CSA 2008, Week Five: Guest Writer!

Since Keith and I are in Oregon and therefore unable to use our CSA box, I asked my friends Amanda and Darlington (who are also sisters, I might add) if they wanted some fresh, locally-harvested vegetables. Not only did they eagerly agree, Amanda even wrote about her on-and-off love affair with the carrot and provided a carrot-centric recipe. Enjoy!
— Nayiri

When running on a hot summer’s eve, it helps to have something awaiting you at the finish line — perhaps a cool pond for swimming, the promise of a tasty meal, or even — as was the case on Tuesday — a fresh carrot! Straight from Nayiri and Keith’s vegetable box which I had picked up hours earlier (in their absence), it really was a deliciously sweet carrot.

But my relationship with the carrot hasn’t always been so serene.

Eight years ago I spent a season working on my cousins’ organic vegetable and flower farm in Stow, Massachusetts. One Sunday afternoon in late September I brought a friend to visit the farm. We chatted while I deftly chopped (with small machete) the greens off carrots fresh from the ground. (One might wonder why I needed a small machete to hack greens off carrots when a simple kitchen knife or scissors would do, but something about “expertly” wielding that knife just made me feel strong.)

So there I was strongly chopping and happily chatting until THWHACK! — I deftly chopped a chunk out of my finger. A mess ensued, followed by a trip to the local fire station where I have distinct memories of blood dripping on the driveway and an EMT telling me I should see a doctor.

My aforementioned friend offered to drive the forty-five minutes home; a generous offer indeed, but sadly, she couldn’t drive a standard so I held my left (injured) hand in the air while one-handedly driving us home. Then my father took me to the ER and then bought us ice creams cones. While it’s a well-known fact that any day ending with ice cream can’t be all bad, it took me a while to regain my affinity for carrots.

Sure, there are some pretty amazing things about carrots — how they can enhance night vision (debatable), how they can turn skin orange (true, if you eat enough), how they originated in Afghanistan in purple, red, white, yellow (but not orange!). Still, one look at the scar on my finger and my stomach churned at the thought of this particular root vegetable.

In fact, it wasn’t until last Thanksgiving that all was set aright between the carrot and I. It came in the form of a peace offering of sorts — from that very same farm where I had wielded the machete — and it was the most lovely, creamy, orange peace offering I have seen. Bearing the name “Carrot Soufflé” and prepared by my farmer cousin Barbara, it was the talk of the table.

Now that my appreciation for the carrot is back, you can imagine my delight at seeing a lovely bunch in this week’s vegetable box: perfect for snacking upon after a sweaty run. (They are 87% water, after all!)

And so a few days ago, when I shaved a chunk out of my thumb with a carrot peeler, I conjured up all of my positive carrot memories, took a deep breath, and reminded myself that the best thing to do with a carrot is neither chop nor peel it, but simply eat it — skin, bits of dirt and all.

If that isn’t enough to tempt you toward a big crunchy bite, there’s always this: the Ancient Greek called the carrot a philtron, which translates to “love charm.” They believed it made men and women more amorous.

Carrots, anyone?
— Amanda

Carrot Soufflé, from Barbara and Dwight Sipler at small farm
Makes six portions

1½ pounds carrots, sliced
½ cup butter or margarine
3 large eggs
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

  1. Cook carrots in boiling water to cover, twenty to twenty-five minutes or until tender. Drain.
  2. Transfer carrots to a food processor or blender and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides occasionally. Add remaining ingredients and continue processing until smooth. Spoon into a lightly greased 1½ quart soufflé dish.
  3. Bake at 350˚ for one hour and ten minutes, or until soufflé is set.

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