In the spirit of the season, we've been making lots of carrot salad, and tried our hand at picking (and canning) lots of strawberries. My littlest gypsy loves to help out with peeling, chopping and cutting veggies. I think it makes her feel mature getting to hold mama's big ol knife. As well it should. She's actually gotten pretty good at managing it. This goes along with my beliefs that the more a child handles something on their own, the greater their skills. If you assume they are too young, then they are too young. But if you give them a chance, you might be surprised. The older gypsy has no interest in wielding knives, or even turning on the oven for that matter. She loves to bake: mix, stir, add, combine, fold, knead...but not chop. It's the strong-willed, temperamental red-head who wants to chop. Coincidence? I think not.
So, after peeling, chopping, and grating the carrots, we added herbs, peanuts, and a dressing made from lemon juice and oil. This carrot salad is by far one of my favorite spring salads. Not only is it beautiful and full of vibrant color, but it's uber healthy and absolutely delicious...and the longer it sits in the fridge the better it tastes. And it's filled with fresh mint and parsley picked from our garden. That, of course, makes it extra special. Hopefully next year the carrots will come from our garden, as well. We did grow a few carrots this year, but the were so small we fed them to the deer.
We also made this fantastic carrot cake a few times. It's egg-free, vegan, etc. The man took some to work and no-one believed it didn't have eggs in it. The recipe I followed, aptly titled The World's Best Carrot Cake, called for four eggs, in fact. But I used flax seed and water instead. And let me just say, this was the moistest (most moist?) cake I've ever had. Seriously. Now, don't get me wrong, it's not a health food (well, except for the carrots). It's filled with sugar and oil and the frosting is just pure butter and sugar. But man, it's so good even the monkeys ate it, and they don't like cake. Everyone who had a slice asked for the recipe. It's that good.
But trust me, if you don't have eggs on hand, and you do have applesauce or flax seeds or soy yogurt or some other equivalent, you can still make cake. It's a marketing myth that says you must have eggs to bake. It keeps big brother in business. But this carrot cake is proof that there is life beyond the egg. Now, if you're raising your own hens and have fresh eggs out the wazoo, then go for it. But otherwise, give those battery caged hens a break and try some alternatives. You'll be amazed!
Nom Nom Nom...
Speaking of strawberries...Does this endless field of strawberries not make you smile? This is such a happy place. Big juicy plump berries as far as the eye can see. Well, OK, it was raining, but still...what a gorgeous horizon.
And boy, did we ever pick em. We couldn't stop. And I'm pretty sure the little one on the left ate almost as many as she picked. And look at the evil grin on the kid in the middle....ay ya yie.
We wasted no time washing them, removing the stems, freezing bag after bag (for winter snacking), and getting all the jars boiled and ready for processing.
Yay! Homemade jam! And preserves! Which are both fantastic on homemade biscuits!
The girls and I make these quick and easy homemade biscuits once a week. Yum.
We ended up with one batch of Sassy Strawberry Jalapeno Preserves, and one batch of Sassy Strawberry Jam. I'm so excited to finally accomplish this goal, I can't wait to try tomatoes and peaches later this summer. But for now, we're going back to pick more strawberries!
Here's our recipes:
Crunchy Carrot Salad
1 lb grated carrots (about 6?)
3/4 cup unsalted peanuts
3 T minced fresh parsley
2 T minced fresh mint (use fresh herbs for this salad)
2 T lemon juice
1 1/2 t sugar
salt to taste
Mix it up and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, up to 2 days, before serving.
World's Best Carrot Cake
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
4 eggs (I used 4 T gr flaxseeds combined w/12 T water. Or can use applesauce or soy yogurt. 4T=1 egg)
3 cups grated raw carrots (about 6)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1 8oz pkg cream cheese (use vegan, or omit...I omitted this to reduce the calories)
1/2 stick Earth Balance butter
2 T almond or hemp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 box powdered sugar
See what I mean? Nothing healthy here, but it's nice to indulge every now and then. Mix it all up. Bake at 350 in greased pans for 30-35 minutes. Mix up icing and spread it between layers and on top. Viola! And delicious!
For the biscuits, you can find my favorite recipe here.