Monday, July 11, 2011

Did I say she was off fresh peaches? She seems to have had second thoughts about that. Peaches are a go!

Dinner last night was Israeli couscous with caramelized onions, chanterelles, bacon, cream, and parmesan. It went over well, but the couscous gets everywhere. Mae really enjoys saying "couscous", though (but who doesn't?).

Friday, July 8, 2011

About time for an update? Yes, I think so too.

We've been eating our way happily through the months. I don't have a new recipe for you today, but I do want to share the sorts of things that Mae has been enjoying lately, in case you're interested and just to help my own memory a bit.

Breakfast, one of the following: toast with butter. Plain yogurt (perhaps with freeze-dried strawberry powder on top). 7-grain hot cereal with dried peaches and cinnamon. Cheese grits. Eggs (fried or scrambled). Wheat puffs, toasted. Berries if we have them.

Berries are big this year, but sadly, she seems to have forgotten her love of the peach during the long, peachless winter, and now won't touch them (well, she ate some in a pie, but that hardly counts). Well, more peaches for me.

Snacks: peas! Frozen peas, straight from the freezer. I put them in a little mason jar, plunk it down on her stroller tray, and she nibbles away. She snacks on cheese to a lesser extent. Some days are cheese days, and others, not so much. Same with bananas. They have their place. Freeze-dried fruit is still a favorite.

We got an insulated snack case that has a freezer insert, so I can take refrigeratables (or hot food) along on our trips to the park-- because why else would we go to the park if not to have a nice picnic?-- and it's been wonderful.  Also for taking supplementary meal items when going out to eat. Yesterday I made a quick tuna and black-eyed pea salad with finely chopped pecans-- it went over very well. A lentil, sun-dried tomato and feta salad was also a hit, but had unfortunate consequences later. Take note: toddlers cannot digest de puy lentils.

Another trick I've learned is that you can make a very serviceable macaroni and cheese by simply 1) boiling the pasta, 2) adding pasta back to pan, adding cream, 3) stir in shredded cheddar to taste, heat gently until it melts. Adjust with more cream if necessary to get the right consistency. Add a little dry mustard, herbs, or paprika if you want to fancy it up. It's quick to make, freezes well. I freeze it in individually-sized portions that I can microwave when I need a quick additional side dish (what? She's still hungry? Ok, how about some of this?). I also like to bring it to restaurants when I fear they may have nothing better than the powdered cheese product on their children's menu macaroni. *shudder*

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Peanut butter shortbread recipe

Easter was a bit of a challenge. I have fond memories of hunting for eggs and a basket full of goodies-- I'm partial to the Reeses' Peanut Butter Egg-- but wanted to keep the sweet factor to a minimum. So I came up with a couple of things that were bite-sized, tasty, and small enough to be stashd in a plastic egg, yet not too extravagant in the sugar department. For this shortbread I use mostly whole wheat pastry flour, and natural peanut butter (I recently discovered how easy it is to make nut butters at home if you have a food processor: 1) roast nuts, 2) process. Add a little oil if you need to to get them to the right consistency. Voila!).

Peanut Butter Shortbread

1 stick (4 oz) butter, room temperature.
1/3 c. natural peanut butter (no added salt or sugar)
2 Tbs. sugar (possibly optional, but I haven't tried leaving it out completely yet)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 c. All Purpose flour
pinch of salt (optional)

Cream together the butter and peanut butter. Add in sugar, salt (if you decide to use it), and vanilla. Stir in the flours. Refrigerate 30 minutes or so until it's not totally squishy. On a floured surface (Silpat!), roll half the dough out to between 1/8-1/4 inch thick, and cut out your shapes with your cutters. They don't puff up much, so you can space them fairly close together on your pan. Bake at 350 just until bottom is beginning to turn golden, 7-9 minutes. You could also pat it into the bottom of your trusty cast iron skillet and bake the whole thing for quite a bit longer (30 minutes?), and cut it into wedges when it's done.

Gonna try it with cashew or almond butter next. Or maybe pistachio!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Have I mentioned how much I love 101Cookbooks? Because I do. Everything I have made from there has been stellar. Even when I'm a bit skeptical-- you know, you look at the ingrdient list and, mindful of previous disappointments in the realm of whole grains, greens, and beans, proceed cautiously. And then discover that whatever it is is absolutely delicious.

