Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Campaign for Mother of the Year Begins NOW!

Lately I've tried my hand at making baby food for Olivia now that she's eating solids.  I can't yet decide if this experiment is going to become habit or float away into the past tense.  It's hard to tell if this is a feasible nurturing act or just a gigantic pain in the ass.  Here's a review so far of the processes and results of squeezing the life out of certain foods and feeding them to my baby.

By far these have been the easiest to cook and puree in the blender.  You just peel carrots, chop them small, steam them until tender, and toss in the blender with enough plain water (not reserved cooking water) to make baby food.  Voila!  You are mother of the year.  And they're so beautiful.  They retain their vibrant sunny carrotiness that is somehow lost in the mass production of baby food.  See for yourself (modeled by the lovely Livy Lee):

Orange face.  Blue eyes.

You can just see the nutrition in that vivid orange, and you can see its effects in the squishy fatrolls on that sweet baby girl.  So, for ease of preparation, nutritional value, and tastiness, I give homemade carrots an A+.

Now, peas would seem to be a lower-maintenance vegetable to prepare since they can be made from frozen peas and require less handling before they hit the pot.  After all, the recipe I used reads basically the same as for carrots:  cook according to package instructions, then puree with enough cooking liquid to make a smooth baby mush.  Easy enough, right?  WRONG!

I threw the peas in the blender and watched as their skins gummed up the entire works and refused to break down enough to reassure me that Livy wouldn't struggle choking them down.  Since she's new to "solid" food, she needs them to be really smooth.  In the future the skins won't be much of a problem, but boy are they now.  After blending the little bastards until the base of the blender started to get hot to the touch, I finally scooped the green slime out and strained it.  This isn't a difficult process, but it is a messy one.  I'm still finding little green splashes in my kitchen today.  With practice this could get easier and less messy, and perhaps the blender wasn't quite the right appliance to puree with.  Maybe the food processor will be better.  It's worth trying again because Olivia loves her peas so much.

Pea love...

And again, look at how vibrant and, to quote Nigella, "verdelicious" that is.  So much prettier and more delicious (I try everything that she eats) than jarred peas.  So, peas, I give you a B+ and am willing to renegotiate this grade pending further experimentation.

My perception of the difficulty of making sweet potatoes is colored by the fact that I was making them late last night after a long day, a really difficult workout, and a bedtime battle I'd rather not recall.  I think they were easy, but MAN did I hate them last night.  I think with further attempts I can refine the process and make it more do-able, and it'll be a cinch when I'm confident that Livy can handle more texture in her food.

So, I peeled, chopped, and steamed two sweet potatoes.  Then I mashed them using most of their cooking liquid to make a paste.  This still seemed too chunky for me, so then I transferred the orange muck to the blender where it staunchly refused to blend.  Then I swore and pissed and moaned and said mean things like "that goddamned baby had better appreciate this goddamned food" so loudly that SLB reminded me that making baby food is an elective process and that we can always buy it.  Then I went on a long diatribe about the offensiveness of paying 89 cents a jar for 2 cents of product that beat us both into a submissive stupor, at which point I added more liquid to the blender and finally achieved a consistency I was happy with.  Sweet potatoes must remain ungraded until I try making them again in a more stable mood.  I was in no position to subjectively assess the process last night.

I would have taken a picture of Livy covered in her breakfast sweet potatoes this morning, except that she was such a demanding little eater that I couldn't stop shoveling them in her face long enough to get the camera.  She ate two meals' worth, plus some rice cereal, plus 6 ounces of formula in about 20 minutes this morning.  It takes a lot of calories to maintain this level of cuteness.

Manning her workstation.

All systems are go!

UPDATE, 4:19 pm:  I just saw those sweet potatoes again, this time exploded out of my daughter's diaper and all up her back.  The digestive process did nothing to improve them.  Olivia got a surprise midday bath and we both got new outfits.  Not cute.  The end.

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