‘Fall Back and Spring Forward’, that’s what we do every Fall and Spring with our clocks. Most of us anyway. I’ve got another idea for that whole scenario. Thanks to my sister’s off-the-cuff most hilarious comment of our recent Thanksgiving Day feast. While we were all talking about weight loss and munching on fattening appetizers, she quips.…”You do set your scale back for the Holiday’s, don’t you?” OMG ! I laughed myself sick as my Mom spun around and gasped at her “You’ve been messing with my scale!?” You see, our Mom has been on a lifelong diet and altering her scale amounts to kicking her cat. You just don’t do it. (Not that you could, or would – the cat that is. I would totally mess with her scale.) That statement planted an evil seed in my mind of a dieters ‘waistline savings day’. I think we should start somewhere before Halloween and end it about week beyond New Years. The Sunday before Halloween we should set our scales back 5 lbs! And after the New Years hangover’s worn off and you unpacked that new workout dvd and yoga mat, set that puppy ahead by 5 lbs…just as an incentive to get that backside movin’. A couple years of that and the only way we’ll get an accurate weight is to visit Holy Toledo* (which I will NOT be doing).
*”Holy Toledo!” is the comment everybody makes standing on the giant scale in the supermarket cart area. Which incidentally is usually made by The Toledo Scale Company.
But I digress, this post is all about Carrots at Christmas. Even though we don’t have a ‘Waistline Savings Day’ yet, I’ll be considering running with my uber fit Auntie’s saying of “No carrots at Christmas!” The holidays are for enjoying life…and eating cookies. Although, just like those bottles of liquor that sport the line ’Sip Responsibly’, I like to follow that mantra as well. So, I don’t go to the buffet and eat just the carrots because I’m watching my weight. I’ll eat those carrots AND the puffed pastry fabulousness, thank you very much. However, I’ve discovered a way to make carrots very Christmas friendly, and not in a carrot cake, and there are no snowmen here. Are you ready for this,…wait for it…. Carrot Jam. Yes, my friends, I too was a-gasp. This comes to us here via, an article in Food and Wine Magazine promoting a cookbook author, blogger, and fellow jam fan by the name of Eugenia Bone and her soon-to-be published book “The Kitchen Ecosystem”. The article included this recipe and noted that she uses it in all sorts of ways, ‘on a mozz sandwich …with a pot roast’ . We paired it with warm brie and crackers for a Thanksgiving appetizer that won’t soon be forgotten!
Making preserves can be intimidating, and since it was a small article, I’ll show you how to get from point A to point B. Super simple.
Carrots For Christmas Jam:
Step 1: Gather the goodies and get out the shredder attachment for the food processor – or take 2 aspirin and get out that box grater. While you’re at it, find a piece of cheesecloth to sacrifice.
4 lb. Carrots (I used baby carrots since they were on sale, and I like ‘em)
6 Cups Sugar
3 sticks of Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1 Cup Lemon Juice (fresh please)
2 Tbl Lemon Zest
2 tsp Kosher Salt
Gather the cinnamon and cloves into a cheesecloth bundle and tie off. The nutmeg you’ll add later.
Shred all those carrots. Zest the lemon, juice it along with another.
You know, at first they don’t look like much – remember that gigantic bowl your girlfriend who sells Tupperware talked you into…well, go and get it ! Eighteen cups later…
Look at how full that bowl is! Now add in the sugar, zest, salt, nutmeg and juice. Combine. I used my clean hands, which were just the best tool for the job.
Step 4: The spice bundle will get nestled in the bowl.
In the time it takes to mix this up, the carrots begin to break down and get juicy. Now, they’ll fit back in the smaller (and somewhat more attractive) bowl. Cover and stash in the fridge overnight.
…and the next day. Get the mixture into a large pot and light that fire. OMG – I wish you could smell this ! Like a carrot cake, and fresh carrots, and a fall morning and … I need a cup of coffee.
Cook for about 40min. Or until the texture begins to change a bit and it’s syrupy and yummy. Then remove the spice bundle. I actually took a stick blender to mine, for just a few turns, since it wasn’t getting jammy fast enough. I really wanted it to look like the magazine photo. This is a root and not a fruit so it will naturally have a ‘tooth’ to it.
Jar them up and keep in the fridge for 3 weeks. Or process and pass out as parting gifts.
The Thanksgiving post showed a small ramekin of this on the cheese tray. The next day I had it on some bread along side my morning yogurt. So Good! Thank you Ms. Bone! She’s so right, this is an all-purpose condiment.
Later that same weekend, I prepared for a Christmas cookie exchange by baking up a Chai Thumbprint cookie with Carrot Jam … a 5 star cookie I assure you! This is quickly becoming my favorite way to enjoy carrots…even at Christmas.