Like the Baked Farro Risotto, the leftovers of which I'm eating now (well, I used oat groats because my farro was buggy, but it still turned out). I have someday-plans to use pearl couscous in this and serve it to Mae as the holes of a certain well-known canned ring-shaped pasta. If such marketing to her turns out to be necessary (which last night, it certainly didn't. She liked it almost as much as I did).

Or like these, a sort of sugar-free little cookie. I know. "sugar-free cookie"-- the skepticism registers. And yet! I subbed chopped dates for the chocolate, and it's still fab.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

14 month food update

Fork use is proceeding apace. There was an unfortunate incident in the first couple of days where she was all excited and showing off at a restaurant and nearly stabbed herself in the eye, but other than that, she's getting the hang of it.

No new recipes of my own at this point, but this lentil soup from 101Cookbooks was a huge hit with everyone, including Mae. It's the best lentil soup I've ever had-- usually lentil soup makes me feel at best virtuous and satisfied, but this one actually manages to seem indulgent. Without actually being so. Amazing. Go try it. (Browned butter, I'm telling you! Browned butter.)

Also made Ma Po Tofu last night. I was worried it would be a little too spicy for her, but she tucked into it, yogurt on the side just in case she needed a cool down. Even ate some of the tofu, which she has so far mostly given a pass despite its surface resemblance to cheese. She is not to be fooled.

In the last couple of months we've discovered Trader Joe's freeze dried fruit, it's our go-to portable snack now. In order of preference: strawberries, banana, mango. Blueberries were briefly a hit, but now get set out onto the floor. If we go to the park (which we have every day for a week or so, until today when the temperature cruelly plummeted again), snacks are a must, otherwise she starts trying to confiscate other people's snacks.

Now that she's a bit older, I don't feel the need to be quite so strict about her sodium intake. Sugars I still try to avoid, though I do share anything I've got so she doesn't feel excluded. I'm not quite sure yet what the right approach to take is with sweets. On one hand, I don't want it to seem special or like a "treat" (which implies that there's something wrong with the other food she usually gets), yet I do want it to be enjoyed infrequently and in moderation. I guess maybe those aren't really at cross-purposes-- after all, I enjoy, say, Thai food infrequently and in moderation, but that doesn't make it A Big Treat. Not like cupcakes. Sweets occupy a certain place in landscape of desire, and I'd like them to have a different role in hers-- but I'm so bound by the way the system works for me that it's hard to imagine it really going any other way.

But what I was going to say was that now that the sodium thing isn't such a big deal, I'm going to frame my preferences for her in terms of avoiding processed food. And if you do that, the sodium and the sugar tend to be minimized automatically.

She's waking up from a nap now, more on this later (maybe).

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ployes-- Buckwheat griddlecake recipe

(Quick, while she's asleep-- post a recipe!)

These pancakes are great-- quick to whip up, they cook quickly (no flipping involved!), and store and reheat well. They feature buckwheat flour (good stuff!) and some AP flour to hold them together (what with buckwheat having no gluten). They're thin and flexible like crepes, but no egg is involved-- a great multipurpose wrap. They remind me a bit of Ethiopian injera. I like them as a wrap for tuna salad; Mae likes them best with nut butters or nacho cheese spread (not as scary as it might sound-- my own recipe to come soon). Recipe from RecipeSource.


1 c. buckwheat flour
1/2 c. AP flour
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1 c. cold water
1 1/2 c. boiling water
1 tsp baking powder

In a bowl, whisk together the flours, the cold water, and the salt (if you're using it). It'll be pretty thick. You can let it sit there for a while until you're ready to cook. When it's time, preheat your cast iron skillet. You might want to preseason it (I heat up some grease, get the pan good and hot, and wipe out the excess oil quickly with a paper towel), but don't grease the pan like you would for pancakes. While your pan is heating, whisk in the boiling water and then the baking soda. Pour some into the pan and swirl to coat. It should be a very thin layer, and if your pan is hot enough will sizzle and start to bubble immediately. Lots and lots of tiny bubbles will form, and the surface will gradually set. Don't flip it! Just let it set, and when it's done in the middle, slide a knife or fork under the edge to pry it loose. You may have to finesse it a bit, but if it won't come up relatively easily, it may not be done enough on the bottom. Let it cook a little more-- when a nice crust forms, the ploye will come up more easily. Stack it on a plate and repeat.

