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sorting-stored-carrots

First off, where have I been? You ask.

Well, in Jan/Feb we took a trip, month and a half of fun and sun in the desert. Hardly looked at a computer while I was gone. It broke the addiction. By the time I got back, I had remembered that I don’t like computers. Took a full month for the twisted hunger to gnaw into my belly again. And here I am.

So yes, I re-hauled my carrots! Much of my garden harvest of these tasty roots got tucked away in damp (okay, actually wet) sawdust, in a five-gallon bucket in our garage, which stays a lovely root cellar temperature in the winter. I put them up in October.

carrot-with-a-rot-spot

Purple carrot with a rot spot, can you see it, dead center?

Lately I had noticed that a few of the carrots I was pulling out every few days had bad spots. When you’re storing vegetables, a little rot can go a long way. So the other day I hauled the still half full bucket into the kitchen and went through my lovelies, one by one, picking out any with bad spots, and repacking the rest.

I guess I had secretly feared that at the bottom of the bucket there’d be a whole layer of rotten carrots, so I was ever so pleased to find only a dozen or so that had to be culled.

The carrots were still in great shape, all things considered. But they were getting fairly hairy with rootlets searching for soil, and some of them were growing 3 or 4 inch long new tops, all blanched a weird greenish-white from growing in the dark. I wonder if the sawdust being wet instead of the recommended damp made them more eager to grow, they did seem rooty-er as I got down deeper in the bucket, where the wetness had settled. Our garage stays quite cool, but

I layered them in a box, with sawdust between the layers

I layered them in a box, with sawdust between the layers

ideal root cellar temps are like 33-35 degrees, and our garage, cool as it is, ain’t that cold. And after all, it is April 3rd today. Those carrots have been in that bucket for more than 5 months. And they’re still crunchy and sweet!

Ordinarily you store root vegetables in a bucket, to keep the moisture in, but mine were so wet, a box seemed a better idea. I’ll keep an eye on them and cover the box with a garbage bag when they start to dry out a little.

So with my culled carrots nicely trimmed, I decided to make some muffins. My little one just learned to say “muffin” (though she makes the “ff” sound by blowing out through her nose, very cute) so of course it’s her new favorite food. I adapted my pumpkin bread recipe, and it turned out dee-lish!

Carrot Muffins

carrot-muffins½ c. white all-purpose flour
1 ¼ c. whole wheat pastry flour
¾ c. sugar
½ t. baking powder
¾ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
½ t. cinnamon
¼ t. each nutmeg, ginger, cloves
2 eggs
¼ c. + 2 T. oil
2 c. lightly packed grated carrots
2 T. water
½ c. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk dry stuff together to break up lumps in the whole wheat flour. Make a well in the center and whisk the wet stuff together. Stir it all together and spoon into greased muffin cups (batter will be very thick). Sprinkle nuts on top. Bake 15-25 mins, till nicely browned and a knife comes out clean. If you want to make bread instead, bake at 350, 40-50 mins.

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While I’m at it, I’d better share my love of home sprouting for humans too!

Sprouting is an easy and incredibly cheap way to keep yourself supplied with fresh, live food through the winter. Without supporting the use of copious fossil fuels to bring Chilean head lettuce to New York, or wherever the hell you are.

Alfalfa are the most popular sprouts, the kind you see at the store. But I adore radish sprouts too, for the flavor kick! I sprout a mix of the two, and sometimes add in lentils too. Any seed will sprout, but since they take different amounts of time, they won’t always all work in the same jar…

All you need is the seeds and one of those nifty little sprouting lids that screws right onto a wide-mouth Mason jar, so you can drain the jar (cheesecloth will work too). Many stores carry both the seeds and the lids in their health food section.

Simply put your seeds in a jar, let sit overnight, then pour the water out and rinse thoroughly once or twice a day. Keep the jar upside down so it can drain, like in your dishrack. Soggy sprouts equals rotting sprouts.

I use a half Tablespoon each alfalfa and radish, and a Tablespoon lentils in a pint sized jar. When the alfalfa seeds have grown to about an inch long and greened up (4 or 5 days), they’re ready to eat! Put ’em in the fridge and start a new batch!

Sprouts make an awesome addition to  sandwiches. But they’re also great in salads, omelettes, stir-frys, tacos– be creative! Throw ’em in at the end of cooking though, so they stay fresh and crunchy. Yum for fresh foods!

I just looked over the original article, Salmonberry Sourdough, or How Stupid Mistakes (sometimes) Equal Brilliant Discoveries, and thought I’d better update it.

Most excitingly, I have to tell you that although in the first article I said once you put a sourdough in the fridge and don’t use it for awhile it becomes a flavoring agent- loses all it’s rising power- this sourdough has proved me wrong! I’ve been putting it in the fridge for weeks at a time, then making bread and it’s working perfectly! I only have to feed it once and it’s back to full steam ahead.

And I did try freezing some too. Had to feed her several times to bring her back to life, but she came eventually. With no loss of vigor. I’m sooooo happy!

It’s making me so balsy I might even try converting it to whole wheat! (I’ll keep a whitey for good measure too)

I read somewhere, (maybe Wild Fermentation) that sourdough is both a bacteria and a yeast. The yeast rises your bread, and the bacteria gives it the tang. But only certain yeasts can coexist with certain bacteria. So in some sourdoughs the yeast will thrive, but only at the expense of the bacteria. I think I had one of those before, rose bread beautifully, but hardly any “sourdough” flavor. In other sourdoughs the bacteria will take over and it’ll be wowza-sour, but doesn’t rise worth a damn (this is the kind I think a lot of people have in their fridge and only break out once every few months for hotcakes, which works fine because hotcakes are leavened by a chemical reaction between the baking soda and the acids in the sourdough) But the best sourdough has the strains of yeast and bacteria that live well alongside each other.

Maybe.

I’m learning that what we call “sourdough” is so many things going on at once that it’s about as hard to understand as a woman. Every one will be different, and probably change over it’s lifetime as well. This is somehow so alluring to me. I wasn’t feeling any sense of commitment to my salmonberry sourdough before, like– well if it dies, I’ll just start a new one next summer. But she’s proved her vivacious will to live and it’s endeared me. I might be smitten.

“It’s a sad and stupid thing to have to proclaim yourself a revolutionary just to be a decent man.”

-David Harris

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