Over the last nine months I’ve been working for Schenectady Greenmarket. In that time, my life has changed quite a bit. One main area of change is my kitchen. Sure, I have always been a pretty ardent home-cook, rarely eating out, rarely purchasing prepared foods – but I haven’t the kind of person that eats truly seasonally. All that has changed since now most of my grocery shopping is done on Sundays as I run around the market.
Among the celeriac, beets and kohlrabi, there has been one humble reawakening – carrots. This cooked carrot salad is now a staple of my weekly dinners and lunches. It brings sunshine and warmth to my day regardless if it is actually sunny outside (and -12) or snowing.
Spicy Cooked Carrot Salad
Adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
1 lb. carrots – diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 t. sweet paprika
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1 T. fresh lemon juice
3 T. olive oil
2 T. chopped parsley
1/3 c. crumbled feta cheese
1. Boil the carrots in salted water until tender but not soft (about 3 minutes).
2. In a large bowl, smash the garlic with a pinch of salt. Stir in the paprika, hot pepper flakes and lemon juice. Whisk in the oil.
3. Add the carrots and half the feta cheese. Toss until fully combined. Sprinkle the remaining feta on top and serve.
This salad is wonderful on its own for lunch, perfect wrapped up in a pita with falafel or grilled chicken and amazing served for dinner next to some freshly grilled chorizo.
Upstate New York shines in September and October. The air gets crisp, the sunlight becomes pale and the leaves burst with color. Cool nights signal the end of the growing season and the start of harvest. Around the state, yellowed corn stalks are chopped by tractors and packed away for the winter. Combines travel through fields of soy beans doing the same. Both crops will feed dairy cows for the next year.
The hot, dry summer has caused many farmers a great deal of worry not only in New York but across the country. Articles and news broadcasts have highlighted the concerns throughout the past few months warning about shortages and increases in food costs. Crops like corn and soy don’t germinate, grow, pollinate or produce when the rain fails to fall and the sun bakes down. For example, at my family’s farm the soy beans are about three weeks behind schedule. That means a lot of praying for the autumn weather to hold off a little while longer.
But, despite all these concerns, autumn brings a renewed energy to the countryside. Pumpkin stands open, apple pies bake and cider doughnuts are enjoyed with renewed pleasure. Autumn is pure pleasure and farmers know how to share the experience with their neighbors. Many County Farm Bureaus across the state are hosting events that introduce families to farm life. Montgomery and Fulton County Farm Bureaus held Sundae on the Farm events in September. These events welcomed nearly 5,000 people to working farms in the counties for a day of educational tours, displays, crafts and wagon rides. Herkimer County will be hosting a similar event on October 6th in the town of Maheim.
We all know that the pleasure that is autumn won’t last very long – maybe that’s why so many of us spend all the time we can soaking in the season. Soon, crisp will turn to cold and pale sunshine will be in short supply. Our attention will turn inward, focusing on our homes and our hearths and the plan-making that is winter’s rest. But, while the spectacle of autumn is still in full swing, I encourage you to head to a local farm event, a corn maze, or other local event that celebrates all the wonders agriculture can offer not only at this time of year, but year round.