I was warned about the glut of courgettes we’d get at our allotment – but seeing really is believing. The plants are firing out green torpedos at a rate of knots it’s very hard to keep up with. And if you leave them for longer than a day they take on giant marrow proportions… crazy!
So I’m suddenly getting very interested in different ways of cooking them. My first port of call is to use them in baking. I had a batch of cakes to make this week for Arlo’s last day at nursery – they deserve a treat for taming him this last term!
So I turned to a book i’ve been sent to review Grow it, cook it with kids by Amanda Grant. It’s a lovely little publication full of the kind of produce you can easily grow with your children, but loads of helpful recipe ideas of what to actually do with your crops once they arrive.
And here’s the recipe:
Chocolate and Courgette Cake – By Amanda Grant
3 courgettes (about 450g) peeled
250g butter, softened
250g light brown soft sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
350g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp cocoa powder
a cake tin, 30cm x 20cm greased with butter
1. Turn the oven on to 180′C (350′F) Gas 4. Cut a piece of greaseproof paper the width of your cake tin and a little bit longer. Lay the paper in the tin so it goes up the sides.
2. Grate the courgettes using the smaller holes on the grater – you want the courgettes grated finely so that they mix into the cake mixture easily.
3. Put the softened butter, sugar and vanilla extract into a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until creamy. You can also beat with an electric whisk if that is easier.
4. Crack the eggs into a bowl. Beat lightly with a fork.
5. Add the eggs gradually to the bowl with the cake batter. Add the milk and whisk together.
6. Put a sieve over your missing bowl and carefully pour in the flour, baking powder and cocoa powered. Shake the sieve gently so that the ingredients snow down into the bowl. Take a metal spoon and fold in to the batter.
7. Sir in the grated courgettes and mix well.
8. Spoon the cake batter into your tin. Using oven gloves, put the tin in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes. Test the centre of the cake with a skewer – when it comes out clean the cake is ready. Leave the cake to cool then cut into squares.
This recipe was a real success, but what about the book as a whole?
Well it’s been out for year and was written by Amanda Grant, broadcaster, food writer and mother of three young children. She has written several books, mostly specializing in children’s food and nutrition including the very useful Healthy Lunchboxes for Kids.
Her latest book recognises the rise and rise of the allotment and the desire to get our children interested in fruit and veg at an early age.
Who is it for?
Children keen on the idea of growing their own produce and cooking with it. Older primary school children will be able to use this book by themselves (with adult supervision of course) as it’s really clearly written and laid out. And grown-ups will love using it with their pre-schoolers.
Easy to follow?
Each chapter is divided into manageable sections that are easy to navigate – Plant it, Grow it, Pick it, 5 Ways (quick ways to use the fruit or vegetable) and Cook It
As it’s aimed at kids it’s packed with beautiful photographs detailing the steps of the growing/cooking process along with very clear instructions. The stages of the recipes are broken down into shorter chunks than a grown up book would be, which is really useful.
Ask an adult to help you - is always clearly written within the method to signpost the trickier/dangerous bits of kitchen work!
There’s also a helpful glossary to explain cooking processes like folding in and blanching, but also gardening terms too, which for a novice like myself is fantastic! I love things written for children as you’re given such a clear definition of things that doesn’t use complicated vocab or assume prior knowledge. Simpleton? Moi?
In so many ways! It encourages your family to get into gardening and cooking together, but the recipes are also fab family-friendly meals. It’s all very simple and achievable for children, so it’ll give them confidence.
If I can get to the stage where my boys are cooking my dinner I shall be one happy lady and my work here will be DONE!
Most likely to cook
Green rice – a kind of fresh pesto coated rice dish that I think my vegetarian crowd would adore.
Creamy spinach pasta – very fattening with double cream and butter in it, but that’s what makes it sound so damn good!
Pea puree bruschetta – given the pea obsession in this house, I reckon this would make a very tasty lunchtime treat
Strawberry ice cubes – what a lovely idea – bet they taste fab in ice-cold lemonade or a glass of pimms….
Least likely to cook
I couldn’t find one objectionable recipe to be honest.
Would you buy it for a friend?
I think all my friends who have children and space to grow veg would ADORE this book – it’s fab! It would also make a great gift for primary school aged kids who are keen to get into gardening.
Rating out of 10
Grow it, cook it with kids is published by Ryland Peters & Small
Thanks for my review copy!
*****THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED, NO MORE ENTRIES PLEASE****
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I have a copy of Grow it, Cook it with kids to give away to one lucky reader…
1. For a chance to win please comment on this post telling me about your what you like to cook with your children
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Closing date: 10pm Thursday 18th August, 2011