Someone I know was looking for carrot recipes that "even the most finicky kid would eat" today, which brought to mind one of my "not quite a recipe" dishes: Copper Pennies
My first memory of Copper Pennies comes from The Dunes restaurant in Grayland, WA. The Dunes, marked on highway 101 by only an eight-foot tall statue of an...ahem, erect...Geoduck, was unpretentious, serving whatever had been caught that day, and only that, prepared in one of several ways (fried, baked, sauteed in butter), with the same couple of not terribly inspired sides for every meal. (have you looked at the Geoduck yet? if not, go...now. I'll wait. tick tick tick Did you look? Worth the click, huh? Now imagine it eight feet tall. And going there at sixteen on a date.)
I am sure that by today's sometimes haughty standards, it would be
considered quaint...or worse, but it was fresh, honest food that
traveled only a few miles to my plate. I like my fish that way: live
this morning, and dinner tonight.
And the pies. Oh. My. Goodness. The pies! It was like having Sunday dinner with company coming at Grandma's house, if your Grandma happened to have fishing boats delivering daily and a staff of prep cooks. (and if yours did, I am totally jealous!)
Although the place is now, sadly, gone in a fire, I can still recall, however, sitting at one of those window tables nibbling on the chilled, sweet and sour carrots while waiting for the freshest seafood and the good-enough-to-be-mandatory blackberry pie, made with the tiny wild blackberries that I'd seldom bother to pick myself but coveted when others did the work for me.
I haven't looked but I wouldn't be surprised if there were a thousand recipes for Copper Pennies. They are sweet and just the right size for little people's hands, yet they don't really have a lot of added sweetener. It's more like the vermouth in a good dry martini, where (according to one of my favorite descriptions) "the word 'vermouth' should merely be mentioned loudly enough to make the gin cringe." I think that holding the brown sugar open near the pan of cooking carrots is almost enough.
Okay, I take it back, I just looked and apparently the "classic Copper Pennies" are made with canned tomato soup and marinated for days in the refrigerator. Now I am sorry I looked, I am sorry I even wondered. No, I am not going to link to any of them, it's all too disillusioning.
I've found that these are readily adaptable to whatever seasonings are on hand and sounding tempting. They are also great for encouraging kids to experiment with flavors. Carrots are pretty forgiving and cheap enough that if you create something really disgusting you can toss it without feeling wasteful.
(recipe after the jump)