We have been eating a lot of carrots in our house lately. They are currently one of Ewan's favorite vegetables and the perfect teether for Isla. I usually put one on Ewan's plate with whatever he is having for lunch, and it is the first thing he eats about half of the time. They also make such an easy snack to take on an outing because they are rarely very messy. I say rarely because it seems that kids (or at least mine) can make almost anything messy. One time a good portion of his face was orange by the time he finished his carrot.
I hated carrots as a child. I really only remember being served boiled carrots, and they were one of my most disliked foods. When we had them for dinner, my parents would make me eat some decided upon amount of them before I was allowed to leave the table. I was stubborn and would sit there for quite awhile. Then, once everyone was gone and a good amount of time had lapsed, I would stuff them into my cheeks and go spit them out into a tissue in the bathroom. I'm not sure why I didn't just throw them away in the kitchen if no one was around to see me, but maybe I felt this was my best chance at not getting caught.
I have really only recently started to like eating whole raw carrots. I used to just eat them on salads but only liked them sliced very thin. I guess I'm still picky about how I eat some foods, even if I eat most things.
The carrots we've been finding at the farmer's market in Santa Barbara lately have been amazingly sweet. Even I have found myself snacking on them daily. We either buy our carrots at the market or the organic ones at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. I never buy the bags of baby carrots. I find them to be slimy and unnecessarily processed. There really is no reason to peel carrots, and everyone in my family is willing to eat a whole carrot, so the big ones aren't inconvenient for us. Plus, it's impossible to slice the baby carrots the way I prefer for salad.
I recently saved this recipe that I saw on Chocolate & Zucchini, a food blog I follow. It sounded like something Ewan might like with a little tweaking. Then I got a bunch of these beautiful white, orange, and purple carrots, and had some ground beef in the fridge so it seemed like the perfect time to try it.
I allowed my carrots to caramelize a bit (or maybe nearly burned them when I walked away to nurse the baby and forgot to turn down the burner), and it was a pleasant yet unintended addition to the flavors in this dish.
Carrot and Beef Stir-fry
adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini
1 1/2 pounds carrots
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup uncooked brown rice
Prepare the brown rice per the instructions.
Brown the ground beef in a large skillet, remove, and drain any excess fat from the pan.
While the ground beef is browning, slice the carrots into approximately 3 inch long by 1/4 inch thick slices. Really, any way you slice them is fine, as long as they are fairly uniform and you adjust your cooking time accordingly. If you are cooking for small children, you may prefer bite size pieces.
After removing the ground beef from the skillet, add the olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the carrots, cumin, pepper, and salt, stirring to combine. Cover and sauté for approximately 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the carrots start to stick to the skillet, carefully add a splash of water and scrape up any browned bits for added flavor. Continue cooking until the carrots are tender but not mushy.
Add the ground beef back to the pan and stir. Toss on the chopped cilantro once cooking is finished.
Serve over brown rice (or next to brown rice for kids who like to keep their foods separate), squeezing a bit of lemon juice over the dish.