Paula Burch'sBaby Food Cookbook
Basic RecipeGet a pound or so of food, add water, cook it until soft, then mush it in a food processor or mechanical food mill. Use an ice cube tray to freeze the food; each cube in a normal 1-pint tray is one ounce, an ideal unit size, and a pound of food should make something like one tray's worth. When the food is frozen, pop it out and store it in plastic bags. To serve, just heat a couple of cubes--microwaving is fine if you stir well before testing the temperature.
You don't need to cook bananas, but I think it's probably best to cook firmer fruits at first.
RiceThis is the traditional first food for babies, in the US. Some start it as early as four months, others delay until six months because of evidence that delaying the introduction of solid foods may be healthier.
Why make it yourself, when instant baby rice is easy to buy? The advantage of home-made baby rice is that it tastes fine without adding formula or laboriously pumped breastmilk for the sake of palatability. It's the same principle as that which causes "old fashioned" (five minute) oatmeal to be so much tastier than one-minute oatmeal, which in turn is much tastier than the library paste sold as instant oatmeal. More proccessing means less flavor. This is important to those who have enough trouble already with pumping breastmilk, and don't have an excess to spare. (If you do buy instant baby rice, avoid Heinz, which, at this writing, contains potentially allergenic sunflower oil.)
The best rice for baby foods is short-grain; short-grain brown rice works quite well. If you prefer brown rice to refined rice, home-made is best because instant baby brown rice often smells a bit rancid, and rancid oils are not healthy to eat.
INGREDIENTS 1 cup short grain brown rice 5 to 6 cups water COOKING Cook on a very low heat, or, better, in a slow-cooker, for hours, or until most of the water is absorbed. PREPARATION For a young baby, it's best to mush the rice. A food processor works best for this.
Freeze what you don't need in the next two days, in ice cube trays, baby food jars, Avent 4-ounce bottles (they are short and fat enough to work well), or by dropping blobs onto wax paper and later bagging the frozen blobs.
Bananas do not need to be cooked. At first, most other vegetables and fruits do, until the baby can handle a greater variety of texture.
We've mushed sweet potatoes (peel after cooking), white potatoes (do not use the processor, as it makes a gluey mess of white potatoes--use a masher, instead, however you normally mash potatoes), red ripe bell peppers, carrots (organically grown ones taste best, in my experience), broccoli, green beans, and peas. I mushed ripe watermelon with a fork and fed it that way, or in little chunks. Once our baby was into finger food, he got nectarines, peaches, cantaloupe, quartered but unpeeled grapes, etc.We generally just buy unsweetened all-natural applesauce, packaged for adults.
Meat for babies and toddlers
INGREDIENTS 2 to 3 pounds chicken thighs, or beef potroast, or pork chops 1 cup water COOKING Put the meat in a slow cooker on high, bring to a simmer, then adjust temperature setting downwards until you determine the right one for barely simmering. (Obviously, this is less trouble after you've done it once and know the right setting, but you can follow the instructions in the recipe book that comes with your slow cooker to guess the right setting, instead.) Cook either all night or all day. (You can cook it all night and then refrigerate the pot plus meat before leaving the house in the morning, or refrigerate before bedtime and start it cooking just before leaving the house in the morning.) If you don't have a slow cooker, use two cups of water, and cook the meat on a very low heat for four or five hours, adding water if necessary, until the meat falls apart when poked with a fork. It is best to cool foods quickly, especially when cooking for babies, which means putting the pot in a sink or dishpan of water to cool. PREPARATION After the meat has cooled down, remove any bones or hard gristly bits with your fingers. If chicken is cooked slowly enough, there will be no hard gristly bits--they will dissolve into gelatin, adding a smoother texture which babies appreciate. For finger food, either shred the meat and serve as is; or prepare mush as below, mix with instant rice cereal, and roll into balls; or spread mush thinly on bread or crackers. For baby mush, put the meat into a processor and process until finely ground, then add half of the cooking water and process to a mush. Add more of the cooking water as needed for the desired texture. Any leftover broth is good in other cooking, or can be used to mix instant rice cereal. My husband thought that meat would be bland and tasteless without salt or other seasoning, but the meat prepared this way is delicious just as it is. It makes a nice sandwich spread for any age. For adults or adventurous kids, try mixing it with a good curry spice mixture for sandwiches.
Copyright 1997 Paula E. Burch
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