Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Naming and Shaming Fridge

We are now just over half way through the alphabet of vegetables, Freddie has tasted over 40 vegetables and tried over 130 new recipes, thanks to all the wonderful ideas and most of all encouragement from all of you. In our kitchen in London we have what we have called the Naming and Shaming Fridge.

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There are three categories: Vegetables I hate, Vegetables I am not sure about and Vegetables I like. Freddie moves the vegetables up and down depending on how he scores a recipe. At the start, all but potato and sweetcorn sat in the "I hate category" : a whole class of vegetable outcasts. But look at the fridge today.
Needless to say that when we started out last November, most veggies sat in the "I hate" category. Now its all changed. Very few are hated. Many sit in a state of suspended hope, waiting to be loved. And now,encouragingly, a number of vegetables bask in the glory of being liked by Freddie. Its a great achievement and I hope it encourages other parents not to give up on fussy eaters.

There has been another side to this new found confidence. It has developed into bravado. On a visit to a beautiful garden at a stately home in Warwickshire, Alex shrieked. “Mum, Freddie’s bitten into a bulrush!” Over the years I have learnt to disregard most of the outrageous things that my children say about each other. But he had indeed done exactly that. Maybe because a bulrush looks like a sausage on a stick, Freddie had decided to take a bite. I am not a wild food expert. Not knowing whether bulrushes were poisonous or edible, I flushed the brown bits out of his mouth with a bottle of water and lectured him on the dangers of putting strange plants in his mouth. As an avowed vegetable-phobic, Freddie had never shown any enthusiasm for putting plants in his mouth. But he has changed. Jeffrey Steingarten, author of ‘The Man Who Ate Everything’, devised a Six-Step Programme to liberate his palate from irrational dislikes. He worked on the principal that what is learned can be forgotten. Freddie had clearly forgotten to be suspicious of vegetables on our very own alphabetical step programme. He has become ‘The Boy Who Ate Everything.”
Even nettles, which I have now turned into a Spanish tortilla. You can incorporate nettles into a tortilla in the same way that you might use kale or spinach leaves. Everybody enjoyed the tortilla. The Boy Who Eats Everything gave it 8 out of 10.
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Nettle and Potato Tortilla
Serves 4
2 red onions thinly sliced.
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped.
250g potatoes diced into small cubes
200g young nettle leaves
6 large eggs
3 tbsp of olive oil
Salt and ground pepper
25g of grated parmesan

Use a deep non-stick frying pan of about nine inches in diameter. Heat up two tbsp of olive oil on a medium heat and add the onions, potatoes and garlic. Mix it up with a spoon. Cover with a lid or circle of foil and gently cook, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Cook this way for about 15 minutes. Wash and chop the young nettle leaves. Discard the stalks. Add the nettles to the potato and onion mixture, stirring for 5 minutes on a medium heat. The nettle leaves will wilt. Turn off the heat.
Beat the eggs in a bowl with a pinch of salt and twist of ground pepper. Add the potato, onion and nettle mixture to the beaten eggs and stir round.
Put frying pan back on a medium heat, add another tbsp of oil and heat up. Pour the egg, nettle and potato mixture into the pan. Cook slowly without a lid on a low setting. The whole thing will take about 20- 25 minutes cooking, depending on the depth of your tortilla.
Cook gently till the egg on the base sets and browns. Carefully draw round the edge of the pan with a palette knife, tipping any liquid edge left on the surface, down the sides. When there is no runny egg on top it is probably time to cook the other side. Now at this point decide how skilled you are. If you feel up to inverting the tortilla on to a plate and putting it back into the pan then go ahead. I know my limitations. I sprinkled a little parmesan on top, turned off the hob and put the pan under the grill to cook the top.
To serve, slice into quarters or cut into 2 inch cubes as finger food.


  1. There aren't very many mothers who'd think that eating a bulrush had any positives ... I think you can say that this project has been a success by any standards. Well done.


  2. Charlotte6:54 PM

    Thanks Joanna...and there are loads and loads more veggies to go.
    The bulrush wasnt a high moment -but entertaining in retrospect.

  3. I just stumbled on to your fabulous blog and love it already! My son is an insanely picky eater, which drives the rest of us mental, as we're all big foodies. I'm hoping that maybe we can get some tips and inspiration by the great progess you've made with Freddie :)

  4. Charlotte8:12 PM

    Sarcasta mom
    Give it a go. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. We ahve turned it all into one long game..
    Good luck
    Let us know how you get on

  5. i love the idea of the naming and shaming fridge. As I always say this journey is so inspirational. i always look forward to the next story accompanying the quest to find the next vegetable and the lovely recipes that are so practical and easy to follow. Thank you for providing so much enjoyment for your readers. Sara from farmingfriends

  6. What a wonderful adventure to share with a kid. And I love the fridge chart.

  7. I think the fridge chart is a good idea.

    Charlotte - you asked a while back for veggies for the hard letters. Did you have any luck??

    There's always sQuash, for Q if you're stuck!

  8. Nice one Carla.
    I was thinking that I might have to do Quick-Fix veggie dishes - the fastest ways to serve up veg ( other than cut up and raw - that is cheating!)

  9. Charlotte, you have done an exceptional job and getting Freddie to like and eat vegetables. I am sure that you're an inspiration to many parents. Great job!

  10. Anonymous8:24 AM

    Hello Charlotte:

    Loving your blog; what a cool
    way to get children to eat
    better, without turning into
    the parental-food-rottweiler-from-h***.

    Your next vegetable is "o",
    presumably okra?

    Here is a link with some great suggestions

    especially the breaded and fried
    one; or the roasted one.

    Or, this may be the time to rely
    on your friendly Indian takeaway...


    From Nairobi

  11. I love the idea of your naming and shaming fridge -- I might try something similar on a bulletin board in the kitchen. It's amazing how few things are in the "hate it" category.

  12. lovely. it's so rare to see anyone cooking with nettles

  13. Very cool naming and shaming fridge. Amazing progress! Funny story about the bulrushes. You and your children are fun and inspiring. I am going to direct all my friend that can't get their kids to eat veggies to your blog! Your recipe looks delicious.

  14. My husband and I had hysterics over the bulrush. We were wondering if it's that he's truly entered into the spirit of adventurous eating, or if it's a comment on how peculiar and alien he thinks all these damn vegetables are. Good for Freddie!

  15. i LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea of veggies having moving status in different categories! It seems I've found you too last as you haven't posted a new article in over a year. can I use this idea in my classes/ blog? will link back to you/credit you. let me know...

    Food With Kid Appeal


We always love to read your comments - thank you