“What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
As we have travelled to the very end of the alphabet, vegetables have become much more scarce. We have leapfrogged over U, V and X, and arrived at Z. The full stop for our adventure. We've all been feeling a little mournful about it.
“I loved it like this, trying all these new vegetables. I want it to carry on,”said Alex.
“At least we won’t have to wait until you have photographed each meal before we can eat it,” said Chris, my husband.
“I was thinking it would stop half way through – that you would give up,” said Freddie. “Why don’t we have a party to celebrate reaching the end of the alphabet?”
So a litle while back we did hold a Z for Zucchini party. Zucchini was the only Z vegetable we could find and a bit of a cheat, having already tried it under its English alter ego, the courgette. But we wanted an excuse to make the zucchini muffin recipe sent by Garrett, a fellow blogger in Sacramento. Alex and Freddie chose their favourite vegetable recipes from our year of eating adventurously and invited some friends round. We made Zucchini muffins, Courgette Quesadillas,Zucchini Turkey Burgers, Petit Pois Muffins, Herby Burgers, Artichoke Pizzas, Asparagus Twists, Vegetable Kebabs and the delicious Chocolate & Beetroot Cake.
We decorated the kitchen with vegetables. Artichokes, radishes, corn cobs and aubergines hung from strings around the room, looking like the signal flags on a ship.
At most kids’ parties, parents offer carrot sticks or cherry tomatoes as a nod to healthy eating. They are normally ignored and thrown away. But at this party, the vegetables were the stars. Those with a fear of vegetables were entering enemy territory. There was a table full of food, but would they denounce it as fake party food? There were no cheesy wotsits, no bowls of iced gems or sausages on sticks. A year before and the sight of all these vegetables would have made Freddie swoon. But he reassured his guests and recommended his favourite food. He had become a vegetable ambassador.
They played “Name that Veg”, identifying all the weird and wonderful vegetables hanging from the ceiling. I stood at the oven, flipping over zucchini burgers and taking orders for more quesadillas. The mound of food disappeared, along with my nervousness. Instead of party bags, Freddie handed out vegetables with recipes attached; an invitation to join our adventure.
And fuelled by a final slice of chocolate and beetroot cake, they all ran off to the park and played football until the light started to fade. We traipsed home, slumped down in front of the television and put our feet up.
“What’s for dinner Mum?” asked Freddie.
And that is how The Great Big Vegetable Challenge reached the end. Except it isn’t really an end but a new beginning.
ZUCCHINI TURKEY BURGERS
Makes 18 mini burgers
250g finely grated zucchini (courgette)
500g turkey mince
1 clove garlic, crushed
Half a teaspoon of ground turmeric
Half a teaspoon of ground paprika
Cooking spray oil
18 mini bread rolls or mini Panini
Top and tail the zucchini and finely grate it or process it in a food processor. In a bowl, mix together the finely grated zucchini, turkey mince, turmeric, paprika and crushed garlic. The easiest method is to use your hands to do this. (Remember when touching raw meat to wash your hands thoroughly before and after) Shape the mixture into small balls that fit in the palm of your hand. Flatten them slightly to make a burger. Making them small is perfect for parties. Lightly spray a griddle pan or large flat frying pan with oil. Turn on the hob to medium high and when the griddle is hot, place the burgers in the pan. Cook them for at least 3 minutes each side , turning them over carefully with a fish slice. When the meat is cooked through, serve in a mini burger bun.
This recipe was adapted from a recipe by Garrett from the Vanilla Garlic blog. http://www.vanillagarlic.blogspot.com/. We love Garrett!
Zucchini and Raisin Muffins
Makes 18-20 muffins
375g plain flour
275g dark muscovado sugar
3 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
200g of finely grated zucchini (otherwise known as courgette)
150 ml of apple juice
Paper muffin cases (these are larger than standard cake cases)
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and cinnamon. Make a well in the centre. Melt the butter and allow to cool slightly. In another smaller bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, vanilla essence. Add to the flour and stir well until it is evenly combined. Add the apple juice and stir, then stir in the raisins and grated zucchini. Spoon the batter into paper cases in a muffin baking tray. They should be filled about half-full. Place in a preheated oven at 180C for between 20-25 minutes. Half way through cooking time, turn the baking tray around so that they cook more evenly. To test if they are ready, use a wooden cocktail stick. If it comes out clean, the muffins are ready.