Tuesday, August 31, 2010

More peas please

Yesterday we had one of the stalwarts on the Hotham-Welford weekly meal rotation - penne pasta with chilli salmon, peas, mint and ricotta. All you do is boil up your pasta with some peas (same pan), drain, then stir in 500g ricotta, a bunch of chopped mint and one of those shrink-wrapped chilli salmon fillets (chopped) that you find next to the smoked salmon in the supermarket. So easy and delicious, with all the food groups represented:

Might I say, success! Like, kicking of the feet, mmm mmm noises as she munched and a panicky cry for more before she'd even swallowed her mouthful, success. The only other thing that currently meets with the same enthusiasm is oranges. And the bath flannel.

After a few bits of pasta though, I could see the peas were not surviving the journey from tray to mouth, and she had obviously forgotten about her pincer-grip, leaving the peas to collect in her pelican.

Concerned that they were the only representatives from the vitamin family in this meal, I began to make mini-canellonis with the penne, stuffing each with peas before I put it on her tray. It seemed to work, and about twenty penne pieces later, I was satisfied she had eaten more than forty peas too. How many peas make a serve of vegies for a baby? I've no idea but surely this is adequate.

We had loads left over, so I repeated the whole process for lunch today and it went down equally well second time around. Although I'm not sure I've got the energy for mini-cannelloni-pea type missions for at least a week so Chris will be pleased to hear this one is off the meal rotation until my pasta-stuffing RSI has recovered.

How many vegies would your baby typically have in a day?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fritter critters

Individual lumps of steamed vegetables are boring Mae senseless, so I'm continuing down the path to us all eating the same thing at quite a speed.

Today I made some fritters - pumpkin, pea and feta fritters to be precise. I followed this recipe but just added some feta (AKA salt). They took about 20 mins total and we all had them for dinner - now that's my kind of chefery!

I'm pretty sure they would have been added to the reject pile along with the parsnip if it wasn't for the feta - Mae just loves the salty, tart-tasting stuff, just like her dad. Unless of course it was the shapes into which they were cut that made her eat them:

Or was that just me?! I know what you're thinking: "too much time on her hands", but honestly it took ten seconds after I found the critter-shaped cookie cutters in the back of the drawer! And I have to find a way to make a play on words for blog's sake! However at 9 months, I think Mae has a hard time telling a cat from a dog, so I doubt she was able to identify the animals and consequently be amused and inspired enough to eat them due to their shape.

But eat them she did. Well, sort of. It's the first time she's had peas, and as predicted a few months ago, her pincer grip is refined enough now so sort the peas from the pumpkin:

As you can imagine, it was a very long meal.

What do you think about salt in your baby's food? How much is too much?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Turnip for the books

Actually, it wasn't a turnip it was a parsnip, same family but a bit posher and less opportunity for puns. And the only thing she turned up was her nose.

I chop up the whole parsnip into chip-shaped chunks (first error - do not try and disguise one food as another - my Mum did that once when she told me fish was chicken when I was four and I've never forgotten it) and steam it (second error - parsnip should always be roasted but our oven is on the blink so poor Mae is having the healthy option every time at the moment). I grill up some tender spring lamb (poor little lambies) and get the broccoflower on the boil thinking a lovely serve of meat and two veg would be just what the lady wants. Wrong:

She picks up the parsnip with enthusiasm, no doubt thinking it's a chip, but one taste of its squishy, pasty flesh she flings it back down on the tray with a shudder of disgust. I often find that if things start off badly, they can continue into meltdown no matter what is offered, so I act quickly and whip out the reserve option - last night's mushroom risotto.

I hadn't given it first because it's somewhat lacking in vitamins and very high in salt, but keen to make sure she eats a proper dinner, I fashion some mini arancini balls that she cannot refuse. Sure enough, she devours one after the other, ignoring poor lamby and the broccoflower until she must be totally stuffed. I marvel at her ability to whack back the carbs - like mother, like daughter; her stomach knows no bounds. She does in the end force down some broccoflower too, so I feel an almost balanced meal has been had.

