Flaming Carrots in the Microwave!

About a week ago we hosted a "get together" ( I wasn't allowed to buy a cake or sing "Happy Birthday") for our twins who turned 16. Only my husband and I could have produced twin boys who literally share no interests save for video games. The fun began when I attempted to plan the party menu. Trying to please both boys, I decided to serve "Italasain" cuisine. What is that, You ask? Well, it consists of a mixture of Italian and Asain food of course. We had Pizza and Ceasar Salad, White Rice, Dumplings, Egg Rolls, and fresh melon and raw vegetables. And hubby insisted on cooking ribs, just for good measure. Needless to say, the pizza and dumplings went first and we had a ton of leftovers which I had fun recycling into unique meals.

So what could I do with a bunch of leftover pork ribs, vegetables and white rice? Why not make Pork Fried Rice? So after work, and after picking up Soccer Boy from after school Cross Country practice and immediately dropping him off at his first soccer practice, rushing home to pick up Buddah Boy for his soccer practice, then picking up Soccer Boy and driving him home ( he was famished) and then picking up Buddah Boy from his practice, it was time to whip up some grub for hub, who just finished playing that dreaded sport with his coworkers.

Now after all of this driving around, and cooking food for one person at a time in 15 minute intervals while packing lunches for the next day, I really wanted to be done in the kitchen. It was 9 PM, so I triimmed off the pork from the bones, (enough to make tacos for the next night of soccer madness intersecting with meal preparation!) and began to fry it. I spiced it up with ginger and garlic and plenty of pepper. While it was frying, I diced up some onions and celery, and threw those in with the meat along with two eggs. I wanted to add some diced carrots for color, but they take much longer to cook, so I decided to use an old trick my mother-in-law taught me to save time. I diced up those leftover carrots and placed them on a plate and covered them with plastic wrap and zapped them for 2 minutes. I've done it many times while making soup in a hurry etc. Works every time. Well, almost every time. I smelled a burnt smell and glanced at the microwave and to my amazement, the carrots were sparking and the plastic wrap melting! What on earth had happened? I quickly turned off the microwave and made other family members come over to witness the occurrance- just to confirm that I hadn't lost my mind. I put the carrots back on the plate and zapped them again, and darn it all if they didn't spark again! It was witnessed. Not knowing if they were radioactive, or perhaps came from China and contained lead (that's a weak attempt at a lame joke) I decided to toss them out. Hub said to throw them in the pan ( I think he might have been feeling a bit of guilt that I was cooking for him so late) but I didn't want to chance anything. After adding the soy sauce and rice and a handful of peanuts, the fried rice was not a half bad meal.

The next day at work, I mentioned the odd phenomenon to my coworker and she had never heard of such a thing. She agreed that we ought not to eat them. Now she lives a long way from work, but somehow made it home early, and happened to turn on the news. The first thing she heard on the news was the story about the contaminated carrots! She knows I buy most of my food at Trader Joes and Ralph's which were the two markets that had the Shigella tainted carrots. Perhaps that might explain the sparking? Wow. Kind of creepy. I wasn't going to worry too much about it since we had already eaten those carrots a few days back, and no one seemed to have, er , um "issues".But still, it's not everday that carrots spark in the microwave, nor do they generally make the news, nor are they a topic of discussion at work. Very odd indeed. Computer Boy ventured a guess that the sparking might be due to a possible magnesium or some other metal mineral that the carrots perhaps contained.

The next day, I Googled sparking carrots in the microwave just for the hell of it. I was amazed when a whole bunch of material popped up. Seems my carrots "arced" in the microwave. There were several different possible explanations for what had happened with my carrots. And according to one of them, Computer Boy wasn't far off as carrots do contain Magnesium and Iron! But the fact that I had diced them with a metal knife, and they had straight edges, caused the electrons to attact and "jump".

And I quote from the internet from someone named Smokey, who seemed to know quite a bit about this:

"I am guessing carrot's logic also would work for celery:

If you often cook mixed vegetables from frozen in a microwave, on a microwaveable plate you may notice that carrots produce sparks during cooking and, on closer examination, they display small burns. Why is this? several factors make frozen carrots susceptible to the effect described (although other vegetables also do this).

Firstly, dense vegetables such as carrots have a higher amount of minerals in them - iron, magnesium and selenium - than other food items and sometimes create an arcing effect in a microwave. This tends to happen more in glass dishes. Sparks result as the microwaves reflect or bounce off the metal. the "arcing" does not harm the food, but it does prevent it from heating thoroughly because reflected microwaves will not cook. Also, extensive arcing can damage your oven's magnetron tube. If arcing occurs,turn off the microwave oven and finish cooking the food on the range top.

Arcing may occur in other vegetables, and most often appears in green peppers and green beans.

Secondly, while microwaves are extremely good at heating liquid water, ice is almost totally transparent to them, so it is actually quite difficult to get ice to melt in a domestic microwave oven. The "defrost" option on a microwave oven relies on intermittent heating of a small amount of liquid water present on the food, and heat conduction from these areas into frozen material. By putting frozen material into the microwave oven with continuous energy input, no time is given for thermal conductivity effects, and therefore a colossal heating effect occurs on a very localised surface area. These areas, typically at the extreme point of the carrot, will dry out rapidly and then char, essentially forming small carbon points.

