Friday, January 22, 2016

Baby Food

I started this post over a year ago prompted by 2 articles in the October 8 New York Times Magazine (Food Issue), a visit to Portland where our grandson Henry was just beginning to eat solid food, and a vist to the Portland Farmer's Market.

At the time, October 2014, I wrote:

With babies and then children it is all about good choices when it comes to food. Since this had been on my mind again, I found these two articles particularly relevant.

Getting Your Kids to Eat (or at least Try) Everything
Rise and Shine What kids around the world eat for breakfast

When we were in Portland last week we were waiting for coffee at a small shop enroute to the Farmer's Market, a favorite destination whenever I am in Portland.  A man and two small boys were at a table near us..The man had a moderately healthy looking breakfast sandwich and coffee. The boys each had a very sugary looking pastry and pink sugary drinks. After indulging in more than one almond croissant at Ken's during the past week I was in no position to be critical. However, when I was enjoying a delicious local veggies brunch at the Farmers Market (photo left) an hour later I could not help thinking about the scene at the coffee shop and all the healthy alternatives that for the same price or less now surrounded me.

Our grandson, Henry, is beginning to eat solid food and I am delighted (but not surprised) to see the wonderful meals his mom, Alexandra (1980 photo top left), is preparing for him.  I remember making pureed chicken (put chicken and a bit of broth in a food processor and process until smooth), pureed carrots (likewise carrots and water) and a few other pedestrian offerings for Alexandra and later Christopher. To store, I would fill an ice cube tray and freeze.  Alex does the same but with many more foods including Oregon plums, apples, peaches, as well as spinach and peas (not Henry's favorite) and freezes the pureed food in ice cube trays that come with their own top.  Feeding Alex in a pre-microwave era I heated the food in an egg coddler.

Henry is feeding himself at an early age.  This is the tend, Alex tells me. In fact some of Henry's friends have gone straight from nursng to "finger foods".  At the time of my visit to Portland avocadoes were a real favorite.
Alex also cooks pieces of carrotts and pears until they are tender and then gives Henry the pieces to eat.

Flash forward a year later, Henry has left his Portland daycare and, with his parents, is living with us until they find a house in the Boston area. I am making his lunches before he heads off to nursery school/daycare. Mindful that his old daycare provided healthy meals and tried to introduce many new foods I try (sort of) to maintain that goal.

Hummus is a hit. But while his mom and uncle dipped celery and carrotts in the hummus, Henry likes to eat it with a spoon. The token carrot or celery stick I packed with the hummus came home untouched.  Since food is about color and how it is presented, it was hard for me to pack just a blob of hummus.  I had some fresh pomegranate seeds in the fridge and put some on top.  The snack box came home empty and since then Henry has enjoyed many more hummus-pomegranate lunches.
Other favorites are grilled cheese sandwich, cut in small cubes, (left), Baked Beans, Apple Keam (but without the keme for school), Meat Loaf, plain whole milk yogurt mixed with blueberries, pancakes, string cheese, and almost any fruit.

Toddlers will have a favorite food and then (temporairly) refuse to eat it, most often right after a large supply of the "favorite food" has been purchased. Happend with avocadoes, happened with grilled cheese sandwiches and cheese-spinach omlettes. Henry is now eating avocadoes again, though her prefers them in Guacamole,

Listen to your toddler. After Henry started eating cheese omlettes again, Alex offered him a cheese-spinach omlette. Not such a hit. A few weeks later Henry and I had grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, or actually I had a grilled cheese and arugula sandwich. Henry looked at my sandwich and immediately asked for green in his as he has since.  This morning I was going to make him a cheese omlette. As I was getting eggs out of the refrigerator, Henry spotted a box of arugula. "In omlet", he said as he handed me the box.  We are working back to the cheese-spinach omlette.

