Adventurous Foodie—Inventing your own recipes

I brought home five pounds of carrots yesterday. Organic carrots. I assume that since plants get much of their life out of the soil, roots absorb more of whatever the earth possesses. More than leaves, for instance. So—organic. To reduce the bad stuff (I hope). But I could be wrong.

So, what do I do with all these carrots? Often, I dump a bunch into my food processor and grate them into long shreds. The shreds can be made into carrot salad or mixed with shredded cabbage for coleslaw.

But I also like to serve them for breakfast by baking them into a loaf bread. I try to work as much fiber and protein into anything I make for breakfast. So, I came up with an unorthodox recipe.

I wanted to see how much carrots you can plug into a standard quick bread recipe, without the bread falling apart. Most carrot bread/cake recipes call for one cup carrots, or two at the most. I used three.

Guess what? It worked. Maybe, it was the three eggs (instead of one, for instance, specified in a recipe at the back of a baking mix box). Or, maybe, chopping the shredded carrots a little more with my Chinese cleaver did the trick.

Here’s my recipe. Use it as a guide. I think most recipes are just guides, anyway, because so many things could vary between my process and yours—measurements, instruments, density or volume of ingredients. If you don’t believe me, listen to David Lebovitz, former chef at the legendary Chez Panisse in Berkeley. He says in his book, My Paris Kitchen, that the French approach cooking au pif (“by the nose”):

Cooking au pif means you check things in the oven before the time indicated. If you think a salad dressing needs more garlic, add more. Season with salt to your taste. Recipes are guidelines, starting points for cooks to diverge from. Take them in your own personal direction.

Evy’s Chock Full of Carrots Bread

Butter a 5×9 in. loaf pan. Sprinkle lightly with flour and dump out excess.

Blend dry ingredients in a bowl:
2 ½ cups multigrain mix (Why not? Trader Joe’s is good. No additives)
½ to 1 cup sugar (To taste; I prefer not too sweet.)
1 tsp. baking powder (unless your mix has it)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp. cinnamon

3 beaten eggs
3 cups shredded or grated carrots
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla

Fold dry ingredients into carrot mixture. Don’t overmix.

Fold in:
½ to 1 cup dried cranberries or raisins (These increase sweetness)
½ to 1 cup broken walnuts (I use 1 cup. I love walnuts)

The batter should be thick and not runny, but if it seems too dry, gradually blend in about 2 tablespoons yogurt or sour cream. I used extra large eggs and I didn’t need to add any yogurt. Carrots retain much moisture, unlike potatoes or other dry root vegetables. This moisture is released in baking. Bake 45 to 50 minutes at 350⁰F.

My carrot bread came out delicious. It keeps at least a week in the refrigerator. We like the crunch on the edges when we toast slices for breakfast the following mornings.

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