Roasted Carrots with Cinnamon and Cumin (Amy’s Spice Mix)

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This is a story about a girl. Well, when I met her she was a girl, a mere junior at a free-spirited, liberal arts university in the farmlands of upstate New York. Not the Hudson Valley, people. Like, way upstate. Like, OH-CANADA-! upstate. I’ll call her Amy because that’s her name.

Amy was (is!) a super-smart, over-achieving, Texas girl learning everything at her small northeast university. She lived in a small dorm, a house really, with a bunch of other folks who worked at an organic farm. They gathered their own food from the fields, attended class during the day, and (I imagined) contemplated how they’d contribute to this world that needed changing the moment they got out, err, graduated.

Roasted Carrots //eatboutique.com

Amy found me when she was just 19, applying to apprentice for this very website. Even hundreds of miles away, her high-performing approach to her still young life and food-curious mind was evident in all those initial emails and, eventually, in-real-life conversations. She wrote, “…[with] an all-consuming passion for local, seasonal, and artisanal food, I think I might be your perfect apprentice!”

She added, “Food is also at the center of my life. How it’s grown, how to get it, and most importantly, how to prepare it.” I looked past the slightly uneasy sentence fragment and focused squarely on Amy’s sincerity – she was (is!) sincere, sweet, and genuine.

Amy started right away and, after just a few months, became a part-time employee with Eat Boutique during a time when I was figuring out what Eat Boutique was. Through her junior year, semester abroad, senior year, and that all-important “what am I going to do with my life” year after college, Amy spent half of each week working with me virtually, or flying in on a little prop plane when I hosted an Eat Boutique Market. She’d hit the ground running, buzzing about the city to do whatever was needed to make a market happen, but the times I loved the most were our off-site meetings.

Roasted Carrots //eatboutique.com

A couple times a year, I’d host an off-site meeting in my home office, face-to-face, with meals prepared by moi, big-wall brainstorms, and breaks in the back garden which mostly involved sampling (and devouring) chocolate squares from the latest batch of small-batch chocolate bar samples. Now, Eat Boutique was Amy’s very first job and, for me, it was what I hoped would be my last job, my forever job. So I wanted to create enough structure in our days to provide Amy some sketch of what a real job was like but keep it loose enough to meet my down-with-the-boring-corporate-jobs mentality.

During our off-sites, we’d cook together. Sometimes, there’d be grass-fed beef and greens. Other times, we’d keep it simple with kitchen-sink-style salads and eggs. Once, I made lobster and Amy was like “this stuff I’ve never seen before in my real Texas life is amazing! More New England lobster, please.”

Roasted Carrots //eatboutique.com

I was fascinated by, and tried to be uber-thoughtful about, Amy’s food preferences. I ate everything but there was so much she didn’t eat: no gluten, no dairy, no added sugar, no booze (obviously), essentially, absolutely no not-so-great-for-you things. But no sugar?! No sugar?! I mean, I understood avoiding sweets but every grocery-store package had some sort of sugar or sugar-like thing in it. How was a growing girl (almost woman) to cope?!

Easily, she just didn’t eat any of it, and did it like a champ. Count me -> seriously impressed.

Roasted Carrots //eatboutique.com

Last year, when I also gave up added sugar, finally walking in Amy’s shoes for real, I figured out that, “gosh, this girl has chops because this is hard!” She visited around that time when I gave it all up and for lunch, I was going to roast some carrots because they’re sweet, like, naturally sweet. I was probably going to sprinkle on some sea salt and black pepper, like I do on every single other veggie just before a high-heat roast in the oven. She asked me to consider an alternative, “Swap in cinnamon and cumin instead.”

The dueling spices brought out all the natural sweetness in the carrots, it gushed. Oh my goodness, I was hooked. Hooked in such a way that now I keep a little vial of cumin and cinnamon, mixed in equal parts, in a spice jar. I call it “Amy’s Spice” and it goes on any vegetable that may have some natural sweetness somewhere deep within, like a sweet potato or a beet or even a bunch of parsnips. I use it as my spice to lure out the sweetness. I don’t need no freaking sugar when I have Amy’s Spice, folks. Truth.

Roasted Carrots //eatboutique.com

Amy, now an amazing young woman, is on the other side of the planet right now, living with her family in Taiwan. Though she is irreplaceable, I am now looking for our next apprentice. (Think that might be you? Apply here.) Amy had asked me to write a letter of reference recently and while we work to make that happen, she should know that her impression is far-reaching. Though she’s something like a twenty-hour-plus flight away, certainly not prop plane distance, she’s always in my kitchen and on my mind and, naturally, on my carrots.

There are two recipes here. The first is the spice mix which is really not a recipe at all: just mix equal parts ground cinnamon and ground cumin in a little jar and shake, shake, shake until they form a single-spice mix. Then sprinkle the mix on some carrots.

Roasted Carrots - 1

Before you go…

* I’m attending the first innovation conference for Boston business women, by Boston business women in May. It’s called the Boston Business Women Innovation Conference. There’s quite an impressive line-up of speakers including keynote Arianna Huffington. You can get your tickets here and take a peek at other places I’ll be here.

* Some of the things on this list sound weird, but many of them make total sense. If you want to know How to Not Look Old & Tired, you may want to read up. Without even knowing it, I’ve been fixing my microbiome, go figure!

* After what feels like 15 years away, I’m finally getting back to Los Angeles next month. Please tell me where to eat, folks. This place is already on my list. Also, I can’t wait for palm trees and SUN.

* I’m pretty thrilled to attend the first annual Cocktail Magic in Boston on Saturday, March 26. This city’s best bartenders – best bartenders, best people – will make drinks. There will be music and pizza by Roberta’s. Get your tickets right here, right now.

* There are about a million spice mixes on the Internet. In addition to this cinnamon and cumin mix, you may want to take a peek at these favorite recipes from my favorites: Molly’s Hawaij Spice Blend, Nik’s Garam Masala, and Heidi’s Za’atar and Dukkah recipes.

Roasted Carrots with Cinnamon and Cumin (Amy's Spice Mix)

What is Amy’s Spice Mix? Read the story above for all the background and/or just make your own right now.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

Amy's Spice Mix
  • 1 part ground cumin
  • 1 part ground cinnamon
Roasted Carrots with Cinnamon and Cumin
  • 1 bunch (about 10 to 12) thin carrots
  • 1 tablespoon Amy's Spice Mix
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt, for sprinkling

Directions:

Make Amy's Spice Mix
  1. Mix equal parts ground cinnamon and ground cumin in a jar. Shake, shake, shake. Use liberally and make more. It keeps for up to one year in an airtight jar.
Make the carrots
  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Clean and trim the carrots. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place your carrots on the lined tray. Sprinkle with Amy's Spice Mix, oil, and sea salt. Toss with your hands to ensure each carrot is glistening and speckled.
  3. Roast in your oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the carrots have wilted, become a little wrinkly, crisping up at the tips. With a fork, pierce the carrots to test for doneness and make sure they're cooked to your liking.
  4. Serve immediately, with more sea salt on the side.
Photography by Heidi Murphy/White Loft Studio

Eat Boutique was an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista – an author, business guide and alignment seeker. After hosting retail markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie now supports entrepreneurs as they create values-based businesses through We Are Magic StudioFollow Maggie Battista on Instagram.

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