baby food for non-babies (aka adults)

The biggest development in our small world these past days are the two stubby teeth in the mouth of our seven month old. With these tiny pearls has come the desire to ‘taste and see’ with an emphasis on the ‘tasting’ part – our son is biting everything. Everything. If it’s a thing – be it his dearest mama’s finger or the head of his beloved stuffed cow – he’s biting it.

I try to stay ahead of the game and offer a variety of baby teeth-friendly items for him to chew on and sometimes I’m even on top of it enough to give him actual foods to chew. Yes indeed, lovely readers, we have entered the bewildering world of baby food. Once upon a time I thought it was going to be rather simple – you take food, you make it into a paste, you insert it into the infant’s mouth. Rinse and repeat.  Not so. Turns out that while my little one will *bite* anything, he is a little more particular about the things he will actually eat. Go figure.  Before he was born, I stocked up on organic baby food in those adorable jars, tucking them away in the very back of the pantry, hardly believing that I might have a little person someday to eat them. When the time came and I excitedly opened one of the mini jars, warmed it to the perfect temperature and then dumped a decent-sized spoonful into Bru’s open mouth. He acted as though I had forced him to eat dirt. The gagging, the eye twitching, the entire body convulsions that followed this and subsequent organic Gerber meals convinced me that jarred baby food – no matter how lovingly gathered and hopefully offered – were not his thing. He wants Big People Food. Lesson learned. The End.

Of all the Big People Food we’ve tried since, without a doubt his favorite is stewed apples with coconut cream and exotic spices. I know, right – I’ve unwittingly produced some sort of infant gourmet. Honestly though, I can’t blame him. I tried the baby peas and the word that stuck in my mind was, “Yuck”.

If sterile, one dimensional, Little People Foods are at the far side of the infant menu, this creamy concoction has brought us up close and personal with delightful Big People Food. It’s awake, it’s alive, it’s deep and reminiscent of apple pie filling…oh, so tasty

 

Little Bear’s Big People Stewed Apples

 

4 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples of your choice (can be substituted for 3 cups of readymade, unsweetened apple sauce)

1/2 cup water (omit if using applesauce)

1/2 cup coconut cream

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp  ground cardamom

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

optional maple syrup to taste

 

In a large saucepan, stew down the apple slices with the water on low heat until they reach the desired constancy. I like mine a little chunky and it doesn’t matter for Bru because they’re going to be pureed anyway, so I usually let them cook 15-20 minutes. If you are using applesauce, simply pour into a pan and warm on medium. Once the apple slices are softened and melting, or the sauce is warm, add the coconut cream, spices and maple syrup if you want it sweetened. Stir well and let simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Serve at the perfect temperature.

There are several variations that we’ve played around with and they’ve earned a full stamp of approval from everyone who’s tasted them. The first is to add 1/2 a cup or more of fresh cranberries cut in half to the apples while they are stewing down. This adds a delightful tang that makes the little bear pucker up but come back eager for more until the bowl is empty. Something the Big People enjoy is spooning the warm, stewy goodness over ice-cream after the Little Person has gone to bed. It’s a delightful reward after the sun has set… Enjoy!

 

 

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Month-by-Month Topical Bible Reading Schedule: Seeking Good in January

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I know – this is a cooking blog.

It’s true that I do a lot of cooking, but I am also a very busy wife and mama who struggles to find quiet time and has been searching for a reasonable Bible reading plan to use this new year. This will not be the year I am able to read 10 chapters a day and finish the entire book by June. This is not the year I will be able to fill out a detailed prayer journal with sketches and personal observations about the devotional I am reading. This is the year I need scriptures to read out loud to my squirmy little one in the morning and then carry, pinned to my mental cork board, throughout the day to meditate on while I wash dishes, change diapers and, of course, cook.

Well, after a couple of weeks of praying and seeking the Lord for an answer, I got an idea.

Here’s the plan. I love topical studies. Love. Love. Love. I find it an extremely efficient and absorbable way to study God’s work. I believe that the Bible interprets itself and therefore when you read about a certain topic throughout the entire book, you get a complete and pure picture of it. Does that make sense? So each month Bruin and I will be studying a different topic. Each day gets a scripture or two to read and a question to answer or think about.

