For a quarter-lifer who will eat almost anything (hold the weird mushrooms though, please!), I sure was a picky child.
At Thanksgiving, for example, I refused to eat turkey. Or stuffing. Or sweet potatoes. Instead, I ate a bowl of Cheerios. How embarrassing is that?
Here’s how I started eating turkey: my dad would take a big piece of crispy, fatty skin (my mom’s turkeys always have the crispiest, most flavorful skin). He would wrap it around a sliver of white meat turkey, like a mini pulled pork taco. That, I could eat. Before long, I was even willing to eat turkey by itself, or at least in a larger ratio with respect to the skin. I ate sweet potatoes and gravy. Eventually, I even tried Grandma Jane’s chestnut stuffing.
Cheerios and turkey skin do not a balanced diet make, even for a stubborn and picky six year-old. At other times of the year, I also ate Chicken Parmesan with French Fries, Soft Scrambled Eggs and Pancakes, and Mac ‘N Cheese and Chocolate Cake. Anything that was full of sugar–like the spoonfuls I stole from the sugar jar–was a shoo-in for my diet.
As far as vegetables go, the story goes that when I was an infant, I loved pureed carrots so much my skin turned a shade of orange. Though they stopped being pureed (except, sometimes, in soup), I can’t remember ever not liking cooked carrots, especially the ones my mom made with butter and sugar.
This was a popular side dish from the time I was little til the day I went off to college. It is an incredibly simple affair, containing basically three ingredients, and chances are you don’t even have to go to the supermarket to make it. Though it is indeed comforting and delicious, it’s really not just for kids. Carrots coated with butter and sugar are dusted with salt, an immediate grown-up touch. To make sure you know you’re not a picky little kid, my new spin is to add cayenne for that extra adult kick.
From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Glazed Carrots with Cayenne
These are simple enough to find a place on your Thanksgiving table. Though they’re best eaten as soon as they’re made, you can do all the prep work, like slicing the carrots and mixing the butter and sugar, in advance.
2 pounds carrots (4-5 large carrots), peeled and cut into 1/8-inch slices
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch cayenne pepper
Fill a pot fitted with a steamer (if you have one; otherwise just use a pot and a steamer) about 2/3 full with water and bring it to a boil. Place the carrots in the steamer, put the steamer in the pot, and cook, covered, for 7-9 minutes, until the carrots are soft but not limp.
While the carrots are cooking, mix together the butter, sugar, salt, and cayenne in a large serving bowl, until completely incorporated.
Immediately pour the steamed carrots over the butter-sugar mix. Let sit for 1 minute to melt the butter and the sugar, then toss with two spoons to coat all the carrots. Serve immediately.