I used the smallest skillet I have (about 5 inches?), and got 19 of them with this recipe. They're soft enough that even a little one who isn't quite up to regular bread yet should have an easy time gumming them.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Via Food Politics, see this study on health claims on foods marketed to children.  Hey, guess what? If it's marketed to kids as healthy, it probably isn't.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Table manners. Sort of.

1. She went through a phase a couple of months back where she tossed everything over the side if she didn't want it. I would have to try to catch it in my hand to teach her to give it to me, or to put it in the little cup holder area of her tray as a special place for undesirable morsels. It mostly worked, although stuff still goes over, particularly when she REALLY doesn't want it and is tying to be emphatic (No, Mommy, I really don't want any of the orange stuff. Really! *toss*), or when we're at a restaurant and she's all done and bored but the rest of us are still eating.

2. Spoons. No real development on this front. She's always been good with taking a loaded spoon and navigating it into her mouth if she's sufficiently interested in what's on it. Sometimes she gets too excited about having a spoon and wants to wave it about in celebratory fashion before putting it in her mouth. That doesn't work so well. Can't get her to try the whole dipping-and-scooping procedure herself, though she does like to take the handle end and bash things with it pestle-style. I think they should make a kayak-paddle type spoon with scoops at both ends.

3. Plates and bowls. I've been giving them to her with a few pieces of this and that on them, hoping that eventually the novelty will wear off and she'll get on with eating off of them. She doesn't knock them onto the floor or anything dramatic like you see in paper towel commercials, but she is far too interested in them as objects and wants to pick them up and turn them over and so on. Still working on this, in other words.

4. Forks.  Haven't tried it yet, but as soon as I see a plausible toddler fork, I'll give it a go. Why not?

5. When she's getting full and/or bored, she tends to pick up pieces of food, get them most of the way to her mouth, and then drop them in her lap. Very little ends up on the floor, lots in her lap and in the chair. And it's harder to tell when she's getting full, because stuff keeps disappearing. I keep telling her she can leave it if she doesn't want it, but I suppose that won't be a useful instruction until she can understand what I'm saying.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Still here!

Did you miss us? We're still here, still eating, if blogging (and reading blogs) a lot less frequently. I haven't quit on you! Mae is turning into a very busy little toddler. She had her first birthday recently, and has started to walk.  She's got a few words now, too-- besides some approximation of 'mama' and 'daddy', she produces 'uh-oh', and 'kitty' (pronunciation may vary, and I have a newfound respect for child language acquisition researchers who have to be able to transcribe this stuff and try to assign it a meaning). She stacks blocks, works on baby puzzles, and puts her toys through the cat door down the steps to the garage.

Foodwise, we're still going strong. She's not quite the chowhound she once was-- she balks a little at carrots, sweet potatoes, and brussels sprouts, and doesn't wolf down a peach the way she used to (maybe it's the out-of-season peaches). Doesn't care for the stewed apples of her youth, either, although she enjoys a slice of fresh apple for an afternoon snack. But she still loves avocado, peas, broccoli, meat of all sorts (still no sausage). Bread, pasta (but not soba, puzzlingly enough), beans, anything garlicky, all sorts of cheese (cheddar, blue, anything really).

My determination to keep exposing her to new foods at home has not waned, although my ability to do so has suffered what with lack of time to think of new dishes to try.  as she gets more active, she eats more, and it's all I can do to keep up with 3 meals and two snacks. Breakfast is usually one or more of the following: eggs (fried or scrambled), banana, avocado, or orange, toast, pancakes, 10-grain cereal with dried fruit, or toasted oatmeal in plain yogurt.  Lunch is leftovers from the last night's dinner, or soup. Yesterday we had roasted veggies-- sweet potatos (which she had about 2 slices of before losing interest), and roasted garlic mushrooms. She surprised me by eating mushroom after mushroom. Sometimes she hasn't the slightest interest in them, then other times...!  Just goes to show, never give up on offering certain foods. You never know when they'll develop a (perhaps temporary) enthusiasm for something.

Snacks: cheese, fresh bread or muffin if I've got it on hand, apple. Still no Goldfish! Still no Cheerios! Though I do understand others giving those out. It's hard to find neat, handy snacks that you can tote around without them going bad or stale on you.

She had a taste of pound cake at New Year's, and on her birthday, an entire mini-cupcake all to herself. Brown sugar, brown butter with orange frosting, thank you very much. Yeah, she liked it. As if there was any doubt? Got it on video, but no still photos, alas, so I can't put one up.

More on how her table manners are developing in the next post.