Thursday, August 26, 2010

First Foods

First foods.  Do you know what your first food was?  My first taste of real food was peas. It is a strange choice to make as a parent, the first real food you feed your child.  Most docs and books recommend "yellow foods" as good firsts.  Yellow foods meaning squash, bananas, sweet potatoes...although they are far from yellow. This week The Sprout begins to eat real food.  For the past month she has dined on nothing more than human milk and rice cereal...with the occasional sip or two of water.  Poor thing.

Ask yourself...would I want to eat food out of a jar for months on end while everyone around me is dining on freshly cooked food?  Most of us would answer, Yuck!  So why would you feed your baby jarred food for their first year of life?  In a pinch while traveling, I can see...but day in and day out it just doesn't make any sense to me.  Like all first experiences, a human's first time to exercise their taste buds should be exciting...not old mushy flavors from a jar.

Lil' Bit's first food was a puree of steamed organic peas.  I didn't know at the time that it was my first food, I just wanted her first food to be green and it seemed like a nice mild choice.  For The Sprout I wanted  her first food to be raw.  So I chose banana, and she loved it.   Now people say don't start your baby out on sweet foods like fruits because they will only eat sweets and not veggies.  To that I say poppycock.  Banana was Lil' Bit's second food and today her favorite food is kalamata olive.

When I tell people that I make my own baby food they look at me like I am some sort of hippie nazi.  When I see people feed their baby banana baby food from a jar I look at them and think suckers. To make your own banana baby food you peel a banana, mash it up with a fork, and add a little water, maybe some rice cereal.  It doesn't get much easier, and it is much less expensive.  Organic bananas run about $1.00/lb...vs. $1 per 8 ounce jar of baby food!

Baby food is so easy to make it is ridiculous not to.  Bake a sweet potato, mash it, add food.  Peel an avocado, mush it, add food.  Steam some green beans, throw them in a food processor...yup. Baby food.  I usually just take whatever vegetable I am making for dinner...set aside a small portion unseasoned and puree it.  That is how I make baby food.

Sometimes I freeze it, but usually I just make enough for a day or two and keep it in the fridge....the same way I make food for the rest of the family.  It is just apart of my cooking routine...nothing laborious about it.  It requires no cookbook.  Although...if you do want to be adventurous, particularly as your baby starts growing chompers, this book

The Petite Appetit Cookbook by Lisa Barnes is the best book I have come across for healthy whole food for baby.  As the wife of a Chef lets just say I have received a pile of baby cookbooks, and this one takes the cake.

Chef's mom, Gan Gan gave me a mini Cuisinart as a gift and let me tell is one of the best things I have received as a mother.  I made all of Lil' Bit's food in it, and now moving onto The Sprout's meals...and it is great for little things like salad dressings.  I find it much more practical than "The Bullet" or other make-your-own baby food gadgets.

So there you have it.  Baby food is nothing is the same food you eat.  Unless you are a total carnivore, which is just gross.  Fruits, vegetables, water = baby food...throw in a little ground meat later on.  Do your kid a favor and cook the little tike a meal.   It will only make them better eaters as they grow! 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The M&M

The image above sums up my entire potty training strategy for Lil' Bit.  Bribing children with candy is a trick as old as the day is long.  Do I feel guilty about it?  Somewhat, given that her dental hygiene is skill yet to be fully developed.  But whatever.  Star stickers just don't hold the same sway over Lil' Bit the way a single yellow M&M does.  A mama's gotta do what a mama's gotta do...and this woman needs to get one of her two children out of diapers pronto.

The M&M is an American icon.  The little candy was created by Forrest Mars, founder of Mars Company.  In the 1930's he witnessed soldiers in the Spanish Civil War eating little candy covered chocolates.  Mr. Mars patented the confection on his return to the USA, and in 1941 began production.  William Murrie, then President of Hershey Co., owned 20% interest in the little candy and provided the chocolate, which was rationed at the time due to WWII.  The candy originally was produced in 5 colors: red, yellow, brown, green, and violet...with Mr. Mars and Mr. Murrie's intitals stamped on each pellet.

M&M's are always coming out in some new flavor variety.  I think chocolate coconut is one of the most recent....but I gotta be honest I am a sucker for the original candy as well as the peanut.  Sometimes there is just no improving a product.

We are just beginning the potty training battle, and while it is a far cry from the Spanish Civil War, it is a harrowing experience.  The vibrant little candies Mr. Mars brought to America 70 years ago provide a sweet motivation for Lil' Bit to get her little butt on the toilet.  It is amazing how foods move throughout the decades, from one culture to another.  From homesick soldiers to homebound toddlers, the candy covered chocolate now known as the M&M is a tiny sweet that has brought happiness to the masses throughout history.  Just looking at a jar of them is enough to brighten a mood...don't you think?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Coffee Shop Culture

Since I was a teenager, before I even really enjoyed coffee, I have frequented coffee shops.  I love to write and read in coffee shops.  I love to eavesdrop.

Like at this moment, I am sitting at my usual table in a local shop next to another group of "regulars"... an elderly couple and a middle aged woman.  The couple seems to be just friends, or perhaps neighbors, with the single woman.  The trio meet here at the same time every Tuesday to do nothing but read trivia to each other and grab a light lunch.  It is fascinating eavesdropping!  I just learned that the sound of a shrimp is the only natural noise that can wipe out of the noise of submarine sonar.  Who the hell knew?

The old lady is not buying it. She doesn't believe the shrimp theory.  This old lady, I wish you could see her.  She is absurdly put together, the way only the elderly and toddlers can pull off without looking completely foolish.  She is dressed in pink and white, from her hat to her clip on earrings, to her elastic waistband pants, to her and white...her eyebrows painted in high arches towering over a little sharp nose and strangely full pink lips for such an old woman.  I can smell her face powder.  Her husband is in a darling red jacket even though it is literally 100 degrees outside and is wearing white socks with white loafers.  They open up every meeting with the elderly man reading everyone's horoscope, and luckily the old lady is a Pisces so I always get to hear mine as well.

I listen to these people chat every Tuesday, tuning into their trivia when my mind begins to wander from my writing. That is the beauty of a coffee shop. Hey the old man just asked the younger woman to make a reservation at 29 South this evening!  My God this is a small town!

Unlike a bar, where the beverage imbibed clouds one's judgement, coffee is clarifying.  It allows for an exchange of ideas between people without any sort of agenda other than simple conversation.  Coffee shops play a pivotal role in our society. When was the last time you spent time in a coffee shop?  Twice a week I claim a table as my own and set to work for hours.  It is the best office a girl can ask for.

It is a been a long while since I have give a Good Life Quest...

Good Life Quest #10 : Coffee Shop Quality Time
Grab a cup of joe or a cup of tea or whatever you drink at a local coffee shop.  Try to avoid a corporate chain, if possible...there is a certain ambience to the small business coffee shop that the big boys just lack.  Bring a book, or a friend.  Give yourself an hour and enjoy coffee shop culture, still thriving after all these years!