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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.

I got this recipe recently, helping out with a Cordova Wild Berry Cookbook. I was editing recipes, and when I got to this one I was totally confused. What the—

It was called Blueberry Toffee Crisp, but it weren’t no crisp. I’d never seen anything like it, didn’t seem like it could possibly work. I even called the woman who’d sent it to see if I had it right, and what sort of thing it made. “Oh,” she said, “I don’t know. It’s just like –toffee. But crispy and gooey and berry-ey. It’s sooooo good.”

That didn’t explain a damn thing. But this woman is an awesome cook, I trusted her judgement. There was nothing left but to try it out for myself.

All I can say is, it’s like –toffee. Crispy and gooey and berry-ey. It’s soooo good.

It’s also super easy, you’ve got to try it! She said the original recipe uses rhubarb, her recipe used blueberries, I made it with both blues and crans and loved the extra sour bite of crans next to all that sweetness.

This is best baked in individual “custard cups” I used half pint jars, worked great. Any oven proof bowl or cup would work, just keep in mind that they puff up quite a bit, don’t fill more than 2/3. You could make this in one big casserole dish, but it’s so gooey, getting it into bowls to serve would ruin the presentation.

Lastly, do eat it soon after baking. I made it early in the day, then reheated it later and I can say, the sneak-preview bites I took when fresh from the oven were a full twice as good as the later reheated version.

Berry Toffee Crisp/Pudding/Goo

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the toffee bottom combine with a fork, pastry cutter or kitchenaid

½ c. flour ( I used white the first time and w.w. pastry the second, couldn’t tell the diff)

½ c. light brown sugar

¼ t. salt

1 stick cold butter

until it forms a ball with specks of butter. Divide into 6 pieces if you’re using half pint jars, or 4 if using something bigger. Flatten slightly into bottom of cups, and bake 15 mins. It will bubble up like crazy. In the recipe I got, she described this bottom layer as crust, which threw me all the hell off. What it is is a layer of caramelized sugar and butter, “toffee” I guess. But the caramelizing happens in the oven. So I think timing is pretty important.

After you pull these out, they need to cool. A lot, or your jars might break when you put in the cold filling. Especially if you’re using frozen berries. So, put ‘em outside, or just wait awhile before you make the filling, which is quick.

Whisk together

1 c. sugar

½ c. flour (ditto on the w.w. pastry)

¾ t. baking powder

¼ t. cinnamon

in a separate bowl beat

2 eggs

until light and foamy. Whisk in dry ingredients and gently fold in

2 ½ c. berries (I used 1 ½ c. blues, and 1 c. crans)

Scoop berry mixture into cooled jars and bake another 30-45 minutes. These are so gooey it’s hard to tell when they’re done. A knife won’t come out clean, but it should only have berry slime on it, not raw looking batter.

Cool to a deliciously warm temperature, now chow down!

“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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