Friday, April 20

Why I Live in California Reason #2: Carrots

Despite grueling traffic, exorbitant real estate prices, and perpetual smog, Jeff and I have decided to stay in Southern California when he completes his residency in June. We have discussed this ad nauseum: we have wonderful families back in RI, the reimbursement is higher and the cost of living is lower there, and not to mention, there's no good Italian bread here.

There is no single reason we have made this decision, but one factor stands out above others: the weather. It's probably why most of the 15 million people who call Southern California home choose to live here. For Jeff and me, the second factor is one my food blog friends can appreciate: the produce.

Recently at our farmers’ market Jeff and I chatted with Neil, a local farmer, who is originally from London. (We adore London, the site of our honeymoon.) Curious why an aesthete Brit would move to Southern California, I asked Neil why he stays here.

“The weather,” he said. “I simply can’t live without the sun, and it’s sunny here all the time.”

“But don't you miss London with its rich history and culture?" I asked.

“Look, London is great,” he said, “but it’s always grey and rainy. In fact, I believe summer fell on a Wednesday there last year.”

Neil has a brilliant personality; so does his produce. He is from Weiser Family Farms where they sell organic, charismatic produce: blithe blue potatoes, cheeky green and purple cauliflower, and cheerful colored carrots.

Every week market-goers animatedly question him about his unique produce, which lately has included Jerusalem artichokes, Romanesco cauliflower, and crosne (Chinese artichokes, pictured below).

Neil, like so many farmers, is always informative; he teaches you about the produce and offers cooking tips and recipes as well.

One of our favorite vegetables from Weiser Family Farms is carrots. Not prosaic orange carrots, but kaleidoscope carrots with appealing names: Yellowstone (ripe lemon yellow), Purple Haze (rich, royal maroon), Nantes (deep pumpkin orange), and Atomic Red (firecracker red).

Unlike the orange “baby”carrots you find in the supermarket, these “mini” or "rainbow" carrots are about 5-6 inches long and come in a variety of colors. Though delicious raw, I prefer to roast them, allowing their natural sugars to caramelize. They are enhanced with any variety of fresh herbs; for this recipe, I used savory fresh thyme and chives which contrast beautifully with the carrots’ sweetness.

Carrots are as healthy as they are delicious (as I learned from researching my Fit Fare post). They are powerhouses of beta carotene, an antioxidant that lowers your risk of cancer, as well as lutein, which promotes ocular health. If you're crazy about carrots, then check out the World Carrot Museum. Yup. There's a virtual museum for carrots with more than you'd ever care to know about the world's #2 vegetable (potato is #1).

I am submitting this post to the Meeta for this month's Monthly Mingle which features spring food.

I also wish to apologize to Tigerfish of the delicious Teczcape who tagged me a while back about a favorite food gem, to which I have not had the chance to reply. It's clear that Neil and Weiser Family Farms is a diamond among jewels and an easy choice for "favorite food gem."

Roasted Rainbow Carrots

Makes 4 servings.
Print recipe only here.

1 lb. mini carrots, peeled or unpeeled (any color/variety available to you)
1-2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp chopped fresh chives
A generous sprinkling of salt and pepper

1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
A couple of pinches of lemon zest
2 tsp honey
Salt and pepper, to taste
Additional chopped fresh thyme and chives for garnish

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash and peel carrots, and pat dry. (I actually leave the skin on since it is so tender and full of nutrients). Lay carrots on a baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil. Add chives, thyme, and salt & pepper. Toss well to coat. Roast for about 15-20 min., turning once. The skins should slightly brown and blister.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and honey until well combined. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Drizzle glaze over the cooked carrots, and garnish with a sprinkling of chopped fresh thyme and chives.

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Deb said...

Don't you love our farmers markets?? every picture is beautiful, with that rich sunshine showering each piece of produce. I've recently (sad but true) discovered Fennel. Would you have any recipes you'd like to share?

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Well, you've almost -- but not quite -- got this Rhode Island girl convinced about Southern California! Who could resist those beautiful carrots? And yet, today the sun is shining, and things are beginning to show signs of life in my herb garden, and it's hard to remember that a week ago we had snow!

