Two big buckets full of carrot seed came to the farm today and more will be coming soon. Next year’s harvest awaits in those tiny, seemingly miraculous little bits of life stuff. Sometimes I imagine that seeds should be vibrating with how much expectant energy they have bundled up inside.
Before we know it, it’ll be planting time and someone will be eating dust behind the tractor to watch those little seeds fall into place and get lightly covered up again. Then there’ll be tiny little grassy first leaves, then a couple weeks later we’ll be back to carrot weeding. If you’ve read past newsletters, you have probably picked up on the carrot weeding being kind of a thing around here. A test of mental and physical fortitude, if you will. (And we talk it up A LOT, but the truth is, with 5 summers of carrot weeding under my belt, I can say, it gets easier and easier).
Then, some sunny (I hope) October day we’ll start driving around and around and around the once and future carrot fields harvesting all those juicy manifestations of a winter plan. ‘Round and ’round the seasons go, and all that potential just sitting and waiting in a tiny seed.
I think it would be so fun to visit a seed farm someday. Since I’ve always harvested veggies to eat, I’ve never seen most of them at their point of actual maturity. Fruits like tomatoes and squash and things with the seeds in them are mature of course, but I’ve never seen a cabbage go into flower, and I think that’d be the coolest thing. Or cauliflower, that’d be so cool too!
To farm is to participate in the intensely cyclical nature of our world. Our whole life, farming or not, is completely wrapped up within the cycle of it all. I brought my baby to a funeral a couple of weeks ago, which struck me as somehow appropriate and hopeful. Or at least he was an adorable mood brightener.
All around things are ending and things are starting. Much of it in a more complicated, difficult, beautiful, awe-full way than carrots. But the carrots, and their seeds bring it all to mind this time of year.
I hope you enjoy last winter’s hope and expectation in your boxes this month.
For the farm crew,
In your share this month:
Chioggia beets, Cabbage, Carrots (orange and purple), Onions, Parsnips, Baby yellow potatoes, Red potatoes, Winter squash: Delicata, Wintersweet or Sunshine, and Shokichi Green (which look like a very small Wintersweet)
Oven Baked Beet Chips
- 12 beets red, golden, or mixed
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoon celery salt or sea salt
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F, and line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Scrub the beets well with a veggie brush and cut off the tops.
Use a mandolin slicer to slice the beets paper thin (1/16-inch). When the beet slices are this thin, there is no need to peel them first. Hold the root end while dragging the beets across the mandolin and watch your fingertips closely.
Place the beet slices in a large bowl and pour the oil and salt over the top. Toss well. Ready for the secret step? Now let the beets sit in the oil and salt until they release their natural juices, about 15-20 minutes. This is what allows them to retain a better shape and color.
Toss the beets again, then drain off the liquid. Lay the slices out in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 45-60 minutes until crisp, but not brown. Test after 45 minutes and only bake longer if necessary. Remove the beet chips from the oven and cool completely before storing in an air-tight container.
Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
I like to grate the carrots by hand — actually, that’s a lie, I don’t enjoy it one bit — because I want it very finely grated for a soft batter. The food processor works, too, but the pieces are a bit thicker.
Makes 24 cupcakes (or one two-layer cake, instructions at end)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil
4 large eggs
3 cups grated peeled carrots
1 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line 24 cupcake molds with papers, or butter and flour them.
Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots, walnuts and raisins, if using them. Divide batter among cupcake molds, filling 3/4 of each.
Bake cupcakes 14 to 18 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Let cool in pans for five minutes or so, then transfer cakes to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before icing them.
To make a carrot layer cake: Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans instead of cupcake molds. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Butter and flour paper; tap out excess flour. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, and bake the layers for about 40 minutes each, or until a tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes. Turn out onto racks. Peel off paper; cool cakes completely.
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
In a stand mixer beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy. Chill the frosting for 10 to 20 minutes, until it has set up enough to spread smoothly.
To assemble a carrot layer cake, frost the top of one cake, place the other cake on top. Frost the sides and top, swirling decoratively. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes to set up frosting.