Tuesday, August 4, 2009

recovering from self sabotage

purple carrot chips
sometimes going to the farmer's market
can be a test of willpower.
you spend several minutes trying
to decide if you need the
large or small container
of sugar plums,
when really, do you need any?
you stare at apple cider for
an extra minute, wanting
to bring it home, but
realizing that if you were
in the store, facing a refrigerated
shelf, you never would have
even considered the purchase.

and, sometimes, even though you
may dislike carrots, shun almost
any dish except carrot cake
that utilizes them
and rarely even choose to snack
on them, when you come to a table
boasting not only those in orange,
but also ones that are
rainbow and
instead of walking away,
you ask yourself:
which color do i want?

after staring for a few minutes
and then unearthing a hidden
bunch that is actually
none of those colors,
but instead
a deep, dark purple,
you know you've found your
find of the day.
you pay for them,
place them in your car,
thinking the whole way home:
i bought purple carrots,
they're purple,
they're pretty,
they're mine.
purple carrots from the farmer's market
and then, when you get home
and are about to place them
in the fridge, it hits you:
you don't like carrots.
or maybe that's just me.

for the first time last sunday,
i regretted a farmer's market purchase.
i kept thinking about different
ways to use them,
quartering and roasting,
grating into a salad,
cutting them slim and
tossing with pasta,
but every time, it came down
to the same thing:
they were still carrots.

then, yesterday, as i was about
to leave work, heading home to
make dinner, i realized my solution:
chips. baked chips, to be precise.
i'm not really sure where the idea
came from or why it took a week
to pop into my head,
but i was so relieved that it did.

without a recipe,
it was a gamble, but i dove in
head first anyway.
after peeling the carrots,
i debated different ways to
cut them thin without a mandolin.
see, i've managed to resist the gadget
up until now. i was always mildly
afraid of them, but then an unfortunate
incident in culinary school with
another student, sealed my beliefs.
i may get braver and crack one day,
but not yet.
after imagining myself cutting
them into all different sizes
with a knife,
thinking they wouldn't be thin
enough with the slicing blade
on the food processor or the
mixer attachment, i realized
i was holding my solution:
the vegetable peeler.
purple carrot ribbons
i started peeling off slices
and before i knew it, i had
just thicker than whisper-thin
triangular slices, purple on the
outside, white in the middle.
who knew?

once tossed with a drizzle
of olive oil
and a sprinkling of kosher salt,
i placed the slices flat on
two baking sheets, barely
fitting them all on,
and then roasted them.
purple carrot ribbons on baking sheet
10 minutes later,
they had shrunk significantly,
which makes sense:
they were losing all
of their water and moisture.
i flipped them over,
and baked them for
5 minutes more.
when they came out,
they were even smaller.

hmm...i thought they
would make a good side,
but now they kind of were
more of a garnish.
but then i tasted one:
they were crisp,
with just the right amount
of crunch and while
there was certainly
a defining carrotness
that lingered,
somehow, i did not feel overpowered.
i think that when i shrunk
the vegetable slices,
i shrunk their overwhelming and
intense flavor
as well.
ok, ok, i know that for most people,
carrots don't have such an intense
flavor, but for me, they do.
i can't explain it.
roasted purple carrot chips
they were actually quite
nice to enjoy alongside the
turkey burgers that i had made.
and in a small bowl,
the portion looked plentiful
and enough for two people.
but, i couldn't stop myself
from thinking how else to use
them - and i've decided,
they would be delicious
on a salad instead of croutons,
tortilla chips or those
crunchy fried onions that chefs
like to add in restaurants.
i could also imagine them
in a sandwich or on top
of chicken, meat or fish
as, yes, a pretty, tasty
and surprising edible garnish.

i'm surprised that i would
even say this,
but they were good enough,
that i can actually imagine
myself buying carrots again
from the farmer's market,
to recreate the chips.
but, i'm still not
buying apple cider
in august.
purple carrot chips in bowl
baked purple carrot chips
i didn't measure anything - i wasn't quite sure that i was going to write about these, when i started (i'm glad i actually took pictures). so while the amounts are an approximation, i feel pretty good about them. if the carrots look too dry, drizzle in a little bit more olive oil. also, if you take them out to test a baked one and it seems like the carrot is on the brink of crunchy, leave the whole tray out for a minute and see if the rest crisp up. if not, put them back in. and, if you can't find purple carrots, use whatever color strikes your fancy.

4 medium purple carrots, peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt

adjust racks to top and bottom thirds of oven. heat oven to 400˚f. using vegetable peeler, cut carrots into thin ribbons. you most likely will not be able to use the whole carrot before the shape will change. flip the carrot over and cut as many ribbons as possible. snack on the carrot centers, or, if you're like me, find someone else to eat them for you.

in bowl, toss carrot ribbons with olive oil and a healthy sprinkling of kosher salt. one at a time, lay carrots flat on two parchment paper-lined baking sheets, very close together, but not touching.

roast carrots 10 minutes. flip carrots and place baking sheets back in the oven, switching the top tray to the bottom and the bottom to the top. roast 5 minutes more, or until the carrots are crispy, but not burnt. sprinkle with kosher salt. let cool completely before serving.

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