Anonymous said...

Almost, but not quite, you persuade me. We thought about moving to southern California once (my husband grew up there) but couldn't do it -- the crowds and traffic were daunting. But the produce is a compelling factor. I am in love with jerusalem artichokes and those carrots are truly stunning.

cookiecrumb said...

I hardly ever have carrots any way but raw -- well, unless I'm using them in a soup or stew -- but your stunning picture and recipe have captivated me. Luckily, I have a bunch of those psychedelic babies in the fridge. Thanks.
(Have you tried the crosnes? They're FUN.)

Sig said...

Wow Susan, those are the sexiest carrots I've ever seen!!! Yummmy...

bazu said...

I love, love, love your produce photos in this post, Susan! Even though you have hundreds of other readers, I think of this blog as my personal good weather and colorful food fix. Look at those Romanesco cauliflowers!

I love the experience of living in different places. Each place has such lovely experiences to offer, as you illustrate here with Southern California. Ahhh.

Anonymous said...

Wow I've never seen carrots in colors other than the usual orange. Those carrots look fantastic! I don't even really like carrots and I want to eat those. Yum! Those carrots are definitely ones I would enjoy myself, rather than give to my bunny, well maybe I'll let him have a little nibble. :D

As for all the other gorgeous produce in your photos I've never even seen any of them. This is a sign that I need to go to more farmers' markets. :)

Asha said...

WOW!! I want to move to CA now!:))

We grow that dark purple carrots in Punjab,India and make Carrot milk out of it!:)

s'kat said...

I lived in (northern) California as a child, and just loved it. I'd go back in a heartbeat, and I am JEALOUS as hell of your lovely weather and beautiful farmer's markets. ;)

Lis said...

I am very jealous of your produce! You never find much out of the ordinary here in NE Ohio, unfortunately. I about fell over when I found meyer lemons a few weeks ago at Trader Joe's. haha!

The carrots look amazing.. I also love them roasted - excellent choice. =)


Anonymous said...

omg those carrots look wonderful! i HAVE to get to the farmers market on sunday, shame on me for not going yet this spring. i have always wanted to try these funny little artichokes too, i've read they are good pureed.
pretty inspiring pictures!!

Bron said...

I'm very jealous too! Beautiful colourful veges, the carrots and thyme are a gorgeous combination!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Susan, what a colorful array of vegies. I love going to the Farmer's Market. It's not just shopping - but it's a way to relax and simply do a bit of small talk with all the great Farmers there. I really enjoyed this post. Those carrots look wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan - lovely post! I love seeing fresh produce in all of it's springtime glory... it's so inspiring!

...and I absolutely adore roasted carrots - I love the assortment and hues that are available to you!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Fantastic. I love those carrots and I can find them at Whole Foods in Dallas and Seattle. I always find it odd that so few people really appreciate carrots they are so sweet!
Lovely post and yes your weather is nice. And when it's August in Dallas...well I try to be somewhere else.

Gattina Cheung said...

to be honest with you, I rather live in London...
But what a wonderful series of photoes, and this carrot dish is so eye-catching, yet easy to do!

Brilynn said...

Nothing beats a good farmer's market, those carrots are so pretty!

MeloMeals said...


Anonymous said...

i wish i'm so convinced to live in Southern CA again...but right now I'm happy in Oregon where bountiful farmer's markets are everywhere...:) those carrots are fantastic though, I'm glad you get to eat all wonderful produce year-round.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Susan, what beautiful photos -- and I am supremely jealous. While we can get some good stuff in the Big Apple, you leave the city limits and most of it looks pretty wilted. What I wouldn't give for one of those carrots!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Deb-I do have some. Check out shrimp and fennel pasta under "pasta!" or Sicilian fennel and orange salad under "salads" in the recipe organiza.

Lydia-I couldn't believe the snow when my mom told me. I heard it was beautiful today. It actually rained all day here, but we really need it.

Christine-Thanks. I love those artichokes too.

