Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Do I look orange yet?

Sometimes, life gives you carrots. The kind of carrots that are encrusted with dirt and still have their tops on, so you know they were grown the right way. The kind of carrots that have to be eaten fresh. The kind of carrots that don't like to sit around in the crisper. 

What do you do when life gives you 2 pounds of carrots that need to be dealt with right this second? You try out all those carrot recipes that you never have time for because it takes so darn long to grate carrots. You do this because you decided it was worth an hour of your Sunday to clean, peel and grate said carrots. And it was definitely worthwhile, let me tell you.

Carrot PanCakes
Although not the fluffiest pancakes I've ever had (that award goes to the gluten free ones made by my grandmother), they are certainly quite risen. Somehow the carrot cooks perfectly on the griddle without any hassle at all.
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 splashes vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • chopped pecans or walnuts, optional
  • raisins, optional
1) Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a medium-large bowl. Make sure they are incorporated.

2) Beat together egg, extract and yogurt in a smaller bowl, slowly adding milk until it's all the same consistency. Stir in carrots.

3) Heat a griddle. Add wet to dry, mixing just until combined. Pour batter in batches onto pan. If using nuts or raisins, sprinkle a few on top of each puddle.

4) Cook until top looks mostly dry and then flip, cooking more until center is done. Enjoy slathered with cream cheese and drizzled with maple syrup.

Pumpkin Pie Spice
Really it's all about taste. If you don't like cinnamon's overpowering qualities, use less. Sometimes I'll add a little bit of extra ginger to a particular recipe if I feel it needs a little kick. After all, spice mixes exist to avoid more work during the actual cooking.
  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
Mix all together in a small jar (1/2 pint size would work). Screw on lid tightly and shake to make sure everything is combined evenly. Store in dry cupboard and use as needed.


This is far, far from a true poundcake. It is simply devoid of leavening agents. Why? Because I wrote down the recipe from memory one afternoon while at my grandmother's house. We were making a carrot cake for a very good family friend whose husband had recently died. The cake was beautiful; by some miracle, it exited the tube pan without incident. It was garnished with a thin ring of cream cheese icing and flowers from the garden. I knew I would want to recreate it some day, so, thinking I knew it well enough from having just seen it created, I grabbed my journal and wrote it down. Turns out you can pretty easily forget those less-interesting ingredients that seemed so mundane at the time. 

But it also turns out that you don't need them to make an extravagantly decadent carrot cake. It'll just weigh much, much more than you expect a cake of its size to weigh. 

I thought now would be the appropriate time as I had a birthday of some close friends of mine coming up and a bowl full of grated carrots in the fridge from our produce box (more on this later).

When I put it in the oven I was a little doubtful because the batter didn't seem to be quite as voluminous as I had remembered, especially given that it had filled a tube pan and I was only dealing with two 8-inch rounds. Then, 20 minutes into baking they looked as if they hadn't changed at all, despite the fact that the giant tube pan had only taken 30 minutes to bake in the humidity of the Caribbean. I left it in for another 10 minutes before beginning to get severely worried. Upon sticking in a toothpick, I found that it was done, which was confounding due to its raw appearance on the top. 

It wasn't until that night, lying in bed, that I realized that I hadn't added any baking soda or baking powder. Or even salt. Oops. 

With no time to fix it, I slathered on the cream cheese frosting that I had thoughtfully prepared, hoping the whole thing would satisfy the birthday girls to some extent.

It was a hit. And not just because of the frosting, either.

Carrot {Pound} Cake
from the Joy of Cooking
The first time I saw a tube pan successfully unmold was when my grandmother made this cake two summers ago. It was a sight to be seen adorned with a thin drizzle of white glaze on its crownlike peak and red hyacinths resting delicately in the very center.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
  • 1/2 teasspoon allspice, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, grated
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup raisins, optional
  • 1/2 cup pineapple, crushed
1) Whisk together sugar, flour, spices and salt in a large bowl. 

2) Beat in oil and eggs.

3) Mix in carrots, walnuts, raisins and pineapple, stopping once everything is thoroughly combined.

4) Divide into two greased 8-inch pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Don't worry if it doesn't look done--that's the consequence of not adding leavening. Instead, start checking for doneness at 20 minutes with a toothpick to ensure that the final product is moist.


Just to reassure you, my family didn't solely eat dessert for the few weeks that we had carrots galore in the house. They're healthy, right? So even if we were eating dessert the whole time...

Anyway, I wanted to make something to supplement our dinner. I had been eyeing this recipe ever since the time a few winters ago where I was experimenting with buying only local produce. Turns out the only local produce available in North Carolina December through January is sweet potatoes. I needed some variety from the roasted wedges and spiced mash. 

Cheesy Carrot Crisps
adapted from
I had seen this recipe a long time ago and thought that they must be too good to be true. Sweet potato, cheese and herbs baked for a few minutes into a crisp? (It turns out that carrots work fine too.) The result is a slightly risen, flavorful mouthful that perfectly combines sweet and savory.
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/3 cups carrots, grated
  • 1/3 cup sharp cheddar, grated
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, dried
Beat egg in a medium bowl. Add grated carrots and cheese, stirring thoroughly. Grind in pepper. Macerate the dried rosemary between fingers before sprinkling into bowl.

No comments:

Post a Comment