It’s February. It’s dark and dreary out there. We need some warmth and color.
Imagine – carrots that come in colors other than Pantone Orange 021 U orange! https://www.pantone.com/color-finder/Orange-021-U I did a very unscientific survey of what was available to me at the grocery store: I found orange carrots that came in a clear plastic bag, with orange stripes printed on the outside to enhance the carrots’s color within. I found lopped-off-tops carrots not in plastic bags, that were about the same color orange as the bagged carrots. I found deeper orange carrots, but without the unnecessary, difficult-to-dispose-of plastic bag, that had not lost their green heads. And finally some organic carrots, without plastic, with tops, that were almost the color of radishes. Maybe an earthier red – almost a raspberry Jujube candy color. Guess which was sweeter? Yes, indeed, the Pantone 186 C. https://www.pantone.com/color-finder/186-C?
I love eating raw vegetables. I cannot see much sense in stewing them to pulp – unless you are tossing them into soup. (And then they are easy to push to the side and ignore.) Always try to be the cook – then you can get your fill and the pick of the litter. Luke the wonder dog has an affinity for carrots, too. Some nights we take turns: one carrot chunk for me, one for him, and one for the salad.
In the deep of winter we need to come out from our underground warrens, and stoke the furnaces that keep us functioning in the cold and dark weather. Luke and I will roast some vegetables, like our beauteous, jewel-like carrots. We cannot convince Mr. Friday to toss root veggies on the grill for us when it is cold and blowing out there. Sigh. So we will roast them in the oven.
Now for roasting inside: one of my favorite ways to prepare vegetables is roasting. Roasting at a high heat converts a plain vegetable into a delicious caramelized treat. You can roast any type of vegetable you want with this basic recipe. Adjust the amount of oil you use accordingly. We’ve roasted asparagus, garlic, squash, broccoli, potatoes, cauliflower, bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, corn, carrots, zucchini, you name it.
Roasted Veggie Mélange
1.Preheat oven to 450° F.
2.Toss all the vegetables together in a large bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
3.Divide the vegetables among two cookie sheets – mine have sides, for less spillage. Put fast cooking vegetables together, and group the slow cookers likewise. Fewer headaches!
4.Roast vegetables for 35-40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so.
The vegetables cook quickly — some vegetables may take only 15 to 20 minutes — but they still have a chance to brown nicely on the outside by the time they become tender inside. So keep an eye on them. Carmelized onions are one thing, blackened and incinerated are another.
It’s very important that you cut the vegetables in pieces of about the same size. Unevenly sized pieces won’t roast and brown in the same amount of time, and you’ll end up with both over roasted and under roasted vegetables. And if you have any fussy eaters, you won’t be able to persuade them to enjoy the rich roasted flavors of winter.
The winter colds are here – not the scary imported kind – just regular rotten colds. Mr. Friday is still hacking away in the most attractive fashion. I intend to cure all that ails him with some sensible winter stews:
Restorative Beef Stew
2 pounds beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (use beef chuck or similar)
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 cups potatoes, chopped
2 pint cans of Guinness (this is not for the faint hearted)
1 quart beef stock
4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 cup coffee (make extra for breakfast in the morning)
Splash of olive oil
Salt and pepper
In a large stock pot, heat up a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Add the beef and brown for about 5-7 minutes.
Once the meat is beautifully browned, add the garlic and other vegetables except for the potatoes and cook until they caramelize and have a bit of color. (About 8-10 minutes)
Add all the liquid, the whole sprigs of herbs (bundle the herbs together with some string for easy removal) potatoes, some salt and pepper and reduce the heat to a simmer
The soup should have small bubbles rise on the sides of the pot for 1 hour or longer until the meat is fork tender.
Serve with a fresh baguette and some creamy grass-fed cow organic butter. Guinness on the side. A salad if you insist. And remember, “Guinness is Good for You.”
Here are a couple of links with interesting variations of the beef stew theme:
The groundhog saw its shadow, so we should only have a few more weeks of winter. I hope so, because I have crocuses in bloom already, and daffodils pushing their way up and out. I’m going to try to root some carrots from the pretty organic ones I bought last week – I saw this great replanting video and hope that I get some good results. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CkHET7e_7k
“The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.”
– Paul Cezanne
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