I suspect that vegetables are a relatively boring topic for anyone who 1) doesn’t have kids, or 2) has kids who eat vegetables (I hate you), and for that I apologize. For me, the only time I stop thinking about how to get my kids to eat more vegetables is every couple months when my brain shorts out and forgets to think about the topic out of sheer exhaustion.
We all know an adult who will only eat hamburger meat and chicken nuggets. My older kid, Finn, is like three Happy Meals away from becoming that societal freak. If he turns into that guy, I will kill myself. I really will.
Last week I asked Finn, as I do every few weeks, if he was enjoying the carrots in his lunch. Yes Mommy, he nodded, as usual. But that day, I don’t know—maybe he looked away a beat too long—something made me ask again. Finn squirmed in his seat and began staring at the far wall. Then things went all to hell.
“You have been eating your carrots, right?,” I said, thinking of the 500 or so baby carrots I’d packed in his lunch over the past six months.
(Long pause). “Wellll. Sometimes I don’t eat my carrots,” Finn said.
(Longer pause). “Sometimes?,” I asked, nibbling a nail. “Or all the time?”
Finn looked like he was going to cry. “All the time, mommy,” he said.
Man. Secretly I think I always knew he wasn’t eating those damn carrots. There were signs that I chose to ignore. Like the one morning I casually handed him a baby carrot at breakfast while I was packing more carrots in his lunch and he took ten minutes to choke the carrot down, which he then promptly regurgitated. “But you eat these all the time at lunch!,” I said. Like an idiot.
Looking back, I clearly chose to turn a blind eye. Lying is no good, but my grown-up behavior was arguably worse. Finn probably felt that he needed to lie about eating the carrots in order to protect my emotional well-being. When I asked Finn’s lovely teacher for advice, as I always do when the going gets tough, she suggested, gently, that I stop packing the carrots for the time being. So no more carrots.
Anyway. A part of me is glad that’s all worked out and the sham is over and now I can go back to hiding vegetables in Finn’s food.
Zucchini bread is a passion of mine. I like mine moist, zucchini-heavy, and not too sweet. After many dozen loaves, I’ve worked out my standby recipe. It’s low on sugar, part whole wheat, yadda yadda, but here’s the best part–you can mix all the contents by hand. My stand mixer is a beast that weighs approximately 75 pounds. Increasingly I find myself looking for ways to avoid using it.
If you have a food processor with a shredder blade, you can get this whole thing in the oven in 15 minutes. As part of his ongoing campaign to do harm in the kitchen in order to avoid being asked to cook, Tom accidentally lit my food processor on fire about a year ago and it still manages to get the job done with the zucchini, even though I have to stick my hand in the feed tube to get the motor to work. Just think how easy it will be with your fully operational Cuisinart.
Adapted from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum
1.5 cups all-purpose flour (spooned in to the measuring cup, not packed in)
1/2 cup + 3.5 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 large eggs
1/2 liquid cup vegetable, safflower, or canola oil
1/2 cup sugar (add more for sweeter bread–Beranbaum’s original recipe calls for 1 cup)
3 cups shredded or grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts (or omit)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Move rack to rung below middle of oven.
2. Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
4. Whisk together eggs, oil, and sugar until incorporated in large bowl. Mix in the dry ingredients. Do not overmix. Batter will be a little stiff.
5. Add zucchini, mix to incorporate with wooden spoon. The batter will begin to loosen as the moisture from the zucchini incorporates into the batter. Fold in walnuts, if using.
6. Pour into greased and floured 9 x 5 loaf pan. Or cheat and spray the pan with Baker’s Joy like I do.
7. Bake in oven for 55 minutes. Check with toothpick, if batter still moist, bake for another five minutes. Do not overbake.
8. Cool in pan for ten minutes. Run knife along outside edges to loosen, remove from pan and set on cooling rack.