Welcome to Foodlets!
This blog could have just as easily been called, “not chicken nuggets” but Foodlets.com seemed cuter. My name is Charity Curley Mathews and my dream is to have children who eat food, real food, natural food, often organic, rarely processed, sometimes ethnic, food. And I would prefer that the food not end up on the floor.
So far I have two children--one is a toddler and the second is on a breast-milk only diet for the time being. So we’ll focus on Phoebe who is a hit or miss eater. This blog is a personal chronicle of feeding Phoebe (and eventually Estelle) but it's also about ideas, things that have worked for us, things I think will work for us and hopefully your suggestions on what works too. Together, we might be able to feed these kids and live to enjoy it!
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WE’RE GOING FOR COMFORT FOOD. Both babies have nearly gotten over their colds and Phoebe’s pink eye is basically behind us but there are still lingering coughs at night, sometimes waking up the whole household. My own scratchy throat isn’t helping but it was this exchange with the two-year old that pushed me into yesterday’s muffin making process:
[Estelle starts crying in her room after Phoebe yells in the hallway.]
Phoebe: Her crying because I woke her up?
Phoebe: That’s funny mommy.
Me: No, it’s not funny.
Phoebe: It’s a little funny.
Muffins it is.
These were adapted from a recipe for quick bread on the High Chair Times blog at Parents.com, a site that’s new to me but one with tons of good ideas. The recipe was simple and included items already found in my kitchen, unlike the delicious but complicated looking banana bran muffins I’d been eying in my Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook earlier this week. Anything that requires buttermilk substitutions will have to wait until everyone is a little less mucus-y. Which could be a while.
In the meantime, I switched a few things around: no blueberries, organic (frozen) raspberries instead. In went the wheatgerm and if I’d had any thawed, I’d have used applesauce instead of oil which I’ll include as an option here.
As usual Phoebe was on hand but it’s not always easy to have a renegade toddler in the kitchen. Trying to “help” she’d already filled two of the muffin cups with batter by the time I threw away the egg shell and turned back around. The problem: said cups needed to be oiled first. Out when the batter, hand wash the pan… Let’s start again. Her enthusiasm simply cannot be harnessed. We’re working on the whole “cooking together is a privilege so you need to listen” lesson but after the thousandth time her doughy fingers made their way into the raw batter despite my reminders to the contrary, it seemed my efforts were falling short. Mercifully all the batter was used in one go and, phew, the task was done. This may have been ambitious on a day when I wasn’t feeling my best. Or really any day. But onward we go.
Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens’ Oatmeal-Blueberry Muffins
- 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup wheat germ
- 3/4 cup whole oats (not quick cooking)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup applesauce or corn oil
- 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
- oil or butter for greasing the pan
Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl whisk together flour, wheat germ, oats, baking soda and powder plus salt. Use your fingers to create a well, pushing the dry ingredients to the edges of your bowl until you can see several inches of the bottom of your bowl. If you’ve ever made homemade pasta, this will look familiar. If you haven’t, this technique will save you from washing two bowls.
Working quickly, add the egg, milk, brown sugar and apple sauce. Mix until just combined then fold in the berries.
Pour the batter into prepared mini-muffin pans (or regular sized muffin pans) and bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
WE HAVE SOME PROBLEMS AROUND HERE. Two nasty little colds were followed by one awful case of pink eye and own throat-scratching, coughing in the middle of the night cold. A trifecta of germs! Making matters worse, our babysitter is MIA with a stomach virus all her own. That said, a little (maybe a lot of) comfort food is in order. Turning to Mark Bittman, one of my favorite NY Times writers, I came up with a tasty two-step approach to homemade chicken soup. This recipe isn’t quick but it is pretty easy. The painstaking part is making stock. Yes, yes, I used to think this was ridiculous. That was before I moved to Italy and realized I couldn’t buy it at the store. So, stove top stock it is. Read more…
THIS IS A SECRET. Roasting cauliflower makes it delicious. Just cut up an entire head and assemble on a baking sheet. Slather on the extra virgin olive oil and use your hands to coat each piece. Flatten them out and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Go light on the salt if you’re cooking for toddlers since too much salt isn’t good for growing kidneys.Pop it into an oven at 425 for about 30 minutes, flipping once. When the cauliflower is browned at the edges, it’s ready. Add a little more salt to the adults’ plates and watch everyone ask for more. Really. On that note, a large cauliflower will feed a family of three or four. After you’ve tried this once, you might become a two-cauliflower family. Read more…
AS MARK BITTMAN ONCE SAID, “IT’S NOT THE BETA CAROTENE, IT’S THE CARROT”. There’s just something wonderful about this sweet, crunchy and super healthy food. Easy to cook, versatile and best of all, simply to puree for babies.
As with most baby food purees, a “recipe” isn’t really in order. It’s more of an idea or technique. For Estelle’s latest batch, we (and when I say “we” I mean my trusty assistant and me) just bought a couple pounds of organic carrots, peeled, chopped and steamed them in a sauce pan with about an inch of water. Later on, I’ll roast them in the oven with olive oil but at seven months she’s still pretty new to solids and if I have to introduce one thing at a time I’ll keep going with fruit and veggies for now.
In the meantime, here’s a handy idea. I’ve started keeping veggie scraps like carrot tops and peels in a plastic zip top baggie in the freezer. Once the bag is full I brew up a pot of vegetable stock or add the veggies to a pot of chicken stock. I used to think this was silly, but my inner hippie just can’t see so much produce go to waste. Even if it is clippings. Read more…
IT’S AN INDIAN SUMMER IN ITALY. Actually, that’s not official but with afternoon heat still hitting the mid 80s it certainly feels that way in Rome. So we’re still into salads here and they come in two versions. One for adults and one for toddlers (aka, one that will not be spit out.) The culprit? Lettuce. So Phoebe’s version is simply a deconstructed salad. Hers is all toppings and no filler, which is basically a plate full of finger food. A winner on two levels. Read more…
WE TRIED IT AGAIN. The pasta cups are back and this time, just as I
threatenedpromised, I added broccoli and ricotta cheese, trying for a bit of a quiche flavor. Speaking of flavor, I also added herbs, fresh parsley and basil. I thought they’d look festive and pack a bit of punch too. Also, the pan didn’t fall apart this time, which was a plus. Read more…