Spring Musings

I follow a considerable number of blogs, many of them on food, others on nature; its mysteries and wonder. To me they are all related for they all have one thing in common, earth and all that it has to offer, nutritionally and visually. But the earth like anything else can throw me a curve now and then offering up trying scenarios.

This weekend has been rainy and windy, encouraging me to deny my urge to get outside and instead stay inside and finish my income taxes and some other chores I have been procrastinating about. Thankfully, I completed those yesterday.

Those chores done, I have one more glorious day to myself. This morning my itch to get outside hasn’t lessened. It is the first day of Spring but unfortunately it is still very wet and very windy, so to ease the itch I donned my raincoat and headed out to take myself to breakfast, then over to the Farmers’ Market, which considering the weather was surprisingly well attended by both vendors and customers although I noticed a considerable lack of “easy-ups” because of the wind. We are lucky that our market is situated under an elevated part of the freeway so there is some shelter from the elements. Not the most beautiful location but definitely functional. This morning I bought Brussels sprouts, yellow onions, a small sized acorn squash, shitake mushrooms, Fuji apples and Purple Haze carrots, the subject of today’s post.

If you have never seen Purple Haze carrots you are missing a truly beautiful vegetable. Their wine colored skins encase bright orange cores that retain their color when lightly cooked or used raw. They are not only beautiful to look at they are heavenly to eat having and earthy sweet taste and crisp texture.

When I researched them I found several interesting facts:

1. Purple carrot varieties are actually one of the first originally cultivated varieties among all carrot colors. They can trace their origins back to the 10th century in what is modern day Afghanistan.

2.  Carrots are the second most popular vegetable in the world, second only to the potato. In my book they are above the potato.

3.  The hybrid variety, Purple Haze, was named after the 1967 song of the same name by Jimi Hendrix.

Now as far as facts go the last fact was definitely the most interesting fact that I dug up. If you, like me, are curious about what the connection might be you can read more about the song and its inspiration here. I’m still not sure I get the “why” of it but I definitely think it interesting.

I did several things with this bunch of carrots; I shredded some and mixed them with equal amounts of shredded Fuji apple, roasted walnuts and just a hint of mayonnaise for a salad and the balance of them I used in a recipe for a coconut carrot muffin another nice way to eat your veggies!

Coconut Carrot Muffin and a cup of hot ginger tea

Coconut Carrot Muffins with Mascarpone and Toasted Walnuts

1 cup chopped toasted walnuts (½ cup for muffins, ½ cup for topping)

1 cup oat flour (you can use whole wheat if you prefer)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ cup canola oil

¼ cup buttermilk

¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

¾ cup sugar

½ lb carrots, washed and shredded

½ cup shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 325°. Oil muffin pan (I used a Texas sized pan that makes 6).

Roast walnuts on baking sheet until just browned. Set aside to cool. In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, buttermilk, and vanilla until mixed. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer beat the eggs and sugar at high speed until pale, 5 minutes. Beat in the liquid ingredients. Mix in the dry ingredients until just mixed. Stir in the carrots, walnuts and coconut. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until springy and golden. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from pan.

After the muffins were cooled I just barely warmed some Mascarpone cheese, then liberally topped each muffin and sprinkled them with chopped toasted walnuts. It’s best to serve these immediately after adding the topping. The muffins, without topping, will store for several days if kept in an airtight container.

As I sit here typing I keep thinking about getting outside. There seems to be a storm inside as well as outside, one minute I’m ready to put on some rain garb and join mother nature and her blustery wet weather. I could fill the bird feeders and check on the section of fence that blew down last night, make sure there’s not more.  The next minute I decide to stay inside for a little longer, hoping for a break in the action, I enjoy my hot ginger tea and muffin.

10 thoughts on “Spring Musings

  1. Wonderful post. That you spent the first day of spring at a Farmer’s Market says so much about who you are. The photo at the top is really, really nice. Today, before I read this post, I made a shredded carrot soup out of organic carrots. Kind of a “cream of” made up on the spot recipe. It was pretty good for an amateur. Your recipes inspire me.

    • Thank you Bill, you’re writing inspires me too! I have a feeling that the connection we feel may very well be in our love of the earth, it’s mysteries, it’s wonder, it’s bounty. I love reading your blog.

      For those of you who read mine and love nature too here’s a link to Wildramblings: http://wildramblings.com/ – Enjoy!!

  2. I envy the longer growing season that you have and the Farmer’s market. Sure am looking forward to planting our garden again in a few weeks, and especially getting some tomatoes started in our little green house. It’s such a treat to have fresh garden things in summer, even though out summers are short!

    • I can totally relate to your comment. One of my sisters lives in Nevada’s high desert and she has a short growing season too. Almost every spring she comes down to the Farmers’ Market here in the valley and buys vegetable starts that will grow well and mature quickly so she will have at least a couple of months of fresh home grown vegetables. Last September I spent a week in the mountains and went to a Farmers’ Market that was in it’s last week of being open. Imagine closing your season the first week in September. It saddened me.

  3. Annie: This is really a delicious recipe! I like your history of Purple Haze. Never knew until I read your post. That’s a very good photograph of the carrots. Delicious!

    • Thanks Jack, I based it on another recipe I had and added the oat flour, toasted walnuts and coconut. Pretty pleased with the results but next time will try adding some applesauce in place of the oil. I’ve done it a couple of times with success so hopefully it will work on this recipe too.

      One of my favorite things about my blog is being able to fiddle around photographing what I bring home or cook. Trouble is on days like these when there’s not much natural light outside it makes photographing a real challenge. Hate what a flash does to the picture so only use natural light and on days like these a tripod. Now my secrets are out.

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