Thursday, February 26, 2009

Forecasted Adventures in Baby Food

When I found out I was expecting, one of the first things that rushed to my mind, was: I can't wait to feed my baby! Quickly followed by: I need to get one of those baby food mills.

My mom had one when we were kids, and I have fond memories of watching her create all sorts of "real" baby foods for my sister in it. REAL chicken soup. REAL pureed vegetables. REAL food. None of this God-knows-what's-in-it-pureed-whatchamacallit.

To be fair, I should really qualify that statement by saying that I
do like baby food - the store bought kind. I can't help but find the idea of some of the combinations personally pretty appealing (and I did, on occasion, buy it for myself for the heck of it). Nowadays I find the supermarket shelves stocked with the most interesting, all-organic, all-natural combinations in the niftiest of packaging. Besides the fact that each of these gourmet little baby food containers will set you back the price of an adult meal, they sound like a great idea.

But, as an adolescent, I always thought I'd choose lots of fifty-cent, Gerber roast-beefy things for some reason. Sadly, I think those are in the "graduates" categories, so I'm going to do a lot of idea shifting before I'm allowed to actually feed my own child anything other than milk.

* * *

We are a family of hoarders. It has taken 20-something years and Oprah's special feature on "Hoarders" for me to realize it, but it's true (however mild the case). It was, therefore, always a dangerous proposition for my mother, Caaa and I to attempt to clean out our family garage last spring rather than hiring professionals. Nevertheless, we were determined to complete the gargantuan task - as if it were a rite of passage - for the last time in order to put the house on the market and move on once and for all.

While digging through boxes of toys, books, craft supplies and old t-shirts, I came across the long-loved, long-used food mill my mother used to make our baby food more than a quarter century ago, bright orange carrying case and all.

Despite not being pregnant, I quickly hoarded it into my pile of "things I really don't need and should probably be thrown away but I'm keeping anyhow" to save it from going, along with a million other deserving things, to the Goodwill store. I also, just for good measure and to follow unofficial protocol, screamed "I call the baby food mill!" in good hoarder style. My mom and sister didn't even raise their heads.

Once I had transported said food mill all the way from Texas to London, I took it out and lovingly prepared to wash and store it in wait for my, as of then, unconceived child. Sadly, as soon as I took it out, I realized there was a very important piece missing: the metal mill. I rushed to the phone to call my mom, who, after digging through her kitchen "random crap" drawer nonchalantly said "Oh yeah, I have that." Great. Well, at least I had time. I wasn't even pregnant.

Approximately 6 months later, when my mother announced she would be throwing me, almost five months pregnant, a baby shower, I came across an exciting find. Target sold the same baby mills - but they were new and complete! I also signed up for a couple of other useful baby-feeding tidbits. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Gadgets
The infamous (but new) food mill! Ah, the creations that will be...

Baby food freezing storage trays.... don't have these yet, but I will!

My favorite foods as a child were: broccoli, liver, mushrooms, and chicken skin. This probably explains a lot to some of you who know my generally adventurous eating habits. With that in mind, I set out to find some appropriately interesting baby-food-making literature.

The Books

After reading countless reviews, random pregnant-peoples' blogs, and flipping through them myself, these are the two books I registered for. While I intend to follow my mom's and grandmother's style (giving the baby slightly blander versions of regular adult foods - mostly Mexican) with regards to feeding Ludovictus, I do also welcome (as in my own diet) more Americanized and standardized recipes which I can also use to vary the kiddo's diet and "keep it real."

One of these (the first) is a relatively unoffensive omnivorous book of traditional baby foods. A strong believer in the consumption of meat and veg, I am fiendishly anticipating the day when I'll get to cook the likes of "Braised Beef with carrot, parsnip and sweet potato" or "Filet of cod with spinach in a cheese sauce" for my little-he. Not to mention, I think I might make the "Apricot, apple, pear and vanilla" for myself before then!

The second, while slightly more uppety and gourmet in its organic leanings, also offers some highly sophisticated international choices for the small creatures. How can you
not love a book with recipes for "Happy Hummus" "Olive Spread" and "Dilly Ricotta Dip"???

Naturally, there are still (according to my calculations) at least 30-35 weeks (given that he is born on time) before I am legitimately allowed to start feeding my child solid foods.

While it is tempting, taking my grandmother's old-school approach of "getting them early" by shoving bits of tortilla and refried beans in the kid's mouth as soon as he is old enough to smile, probably isn't a good idea. But then, each child is different right? Matt's mom swears the reason Matt is so healthy (and stopped crying his head off all the time) is that she started supplementing his milk meals by straw-feeding him baby cereal at the ripe old age of 2 weeks.

Come to think of it, that does explain why he gets so cranky when dinner is late. :)

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