I’ve always loved carrots. Some years are better than others concerning the growing of them. I am loathe to thin anything. I hate to waste their little lives. Therefore I am very careful planting to ensure room for each one. There are the tedious first and second weedings, but after that they can pretty much be left on their own.
I don’t eat many in the heat of summer when there is plenty of other produce. Now that we have experienced several frosts, the carrots and other root vegetables come into their own. They are positively delicious — incredibly sweet. I caught the tail end of an NPR segment about why this is so. When a carrot experiences a frost, it will convert starch to sugar to avoid forming ice crystals which will kill it. So as self-protection it sweetens. That is why a carrot grown in California, regardless of its being organic, can never measure up to a local late-season one.
My granddaughter, Violet, prefers them cooked so I’ve been incorporating them into stews, soups and sauces. They are great finely diced in tomato sauce, especially browned with onions first.
Soon I will toss some hay over the rest of the row to hold some over into spring. Last year I neglected that task and some critter nibbled the tops and anything close to soil level.
I’m happy to report that I got most of the bulbs into the ground last Sunday. It was rainy but warm and I was outfitted in full rain gear. I’ve said it many times — there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. I put a nice assortment of daffodils and tulips into a bed in the vegetable garden. I thought it would be inspiring during the early spring preparations. More importantly, once again, I forgot to take photographs of my perennial flower beds last spring. Therefore, every time I try to plant I unearth previous bulbs.
I tried a nice combination of white grape hyacinths and blue anemones (windflowers). It should be impressive as I am certainly not a minimalist in bulb planting.
A belated but big thanks to Chuck Wiley up at Vineyard Gardens. Every time I bully my sons into some project requiring a machine, he accommodates them.
I’ve killed my own chickens for over 35 years. I usually raise 15 or so a couple of times a year. I prefer the Cornish game hen. I like the body shape as opposed to the Cornish cross cockerels. I order my day-olds from Murray McMurray hatchery. They cost around $1.50 each. They arrive at the post office the next day. Everyone in line at the package window is anxious for a look at the little guys. Many times I have stopped at day care or kindergarten to show the children. The Cornish game hen you know from the package of two at your local market is probably only three or four weeks old. I let mine get much bigger. I feed them organic grain and grass.
My daughter, Naomi, helped me dispatch five last weekend. They weighed in at over seven pounds each. I love having enough from one bird for several meals plus soup stock. I don’t believe I have ever discarded a carcass before it became soup. By the way, those seven-pound birds were only a couple of months old. You can’t ever buy something that good.
I also raise a couple of pigs every year for sharing with some friend or another. They do a remarkable job working over the garden plot. Again, it is a three or four-month commitment for a year’s worth of meat. Honestly, it’s not that hard.
This brings me to the big caribou shoot by the half-term governor of Alaska. I only mentioned my experience raising and killing animals for food to contrast what she did on national television for ratings or approval from the National Rifle Association. Believe me, taking a life is no small thing, nor is it something about which to brag. It is an awesome responsibility. There is a great column in the Dec. 8 New York Times by Maureen Dowd entitled Pass the Caribou Stew. Forgive me but I have to directly quote: “Sarah checked her freezer at home before she flew 600 miles to the Arctic, trying to justify her contention that she needs to hunt to eat. Wasn’t it already stocked with those halibuts she clubbed and gutted in an earlier show?
“‘My dad taught me that if you want wild, organic, healthy food,’ she pontificated, ‘you’re gonna go out there and hunt yourself and fish yourself and you’re gonna fill your freezer.’
“Does Palin really think the average housewife in Ohio who can’t pay her bills is going to load up on ammo, board two planes, camp out two nights with a film crew and shoot caribou so she can feed her family organic food?”
I can’t add anything to that.