Wednesday, November 24, 2010

culinary adventures

Well, I had this post and others all lined up to publish while we would supposedly be on our way to New York for Thanksgiving with Mikey's side of the family... but, unfortunately, our sick little monkey has put the kaibosh on those plans. Rather than let my planning ahead go entirely to waste, though, here is an update on Natalie's eating routine as planned. Wish us luck as we nurse our budgie back to health & attempt to make her first Thanksgiving special despite our change in plans. Safe travels & best Turkey Day wishes to all of you!

Natalie's diet has been expanding rapidly lately. We're moving full-speed ahead with finger foods (despite my constant terror about the possibility of choking), including pieces of whole wheat toast and bagels, mushy bits of fruit like banana, organic teething crackers, and freeze-dried yogurt drops. So far, Natalie is not the most proficient self-feeder. She loves smooshing the food between her fingers and mashing it all over her high chair tray, but actually using the dexterity required to get the food from her fingers to her mouth seems to be an after thought. We've been laughing that everything she touches goes in her mouth except the finger foods we put out for her.

We've also become a bit more relaxed about letting Natalie try a taste of a few random foods now that she's had all of the traditional first starter foods. Since she's never shown any sign of allergy to anything she's eaten (knocking on wood), we've gotten comfortable letting her try lots of different things. Most recently, she spent some time sucking on a dill pickle, and the next day did the same with a spicy dilly bean. Her initial reaction to both was the same--a curious lick, a visible shudder at the spicy flavor, and then a quick open-mouthed reach for more. It's a hoot to see her like all these new flavors, but we have to remind ourselves to limit the amount of time she spends trying such salty stuff. Both the pickle and dilly bean(s) were followed by plenty of water!

A handful of people have been asking me lately what baby food recipes I have made, and what things Natalie has liked the best. Until recently, I would hardly call what I've been making "recipes," really. It's mostly been simply steaming and mashing various fruits and veggies, and combining them in ways that are either recommended in my baby food cookbook, or just in ways that I think taste good (Strawberry-mango? Yes, please!). But now that we're moving into more sophisticated foods, and I've gotten the hang of making her food, I'm getting a bit more adventurous.

A new favorite is this recipe I stole and modified from Dear Baby. I've never been a very avid chickpea eater, but lemme tell ya, this stuff is good. This combination of garlic, chickpeas, green peas, and cumin is delicious, and I added a few dashes of curry powder as well, which was super tasty. Natalie gobbled it up, and now I have to resist thawing out her little cubes of it for myself.

I've also taken what I considered to be the big plunge of making my own chicken stock, to use as cooking liquid for some of Natalie's foods (like chicken with apples and sweet potatoes or her fish with mixed vegetables). The idea of making stock from scratch terrified me a bit, but it was actually super easy once I got the hang of it. Mike and I are already in the habit of cooking little whole chickens in the crockpot, so I just save the bones now to boil up in several cups of water with whatever leftover frozen or fresh vegetables we have in the house, and voila! Chicken stock. The recipe I "followed" listed specific vegetables to use, but I have just tossed in a mixture of what we already have at home (shallots, frozen pearl onions, fresh carrots, peas, and leek) plus a couple of bay leaves and black peppercorns. I also put all the chicken bones in cheese cloth so I can scoop them out easily after boiling the whole mixture for an hour and a half or so. That way, I can toss the bones and then strain the veggies to save for later use (like in a soup or pot pie, or just a puree for Natalie).

Other favorites are any fruit combination with cinnamon and real vanilla extract or vanilla bean. Pretty much any three fruits will do--apricots, apples, pears, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, etc. Boil them up in peeled chunks and puree for instant yumminess. So good with cottage cheese, yogurt, cereal, or just as "dessert." These combinations are also hard to resist eating myself!

Up next on Natalie's menu we'll be branching out to couscous, pasta bits, salmon, and more. I'll keep you posted!

1 comment:

  1. Sorry you guys and the budge are housebound for the holiday, but if I know you, you'll make it a special first Thanksgiving.

    Anything with vanilla bean doubles as adult dessert in my book. Just sayin'.