Friday, May 13, 2011

Craft Friday: Homemade baby food

I stress about feeding my children.  From the beginning I’ve always felt like I was doing something wrong, like I didn’t know how to do it properly.  It didn’t matter if it was nursing, feeding peas, or feeding pasta.  I needed someone with more authority to tell me what to do.  And I still feel that way.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m a worrier and an overthinker.  And making sure a little person is fed and thriving, well, I lose sleep over it.  
So I’m not really sure if it’s better for my mental state if I make homemade baby food or not.  But I do enjoy it and I know it’s better for the kids.  And it’s super easy.  It’s something I’m learning not to make harder than it is.  I still feel the need to have a recipe, when really all you have to do is put veggies into a steamer basket until they’re fork tender, then puree, but I don't know if that's ever going to change. 

But in case you’re like me, here’s a step by step (with pictures!).

First, set out your tools.  You’ll need a pot with a lid, a steamer basket, fruit or veggies, fresh or frozen, a spoon and something to blend the cooked product with.  (If you’re lucky like me your mother-in-law will buy you an immersion blender and it will be awesome and work better than anything else.)  And possibly a knife and cutting board.  And band-aids.

If you’ve got fresh fruit or vegetables, just peel if needed and cut up.  Try to avoid injury, which I can't seem to do.  In one afternoon of baby-food making I cut myself four times.  I take after my mother.

I’ve made peas, green beans, peaches, mangoes, apples, pears, prunes, broccoli, blueberries, strawberries and carrots (before I knew that you weren’t supposed to make them homemade because of nitrites in the soil.)  For sweet potatoes and pumpkins just bake until super soft and puree. 

I use frozen peas and green beans since they’re not in season and the beans at the store look kind of sad.  Here’s where I should probably admit that I don’t always use full-on organic produce for Adele.  Maybe I should, but it’s not always in the budget.  I’ve been incorporating a little more but we’re still not totally there.  If I buy jarred food, which I do sometimes, it’s usually organic.

So, onward.  Heat some water up on the stove.

Put the fruit/vegetables in the steamer.

Check the cookbook once again because apparently this is rocket science to me and I just can’t do it without a crutch that tells me exactly how long to steam the peaches.  

Or, just steam until fork soft, testing neurotically every two minutes, just in case.

Put the peaches in a smaller bowl to puree.  Taste them for doneness and remember how much you love peaches.  Consider just eating the batch yourself.

Decide that it’s probably better to feed your daughter first, but carry a little resentment that you were not allowed to eat the delicious, delicious peaches.  

Puree until the right consistency for your child.

Pour into ice cube trays, which are about an ounce a cube.  Or buy the fancy ‘baby food trays’ and use them.  Realize that the bag of frozen peaches didn't make nearly as much baby food as you thought.  Decide to maybe wait on peaches until they're in season and you can buy a lot at once.

I like to wrap the filled trays in wax paper, then plastic wrap, then pop into the freezer until firm.  Once they’re frozen I take them out of the trays and put the cubes in labeled freezer bags.  When I’m ready to use them I just heat them up in the microwave.

Feed baby.  Realize that it was probably worth it that you didn’t eat the peaches yourself since she seems to love them so much.  Think about forgiving her for eating all the sweet peaches.

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