A delicious orange vegetable

Recently, while I was working in our hospital gift shop, a copy of the weekly newsletter was on the desk and it contained some information that caught my attention. People frequently ask me “Where do you get your ideas for a column”? My answer is usually “Wherever I can find one”. Well, a little article on the reverse side of the newsletter gave me the idea for this week’s column. Of all things it was about carrots, and I realized that I have never written about this beautiful, delicious orange vegetable!

The article began by stating that February 3rd was “National Carrot Cake Day”, if you can believe that, and it went on to state: “Who doesn’t love a cake that’s made with a vegetable in it”, thereby providing a perfect excuse to eat it, because since it has carrots in it, it’s healthy, right?
A little more of the information states that: “Carrots were first cultivated in North Africa and the Mediterranean. They originally were purple or grey in color”. “In the 16th century, Dutch carrot growers invented the orange carrot in honor of the House of Orange, the Dutch royal Family. They did this by cross breeding pale yellow carrots with red carrots”. The settlers at Jamestown in 1607 introduced carrots to North America”. “Jell-O in the 1930s offered ‘carrot pie’ flavored gelatin”. Since I was born in the ‘30s, I must say, I never heard of ‘carrot pie’ flavored Jell-O! Either it wasn’t a seller, and went out of production as quickly as it came in, or it was not something my Mother was of a mind to serve. The flavors I remember are: strawberry, cherry, raspberry, orange, lemon and lime and that was all for many years.
So, with this as a beginning, I went to Google and found a surfeit of information concerning this delicious orange vegetable.
The genus name of carrots is Daucus Carota. Carrots are a root vegetable called a taproot, which means it grows downward into the soil and swells. They are 87% water and have 50 to 70 calories per carrot, when eaten raw. Carrots come in many sizes and shapes, they are round, fat, cylindrical, very small, long or thin, but now most usually, they are orange in color.
They are actually considered to be native to Afghanistan and were known to both the Greeks and Romans who had many uses for them, including medicinal.
Carrots were a food crop in China, India and Japan as long ago as the 13th Century; however, they were not well known in Europe until the middle ages.
The original red, purple, black yellow, and white varieties were hybridized in Holland around the 16th century to today’s bright orange that is so familiar to us and hosts a mega-dose of beta carotene.
From there, the carrots moved to England during Elizabethan times and were not only eaten as food, but also, their feathery fronds were used as décor for hats, hair and clothing.
The new colonists brought carrots to the New World, but they somehow escaped cultivation and eventually became the beautiful and delicate wild flower known as Queen Anne’s Lace. If you are in doubt, pull one of the plants up and sniff the carroty smell of the roots!   
One of my family’s favorite desserts is a wonderfully moist and delicious Carrot Cake, frosted with Cream Cheese Frosting.
Carrot Cake
2 cups flour
1½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1½ cups cooking oil
2 cups finely shredded carrots (use blender to grate & drain well, or shred by hand)
1 can (8½ size) crushed pineapple (undrained)
½ cup chopped toasted nuts
1 can (3½-oz) coconut (I use ¾ to 1 cup from a plastic bag, as you can’t always find coconut in a can any longer)
Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; add eggs and oil and mix well, stir in carrots, pineapple, nuts and coconut and mix just until combined. Pour into 9×13 baking pan or Bundt pan and bake at 350ºF for 35 to 40 minutes. If using a Bundt pan, bake for about 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven and cool, either in the pan, or remove from pan and place on cake rack to cool completely. For Bundt pan, cool about 5 minutes in pan and them remove and cool completely.
Frost as desired, but is best with Cream Cheese Frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
½ cup butter or margarine (at room temperature)
1 block (8-oz) cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
Beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy, beat in powdered sugar gradually beating until creamy and of spreadable consistency, if too stiff, add a few drops of milk.
Here’s a little different way to use a can of salmon!
Salmon Burgers
1 can salmon (15-oz), drained
(skin and bones removed)
2 cans water packed tuna, drained
1 egg
8 crushed salting crackers (just crush with your hands)
Salt and pepper if desired
Mix all together, shape into patties, roll in flour and fry in hot oil until browned on both sides. Serve on hamburger buns, just as you would a hamburger.