Since this good gift was from the Lord, I want to make it available to you readers, maybe it will fill a need in your own life? Let me know if you have any ideas for topics for future months. Some that I thought of were Joy, Peace, Hope, Faith, Speech, Thanks, Grace… etc.

Peace to thee….

Andi

January

“Diligently Seek Good”

Theme: Proverbs 11:27 “He that diligently seeketh good procureth favor.”

Scripture Readings:

1. Genesis 1:31

2. Psalms 65:11

3. Psalms 34:8

4. Psalms 33:5

5. Psalms 37:3; Psalms 34:14

6. Psalms 54:6

7. Psalms 73:28

8.Psalms 107:9

9. Psalms 119:66

10. Psalms 119:71

11. Proverbs 2:9

12. Proverbs 12:25; Proverbs 17:22

13. Matthew 5:16

14. Matthew 5:44

15. Matthew 12:34-35

16. Luke 10:42

17. John 10:11

18. John 16:33

19. Acts 10:38

20. Romans 8:28

21. Romans 12:2

22. Romans 12:21

23. Galatians 5:22

24. Ephesians 2:10

25. Ephesians 4:29

26. Philippians 1:6

27. Philippians 4:8

28. 1 Timothy 6:12

29. James 1:12

30. James 4:17

31. 1 Peter 4:10

Questions: What is being defined as ‘good’. How is this applicable to my life? What lesson, truth, promise, warning, example is there?  Pray about the scripture and ask the Lord to open your eyes to His truth. Ask for wisdom and the grace to, through His strength, hide His word in your heart and refrain from sin. Ask for the grace to abide in Him and receive life from His word.

Additional Readings:

Psalms 86:5; Psalms 100:5; Proverbs 22:1; Matthew 25:21; Mark 9:50; Romans 3:12; Romans 12:9;

2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Timothy 1:5;  2 Timothy 2:3; Titus 2:5; Hebrews 13:9

just a small, shameless plug

Hey y’all –  News Flash concerning Ugly Mugwump Designs

As you may or may not know – we’re going to have our own little mugwump (who will be absolutely adorable and nothing like ugly) this summer. Cheers and confetti cue *now*

Because of this little bit of delightfulness, I have put nearly everything in my Etsy shop on clearance in hopes that lovely people like you will buy every last item and clean out my store of knitted goods; the baby paraphernalia is really incredible and I need places to stash it all…. plus the extra cash would be fantastic!

So, from now until the first week of July when the store will go on vacation for some undisclosed amount of time, I am initiating a buying *frenzy* at the Ugly Mugwump. Why don’t you head on over and see if anything strikes your fancy?

While you’re doing that, I am going to go see how many packs of diapers I think I can fit under the sink in the bathroom…

Peace to thee,

Andi, Alex and the Little Mugwump

Only Tuesday – again

I found a stick of butter I didn’t know I had hiding in the very back of the freezer, and as I held its frozen self in my hand I realized that everything was going to be ok. It wasn’t the end of the world after all – it was only Tuesday. I laughed a little to myself, then burst into tears and when I was done crying I couldn’t remember what I needed the butter for in the first place.

Welcome to cooking with a woman entering her 30th hormonal week of pregnancy. I am growing and slowing and laughing and crying all at the same time. It is taking me longer to get up our stairs and I am completely winded when I finally reach the top. My appetite is enormous and while the rest of the world seems to be enjoying their spring greens, I am plotting how to inconspicuously add potatoes to the menu.

Comfort food – that’s what I want. I imagine it must sound insane to those of you not in the throws of prenatal life, but I just want pasta for dinner. Pasta and sausage – preferably with a side of potatoes and bread and butter, please. I would drink heavy cream if I thought for one minute that I could get away with it and pour gravy on my oatmeal. Maybe it’s because I spent the first few months not being able to stomach anything but grapefruit slices and sour candy. Who knows!  The problem to be solved is how to cook hearty, but healthy. How to mix Spring green with my cravings for Winter heaviness, in short – how to eat potatoes more often and yet not gain several hundred pounds in the process.

