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Category Archives: Food

The Birthday Cake

Norah began describing her birthday cake about two months before her birthday.  She was extraordinarily specific about what she wanted.  She drew a picture and posted it on the fridge.  Usually I make her cake but I was intimidated by this project.   And frankly, I didn’t understand her description. 

So we went to the bakery.  I thought she would be wooed by other cakes.  Or, maybe she would see one she liked.  I was wrong.  As we wandered from cake to cake, a baker approached us and asked what the problem was.  I explained.  This wonderful woman was all seriousness as she sat down with Norah to design her cake.  Neither of them smiled.  Norah answered each question with decisiveness and firm opinion.  Who is this child? 

I was nervous when I picked up the cake.  Upon showing it to Norah, she nodded briskly and declared it “perfect.”  Scott and I high-fived. 

Here she is holding the picture she drew of her cake. 

  

We had a small family party this year.  Just as the guests were arriving, she bolted to her room, locked the door, and re-emerged wearing the shiny ensemble you see here.  Complete with ruby red slippers.

She’s growing up so big.

Why wasn’t I told?

Why wasn’t I told that convincing a small human to eat requires enormous creativity?

I am a consummate constructor of food monsters.  For some reason, known only to a toddler or preschooler, anything shaped into a monster may be eaten.  Boiled egg?  Boring!  Egg monsters?  Delicious. 

(she ate most of the egg monsters before I could take a picture)

Foods named eggs and toast?  Yesterday’s news.  Foods named “eggs in a nest?”  Something new!

Food presented on a plate?  Blah…push it around with a fork.  Food presented in an egg carton, altoid box, cupcake liner, cookie cutter, or any odd container?  Gobble it up.

The egg carton is Norah’s favorite lunchbox. 

Need some ideas for a picky little one?  I take lots of ideas from bento box themes.  Check out laptop lunch’s ideas.  I also like their photo gallery

Of course, for those truly artistic souls, aspire to true bento genius.

Baby-led

I mostly don’t feed Cedar.  She feeds herself.  And does a bang-up job of it. 

I’m a big believer in starting solids by sharing what you’re eating.  With Norah, we never bought baby food.  Jar food seemed wasteful in packaging and unappetizing.  We mashed up sweet potatoes, pureed peas, ground cereals. 

Then I learned about baby-led weaning.  It goes like this:  The gag reflex in a baby is near the front of the mouth.  When you spoon-feed, you bypass this protective gag reflex.  When baby feeds herself, the gag reflex offers a safety mechanism.  It also gradually moves farther back in the mouth as she matures. 

So this time around, I started with finger foods.  Very soft foods like bananas, avocados, small pieces of sweet potato.  And she mastered them quickly. 

Of course, I still use a spoon sometimes.  Namely with yogurt and at restaurants.  But Cedar is practicing now with a spoon and learning to do it herself.  And even without teeth, she eats small chunks of chicken and turkey, roasted beets, and rice crackers.

It makes sense to me.  It has worked well for Cedar.  And we’ve only had a few minor choking moments, usually on bits of bread.

I love watching babies explore textures and spices.  Cedar loves lemons, pickles, cinnamon, and spicy beans and rice. 

One thing, though.  Baby-led weaning is messy.  Oh yes indeed.

Win / Fail

Win:  Cadbury’s bestseller, the Dairy Milk Bar, is now fairly traded.  The packaged cocoa is also certified fair trade.  This change means the cocoa beans were not picked using slave labor.  This change means that very small children were not exposed to pesticides or forced to perform dangerous tasks.  This change means that workers received a fair wage.

Fail:  Everything else made by Cadbury is not fairly traded.  Yes, that includes the famous egg.

Remember my post asking why we can have dolphin-safe tuna but we can’t have slave-free chocolate?  Learn more about slave-free products and stay mindful as you prepare Easter goodies.

Such incredible yumminess

I tried this raw chocolate mousse at Earth Fare.  The gRAWnola guy was doing a “cooking” demo although, of course, there is no cooking required and he let me scrape the bowl.  This recipe is beyond yum.

  • 3/4 cup dates soaked until very soft with pits removed
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 3/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup agave

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until very smooth.

The recipe card I picked up doesn’t credit anybody so apologies to the raw chef I’m not crediting.

Solid Food Poo Meets the BG Diaper Sprayer

I feel like “Kung Fu Fighting” should be playing in the background as I type. 

Cedar is enjoying solids.  I have mixed feelings.  Because solids = poo that doesn’t rinse out in the wash.  My life has gotten more complicated.  Enter the bumGenius diaper sprayer.  I didn’t have one of these gadgets with Norah.  My “dealing with the poopies” method with her was decidedly low-tech.  Hint:  it involved toilet paper.  Thank you, Katy and John, for gifting us with the fancy schmancy sprayer!  It attaches to the toilet and we (and by “we” I mean “I”) spray the poo into oblivion. 

Of course, since I frequently shoot for the stars, I chose to feed Cedar some blueberries.  Yeah.  I wanted to put the sprayer (and my stomach) to the test. 