Cookiecrumb-I have tried the crosnes but don't have any exciting ideas for them yet.

Sig-Ooh! Thanks.

Bazu-Oh, how sweet of you to say. Thanks! I love virtually traveling to other states as well.

Amy-The produce really is amazing here. And I'm sure bunny would love a nibble.;)

Asha-Carrot milk? I've never had it, but I'm sure I'd like it.

S'kat-I know! That's what makes it so hard to leave!

Lis-Thank goodness for TJ's! :)

Aria-I used the crosne in salad but pureed is probably good too.

Bron-Thyme is one of my favorite herbs when roasting veggies.

Meeta-I look forward to it each week--great produce and great conversations!

Gilly-The colors sure make eating carrots more fun!

Tanna-I know; they are so sweet, it seems like sugar has been added.

Gattina-The perfect place would be London with LA weather!

Brilynn-I know! Thanks!


Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness - just look at all that variety in your produce! I am so jealous :(

tammy said...

I'm jealous. I'll be holding down the fort here in New England!

Rachel said...

So pretty!

Christina said...

Don't you love the Weisers? We're so lucky to have them.

Kajal said...

Hi Susan,
Great things.
Your roasted rainbow carrots look yummy.........
It is also good for health.
Thanks for sharing.
Good day.

Deborah Dowd said...

What beautiful produce! I have never seen the chinese artichokes before, and the carrots look really incredible. Almost makes methink of relocating from Virginia (especially after this years weather-snow on Easter!). Thanks for making all us east coasters jealous!

Connie said...

what wonderful produce! you are lucky to have such a great farmers market

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine how much more trouble Peter Rabbit would be in if Beatrix Potter would've had the same sentiments as your friend Neil? Your pictures are so full of color and texture!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Eliza-Oregon is absolutely beautiful. Thanks for visiting!

T.W.-I wish I could give you some right now!

Tammy-Thanks for visiting! I've heard you're getting lovely springtime weather now.



Kajal-It's easy to eat healthfully when you have such a fantastic variety of seasonal produce.

Ellie-I know, it inspires me to cook more!

Deborah-The Chinese artichokes are new to me too--they taste like jicama.

Connie-I know!

C'tina-Ha! Hadn't thought of that! Thanks for the visit!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to look out for that gem in California too! Thanks!

aTxVegn said...

California is definitely veggie heaven. I love romanesco and red carrots and do get them here occasionally from our local farmers. I don't blame you for staying in Cali!

carrotmuseum said...

Hi from the World Carrot Museum, and thanks for the links and compliments. There simply is no better or versatile vegetable.

Right now it's 75 degrees and sunny in London! Come to Yorkshire where grey skies are banned :) Great certainty about UK weather is that is unpredictable.

Did you check out Mr Carrot Head on the site??


Stella said...

Wow! I so wish we could have carrots of differents colours as well. Your rainbow carrots look utterly healthy & delicious, why am I so far away from California?!

Anonymous said...

Waou! So beautiful, I want a carrots. Your French is compréhensible, Thant you very much. I love your down is very extraordinary

Pille said...

I'm impressed with the beautiful vegetables you've got there! I'm in the process of starting a kitchen garden here, though I doubt I'll have much luck growing things in the first year..

Anonymous said...

Those are gorgeous carrots! Lucky you! And they've got one called Purple Haze! That has got to be the coolest produce name ;)

Anonymous said...

In keeping with the Southern California theme, I rarely think of carrots in a starring role. They're always the leading man's buddy. But these carrots may change that view, especially with the chives to cut the sweetness. I'm curious--how do these taste pre-glazing? I almost think I'd like that better, again, because of the sweetness.

Anonymous said...

I've never seen anything like these carrots before. I'm not a huge carrot fan but I'd be game to try these. Your recipe sounds delicious.

Anonymous said...

The pictures are gorgeous--and those carrots! Sigh.

I've had the same debate about moving back to Illinois where my family lives--but I can't leave this weather here in CA--and the produce.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Tigerfish-You're welcome! Do look for them too!:)

ATXVEGN-I'm sure you get unique produce as well.

