Archive of ‘Baby Food’ category
Our pediatrician told us toddlers are grazers, but last night at dinner I watched my daughter re-enact The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
She started with the top of a broccoli tree chopped up, then asked for another. Three broccoli trees later, she managed to put away Bubbie’s brisket and half a small chicken breast. It was still hot from the broiler, and I’m not kidding, this child could barely wait for it to cool.
Last night John was working late. I was making whole wheat pasta for him while feeding Luci dinner, and of course she wanted some of that too. I rinsed strands of spaghetti under the sink so they wouldn’t burn her mouth, scorching my hands in the process. I put them in front of her and cut them up.
My mother and I frequently talk on FaceTime in the evenings when John works or goes to art class. As we went from broccoli to pasta, I saw the gamut of her expressions begin at proud, and slowly morph into concern, as Luci kept asking for “More! More!”
“She must be going through a growth spurt,” my mother said.
“Whatever it is, she’s hungry,” I replied, going to the sink to rinse more pasta.
I sat down with Luci again, trying to finish my own dinner. “More! More!” she yelled.
I offered her some pasta. She shook her head.
“How about dessert?” my mother said, from her seat at the kitchen table in Baltimore where we’d spent a good part of our trip last week.
“Please don’t say the c word,” I cautioned her.
It’s not that cookie is a bad word in our house, but after eating such a healthy meal I just couldn’t bring myself to give Luci an animal cracker, her standard dessert fare.
“How about some berries instead?”
I opened the fridge and took out the blueberries and strawberries. The strawberries especially were looking a little dry.
I still cut up several, and put them on her high chair tray along with a handful of blueberries. Bubbie, proud again, watched her granddaughter go to town.
Not wanting to waste the rest of the fruit, I put it in a small pot with a cup of water, 1 tsp. brown sugar, and a squeeze of lemon juice.
I boiled it down to a compote, which Luci enjoyed on her toast this morning. You can add a bit more white or brown sugar to suit your taste.
This dish was cooked spur of the moment, as most of my food recycling recipes are. If you have any good tips for preserving food that’s about to go bad and turning it into a completely different, delicious dish, please post in the comments section. Food recycling doesn’t get enough attention, and it’s a great way to use up leftovers.
Before Luci was born, I had this fantasy I would prepare all her baby food. No jars or pouches for this mama! I was going full on hardcore, from selecting the best fruits, veggies and meats at the market, to steaming and pureeing them myself.
Then Luci arrived, and reality set in.
One day, right around her six-month birthday, we were visiting my family in Baltimore when she wouldn’t stop crying. This is very hard for a new mother, when your child is miserable and no matter what you do, she won’t calm down. It’s especially hard when this happens in front of your own mother, and you start to worry she thinks you are inept at the whole parenting thing.
“She’s hungry,” my mother finally said, in that voice that clearly meant she thought my doctor’s no solid food before six months rule was insane. This might be even truer when the baby is both Jewish and Italian. (On a side note, has anyone come up with a spaghetti-flavored bagel yet? Not that it sounds appealing. But they have blueberry bagels, and even green bagels on St. Patrick’s Day, which just look moldy and gross, so where are the Italian flavors, like genoa salami? Evolution people!)
Finally, we strapped a cranky Luci in her car seat, and off we drove to the store, where I purchased butternut squash. When beginning solids, yellow and orange foods are recommended first.
We brought the squash back to my mom’s, and amid Luci’s wailing, I proceeded to steam it. Do you know how long it takes for butternut squash to steam? Even when you cut it in little cubes, it takes forever.
I finally threw it in the pot and let it boil. When it was done, I mashed it with a fork, because my mother has few modern appliances, and the chances of finding a stick blender in her house are about the same as finding a genoa salami bagel at the kosher bagel shop in town.
Once the sticky orange mess cooled, Luci had her first bite of solid food. Watching her eat the butternut squash was one of my proudest moments of motherhood. She tasted it cautiously, making a funny face as the new texture rolled across her tongue. Then she swallowed, reached for the bowl with a chubby little hand, and smiled. Yes, my mother was right, Luci was hungry.
This was the moment I realized I too was swallowing something new. Like it or not raising my daughter was going to be a collaborative effort, and a mother really does know best, especially when it’s your own.
Eventually, months down the road I did start making all of Luci’s food. It takes a little effort and some planning, but it’s possible. Tomorrow I will post about how I got smart and simplified the process of cooking healthy, nutritious meals for a toddler.