Our 24-carat Carrot!

Marlys and I understand how hard it must be for a 4-H member to raise a champion calf or hog and then imagine it becoming brisket or bacon.

We have a prize winner, we think. Ours doesn’t have a cud nor does it oink, but as of yet, we haven’t had the heart to boil it, grate it, slice it or dice it. So, we just admire it thinking, if we were in the gold business we’d rate this a 24-carat trophy.

As it is, it’s only a carrot from the garden we have just put to bed for the winter.

Marlys and Caty the carrot

We dug the carrots just before we dug the potatoes and it was quite a surprise to unearth this mammoth piece of yellow/orange gold. It’s hardly a record setter, I’m sure, but including its dangling skinny root, it does measure nearly 12 inches. And it has a nine inch circumference. It was the Big Daddy of all the other carrots in our row.

This is the third year I’ve planted and harvested with Marlys. Her late husband, Don, was the gardener and in this plot in East Grand Forks he has what I believe is the most beautiful of all Red River Valley soil. After an accident claimed his life in 2008 Marlys said to me, “I don’t know what to do about the garden. I don’t want to do it but I don’t want it to go away.” And so together we have not allowed it to go away and we’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment from gardening together. We’ve already decided that next year we will plant a lot more peas and a few less tomatoes.

My friend, Darrel Koehler even stopped by Marlys’ backyard one day and reported, “It’s one of the nicest gardens I’ve seen all summer.” That’s a huge compliment coming from the Prairie Gardener.

Pulling this huge carrot from the earth that God created made me want to hunt for my recipe for “Copper Pennies,” which I’ve had for years. I made it over the weekend (from smaller carrots) when our son, Troy, and his family were here for UND’s Homecoming. Troy loved the copper pennies, both cold and heated in the microwave. You might want to try this recipe with your carrots from the garden:


  • 2 to 4 pounds carrots
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup Wesson oil
  • ¾ cup vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped

Peel and slice carrots in rounds. Parboil about 5 minutes. Mix rest of ingredients and heat to boil. Pour over carrots and refrigerate. Copper Pennies may be served cold or heated in a microwave.

What to do? What to do?

We don’t know whether our 24-carat carrot will turn into Copper Pennies or raw sticks to munch on – but I do suppose decision time will come just as it must for 4-Hers and their animals.

Come to think of it, somebody’s champion porker has given us a lot of bacon for our BLTs which go very nicely with Copper Pennies on the side.

 Until Soon