Posts Tagged With: carrots

Covid Cooking Week 2: The Bag O’ Carrots Edition

As mentioned in my last post, I got a bunch of vegetables for ridiculously cheap on my last grocery run. Which was excellent, but also left me with a bunch of vegetables that were nearer to their expiry point than I’d like. For reasons I’ve never quite figured out – it’s probably that the room is too warm, but the only cool dark place is the meter cupboard and they’d just get forgotten about there – carrots have a really short shelf life in my kitchen, so they were the priority.

First up I made a big pot of brown rice, carrot and cashew pilau. This has been a long-term favourite recipe of mine, since probably about the time I first moved up here – it’s one of the few recipes I have in my hand-written recipe book that doesn’t include the recipe’s providence so I can’t date it more exactly than that – and is a super straight-forward, but super satisfying meal. It’s also the reason I always have nigella seeds in the spice rack. I generally double the recipe so that it ‘serves four’ as the leftovers make a filling and easy dinner to take to work with me on backshifts. Especially if served with a generous handful of tortilla chips.

Next up, well I’d opened those tortillas anyway, and it was film club night so I needed some dip. I knew I had a couple of tins of chickpeas, a new jar of tahini in the cupboard and the end of a jar of harissa paste in the fridge so humus seemed a good plan. One of the recipe books that I have out of the library at the moment has a recipe for roasted carrot humus that I’ve made previously but found to be an awful faff, so I decided to just grate all the broken bits of carrots I had – it was a bag of ‘wonky’ carrots – and be a bit heavier handed with the cumin and harissa paste and see how that went. It turned out the humus could have stood a heavier hand with the harissa paste, but it works nicely with a little topping of pine nuts. I had the sense to decant it into small portion sized tubs immediately so I can always spice those up with extra harissa if I feel the need.

I finally managed to track down some Nori sheets at the health food store of all places – now that I know they’re still opening, they could be a good shout for getting lots of the more unusual ingredients I like in the coming months – which meant I could make veggie sushi again. To which end I made carrot batons of the remaining broken carrot bits and alternated carrot and cucumber maki. I ended up batoning far more carrots than I needed for sushi, but actually once they’re chopped and put in a handy tub somewhere obvious in the fridge they’re surprisingly versatile. Much like with bell peppers – half a pepper in a tub will go off before I remember to use it, but if I chop it up first it’ll get used up a handful at a time in pasta or noodles or omelette or as a side vegetable with something else without me really noticing – so it is with carrots. But then that sort of thing is at the heart of my food prep philosophy, making life easier for my future self, as an extra few minutes one day with save an exponentially great amount of time, energy and oft-times wasted food, later on.

I also needed to use up my 10p cauliflower, so I ended up making cauliflower and leek soup – generous seasoning with za’tar a must – and used up another couple of carrots – that I had admittedly put aside specifically for the purpose – in that while I was at it.

Which brings me pretty much up to date with my cupboard cooking adventures. This coming week I’m planning on making soda bread to go with the soup, Matar Paneer to use up those frozen peas that have been lurking, and some sweet potato and kale bubble and squeak, as my soup making revealed that I have plenty of both that could do with being used up.

Categories: challenges, covid cookup | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Window Box Gardening

This year has seen a great deal of change, as I moved into my own place, which gave me both more and less space to grow my herbs and vegetables. I’m now in a first floor flat with no actual garden so instead of my small container garden I now have a collection of window boxes to work with, along with some ikea hanging baskets in my kitchen.

I wasn’t sure if my herbs would survive their summary removal from a container on the patio into a window box, so I gave them a few weeks sitting in my living room to settle before I put them back outside again. Apparently they liked my living room a bit too much as within a month of being outside my kitchen window they were universally looking like the saddest herbs on the planet.

It’s not been a good year for herbs in general chez moi. All the herbs I’d bought for my kitchen planters have died a death. In fact the only thing I’ve planted in my hanging kitchen planter that hasn’t keeled over is an Aloe Vera plant. Which nearly keeled over in the other direction as I’ve had to turn the planter round so that its leaning toward the sunshine doesn’t tip the whole thing out on the floor!

One thing that has been an unmitigated success is my bay tree. Having been a small but resilient little container tree on the patio for the last couple of years, when I moved somewhere without a garden I planned to return it to my parents care. (Their own Bay Tree that mine is an offshoot from, had died a death the previous year.) It was a shame, my friend M noted while helping me move, it looked good in my living room. After some consultation with green-fingered friends we concluded that it should be fine as long as it got plenty of light, so I found it a sunny spot, watered it regularly and hoped for the best. Reader, it thrived. It’s got at least a foot taller, I had to re-pot it into a bigger tub and it’s never looked healthier.

This summer I tried out window box gardening for the first time. Between spring arriving late and being generally busy with the move I didn’t actually get any seeds in the soil until June. I planted a row each of carrots and spring onions in one box and a row each of radishes and pak choi in the other. I didn’t have high hopes for them but I reckoned it as better to try then just look sadly at those empty window boxes all summer. Yet to my surprise, the sunshine and showers that marked June meant that my radishes and pak choi burst into enthusiastic life to the extent of needing thinned out. My carrots looked pathetic and my spring onions never broke the surface – I suspect bird interference – but I began to have hopes about salad.

However, come July we had a heat-wave, and I returned from a week away for work to find that my pak choi and radishes had both shot beyond rescue, so all I got from that box were some rather pretty yellow and pink-purple flowers. After last year’s spinach disappointment, I suspect salad leaves are not going to be my thing.

However, to my surprise, the carrots rallied. I’d decided to grow a miniature variety and miniature they certainly were. But I did at least get enough carrots to do something with. I was able to get enough to eat boiled with dinner one night, and during my sushi experiments baby carrots proved to be the perfect size to quarter and use as batons. Also they may have been tiny, but they packed a disproportionate punch of taste. I’ve never eaten carrots with such flavour so despite their unimpressive showing, I’ll definitely be giving them a second try next year.

I have had one last success in my window box gardening. I noticed the other day that my chive plant – previously thought dead – was showing some fresh green shoots among the dead husks. So I’ve carefully cleared away the dead stems and other debris and it looks that I might yet have a chive plant – and who knows I’ve seen that mint plant come back from worse in previous years…

Categories: growing my own, nablopomo, new skills | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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