Thirdly, carrots are relatively large objects (compared to, say frozen peas) and because microwaves are essentially varying high voltage fields, a large alternating electrical potential exists between the highly conductive charred sections.

Finally, carrots are generally given quite angular cuts, giving sharp points which will yield the highest field gradients. The combination of a large alternating field across a good electrical conductor with sharp points causes electrical breakdown of the air and the sparks which accompany this. Depending upon the precise conditions, it is equally possible for charring to be a secondary effect, rather than a cause. In this case, the discharge may originate from uncharred points, with charring only occurring as a huge current passes through a relatively small point".

1 year ago -

So there you have it. I think we know what Buddah Boy might do for his 7th Grade Science Fair experiment. What about cutting the carrots with a plastic knife- would they still spark? What about if the edges don't touch? It would certainly be a unique experiment and there seems to be available data on line. hmmmmmmmm

Was Henry Ford Carrot Crazy?

In the 1920's , the American automobile maker Henry Ford tried to impress upon his business associates the value of a vegetable-based diet. He held a banquet in a Detroit hotel that highlighted carrots in all their splendour, complete with a master of ceremonies dressed in a carrot suit who proclaimed, “I am King Carrota! I am full of vitamins, full of iron, full of iodine, full of bottled sunshine. I have no enemy but a bad cook. I am a friend of flappers and the bald-headed, the spindly baby and three-chinned monsters, but who shall mix me with canned peas shall be consigned to outer darkness.”

After a twelve-course meal consisting entirely of carrots—carrot soup, carrot loaf, carrot au gratin, carrot torte—washed down with carrot juice, a doctor remarked that he had seen children who ate too many carrots turn yellow, which certainly dampened the festivities, at least at his table.

The Flaming Carrot

Bob Burden the writer/artist and ingenious mind behind the Flaming Carrot came up with a superhero not quite like any others ever seen before in the comic book industry. The Flaming Carrot was a mysterious and demented Flaming Carrot/person that went on rampages battling monsters, gangs, communist hoards, old girlfriends, journalists, and sometimes his own morality (yes, it is as crazy as it sounds). The entire print run of 30 epic stories lasted from 1984 to 1993.

Carat is the unit of weight for precious stones, equal to 200 milligrams

Caret is a proof readers insertion mark

Carrot is the edible orange rooted vegetable

Karat is one 24th part of otherwise pure gold

Did you know? - One pound of carrots gives a normal man enough energy to raise 64 tons 1 foot in the air? That same pound can produce 1 ounce and 11 grains of sugar. A pound also contains 14 ounces of water.

(From:Food collection Bethnal Green Museum – Dr Lankester)

Carrot Names around the World
Austria: Karotte Netherlands: Peen
Belgium: Wortel Norway: Gulrot
Denmark: Gulerod Portugal: Cenoura
Finland: Porkkana Spain: Zanahoria
France: Carotte Sweden: Morot
Germany: Mohre Switzerland: Carotte
Greece: Karotto UK: Carrot
Italy:Carota Polish: Marchew
chinese flag Chinese: hong malaysian flag Malay:lobak merah
mongolian falg Mongolian:luuvan

September 3, 2007
Next Post date: October 1, 2007

And- doesn't anyone know a J. Davis who lost an iPod? email Jewel if you do. See the July 07 archive.



Whenever the conversation gets around to Murphy's Law which states "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong", it is always good fun to slip something like the following statement into the conversation

"But that's not as bad as Cole's Law">

Continue the conversation and someone is bound to ask "What is Coles Law?".

To which you simply answer "Shredded carrot and cabbage in mayonnaise.".... Aargh!!


Confucius says, "Woman who cook carrots and peas in same pot, very unsanitary."



There is a carrot pie flavour jelly bean!

Both of the words in "Daucus carota" mean orange.

Carrots were first grown as a medicine not a food.

The average person will consume 10,866 carrots in a lifetime

The Ancient Greeks called carrots "Karoto"

Carrots flowers are also called Birds nest, Bees nest and the Devils Plague

Carrots produce more distilled spirit than potatoes.

Tobacconists in France used to put a carrot in their bins to keep their tobacco from drying out.

Jeff Chiplis, from Cleveland has a collection of over 10,000 carrot items.  See his own page - click here.

The Japanese word for carrot is "ninjin"!

In early Celtic literature, the carrot is referred to as the "Honey Underground"!

Yes there is a carrot beetle! more here.

The classic Bugs Bunny carrot is the "Danvers" type.

It's a myth that Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, was allergic to carrots - he simply did not like them

Carrots are not always orange and can also be found in purple, white, red or yellow.  .

Carrots were the first vegetable to be canned commercially.

Click on the picture to view this month's mystery feature.

Click here to download the QuickTime Player if you don't have it. Remember, if you have dial up, the movie will take a few minutes to load!


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