Saturday, July 12, 2008

Z is for Zucchini Party - reaching the end of a journey

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“What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
(TS Eliot)

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.

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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. 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
4 eggs
100g butter
200g of finely grated zucchini (otherwise known as courgette)
100g raisins
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.


  1. Congratulations!!! It's been great following your vegetable journey. I will miss it.

  2. What a wonderful way to celebrate the end of a great project!

  3. Congratulations! It was a great journey for all of us. Are we now going to have a great big fruit challenge? :-p

  4. Congratulations, again! I hope you continue to blog; I love following your family--whatever you're doing!

  5. Congratulations on you and your family's achievement! This was such an inventive journey! And I have to confess that I'm a grad student with no kids and I already loved veggies when I first found your blog, but now I love their versatility and flexibility even more. I hope you and your family keep blogging.

    Looking forward to the book, whenever it's out! :)

  6. Fantastic, well done everyone. I've really enjoyed reading about all your adventures.

    What comes next?

  7. Charlotte3:38 PM

    Thank you for being with us along the way . It is like seeing old friends pop up in the comment box.
    As I said this is just the beginning really - we aren't stopping eating vegetables, or being adventurous. What comes next is I am not 100% sure but I have some ideas. Freddie keeps on saying, Let's do fruit lets do fruit - so maybe that is what is next...

    M - We will keep blogging. Definitely. Its a part of our lives now!
    The book came out yesterday so we spetn this morning trawling round bookshops in London being inordinately excited that we found our book on the shelves. If you are abroad, you can find it on amazon - the link is on the sidebar somwhere on the right.

    Nowheymamma. Thank you. We will keep blogging definitely...just as normal but without the A to Z hemming us in! Freddie would be appalled if I stopped. But it might take us a little while to wean ourselves off the alphabet!!
    Will you ask your family to make a vegetable face for the competition? The more the merrier!

    Ben, Lydia, KJ. Thanks so much - and keep with us as we arent stopping blogging at all - its just a new beginning. As I said above - fruit might be the next challenge as Freddie has 3 fruits that he eats - which he thinks should be expanded!!

  8. So happy to hear that you won't stop blogging - I'd miss you terribly! :)

  9. great Big veg challenge9:19 AM

    Anne - Stop blogging? what a crazy idea!!

  10. Chuffed as a cheeseburger for you - that you embarked on an adventure, that you made it to "z", that you scored a book deal, but most importantly that you captured the hearts and minds of people (not I don't say "mothers" - I am not one) all over the world.

    Congratulations to you and your family, and whatever your next adventure, I hope to be able to "intrude" on it!!!

  11. And what an adventure it has been! Congratulations Freddie. You have inspired many, many people to step outside of their comfort zone and be just a bit adventurous. You've taught us that you don't *have* to like everything you try, but that the adventure is in the exploring of new things.

    I (and the rest of the world) are anxiously awaiting your next adventure!

    (And congratulations Charlotte. Well done! Very well done, indeed.)

  12. Charlotte at Great Big Veg challenge9:17 AM

    Sally - Thank you so much for your lovely comments. It is about stepping out of the comfort zone...and having fun in the process. Do keep reading our blog as I am sure the adventures will continue.

    Grocer - Thanks to you from Down Under! Please do intrude on our next journey - or even better come along with us...

  13. More delicious recipes - and that party sounds wonderful!

    Glad to hear you'll still be blogging, I've enjoyed sharing Freddie's journey into the Vegetable Kingdom.

    Best wishes

  14. Dear Charlotte, just wanted to convey my congrats for the book! I also look forward to trying these zucchini muffins... i make loaves with grated zucchini, with mixed spice, honey and raisins, but muffins look very attractive!
    Arianz (we corresponded a couple times on the Beeb board...)

  15. My word, you have made me fill up with tears! But as you say, it is just the beginning. Especially for Freddie and Alex, the stars of the show, with their newfound culinary knowledge and refined tastebuds. It has been a pleasure to be involved.

    Much love always
    David x

  16. I've been following this for a while now, and it's bittersweet to see you reach the end of the alphabet. The vegetable party sounded like a blast.

    Every time the subject of vegetables and how to introduce more comes up, I point people at your blog, usually searching for the first post with the tantrum over peas.

