Nailed It or Failed it: Root beer carrots

Our church was having potluck to say goodbye to our interim minister, Dr. Steve Rice, and I was wracking my brain about what to prepare.

It seems like we always have plenty of desserts and salads, so I was trying to come up with a vegetable to take besides mashed potatoes or green beans.

Since I’m not a big fan of vegetables, my folder of vegetable recipes is fairly small. I thumbed through the little stack and came up with today’s recipe for Root Beer Carrots. I’d copied it from an issue of “Everyday with Rachael Ray.”

Brad and I like cooked carrots and I’ve wished several times I could find a recipe I liked so I could cook fresh ones, not just canned ones. And here it is.

Root Beer Carrots

— 1 12-ounce bottle root beer

— 1/2 cup light brown sugar

— 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

— 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

— 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

— 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

— 2 pounds ready-peeled baby carrots

— 1 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

In a large skillet, bring 1/2 cup water, root beer, sugar, cinnamon, cumin, cloves and salt to a boil. Add the carrots, return to a boil, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover and boil until tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the thyme. Using a slotted spoon, place the carrots in a bowl.

The only thing I needed to get at the grocery store was baby carrots and thyme.

The recipe stated it serves eight. Because I was taking the dish to a potluck, I decided to double it.

On a Saturday morning, I gathered the recipe ingredients and got started.

The first thing I did was remove those tiny thyme leaves from the stems and chopped up enough for four tablespoons. This was time consuming, but maybe that’s just because I’m picky and didn’t want any stems mixed in. I chopped the leaves a little and set them aside.

I pulled a couple of bottles of root beer from the refrigerator and poured them into a large skillet.

The recipe directions said to add water. Water wasn’t listed in the recipe ingredients (I even re-read the recipe a couple of times to make sure I wasn’t overlooking it). I figured surely the recipe instructions weren’t wrong and added double the water called for.

I gently stirred in the spices and let the mixture come to a boil, stirring occasionally.

When the liquid was boiling, I dumped in four pounds of baby carrots and stirred until all of them were coated.

It took a while for the mixture to return to a boil, and then I put the lid on the pan and set the timer.

After five minutes, I removed the lid and everything continued to boil, and boil.

The recipe said the carrots should be tender in about 15 minutes. It was more like 30 or 45 minutes (I didn’t count). Finally, they were tender. I just stuck a fork in a few of them to see.

Since I knew things would be hectic at church the next day, I figured the best way to take the carrots to church would be to put them in my small slow cooker. On Sunday morning, I could just heat them up in the cooker on low.

I poured the carrots into the slow cooker and then decided to try one. They were pretty good.

As I was putting the slow cooker in the refrigerator I noticed the chopped thyme leaves sitting on the counter. Oops.

I poured them into the cooker and stirred until the carrots were coated.

Now the carrots were done, I moved on to a couple of other dishes I was going to take to church.

When I got up Sunday, I plugged the slow cooker in and it was warming by the time we headed to church.

At church, I plugged the pot back in and got to work getting other things ready.

When the congregation arrived, I mentioned to a couple of friends that I’d like their opinion about the carrots, which made them get some.

Sandra and Gary both thought they were good. Gary’s wife, Carolyn, said they were OK, but thought they had a little too much clove in them. Brad and I thought they were pretty good.

The pot of carrots was one of the last items in the long line of salads and vegetables. Fortunately, there were a few left in the slow cooker so I got to take them home and enjoy them at another meal.

Overall, the carrots and the potluck were a success and I’ve now added another vegetable to my self-made cookbook.

Sarah Condley is an amateur baker and chef who is compiling a cookbook of her favorite recipes.