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Carrots & Canals

Oh my, I’m having to learn so much with this whole website blog thing, back ends, plugins, widgets and that’s before getting onto transferring domains and Gravatars! My brain must be sprouting new neural pathways faster than Jack’s famous beansprout.

Flashback to 1983, I was living on a small sailing boat in the French Waterways surrounded by wonderful French ingredients, I needed to know how to prepare them. When I say needed, I really did, it was the beginning of a lifelong passion exploring food and its preparation.

Mum was coming to visit from the UK, I asked her to bring a cookbook, she brought Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louise Bertholle, made famous by the movie Julie and Julia. The other thing she had to bring was two meters of flexible exhaust pipe, shame, thinking flexible meant it rolls up, she agreed, still, that wasn’t as testing as bringing us an exhaust manifold (cast iron) in her hand luggage to Rhodes. The picture is still in my head of her coming through arrivals, knees buckling slightly, beads of perspiration glistening, and eyes bulging just a teeny bit.

Something that stuck in my mind was the recipe for what Julia calls a basic recipe for cooked carrots. I feel that sometimes we need to go back to basics. This humble vegetable, so simply cooked, is raised to a whole new level:

Carottes Étuvées au Beurre (Carrots Braised in Butter, but I expect you guessed that).

This is carrots simmered gently until tender with a good knob (similar to a dollop) of butter and a spoonful of sugar (sorry banters, anyway carrots are on the orange list), the liquid should have boiled away, and you will be left with syrupy glaze which leaves each piece rich and shiny, season up and they are perfect to go with anything.

Variations might include adding a cup of cream (nobody ever said French cooking is low fat!) or tossing in some fresh herbs and garlic or maybe both.

How do you cook your carrots, have they been relegated to being shredded for a stir fry or munched on raw because, they are good for you? Please try doing this. To me this epitomises the essence of traditional French cooking, good ingredients treated with respect and allowing even the carrots to be stars.

I will return to Julia’s book as it has become my basic “how to” manual. For me the principle applies to any style or nationality of cooking; good ingredients perfectly prepared. This is also my core value in my business. Thank you Julia for inspiring me to pursue this as a career, who would’ve guessed, carrots to Market Place.