It occurs to me that if a meal doesn't appeal to me, then why should it appeal to her? I think I might have to stop worrying so much about salt, I mean it's not like I'm giving her KFC, and I wouldn't fancy a bit of steamed parsnip for my dinner. Plus I really think she knows what her body needs and if it's carbs today, that is totally fine with me (as discussed, carbs are always fine with me!)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

BBQ badness

Yesterday Australia went to the polls and failed to decide anything at all, and we went to an election BBQ and decided (again) that feeding Mae without a high chair is a bad idea.

It didn't begin well; Mae must have known in advance that we would all end the day whinging and on-edge, and started early. In fact, she burst into tears on arrival and didn't pull herself together for at least an hour as we tried to eliminate all possible causes (hungry? tried an avocado, not biting; teething? no new ones in evidence; separation anxiety? still crying when attached to me) until we were forced to start the possibilities again. Hungry? This time, she munched her way through a whole banana in about three mins flat, and finally stopped crying.

I wouldn't say she exactly calmed down though, because just as the BBQ was served, in stark contrast to everyone else in the party who was glued nervously to the TV biting their nails, the shouting started. I mean Mae's shouting, not the pollies, and I mean top of her lungs REALLY SHOUTING!!! not crying or at all upset, but loud enough to set everyone's increasingly frayed nerves even more on edge. We persevered, thinking food would cure all again, and loaded our plates with Mae-friendly deliciousness: roast zucchini, capsicum and spuds, herby lamb strips, saganaki (yes, saganaki), avocado salad. We took it in turns to proffer a tasty morsel, her sitting on the floor in her overalls.

She did accept our offerings and particularly enjoyed the roasted veg but we were forced to flank either side to catch the flying bits, as her vocalisations and flailing limbs become increasingly agitated. I had to grab the nearest newspaper (today's, unread, sorry Suze) and spread it beneath her as we failed to keep on top of the gesticulated veg.

After 15 minutes of this, the party was now silent - hard to know if in shock and awe at our baby in her shouty pants, or at the knife-edge quickly becoming apparent before us on the TV. But Chris and I were totally exhausted - time to let the good people focus and get Mae home, take off her shouty pants and get her into bed.

You'll be pleased to hear that she was much more settled this morning, more than you can say for the election!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Fast as in, "not eat for a while", not as in "speed" like last night's dinner. Yes, in stark contrast to yesterday's gobble-fest, Mae refused dinner today.

It's so unlike her that I whip out the thermometre, and sure enough, she's running 38. Hardly time to call out the doc, but explanation enough for the afternoon's whingeing and a steadfast refusal of my best sweet potato, free range poached chicken and, randomly, bread with cream cheese (for the fat and carbs portion of her din dins) that I lay before her.

Instead, it's time for the four b's: breastfeed, bath, breastfeed, bed. Followed by a beer for me, that makes five. Let's hope it's not the Return of the Ear Infection.

She's been sleeping soundly for a couple of hours now so here's hoping a good night's sleep will knock whatever it is on the head. And if she's better tomorrow, I promise no more pasta bows for at least a week!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fast food

Sometimes I just can't be bothered to get creative with the food, but I still want to make sure she gets a good variety of nutrients in a meal, especially now she has dropped another breastfeed and is down to only three a day now. I reckon these Rafferty's Garden purees are perfect for lazy days where fast food is required:

I cook up some pasta bows and steam up some broccoli while the pasta cooks, then use the Rafferty's puree like it's a pasta sauce, grate some cheese and hey pesto, dinner is served:

I think Mae ate more today than she's ever eaten in a sitting - she ate 25 pasta bows, 4 florets of brocolli and a whole pear for dinner. I suspect a growth spurt is on the horizon!

Extra tip:
Mae has worked out how to suck the sachets down straight from the pack - I gave her a banana and apple one of these for brekkie and she sucked it like it was a straw. Means no spoons and perfect for when we're out and about. And not a drop down her front either!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dumpling daze

I love a good dumpling, but they are a food I used to save for late nights in Chinatown rather than try and cook myself - they are surely too tricky and will take way more than the 30 min max I've alloted to dinner-making? But then again, they are the perfect size for Mae's little fingers and surely don't have to be made entirely from MSG and unidentifiable meat by-products - they could be little nuggets of goodness too. On my trawl through the internet for recipes, I refine my search and find these little gems - ricotta cheese dumplings. More like gnocchi than anything asian really.

