Successful cooking often boils down to one part skill and three parts resourcefulness. My mother, who had 11 children, was so resourceful that she once resuscitated a freshly baked Bundt cake that some of my younger siblings decided to nibble away at: She simply sliced off and discarded the uneven part. She then frosted her creation, and on the cake plate, in the space where the nibbled-on part of the cake should have gone, she arranged a small bouquet of fresh flowers. The cake, which my mother had baked to take as a welcome gift to a family new to the neighborhood, was a huge success, and everyone commented on the artful arrangement. My mother was, of course, resourceful to the end.
I, too, can be resourceful. Recently, my kids asked for fries to go with their burgers for dinner, but a quick search of the freezer turned up zero frozen fries. However, I did find a bag of carrots in the fridge, so we made oven-baked carrot fries instead. Carrot fries are delicious, crunchy, healthy, and easy to make. You can sprinkle them with your favorite herbs, or leave them unadorned, other than adding a little salt. Carrots’ natural sweetness is enhanced by baking. Your kids will love them, so make plenty. (And no, my cake-loving younger siblings never owned up to their Bundt-cake crime!)
Oven-Baked Carrot Fries
What You’ll Need
- 10 medium-sized carrots
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh sage, oregano, or rosemary
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
What to Do
- Preheat the oven to 425°F while your helper lines a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Show your junior chef how to peel carrots with a vegetable peeler. The safest technique: hold the peeler in one hand, the carrot in the other, and peel the carrot by scraping away from you.
Teachable Moment: Fun Facts About Fries
- When you think of fries, you probably usually think of fried slices of potato. But just like in this recipe, you can use almost any vegetable. Try zucchini, mushrooms, or sweet potatoes.
- There are almost as many toppings for fries as there are kinds of fries you can make: in other countries, people top their fries with hot sauce, lemon juice, sesame seeds, even mayonnaise!
- Sadly, scientists don’t think you can make fries in space: In an experiment, researchers found that gravity affects the crispiness of fries! The stronger the gravity, the crispier the fries. Fries made somewhere with no gravity, on the other hand, wouldn’t be crispy at all.—foodnetwork.com; thelatinkitchen.com; mentalfloss.com
- Trim the ends off the carrots and cut them into long, skinny sticks. Meanwhile, your child can measure into a large bowl the olive oil, herb, salt, and pepper, mix the ingredients together, and stir in carrot sticks until they are nicely coated.
- Together, transfer the carrots to the baking sheet, spreading them out evenly. Place the baking sheet in the oven.
Teachable Moment: What Kids Don’t Know About French Fries
- You know them as “French” fries, but it’s thought that the first fries were made in Belgium.
- According to one story, Belgians resorted to frying potatoes when the river where they caught fish for frying froze over in winter.
- In France, diners drop the word “French” and call this American favorite “fries” or “fried potatoes.”
- French fries made their debut in the United States at a dinner party Thomas Jefferson held—way, way back in 1801.
- Most of the fat in French fries comes from the deep-frying process. The oil and the high heat at which the fries are cooked create the not-so-nice compounds in fries, such as trans fats and saturated fats, that should only be eaten in small amounts.—Positivemed.com
- Bake carrots for 20 to 25 minutes—until tender and starting to brown. Remove fries from the oven, allow to cool slightly, let your child use a wide spatula to transfer them to a serving bowl, and enjoy!