(Becky, The Mama)
I named my wonderful daughter “Rachel,” after my wonderful sister Rachel St. John-Gilbert.
Little did I know when my baby girl was born, that one day she and my sister and I would all write books. My sister’s newest book has just been released: The Well-Lived Laugh: Designing a Life that Keeps You Smiling. I think it is her best book to date. You’ll laugh, you’ll be inspired, you’ll let go of unnecessary pressures. Just trust me. Buy it or download it (click on picture of book, below, to go to Amazon), beg or borrow it. Or enter to win a copy right here. (Details to follow.)
KINDLE EDITION JUST $2.99 TODAY ONLY
My sister describes herself as an “offbeat observer who uses her wit to weave together comic takes on the ordinary.” I can testify that she is a connoisseur of life’s small joys, squeezing every drop of happiness from any tiny, remotely fun or interesting experience. Here is a picture that my grandson George took of my sister on a recent trip to Seattle. This was our first stop, a quiet Asian tea house down the street from Pike’s Market. I swear, she’d only had one sip of a mild jasmine tea. But leave it to my sister to find it a euphoric experience.
I love receiving presents from my sister Rachel, because she thinks of the most unusual, wonderful, slighty quirky gifts. For my birthday this year she gave me a little battery-powered milk foamer and a tiny Vietnamese coffee maker. (Which she promises to show me how to operate someday.) She may send adorable comical napkins for me to use at my next party, or a unique and tasty gourmet treat. One year on my birthday, she mailed me pretty jar of something called Carrot Cake Jam. Or was it Carrot Cake Chutney? Anyway, whatever it was called, it was AMAZING. Rach told me to put some cream cheese on a cracker, top it with the carrot mixture, and wait for my mouth to get very happy. So I did as I was told and about twenty minutes later, there was nothing left in the jar. Years later, I would sometimes think about that “perfect bite” of sweet-piquant cinnamon and slighty crunchy carroty-raisin goodness, mixed with the smooth salty flavor of cream cheese and crackers…. and feel sad that I’d probably never come across a jar of that yummy Carrot Cake Watchamacallit ever again.
Then last night I decided to create, to the best of my ability, a similar version. Eureka! I did it! This stuff is amazing on crackers, but also a fun carrot cake “mix-in” for yogurt or ice cream or atop almond buttered toast. An easy and unique treat to serve at your next party or bring to a hostess. .
Now, before I forget: For a chance to win my sister’s new book, simply leave a comment below letting us know that you re-tweeted or pinned or facebooked this post (or any other you like from our blog), or liked my sister’s fan page. We’ll put your name in “the bowl” and pick the lucky winner to be announced next week.
Carrot Cake Chutney
Makes about 1 1/4 cups
5 medium sized carrots (preferably organic) peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup well drained crushed pineapple
1/3 cup agave nectar
1 T. brown sugar
½ t. vanilla
2 t. cinnamon
3 T. raisins
2 T. white vinegar
Process carrots in a food processor or blender until they are about the size of oatmeal flakes, small and just a little bit chunky.
Mix the carrots with all the ingredients above and simmer in a skillet on medium low for about 5-8 minutes or until the carrots are tender-crisp and the syrup is thick and reduced by at least half, most of it absorbed into the carrots and raisins. (With only a tablespoon or two of syrup remaining in pan.) If you’d like your chutney to have a bit more kick to it, add another teaspoon of vinegar or a squeeze of fresh lemon, once you’ve removed the pan from the burner. Cool and put in a tightly covered container in the fridge to let the flavors mingle and intensify. Serve cold with a small spoon, along side a plate of crackers and a small bowl of whipped cream cheese.