And only then

She must wear the helmet. It doesn't matter that we're about to eat, that she hits the back of her now bulky head on the wooden seat back of the high chair, that it makes it hard for her to get the correct angle between spoon and mouth. She wears it all day; it is the first thing she reaches for in the morning when we come downstairs. She knows where it lives, on the hook behind the closet door. 

After I have helped her get it on, she reaches back into the closet. For my helmet. And then I am supposed to put my helmet on. Only then can we go about our day. 

I am suddenly the mother of a toddler; my baby is gone.

This tumbling babbling girl helped me pull the carrots today. According to my garden notebook we planted them on July 27th, back when she was first crawling and chubby-thighed. A hundred and forty three days later she stands next to me, trampling through the spinach patch. 

I've always had trouble with carrots—they germinate but don't survive—but two farmers from Orleans said to soak the seed overnight. It did the trick—kept the moisture in, maybe?—and I had at least 100 sprouts to start. I thinned them out and transplanted a few—they lived, I discovered today, but are uniformly short and stumpy—an inch at most. The rest are between four and eight inches, bright orange and beautiful. I pulled maybe forty today and there are still just as many in the ground.

I've heard you should wait until after a frost to pull carrots. I didn't want to wait too long. We've had a few hard frosts, even freezes. How long until a carrot rots in the ground? The turnips need to come in too, and the rest of the arugula—there are still four rows racing the cold. Then and only then will we move to the stock in the hoophouse: four long perfect rows of salad greens with a patch of kale at the end.

First, though, the carrots. They must be washed and I need to trim the stems. Then we will have supper—fresh fish and a salad, and on the side, my mother's gingered carrots.


I don't know that this is a recipe so much as an idea, but I'll type it out nonetheless. My mother made this for my sister and me all the time when we were kids. I've never tried using fresh ginger, but I imagine it would be delicious.

fresh carrots, washed, trimmed, and cut into thin sticks
brown sugar or maple syrup
powdered ginger
sea salt

Steam or boil the carrots. When they're tender but not quite falling apart, drain the water, keeping the carrots in the pot. Add a pat of butter, which should melt quickly, along with a little spoonful of sugar or maple syrup and a sprinkle of ginger. Salt, taste, and adjust the seasonings as necessary. This makes a great side dish with just about everything, particularly in the winter.


Laurie said...

I will have to try soaking carrot seeds, as germination is usually spotty here. We've kept carrots in the garden all winter & pulled them as needed, through snow on the ground. They did fine until it started warming up, & they began to grow tops again. Then the quality rapidly deteriorates. Not sure with it being colder there, though.

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