
GREEN BEANS & POTATOES
NOTE: This is another recipe that has no perfect measurements. I eyeball this one, too . . .
INGREDIENTS: At least a pound of fresh green beans, snapped into short, easy to eat lengths; five or six large potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks; two vegetable boullion cubes (I use MSG-free ones); two tablespoons FINELY GRATED ONION; one teaspoon minced garlic; three slices of browned & crispy bacon or a few chunks of salt pork; Three cups milk more or less; salt & pepper to taste.
STEPS: (1) Toss the beans, potatoes, onion, garlic, and crumbled bacon into a crockpot. Add the milk (enough to cover. Depends upon how many beans/potatoes). And then, Yay! Use the low setting and forget about it for the next six to eight hours. (2) Melt three tablespoons of butter and stir in three tablespoons of flour to make a paste for thickening the crock pot concoction. Stir it into the milky mixture and turn the crock pot onto high. Let cook, uncovered, for about twenty minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. Salt and pepper to taste.
The United States Department of Agriculture has a seed bank in Fort Collins, Colorado. There’s a special scientifically designed heirloom seed vault in Norway that includes seeds from more than 100 countries, including the United States.
Our forefathers survived because they saved seed from their harvest each year. But can YOU save seeds from your garden? Not if they’re hybrids (which most likely they are). You can only save seeds for future planting from open pollinated varieties (heirloom seeds). And heirlooms have been diminishing in number for decades. They are gaining in popularity once again, however, thanks to specialized seed companies and organizations like Seed Savers Exchange.
When I was a child, meatloaf was kind of yucky. That’s because it usually had chunks of onion and other disgusting “grownup food things” in it. (That’s what I told my parents when they said eat it or stay at the table until bedtime.) But now? Sorry, Mom, but I LOVE my meatloaf, and so do all the people I serve it to. Here’s my recipe (It’s even good with the carrots!):
Ann’s Crafty No-More-Yucky-Stuff Meatloaf
(NOTE: I don’t measure . . . I eyeball amounts)
INGREDIENTS: about a pound of ground beef; four-to-six slices of bread, (white or wheat or a combo); about two tablespoons of VERY FINELY grated onion; about a quarter cup of ketchup; one large egg; about three tablespoons of grated carrot; one boullion cube dissolved in a couple spoons of water (I usually use vegetable boullion but you could use beef).
TIP: line baking pan w/tinfoil for easy cleanup.
STEPS: (1) Tear the bread into very small pieces into a large bowl. (2) Grate the carrot and the onion and mix them both into the bread with your hands. After all, you want to get that yucky–but essential–onion evenly disbursed; then blend this dry mixture into the groundbeef. (3) Microwave the bouillon in a tiny bit of water until it dissolves, then mix the egg and the ketchup into it. (4) With your hands, blend the wet stuff with the beef mixture. (This is when you can really work out your frustrations, like pretending it’s a former boss, or X-hubby or something). (5) Form your meaty concoction into a nicely shaped loaf in the foil-lined pan. Bake for 45 minutes, (My oven is wacked out, so I have to set it at 420 degrees. You may be okay at 350 degrees), then check every few minutes until it’s nicely browned and thoroughly done. You might want to bake a few small-to-medium potatoes at the same time, but I usually serve it with mashed potatoes and a vegetable. By the way, it’s great for sandwiches the next day–or you can add the leftovers to spaghetti sauce. And here’s a recipe for carrots, followed by heirloom seed tips.
Oven Baked Carrots
INGREDIENTS: 4 cups of carrots, sliced; 1 apple, chopped into small pieces; 1/2 cup water; 6 TBS butter; 1/4 cup maple syrup; 1 TSP salt; Dash pepper.
STEPS: (1) Boil carrots until crisp-tender. (2) Mix syrup, apple, water, salt, pepper in casserole dish. (3) Toss carrots in the syrupy mixture to coat thoroughly, then dot with butter. (4) Bake, uncovered, at 350-degrees for about 15 minutes, stirring after the first five minutes. Serve hot. VARIATION: Replace maple syrup with 1/3-cup of brown sugar. Omit apple. Add 1/2-tsp orange peel or a splash of orange juice.
Heirloom Seed Tips below . . .
Hint: You can freeze fresh-picked DRY beans for 24 hours to kill any diseases or bug eggs. Then package in paper envelopes. (need more info? google heirloom seed growers).
Nothing’s better than using vegetables you’ve grown yourself. How about ordering a packet or two of Danvers Half Long carrots from your seed catalog? Heirloom growers say the Danvers produces early and can grow in shallow soil or in a pot. They date back to the 1800’s.