Like many farmstead chefs, we’re plowing through our root-cellared produce: beets, potatoes, winter squash and carrots. If you can get the temperature and humidity level right, it’s amazing how long certain crops can last. We’ve turned our few remaining pumpkins into chocolate-chip spice muffins and our butternut and carnival squash into delectable side dishes.
During the long winter months, however, we try to hit the road, learn something new and explore a different part of the farming community—ideally in warmer climates, if we can swing it. Lisa just finished up at the National Farmers Union’s Women’s Conference held in Clearwater, Fla., which included a visit to Keel and Curley Winery that specializes in blueberry wine. Along the way, we visited a bakery and were inspired by their Paleo brownies (made with dates)—we look forward to experimenting with our own Paleo baked goods in the months to come.
Our winter excursions may be unconventional, but we’re not the only farmers who take advantage of winter downtime to get off-farm. We’ve recently been inspired by Stacey Givens, an urban farmer and chef who just returned from a 10-day food- and farming-inspired trip to Shiga, Japan, where she prepared a meal for her Japanese guests, including renowned chef Darren Damonte.
In 2009, Givens established the Side Yard Farm and Kitchen in Portland, Ore., supplying restaurants with local, organic produce, as well as dishing up hyper-local cuisine to diners at seed-to-plate brunches. The meals are served either on the farm or at various locations connected to her urban farm-to-table catering company and “nomadic supper club.” Her meals are anything if not fresh, so of course we turned to her to help us blaze through the remainder of our winter vegetables.
At her Japanese dinner, Givens served up cast iron-grilled Spanish mackerel with burnt cauliflower, a lemongrass yogurt, a side of pickled cilantro seeds from Side Yard Farm, and beer-glazed carrots, the recipe of which she shared below. The beer-glazed carrots work great as an appetizer or attractive side dish, and her secret lies in the beer she uses for the glaze.
“Urban Farmhouse Ale by The Commons Brewery is one of my favorite beers to drink and use for cooking, not just in this dish, but it works well in braised pork dishes and marinades,” she says. “The glaze has a floral nose, a soft underlying hoppy bitterness, and sweet notes of ginger with a hint of spice.”
For your own local spin, try the recipe out with one of your locally brewed beers.
Recipe: Beer Glazed Carrots
Courtesy Chef Stacey Givens
Yield: about 5 servings
- 3 bunches baby rainbow carrots, peeled and tops removed
- 3 T. unsalted butter
- 1 ounce fresh ginger, skin removed, sliced
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 bottle beer
- 1/4 cup fresh carrot juice (orange or yellow carrots only)
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 3/4 cup sugar
- small pinch chili flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Blanch carrots until just tender.
In a shallow saucepan, remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until liquid has reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper.
Toss blanched baby carrots in glaze and serve.