Thursday, March 10, 2011

Baby food (plus a recipe for grown-ups)

Now that my little girl is eating solids, most of the cooking I do is for her. First, you need to know that by "solids" I mean purees. Although, if Top Chef is any indicator, purees are hot in the grown up, tooth-filled world, too. The "recipe" for these purees is as follow: 1. steam, boil or bake until fall-apart soft 2. cool 3. puree until there are no lumps, adding water, breastmilk or formula if needed.

So far little E chomps down on:
avocados (raw, mashed with a fork)
bananas (raw, mashed with a fork)
butternut squash
sweet potatoes

It's a pain in the butt at first to get a good variety of foods, but if made in big batches and frozen in small servings (like in an ice tray), it's easy to stock up quickly. I almost never have to make more baby food. And I feel like she'll be on table food before I finish up what we've got.

We're now in the exciting world of mixed & seasoned foods. Mostly I just mix a few of the above fruits and/or veggies together. Thinking about what tastes good together and trying new combination is my new hobby. FYI peas and carrots might taste nice and bring some color to your plate, but when pureed and mixed together they make a very unappetizing color. I've started adding cinnamon to appropriate food combos (like sweet potatoes & apples). And most recently I've cooked up a big batch of veggie broth and pureed the veggies and spices for her. Mixed with any combination of sweet potatoes, carrots, potatoes and cauliflower it's been a hit.

Super versatile soup stock:

1-3 Onions, quartered or roughly chopped
3-5 Carrots, roughly chopped
2-4 Celery ribs, roughly chopped
Any other veggies (except leafy greens) on hand are welcome to be thrown in... this is a good time to use up that leek that's been sitting in your crisper
2-5 Cloves of garlic, crushed

Throw everything in a big pot (I use a pot with a giant steamer insert and put the veggies in there so I don't have to strain them out later)

Add as much water as the pot will hold and season with any/all of the following:
Bay Leaves
(if you have fresh herbs on hand, use 'em, but I almost always go with dry and it works fine)

Bring the water to a boil, then simmer for at least an hour.

Strain out veggies, let them cool

Throw some or all of the veggies in a food processor or blender. Feed puree to baby, freeze, or add back to the stock to thicken. Or you could toss it out, but what would your depression-era grandparents say about that?

Tonight that stock is going in a lentil soup and tomorrow that soup is going in baby's belly. Fingers crossed!

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