Friday, August 17, 2012

Glorious Peaches

Peaches are in season here.  I love peaches. They are one of my favourite fruits. I generally only eat them when they are in season - tinned just isn't the same.  My partner doesn't like them, which means that I can buy & devour a whole basket of them without having to share.

That is, I didn't have to share until recently.  It turns out, the kiddo, who is just shy of 6 months as of this writing, really likes peaches.  The other day, I bit into a peach, and she grabbed my arm, yanked it down to her face level and faceplanted onto the fruit.  She then preceded to suck out the juice from where I had just bitten.  She insisted that I share the rest of the peach with her via baby-death-grip on my wrist.

I think she's ready to start solids.

In an attempt to preserve some of the delicious peachiness for myself, I made some peach-blueberry freezer jam.  Freezer jam is the best!  All you need is mashed fruit, sugar and freezer jam pectin.  No stove required - which is fantastic on hot days.  The downside is that you can't store the jars on a shelf - as the name implies, it is best stored in the freezer.  It also tends to be a little bit runnier than other jams, but depending on how you are planning on using the jam, I find that's generally not an issue.

I've already eaten half a jar, stirred into my morning oatmeal.  I wouldn't be surprised if I turn into a peach before the summer is out!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bread Heels & Baby Feeding

I've never understood why small children & babies dislike having their faces wiped so much. 
I can understand why they don't want you messing with their nose - after all, how would you feel if someone tried to pick your nose?
But on the faces front, I don't get it.  I would feel better after having sticky crud removed from my chin.
I've been ruminating on this topic lately as we will soon be faced with introducing solids to the munchkin.  This, of course, will necessitate much face wiping.
We've purchased a high chair, and have been sitting her in it with a spoon & some toys at meal times.  So far, she seems to like it.

As for the idea of actually getting food into her face, well, frankly, I'm a bit frightened.  I also don't want to have to spend ages every week making purees. 
This has brought me to research baby-led weaning (ie. minimizing the purees and just giving your kid actual food).  You can see how this approach is appealing from a time saving standpoint.  Just make sure there's some veggies/meat/etc appropriately cooked through, and in a form easy for the kid to grasp, and let them have at it (with supervision of course).
Anecdotally, babies fed this way seem to be less likely to become picky eaters.  Since my partner & I enjoy trying different cuisines, this also seems awesome to us.  I like the idea of being able to cook whatever & have her eat at least part of it.

Speaking of cooking whatever, last night I made a Greek-inspired strata.  I don't like eating the heels of bread loaves, but I also dislike wasting food.  So, I usually put them in the freezer until I have a bunch, and then I make a strata.  It is a convenient way to use up stale or leftover bread.
You will need:
a 2 quart casserole dish (greased)
5-6 cups diced, stale or toasted bread (about 10 pieces of a standard store-bought loaf)
2 cups milk
4 eggs
veggies, cheese, spices, etc to throw in.  The version I did last night had:
1/2 one large cooking onion, diced
8 quartered cherry tomatoes
1/2 packet of frozen spinach, thawed & squeezed to get rid of the extra liquid
lots of feta cheese
some sliced mushrooms because they needed to be used up
oregano, thyme & pepper

Toss the onion, tomatoes, mushrooms & spices in your casserole (Hey! I remembered to take pictures!).

Add your spinach and cheese

Then add your bread cubes.  Beat your eggs & the milk together, and pour over top.

Then, stir everything up in the dish so it is well mixed.  Put it in the oven, uncovered, at about 325-350F and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

The bread will soak up the egg & milk mixture, and everything will get all puffy & chewy & wonderful.  If you like, before you put it into the oven, you can sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs or Parmesan.  Then the top will come out all crunchy & delicious.

The best thing about strata is that you can adapt it to any flavour profile you like.  Having people over for brunch?  Fill it with cheddar, diced bell pepper, onion and diced potatoes (and if you like meatiness, you could also add bacon or breakfast sausages).  Fancy dinner?  Fill it with Gruyere & asparagus & mushrooms.

Hopefully, baby will be able & willing to enjoy strata when I make it next.