Carrots! Just a vegetable?

By Jacky Farbrace

How we take the humble carrot as just another vegetable. There is much more to them than meets the eye. Did you know that Thursday 4th April is International Carrot day? It is. It began in 2003 and is celebrated in several countries around the world. There are even carrot parties you can hold. I know!

The carrot (Daucus Carota) is a root vegetable and normally orange in colour. You can get Purple, White, red, yellow and black carrots though. The plant is thought to originate in Persia and was first cultivated for it’s leaves and seeds. It was then domestically produced for the greatly enlarged `taproot’ to be eaten, although the leaves are still eaten in some dishes. The root is a good source of vitamins, B6 and vitamin K. It also contains alpha and Beta- carotene. The belief that carrots can help you see in the dark is actually a myth. This was brought about in world war II to fool the enemy into believing our troupes could see in the dark. Fact or fiction? I’ll let you decide.

Carrots can be used in many dishes hot and cold and make great snacks too. A nice sweet carrot cut into batons along with celery or cucumber makes a healthy alternative to the normal sweet snack we might have. They can be grated in to salads or in a sandwich and can be cooked in different ways too. Boiled, roasted or stewed. However you choose to use your carrot one thing is for sure. It will be tasty and very good for you.

One of the other ways to use carrots is in a nice moist Carrot Cake. A favourite for many. This recipe is one I use all the time and has had no complaints so far.

What you need: 17g Light brown sugar, 175ml Sunflower oil, 3 medium eggs, about 3 medium carrots grated, 100g Sultanas, zest of one large orange, 1tsp Bicarbonate of soda, 1tsp Cinnamon, 1/2tsp nutmeg. For the Frosting: 175g Icing sugar, 2tsp orange juice.

How to do it: Preheat the oven to gas 4/180c/fan 160c. Line the base and sides of an 7″/18cm square tin. Measure out and place in a bowl the oil, eggs and sugar. Lightly mix together. Stir in the grated carrot, sultanas and orange zest. Sift together the flour, soda and spices into the bowl. Gently mix all the ingredients together. Pour into your prepared tin and bake for about 40-45mins. Test with a skewer to make sure that it is cooked. The skewer should come out clean. Leave to cool for a few minutes in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. In the meantime sift the icing sugar into a bowl and gradually add the orange juice until you have a firm but slight runny icing. Once the cake has cooled, drizzle the icing over the cake. Leave to set. Cut the cake into slices or squares to serve.

So, Happy International Carrot day. Go and get some and let us know what you will do with them.

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www.carrotday.com 

www.carrotmuesum.co.uk

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