That said, after Marion’s presentation on EC at the Blessingway today, perhaps I won’t have many poopy diapers in my future.  We shall see.

So what does the wee soon-to-be-7-month old eat?  She loves avocado, apples, zucchini, carrots, butternut squash to name a few.  I don’t follow many of the food rules.  I don’t introduce one thing at a time.  I don’t mash it all into oblivion after reading about gag reflexes and spoon feeding.  For instance, I steam the carrots and then bite off tiny pieces so she can play with them and chomp.  The only thing she has refused was barley.  I ended up eating it all.  Which is the beauty of making baby food–I’m willing to eat it too.  This morning she devoured part of my whole wheat banana pancake.  All in all, she’s an enthusiastic eater with many adorable mmmm sounds and blissed out faces. 

And finally, I have it from a lovely medical professional that Cedar is perfect.  I mean, I knew that.  But it is nice to have it officially stated.

Red Lobster on Wade Hampton Rd in Greenville

What a friendly place!

Not only do they serve great food but they also provide a complimentary cloth napkin to put over your baby’s head!

Yes, it is true.  Free cloth napkins so that no one else in the restaurant has to see a baby eating his meal. 

This week, at our friendly Red Lobster, my dear friend nursed her fretful baby.  After she finished, the General Manager popped over and placed a cloth napkin on my friend’s table.  Ms. Helpful Manager patted it and said quietly, “In case you want to nurse again.”  And then fled to the kitchen. 

It seems Mr. and Mrs. Old Grumpypants a few tables away didn’t appreciate seeing a baby nurse and complained.  Rather than offering them a different table, Ms. Helpful Manager chose to embarrass a mother. 

I have some thoughts.  (Surprised?)

1)  Don’t mess with mothers of babies.  Period.  It is the most difficult role on the planet and should be treated with respect.

2)  It really doesn’t matter what you THINK about nursing in public.  Nursing in public is protected by SC LAW.  I don’t really like that my neighbor shoots guns in his backyard but he is protected by law.  Nothing I can do about it.  You don’t like it?  Don’t look.

3)  Again…many babies won’t nurse under cover.  And (see #2) they don’t have to. 

4)  The World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and others recommend that babies be fed “on demand.”  That means that the baby knows when he’s hungry better than we do.  So let the baby eat when he chooses–regardless of convenience or audience.

Please remember:  breastfeeding would not be such a big deal if it was a normal part of our daily interactions.  The more mamas who nurse in public, the less likely that my daughters will be made to feel ashamed one day when they nurse my grandchildren. 

If you work in a business:  leave the mamas alone. 

If you’re uncomfortable around a nursing mama:  see my post on nursing etiquette

Kudos to you, Red Lobster.  I give you the BPA-laden, plastic bottle of formula award.

The Treats

Halloween is my husband’s favorite holiday.  Something about Autumn+Candy+Cartoons+Costumes makes for his perfect day.

From our first year of marriage, I’ve been making ghoulish Halloween treats to celebrate the day.  This year, I wanted them to be a bit healthier.

My spinach hummus graveyard:

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The swamp juice and Jack:

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The swamp juice is made with tapioca pearls with a swedish fish floating about.  I had planned to use seltzer water and lemonade but found a drink called “Snow” I wanted to try from Amazing Savings.  It was yummmm.

Jack is a gutted orange filled with fruit pieces. 

Scott drew the line at the raisins I wanted to hand out as treats to trick-or-treaters.  We settled on bags of pretzels and candy.

And never smell of barley water

Your Mary Poppins reference for the day. 

Barley has a long history as a lactogenic food–a food that supports lactation.  My current favorite way to increase lacto-potential is to make fennel/oatstraw/nettles tea with barley water. 

To make barley water, I put 1/4 cup of barley in a quart of water.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  The remaining water makes my tea.  I’ve found a yummy way to eat the barley itself.  I mix it with pineapple, maple syrup, and cinnamon and eat it warm. 

Meanwhile, why would a nanny smell of barley water?  What was she using it for??

Gooseberries and Nesting

I’m 37 weeks pregnant.  Needless to say, there are heavy matters on my mind.  I have a ton ‘o things to do and I’ve taken nesting to an unsafe level. 

<Pause>  Let me interrupt to brag on my husband and father who, under the influence of a melting-down, estrogen-crazed pregnant woman, have performed mighty feats of remodeling magic in my house.  They really didn’t have a chance when faced with a crying belly bump girl.  Thanks o men of my dreams!!  <Continue>

So, since my to-do list is long and weighty, I thought I would blog about small celebratory things. 

First, summer fruit:

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Ok, I know.  Rhubarb isn’t a fruit.  But I celebrate it all the same.

Second, my salt cellar:

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I don’t know why my salt cellar (and the tiny olive wood spoon) brings such contentment.  The small things, I suppose.  A bamboo box for the sea salt and the kosher salt.  What a thing of beauty.

The to-do list will be there tomorrow.  The extreme nesting will continue to compel me to do things like clean the hot water heater with a toothbrush.  Tonight I cling to my red currants and salt cellar.  But the end is in sight.   My queen-of-organization sister will come to my rescue.  She will.