Henry's former school provided fruit popsicles on each child's birthday. Henry's current school leaves the treat up to parents.  Since the celebration is mid-morning rather than after lunch, Alex did not think popsicles were the best option and instead sent mini Blueberry Muffins which were a hit with all.  Okay, they contain sugar but so does birthday cake and the cookies I sent to school for Chris and Alex's birthdays.

May 13, 2019: Excellent article on this topic in today's New York Times:

Reviewed 9/21/2017

Sunday, January 17, 2016

December Tomatoes

If one wants to eat local in New England, November and December are the Brussels sprouts, apple, cranberry and root vegetable months. That is until Chris arrived this December with a box of tomatoes from his loft in Somerville (MA). After putting his outdoor garden to bed this fall, Chris decided to give indoor tomatoes, grown hydroponically a try.
"They just keep coming", he said, as he handed several to me, and frankly I'm getting a little sick of them."  What a treat!
Unfortunately he had harvested all his basil and made pesto a few weeks ago (not offered) so I had to purchase some basil to make pasta with fresh tomatoes.  Yumm! A delicious treat, full of summer, on a cold winter evening.

Reviewed 9/14/2017

Apple Keam

This recipe is for Henry. Apple Pie/Apples and Ice Cream  = (Apple Keam)

Henry's favorite dessert is Apple Pie, which Chris brings for holidays and occasionally just for dinner. I've begged Chris for the recipe, not that I'll ever be ambitious enough to make it, mostly because I could never successfully match Chris's pie, but just because it is so good.

Most of the time Henry has to settle for my simpler Apple Crisp and Apple Cranberry Crisp or when I'm in a hurry this easy version of "Apple Keam" (rhymes with "team").

It's not just that this is easy to make, it is also pretty healthy. Compared to the alternatives, the sugar is minimal. The sugar is mixed with cinnamon (a lot in this recipe because Henry loves cinnamon - adjust accordingly) and flour to give the apples a "pie filling taste" and to help evenly distribute the small amount of sugar.

Peel, quarter and thinly slice

4 small apples or fewer larger ones (about 1 1/4 pounds total)
If using larger apples, cut slices in half to make them "bite-sized".

Put apples in a medium sized bowl* and toss with
1 t lemon juice

In a small bowl combine:

1 t sugar
1 t ground cinnamon (adjust to your/child's tatse)
1T flour

Mix and add to the apple - lemon juice mixture and toss until well mixed.

Put mixture into a pie plate.

Microwave on high for approximately 4 minutes, stirring every minute, until the apples are soft but not mushy.  Cool and serve plain or with with vanilla/ginger ice cream, or yogurt (apples and cream)!

These are also one of Henry's favorite lunch treats.

* Or to save dishes, mix the apples and lemon juice in the pie plate in which they will be cooked.

28 January 2016: Apple Pie is now a family "Birthday Cake".  This was Henry's "cake" of choice for his second birthday  He joins my brother, who instead of cake, chooses to celebrate his birthday with a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.

Reviewed 5/17/17

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Taming Paperwhites

I love the hint of spring paperwhite narcissus bring to a cold January day but have never liked the way the plants collapse and fall over the pot just as they come into bloom.  This year I noticed a sign beside the paperwhites at our local Christmas fair suggesting alcohol would prevent this collapse. When I was given a bunch of bulbs for Christmas, I remembered this suggestion and cruised the web. I found many variations, but the most definitive instructions called for pouring off and replacing water surrounding the bulbs with a water-alcohol mix when the shoots are about 2 inches above the bulb.

The high sugar content of beer and wine makes these liquids less optimum than spirits or rubbing alcohol.  The ratio should be about 1 part spirits (I used vodka) to 7 parts water or 1 part rubbing alcohol to 10-11 parts water.  As the photo at left shows this worked for me.  The fragrance was less than usual. whether this was due to the particular bulbs or the added alcohol, I'm not sure. This was fine with Ed who has never been a fan of the paperwhite's "obnoxious" fragrance. Looking forward to paperwhites again next year!

Reviewed 9/21/2017