My Grandmother was an amazing woman. She was born in the Ox Age in rural Poland and was shipped to America for an arranged marriage. She lived about half her married life in NYC before saving enough with her husband to buy a farm in the rolling hills of rural New Jersey. Babka, as we called her, lived long enough to become totally fascinated by the Space Age and people actually walking on the moon so she had a lot in common with her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren even though her English was heavily accented with her Polish and Polish remained her primary language throughout her life.
Despite her fascination with the Space age, she never really adapted to modern living and she would have been comfortable living at Walden Pond. Her house was barely wired with one electrical outlet for a radio because she kept up on current events and a light bulb to read her papers in English, Polish and Russian which her children would get for her in the New York area. She never did have Central heat or indoor plumbing and all her life in her country farm, she used a wood burning stove and chopped her own wood which she also burnt in the pot bellied stove for heat.
She grew her own chickens, ducks and geese. Of course, she did her own butchering and cleaning and actually saved the goose down to make or repair the quilts she needed to keep warm during the winter months. Naturally, she used all the excess eggs and didn’t particularly care which animal they came from.
She had her own garden and managed to survive on her root cellar crops until spring. The only groceries I remember her buying were salt, pepper, sugar, lard, dried beans and coffee. She even stretched out her coffee consumption by blending it with chicory which had been touted by the government during World War II to reduce foreign dependencies during food rationing. Some say she really extended the time between coffee purchases because no one would drink that nasty brew. Eventually as she grew older and started slowing down, she got a refrigerator to preserve food.
Since I started controlling my eating, I snack on celery, carrots and lettuce during the day. Unfortunately, baby carrots cost about 3-5 times as much as regular carrots so I buy the regular ones on sale and snack on the smallest ones first and use the medium sized ones for cooking. Inevitably I end up with 3 or 4 bags with a couple of slightly wilted Gigantic Woodies that are too big to eat raw and two bitter to want to cook . That’s when I remembered my Grandmother’s slow cooked candied carrots which were constantly available because she always kept a moist covered pan on the back (cooler) portion of her wood burning stove. That was also the location for the slow cook soup pot so it was either soup or carrots for a healthy snack for her visitors.
1-2 T. Butter enough to cover pan bottom when melted
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
3-4 whole cloves
- Melt butter in pot. When melted stir in spices until uniform across pot bottom.
- Peal and slice carrots in 4 ” lengths. Split in Half
- Stew in Butter and spice, covered to retain the moisture at very low temperatures below the boiling point about 200 Fahrenheit.
- After a couple of hours turn over and replace cover.
- Cook until done ie tender to your fork and wilted not woody.
- Sprinkle with brown sugar and let melt.
7. Serve when brown sugar is melted.
Since I never was around when my Grandmother started this dish, I am not sure what was included. I know cinnamon was in her recipe and she usually cooked with cloves. The four that I chose are compatible and traditional for pumpkin and other squash recipes. Remarkably, these four are on the list of ten spices that can make you live longer and healthier
Because of the need for a long low cooking time, my coffeepot was an excellent choice and my fondue pot has excellent temperature control within a couple of degrees. You could also use a covered pan in a warm oven but I am not sure how stable the temperature is at that low a setting. The long cooking time in the butter is needed to break down the woody nature of old carrots so don’t rush this side dish or you wont like it.