Saturday, August 15, 2009

Carrots in two worlds

Last week, when I dropped off the car a friend loaned me during a chunk of my stay in MIchigan, along with a couple pairs of roller blades, paint and a couple egg cartons, I had a moment to wait till Ma came to collect me with her car. As I had a bit of time to waste, or in which I could be productive, I looked at the vegetable garden -- one amongst many labors of love of my friend -- and thought, hm, when you're super busy at work, and then at play with the kids on the weekend, weeding does rather fall by the wayside. So, I got out the little trowel and went to work turning over the weeds amongst the carrots. I carefully dug back in any tiny carrot (or two) I disinterred, and left the weeds themselves to mulch down and enrich the soil. It was a little way (very little) to say thank you, and to offset the six eggs Jonas had taken (by my request) from the chicken house.

We were then on our way back home to pack and ready ourselves for our return to France.

A week later, I'm in the dry heat of Provence and what should I see here but a garden overflowing with ripe vegetables and fruits, drying in the weight of summer's end. Leaves are turning a touch yellow, and much was ready to be harvested. So down I went with my basket for the tomatoes and eggplant, and the pitch fork to bring up an abundance of dense and long carrots. They had been attacked by some bugs and worms, but I was able to wash and use most of them. Being a hot summer week (the temperature has been up to 40C/100F!) I had two desires for these carrots -- a simple grated carrot salad with orange juice, raisins, olive oil, toasted pine nuts and a touch of soy sauce, and carrot cake.

I looked on the net for some recipes, and realized that I didn't have all the correct ingredients noted in the one I'd chosen. But, no problem, I'd read Shirley Corriher's chapter on cake making the other day in Cookwise, and adjusted as I was able. I found the recipe on the blog "l'assiette de Mimosa" where she cited it as being from the Rose Bakery.

The original recipe went like this:

300 g flour
25 cl oil
225 g sugar
6 grated carrots
4 eggs
150 g chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

I adapted this to the following:

5 tablespoons sweet butter
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 tablespoons melted palm oil
2 cups grated carrots
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
1/3 cup orange juice

I didn't have a mixmaster to correctly cream the butter and sugar, so I simply used a fork till it was fully mixed, and then whisked the rest of the ingredients in, one egg at a time, then the carrots, and then the dry ingredients, ending with the orange juice. The final result would have been lighter had I been able to incorporate some air bubbles into the creamed butter and sugar. Ah well, we manage as we can.

The recipe came out moist and dense, which is fine by me. Had I had any yellow raisins or pecans, I definitely would have added them, but at the winery, I'm a bit limited in the pantry section. Thus the need for a bit of creative adapting for nearly any recipe. I did put on some cream cheese frosting -- 2 fjords (a type of full fat fromage blanc) that I put into a cheesecloth to remove excess liquid, then some sugar, and voila, a simple glaçage/icing.

Carrot cake is pretty unusual here, but, it was enjoyed all round -- chilled, easy to eat with the abundance of table grapes, and/or a touch of coffee

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