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Carrots make for delicious delights, savory or sweet

Nothing is more satisfying and exciting than gaining a firm grip on the ferny greens of a carrot top, giving a yank, and out of the soft earth pops a beautiful carrot! What lies beneath the surface is a mystery until it is unearthed. I honestly don’t think I have ever grown a vegetable that is more gratifying than carrots.  Purple, white, yellow, red, and orange – carrots come in so many colors; in fact, purple and white carrots are the oldest varieties.

Like with most produce, the fresher the product, the tastier it is. If you are willing to get your hands dirty, growing your own carrots is the best. I have also found that I take so much more pride in what I’m cooking if I grow the product.

The number 1 upside to growing your own carrots is FLAVOR! Carrots store very well leading us to wonder – how old are those carrots sitting in the produce section at the grocery store? The flavor of a freshly dug carrot makes those dry, orange things at the store pale in comparison. Each variety of carrot has its own distinct flavor from sweet and juicy to spicy and dry.

After patiently waiting for home-grown carrots to mature, the cooking may commence. If gardening is not your cup of tea, purchase organic varieties which tend to have much more flavor.

Carrots are essential to the professional kitchen. Mirepoix, a blend of onions, celery, and carrots, is the quintessential vegetable seasoning blend in French cuisine. Everything from Roasted Carrots to Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting are examples of how the simple carrot lends itself well to both savory and sweet applications very well.

Around here one of the classic preparations for carrots is to boil them until tender and to toss them in a glaze made of brown sugar and butter. Carrots contain a lot of natural sugars; I prefer to bring out their natural sweetness by roasting them. Cut the carrots into 1-inch bite-size pieces, toss them with olive oil and kosher salt, spread them in a single layer on a sheet pan, and throw them in a blazing hot 450 degree oven until they are browned on all sides; this is probably one of the most delicious ways to eat carrots.

Carrot Cake is probably the unhealthiest way to consume these vitamin-packed vegetables. As unhealthy as it is, it is still a delicious and hard-to-beat treat! The moisture in carrots keeps the cake from drying out while simultaneously adding a pleasant sweetness. Grating the carrots was always the part I dreaded until I bought a food processor with a grater attachment. The food processor makes baking a carrot cake a breeze. The perfect combination of butter, flour, eggs, leavening agents, and cinnamon with tiny flecks of bright orange carrot will bake up beautifully in a 350-degree oven. Once cooled, those perfect layers are screaming to be smeared with a generous layer of rich, fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting in between each layer and over the entire exterior of the cake. This classic cake is hard to beat.

I hope this article has inspired you to reap the benefits of planting your own carrot seeds or at to least run to the grocery store to buy a sack of these delicious, versatile vegetables.   

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