Saturday, August 15, 2009

Gnarly Roasted Carrots

Like many others here in the Northwest, I decided to try my hand at a garden this summer. I always love having fresh herbs. And a couple of tomato plants are nice...especially the cherry tomatoes because, let's face it, they are really the only ones with much chance of ripening!

There were a bunch of rainbow carrot starts available to me this year, so I planted as many as possible in and around my other plants. My hopes were high. I had all new dirt thanks to my dad who rescued me from the poisoned dirt left by the Terminix dude. The ant hill was apparently too close to my garden so he had felt the need to spray all my pea plants this last spring. "Don't worry," he said, "the dirt is fine, just don't eat the peas from the plants I sprayed." Yeah, well, as an organic gardener, I'm not stuffing a bunch of seeds in dirt saturated with ant poison.

The dirt my dad delivered seemed to be good, as he was assured by the dirt saleswoman. And reading all those soil ammendment suggestions in my Seattle Tilth book just makes my brain shut down. I admit I'm intimidated by things like "Mix x parts per y cubic feet of dirt." So, I hoped for the best and left the dirt as it was, with the exception of a little organic fertilizer mix from a plant vendor.

I should have know better, though. The dirt did support life, but it packed down hard as a rock. Recently, I tried to shove a stick into it and the stick broke having made barely a hole. So, then there are my carrots...that need soft, finely worked soil. Half of them started to grow only to be pushed back up into the air, exposing most of the carrot root. The other half started growing great, hit the hard pan dirt and did some cuh-razy loop-de-loops. None of them were straight and strong.

So we picked them all and made a great roasted carrot side dish for our fish last night (along with a little yellow summer squash and some sweet onions).

Roasted Carrots with Cumin

A bunch of carrots, cut to "baby" carrot size
Salt and Pepper
A pinch of cumin (coriander is good too)
Olive oil (butter is great, but...cholesterol...)
A liquid (chicken stock, water, chardonnay,..)

Make a double thickness foil pouch. Pour in the carrots, season with the salt and pepper, and the cumin. Drizzle with olive oil (or set a few pats of butter on them). Pour in about a half cup or so of the liquid. Seal up the pouch and roast for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Open up the pouch and roast for another 15-20 minutes until the carrots are cooked but still have some firmness. Soggy carrots are yucky (trust me...I've made them soggy before).

I served these with a little fish. I made up the sauce...and it actually worked well, so I'm going to share it, too.

Baked Fish with Creamy Sauce

4 fillets white fish (tilapia...)
1/4 c mayo
2 tsp whole grain mustard (I'm making up the amount...I can't remember how much I used)
lemon juice (just keep squeezing until it tastes good)
lemon slices
1/2 c chopped parsley
Salt and Pepper
1 TB capers

Mix the sauce ingredients. In a 9x13 inch glass dish, set out the parsley and lemon slices. Put the fish on top in a single layer. Spread the mayo sauce over the fish. I baked them in the same 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Test them for doneness by flaking a little or checking the thickest part. Don't overcook them, though!


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