Chasing the carrots

I have a friend who moved from New York City to Ashland two years ago. He's mostly recovered. But some aspects of semi-rural life are still foreign to him.

The other day, he was over at my house and he pulled his first carrot from the ground.

"I don't think I've ever been at a house where you can go out in the backyard and pick carrots for dinner," he said.

"City slicker," I said.

I showed him how to grab the carrot by the base of the leaves and nudge it out of the soil. He came up with a three-legged veggie-beast, all knobby and twisted upon itself.

"Figures that I would get this carrot," he said.

He went on to pick several normal carrots. We took that as a good sign.

Still, you can never be too sure with those former New Yorkers.

We sliced the carrots and put them in a big cast-iron skillet with butter, rosemary and kale. Everything but the butter came from the garden. If there was a butter-producing plant, I would have a whole field of it.

The carrots were so delicious I've made them almost every night since. All of my friends now know about my carrot addiction. Sometimes I'll even drink carrot juice while eating carrots.

"I'm going to have really good vision," I told my friend as I eyed the carrots at Tuesday's Growers and Crafters Market.

She was eyeing me, probably checking to see if I had started to turn orange.

She's teaching me Russian, but so far she's avoided teaching me the word for carrot. I think she knows that's the only noun I'll want to use when practicing Russian sentence structure: "Here is a carrot. There is a carrot. Where is the carrot? Hannah is a carrot."

We hold class every Sunday. Largely it consists of me watching her mouth and then trying to copy the sounds coming out. So far my strategy is to learn by listening, because my Russian reading skills are extremely poor. I'm still trying to memorize the alphabet, which has 33 letters, two of them silent.

I know. I don't understand it either.

I'm hoping I will soon. She's motivating me by using words I like in the lessons. I know how to say "garden," "mountain," "river" and "breakfast" in Russian.

But I don't know how to say, "I would like a carrot for breakfast."

I would like a carrot for breakfast.

I'm coming close to diminishing our supply of carrots in the garden. I may have to start rationing them.

I plan to plant more this weekend. My friends and I are going to have a planting party. September is the last month to plant most veggies from seed before winter, according to the "Garden Guide for the Rogue Valley."

Under the supervision of my housemate, owner of Regenesis Ecological Design, we'll plant arugula, kale, lettuce, onions, radishes, spinach and lots of carrots. Lots.

If you plant now, you can have fresh greens and some vegetables — including carrots — throughout the winter.

This will come in handy if you develop a carrot addiction. But it will also mean saving money, eating well and living greener.

Having a surplus of food in the garden is also nice if you have dinner parties. If you know any recently transplanted New Yorkers, invite them over. People like to pick carrots.

And eat carrots. I plan to cook a bunch for my friend's harvest party this week. We're going to eat bounty from the garden and hang out with the chickens and ferret that live on the property. We may even watch a movie projected onto a white sheet in the backyard.

I love harvest parties, because I love the harvest. But if you want to get me to any other kind of party, all you'll have to do is put a carrot on a string and lead me there.

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-482-3456 ext. 226 or

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