roots of light

carrots Years and years ago, my oldest sister gave me a little dog.  On the one hand, it was excellent timing: I had just dealt the final, severing blow to a longtime, fraught relationship and was living alone in a big city.  It was nice to enjoy the company of a furry little non-judgmental mammal who worshiped me.  On the other hand, I was living alone in a not-very-capacious apartment, teaching part-time and going to graduate school full-time.  The dependence of a not-housebroken pack animal on my limited time was not ideal.  In order to keep her anguished, lonely yowling to a minimum, before I left each day I would take her to the handball court a few doors down from my building, which functioned as a dog park for the neighborhood in the morning and evening. My little dog, whom I named after a favorite musician, was of the breed I have come to call Jack Rascal Terrorist.  She was the only fancy dog of my muttcentric adult dog career (I confess I come from Schnauzer people and have the childhood pictures to prove it, but I grew into a devoted adopter of muttly mutts). My gourmet dog, whom I loved dearly, was fearless and immune to reminders that she was not large.

Boozoo's best pal was a Rottweiler about the same age but not at all the same size, who liked to pluck my dog from her vampire-bat position on another dog's neck, take her in her slobbery jaws, and wipe her along the corners and edges of the handball court, where that dense, black grime that New York is justifiably known for accumulated in drifts.  After a half hour of this, my little white dog was a little greyish blackish slimy dog, and what with the wrestling, and the follow-up bathing it demanded, Boozoo would sleep a lot of the day away.

When she was about a year old, in an epic run of events crammed into just a few weeks, my grandfather died, my middle sister gave birth to the first of the babies born to our generation, and the little dog was killed by a car (definitely larger than her) while I was away meeting the new nephew.

"You know," said my dad.  "I think I cried more over the little dog than I did over my father, and not just because she was a nicer person."

Since then, of course, I have spent quite a lot of time among farm animals, and the whole birth and death thing has had its sharp edges sculpted off for me by the recurring cycles of hatching and lambing and predation and slaughter and repetition.  I'm pretty hakuna matata/circle of life about it all now.

Right.  Not!  We lost a lamb today.  That just always stinks.  I am still craving light.

I wish I had had a bit more of it, literally, when I photographed the carrots, so they did not come out looking like day-glo asteroids, but I had a good amount of it figuratively when I ate them, with this spinach, baked with some feta on top, and some more muhammara, a craze that is sweeping my little corner of the nation.

Carrots are among the few vegetables I like cooked past the squealing point, but you can stop the cooking here when they are still crisp-tender if you are not in the mood for baby food.  Just make sure the glaze has gotten glazey.

light carrots

  • 5-6 carrots, the big fat ones, peeled and cut into 3/4"-1" chunks
  • 2/3 c water
  • 2T butter
  • 1/4 of a preserved lemon, chopped
  • 1-2 T honey
  • pinch of cayenne, black pepper or fresh grated ginger (or all three)
  • 1/4 c finely chopped parsley

Put everything but the parsley in a heavy saucepan, bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer.  Cover the pan and let the carrots cook, stirring occasionally, until they are just shy of your desired tenderness.  Uncover the pan and turn up the heat; cook (shaking the pan from time to time) until the liquid has turned to a thick and shiny glaze and the lemon has melted into the sauce.  Adjust the seasoning as you like, and toss with the parsley.  Eat the whole bowl yourself while no one is looking.  I won't tell.