I think I may have found at least one solution, one of my family’s favorite meals that we lovingly called “Poverty Dinner”. There really is nothing ‘poor’ about it other than being inexpensive and easy to make. It’s a tasty, filling sort of one dish meal that worked perfectly with the first greens that braved the uncertain glory of Spring.

 

Poverty Dinner

4 potatoes, washed and cubed

1/2 lb lean ground beef

1/2 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

several good handfuls of washed greens; spinach, baby kale, swiss chard, etc.

2-3 Tablespoons of oil or butter for cooking

salt and pepper

 

Potatoes and ground beef, comfort food at its finest, mixed with vitamin-packed greens fresh from the garden or market, making a simple meal that can be cooked up after a day in an office or in the field.

I like to use my big cast iron skillet for this. Heat the frying pan over medium heat and then add the oil and the potatoes then cover. Let the potatoes cook for a little while before adding the garlic and onions so that they don’t get too overdone by the time the potatoes are tender. Once the potatoes are feeling a little giving, break up the ground beef into the pan and stir well. Keep an eye on it to make sure that the ground beef gets cooked thoroughly. Another way to do this, although it changes the ‘one-dish’ nature of the meal, is to let the potatoes cook all the way and then remove them to cook the beef. Either way, you may need to add a little bit of water to the pan to keep the beef moist while it’s frying. If you’ve kept everything together, return the cover and let the potatoes finish cooking. Otherwise, return everything to the pan and reheat.

Now – here’s the super healthy part you’ve been so patiently waiting for. Once your potatoes, onions and beef are completely cooked, heap the greens on top. There will be a little bit of water clinging to them from washing which will help steam them. Cover and reduce the heat to low. In a few minutes the greens will have wilted and steamed and completed your meal. Season with salt and pepper as you desire and you’re ready to go!

Enjoy!

pregnancy spaghetti

Oh spaghetti, how I love thee. I love thy smells and tastes and the way your deeply tinted sauce stains the front of my new white t-shirts, proving to the world that I am not ‘the cool girl’. You have stained my heart forever, dear food, and if I needed one more reason to love you, it would be this – you seem to be one of the only foods my pregnant stomach can stand.

We’ve all heard of pregnancy cravings and pregnancy food aversions and somehow they always have to do with pickles and ice cream – which makes me wonder exactly who it was that started that fad – but I’m here to share with you my first pregnancy craving, my mom’s spaghetti with meat sauce. Oh boy. It’s like magic, it is. I can be green at the gills all day, come home and whip up some spaghetti and suddenly there is a break in the nausea and my stomach actually growls, a weak, pathetic sort of growl, but all the same it is the unmistakable sign of actually Hunger. Sweet, sweet success.

I know most of you reading this probably aren’t pregnant, but why go and deny yourself this good thing? It may not be the *only* thing you can eat but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it, right? Of course right. This is why  I am going to share the recipe with you. It started out something that was uniquely my mom’s, I have been making it with her all my life, but like all good recipes it came to its new home and was slightly altered in the moving. That’s the beauty of timeless dishes, they stay true to themselves while adapting to whatever kitchen they find themselves in. Hopefully it does the same for you.

 

Spaghetti Sauce

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/2 lb sausage ( I like to use sweet Italian, but you could use something a little spicier)

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes plus 1/2 can water

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon crumbled, dried bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon sugar

Cooked pasta of your choice

 

I like to make my spaghetti sauce in a deep cast iron skillet, but you could very easily use a three or more quart pot. Heat the pan over medium high heat and then add the olive oil. The olive oil will look very liquid and shiny when it is ready. It shouldn’t smoke, but you want it rather hot. Add the onions and garlic first, stirring them and letting them saute for a bit until they are fragrant and the onions begin to look translucent. Add the sausage and a little water (like a 1/4 cup) – this will make it easier to break up. As the sausage cooks, crumble it into uniformly-sized pieces. Once it is all browned, you might want to remove some of the fat that came off the sausage while it was cooking. You can spoon it out or drain it – whatever works best for you. Now add the crushed tomatoes, water, salt, sugar and herbs. My mom taught me this trick to add some sweetening to the sauce, it helps to cut down a little on the acidity of the tomatoes and deepens the overall flavor  – a trick well worth knowing.

