Sunday, August 24, 2014

Carrot Catastrophe

A little over a week ago I came home to a Carrot Catastrophe!

Earlier in the year I deviously tucked a small patch of carrots into one of the herb beds on the side of the house. I planted two rows of carrots between the marigolds and the onions. They would be protected by the stink of marigold, oregano, thyme and rosemary, or so I thought.

For most of the summer my strategy had worked. I thought I had outsmarted all the varmints. The pervert groundhog ate clover at dusk every evening and the rabbits frequented the space between the wall and the shed most nights. The deer decimated the sacrificial Hostas I planted near the wood-line, leaving only yellow and green striped nubs, but otherwise minded their business.  The wildlife and I had been on good terms. 

Good terms, that is, until I came home from work the other night. I walked down the driveway, lost in other thoughts, and suddenly stopped short. The garden didn't look right. It took me a moment before I realized that the bushy green tops had been shorn from the carrots. A few small lacy leaves poked up through a forest of chartreuse stems. Which varmint had perpetrated this heinous crime!? The cropping was high, rough and uneven and my suspicions pointed toward the deer. A moment later these suspicions were confirmed. The baby lettuce sprouting in long, low pots on the stairs to the kitchen had disappeared too. Those hoofed rats had eaten my carrots and then climbed the stairs to take my lettuce too!

I went into the kitchen and plopped my bag on the table. I had to see if anything could be salvaged. After digging my fingers into the sandy soil around the base of a few of the victims, I found a number of decently sized carrots.  I manically pulled up anything large enough for supper and tried to save anything else. There were still a few small rooted stragglers hanging on dearly to their leaves, so I gave them a long drink of water and left them to recover.

I tromped back up the steps with my hands full of a dozen and a half sundry carrots. The Danvers half-longs were bright orange and comically chubby. The Purple Rain variety had a smooth skin that was nearly black. The Mokums were pale orange and small, but still sweet and crispy. A pair of big, creamy White Satins rounded out my motley assortment. Now how to prepare them?

I peered into the fridge, contemplating my next move. I spotted an open bottle of white wine and decided on simple glazed carrots. I grabbed the bottle and the butter and set to work.

I scrubbed dirt from the carrot crannies and trimmed away the tops and tails. Any root hairs were roughly scraped away. I halved the fat half-longs, as well as the larger whites and purples, but the remainder would go into the pot whole.

I decided that these carrots would play well with garlic and rosemary, so I rooted in the pantry for the garlic and then headed back to the garden. My little rosemary plant lives next to the back door and has become happily bushy recently. I trimmed a sprig and inhaled deeply, letting the sharp, piney aroma waft through my head. Yes, this rosemary would get along with my carrots quite well.

I grabbed one of my favorite pots, its silver sides shining as its heavy bottom clanked on the burner. Click. Click. Poof. The flame burst up brightly and then dimmed to yellow-kissed blue as I turned the gas down. The butter bubbled over medium heat while I peeled the thick skin away from two plump garlic cloves and roughly chopped them. I let them sizzle in the buttery foam for a few minutes then tossed in the rosemary and wine. A fragrant cloud of steam arose. Now it was time for the carrots. I placed them in the pot, reduced the flame to almost nothing and set a lid on top. See you in an hour, carrots.

While the carrots slowly simmered, I prepared the rest of the dinner: snapper with herb butter, roasted potatoes and kale. After whirling around the kitchen for awhile, dinner was ready. The fish was firm and meaty, the potatoes crispy and the greens sweet and spicy. But how were the carrots? The sweet, tender roots swam in an aromatic syrup tinged with purple. They were delightful and made the whole meal. My efforts - the planting of seeds, the watering, the thinning, the chopping and the cooking - had not been in vain. The deer had decimated the plants, but they did it at just the right time.

That is how my Carrot Catastrophe became my Carrot CaTASTEtrophe.

1 comment:

  1. Love this! Well written, Wayner. Please come to cook at my house anytime :)