John-What a pleasure to hear from you! You are quite welcome; you've got an excellent site. You know, I meant to mention Mr. Carrot Head but didn't see him the last time I was on the site.

Valentina-Come on over for a visit!

Candy-I'm glad it was comprehensible. Thanks!

Pille-We used to have a garden; how I miss it. Good luck!

Joey-I know, the names tickle me.

Terry B.-There are quite sweet pre-glazing, with a richer than usual carrot flavor. The roasting, however, draws out their sweetness even further, at least according to my taste buds.;)

Anthony-These may convert you!

Sher-Thanks! Glad to hear I'm not alone. ;)

Jeanne said...

Oooh, between us we have a greeting card store worth of beautiful pictures snapped recently at markets ;-) I just adore those carrots. And I've never seen or heard of Chinese artichokes - are they similar to Jerusalem artichokes?? I'm fascinated.

Also interesting to hear about Neil's views on London. People think I'm difficult when I complain about the weather in London - kind of like "you have all this culture, what do yuo need sun for?". But the fact is that the greyness wears you down eventually - especially when you grew up like I did in a 9-months-of-summer climate similar to California. To me, sunshine is the default setting and clouds in the sky are a problem. I just feel happier, healthier and more myself when the weather warms up. I adore London and all it has to offer, but I know that ultimately I will have to move somewhere with a better climate!

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan, I just got back from a vacation to CA. Had I seen your post earlier, I would have added the farmer's market to the list of 'to-see' places during my trip. Great post!


Lisa Johnson said...

I've never seen such pretty carrots! I love New England, but I am jealous of the California weather. I read so many blogs talking about eating locally and going to your farmer's market when it's February and March and I'm thinking, huh??!! Nothing is growing here yet!! **sigh**

Scribbit said...

The picture is beautiful! Who knew carrots could be art? Next to fresh peas, a tender young carrot is the greatest garden delicacy I know.

Linda said...

so beautiful! i want to make these just to have this color on the table!

Lucy said...

Incredible colours - just think about all those antioxidants. I'm in New Zealand this week and they really know how to put on a farmers market too.

KAYLEE said...

I love carrots:-)

Madame K said...

Yes, I am jealous!

But our farmer's market is opening next weekend, so good things are coming our way here in St. Louis.

Anonymous said...

Look at those carrots. I've never seen them in all those colors. Beautiful!
I love CA weather too. Could use a little of it here in KS right now!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Jeanne-Thanks for your thoughtful reply. London is an extraordinary city, and we can't wait to visit again. I don't think we'd take well to the constant greyness though.

Hema-I love to visit farmers' markets in other cities. Maybe next time you'll see them!

Anali-With the warm weather you've been getting, it shouldn't be too much longer!

Michelle-I just made the most delicately delicious peas for dinner tonight.

Linda-They do brighten your plate!

Lucy-They must be wonderful too!


Karen-I look forward to your blogging about it!

Kristen-Thanks! I wish I could send you some warm weather.

Anonymous said...

I'm originally from Southern CA so I hear ya, the weather and produce cannot be beat! Although I do wonder whether New England has CA beat in the Fall apple department, with all those orchards that come alive just when the leaves start to drop! Unless, of course, you count weekend trips to Julian as part of your So Ca produce reality. :)

Ari (Baking and Books)

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's some fabulous looking produce! I can see how California's farmer's markets could entice a person to stick around.

SteamyKitchen said...

Oh stop it! You're giving me too many reasons why I need to move back to CA!!!

chemcookit said...

Hey Susan!
This is my first time on your blog, and I'm SO happy I found it. It's funny - we have a few similarities in our life history: I'm Italian and I lived in North Carolina for a while, and I just moved to California a few months ago.. I love your blog and I agree with you about the beauty of California produces.
I was actually just trying to start a food blog event called 'Fresh produce of the month', inspired from the abundance of lemons that I saw (and that I picked ip from a tree) here in California. If you would like to participate to it, I'd be reallly happy to see a post from you! The announce is on my blog on May 19th. Thanks :)