Turn the heat down and let the sauce simmer while the pasta boils. You could let this cook all day, or make it fifteen minutes before serving – I’ve done it both ways!

As I mentioned before, one of the best things about a good spaghetti recipe is it’s adaptability. This is the sauce recipe I use when making lasagna, I swap out the sausage for ground beef when I have it or skip the meat entirely and use the sauce for pizzas. It freezes fantastically and makes a quick meal even quicker when the need arises. How can you not love that? Let’s just say that, pregnant or not,  spaghetti is a real winner of a meal!

A return, A revelation, A response; Tuesday’s Ten

Alright, alright – I fell off the blog bandwagon there for a bit and now I’m back.

I think.

Let’s just take each day as it comes, shall we? With tea and happy thoughts and much lower expectations on my end.

You see, I’m absolutely, totally, utterly and incredibly Pregnant.

Yuppers.

That’s me. Oh, so preg-O.

I’m going to have a baby. There’s a tiny person inside me *right now*, growing away and making their mum long for naps and salty carbs.

Did you hear the shouts at about 7:45 AM last Monday (eastern standard time) when Alex and I found out that we are the delighted parents of a poppy seed-sized baby *someone*? Obviously, we’re not sure what the little boot is, though we keep inadvertently referring to him as, well, ‘him’, but just knowing that someone is really *there* is enough for now.

How do you describe it? I will attempt to do so with this Tuesday’s Ten Things…

1) Shocked; it worked! I know they *said* it would – but it did. Really. We did it. We made a baby. Um, ta-da! Is it weird to feel really accomplished?

2) Thankful; God worked! Sure we happened to be in all the right spots at all the right times, but do you have any idea what a miracle this is? How can there possibly be pregnant atheists?! This is so obviously the work of the Lord, it’s overwhelming because it’s happening IN ME. Someone exists now that didn’t before. There is a tiny soul inside me, placed there by God Himself. Incredible, absolutely incredible.

3) Full; I feel full. Full of love for my husband and our child. Full of purpose and intentions and hopes and dreams and worries and cravings and wonderings and supposings and plans and questions and deeper than usual thoughts. I feel full of life – which seems slightly contradictory seeing how my life now consists of barely more than eating, sleeping and trudging to the bathroom.

4) Happy; I’m a mama! I am so happy – purely, surely happy with all the gloss and shininess that goes along with it. Even when I get to feeling a little strained, just remembering *why* puts a smile on my face – I’ve got a baby.

5) Reverent. Life looks so different to me after seeing those two shadowy blue lines cross on that test – it really *means* something. Suddenly, I’m not thinking about ‘will this food make me fat’, but, ‘is this good for the baby?’. It’s amazing and surprisingly hard to describe, there is a deep part of me that feels very solemn and silent before the life that is  being woven together inside me. It’s so serious and fierce and strong.

6) Tired. Knock-down, drag out exhausted. So tired.

7) Hot. As in, literally on fire… I wasn’t aware that there would be hot flashes.

8) Preoccupied – Because I am not thinking about what you are saying, I am thinking about something else all together, probably baby-related. Sorry.

9) Honored. I am so honored to be the mother of Alex’s child, I can hardly say. He is the best of men and will be the very best of fathers and when I get to thinking about it I am overwhelmed. Overwhelmed, I say.

10) Out Of Control. In a way, at least, I feel as much a passenger as this little one. This being my first time around the block, I have very little idea of what to expect. I’ve read enough books to have some knowledge about it, but that’s not enough. Even if the knowledge is there, the *feeling* is still totally NEW. It’s so weird. It’s not just me anymore.

 

So there you have it, 10 Things from me about being pregnant. I’m quite sure this isn’t going to turn into some Mommy Blog, but I’m sure the kiddo will make an appearance now and again. We’ll have to come up with a cute nickname so we don’t have to call it “It” the whole time.

Any suggestions?