  17. Charlotte at Great big veg6:39 PM

    Supermouse...thank you for spreading the word about the blog. The vegetable party was funny. I have never themed a party round veg before but the kids seemed to have great fun!!
    David Hall - That little girl in your photo has grown up so mcuh -she looks grown up now. Well done! And thank you for always being there when we were muddling through our vegetables!

    I remember you from the boards. Thank you for being so encouraging to us early on in our challenge. The food message boards,(BBC and other ones)are full of so much passion about food. it is wonderful. In the book of course people from the BBC food board are thanked in the acknowledgements. My Mum used to make a courgette loaf with raisins and cinammon when we were children. How do you make yours?

    Magic Cochin. Blogging is too much fun to not carry on - I liove it. We saw some purple podded peas in Ham House garden last weekend and thought of you!!

  18. Congrats on your adventure! Now we start again, or do we apprach the Great Big Fruit Challenge? ;)

  19. Charlotte at Great Big Veg9:51 AM

    Garrett - Thank you...not sure what is next - mayube fruit...but the whole adventure is only just beginning...

  20. Hi Charlotte, amazed that you still remember me! Yes, the board is a great inspiration! in relation to my loaf, it is v easy... for about 300g zucchini or marrow I use about 375/400g self raising flour and 1/2 tsp baking soda, 2 medium beaten eggs and about 120g margarine along with 2 tbsp honey and 100g raisins. I grate the zucchini, then mix them with the marg, honey and eggs til smooth. Then I start adding the dry ingredients, stirring all the way to keep the batter fluid. I pour the batter in a greased and lined tin and bake at 200C for about 35 min til well risen and golden.
    Hope it helps.
    Arianz :-)

  21. Anonymous3:57 PM

    Here from Veggie Venture, it's the first time I've heard of your blog but the book looks just lovely. Congratulations! You kids and your Mom are the greatest!

  22. What a wonderful success story, and congratulations on the book. It's a great thing you've done with your kids, and who knows how many more kids you may have inspired to actually try vegetables!

  23. Also here from A Veggie Venture, what a great accomplishment. I can't wait til your book reaches the States.

  24. Great big veg Challenge8:25 PM

    Cara - Thank you. I hope it will get across the Atlantic....would be fantastic if it did.
    Kalyn - Thank you for your lovely comments and your enxouragement all along the way...its been a long journey with our vegetables!!

    Aruianz- That recipe seems good. Will try it out. Thank you

  25. Well done Charlotte, Freddie and Alex! A fantastic adventure, you've had us all enthralled. Glad to hear you'll still be blogging.

  26. AManda -
    Thank you very much. It has been a long long vegetable journey!

  27. Great to see you both on national TV breakfast show - Congratulations!

  28. Great Big Veg Challenge11:36 AM

    Top Veg.
    I was petrified.
    Freddie was calmer.

  29. Charlotte - Congratulations on such a healthy achievement! It sure has been a lot of fun reading about you family's veggie adventure.

  30. I thought you and Freddie came across very calm and composed on BBC breakfast yesterday. To have the book published must be so exciting for you, I am sure it is going to be a great success. x

  31. Charlotte at Great Big Veg Challenge9:41 AM

    Lori Lynn
    Thank you - its been a lot of fun having the adventure too!

    Louise - We didnt feel calm. I felt like imploding on the sofa which would not have made good telly! Freddie was quite calm becaues the breakfast in the green room was delicious.

  32. Congrats on the party, the book... and making it through the alphabet. I've loved following it; I'm glad to hear that you'll keep blogging away about your family food adventures.

  33. Anonymous2:32 PM

    I just want to thank you for doing this challenge and for inspiring others to be more healthy with their choices of food! Blessings!

  34. Charlotte at GBVC6:03 PM

    Thanks 0- its all been great fun. But the fun stopping now we are able to enjoy vegetables..
    Keep reading us

    Sprinkles _ thank you for your lovely comments. We have enjoyed the whole journey and hope you will keep reading along with us

  35. Stephanie6:09 PM

    How smart you are! This was such a great idea. I love that you didn't have to hide the vegetables in his food, but that you just repeatedly offered different vegetables in unique ways over time.

    Can't wait to see the book!

  36. Great Big Veg Challenge6:27 AM

    NO hiding. That's our mantra! It only confuses children. At least that what Freddie tells me.
    Thank you for your lovely comments.


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