I make a pumpkin and sweet potato soup and float the dumplings in it for our tea, and save some soup and dumplings for Mae tomorrow - fingers crossed!

She ate two - I think she kind of liked them! I mean, they aren't cheese on toast or ice-cream, but they are edible and she went back for more - success in my view!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Zucchini fritters

As mentioned in the last post, Mae is now eating proper meals. Sometimes the amount varies (like yesterday I'm pretty sure she ate basically nothing) but some days she eats more than some of my (admittedly quite thin) friends at a sitting. She is also getting a bit tired of your basic vegies - a stick of pumpkin still goes down well sometimes, but now she's had icecream, greek butter beans with fetta, spanakopita, salmon fishcakes and spicy beanburgers, she is beginning to understand what life is all about!

So now we're back to normal life, I've got to get cooking if I'm to keep her chins multiplying over her Tommy Tippee catch-all.

It's now going to be about thinking of meals that we can all eat, or at least that I can prepare a derivative of for Mae before I add salt or chilli to ours. It's also got to be easy enough, I'm not going to slave over a hot stove for more than 30 mins a day. And preferably I will be able to save some for lunch the next day.

Today it was zucchini and corn fritters, with, bizarrely, paneer. I used this recipe but added a red onion and the paneer, and left the salt out for Mae's.

When you put so much thought and effort into a meal, you really want it to be successful, so it's with baited breath that I watch her take a bite. Success is measured in her going back for a second bite, which she does, and in the end eats two whole fritters for dinner (as well as half an orange for dessert).

Phew, effort rewarded with whole bits of sweetcorn in her nappy for days to come!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Airplane 2

Alas, our visit to the UK is over. We are slightly more confident about our return journey, for Mae's food intake at least, as we know we have to be prepared this time, especially as Mae has dropped a breastfeed while we've been away and is eating proper meals now so I can't just rely on the boob if all else fails.

So I make a job-lot of cheese on toast, cooled and cut into fingers (not messy, easy for her to hold, we know she likes it). We also arm ourselves with rice cakes, breadsticks and organic carrot "cake" bars. The outward journey taught us that Cathay Pacific serve a pasta option with every meal that isn't breakfast and an omelette with every one that is; two things she can eat once the cheesy toast runs out - hurrah!

I had also thought that there would be fresh fruit with each meal, but I quickly realise that was because I was a vegetarian on the way out. Airlines assume vego means vegan-health-freak-on-a-diet, and so the meals come with loads of salad and fruit. But I am a normal person for the return and am saddened by the lack of fruity goodness we can share with Mae.

The air hostesses are brill though, on one leg they find a banana from somewhere (I saw the steward furkling in her handbag only moments before it arrived) and on another, a kind lady embezzles a lovely fruit platter from business class for us, complete with Mae's fave: watermelon!

So once again, she managed an almost respectable food intake over the 24hr flight. Now here's hoping for a vaguely respectable return to schedule over the coming days - I've got a feeling I'm going to be feeding her lamb chops at 2am as her body clock stays firmly on Greenwich Mean Time.

Bonus video: she doesn't always eat what's on offer, especially when there are shiny things around!

  • Take as much food with you as you can on an aeroplane

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sand wich

Today was Mae's first proper day at the beach, ironic that as an Australian her first swim in the sea is in England! We packed her lunch, thinking that candyfloss and hotdogs are probably not what we want her to eat today, even though we proved ourselves the totally relaxed parents the other day with the ice cream adventure.

Predictably, the first thing she eats at the beach is sand. We put her in the middle of a large rug and thought we were safe given she can't crawl yet. But alas, no. We turn our heads for one second and when we turn back she is grinning through a faceful of sand. It occurs to me though, that this isn't the set-your-teeth-on-edge prospect for her that it is for us, for the simple reason that she has no teeth to crunch the sand between. It's just another texture to her. She doesn't look remotely distressed, so we just give her some water to wash it down with.

I'm pretty sure it's still in her mouth when lunchtime comes around and we give her her a tuna (springwater from a can), organic cream cheese and finely chopped cucumber sandwich on brown (crusts removed, cut into four squares).

She seems to enjoy the sandwich (despite the questionable texture) but feeding her at the beach is hard work for us - no highchair and not even a clean floor that you can employ the two-second rule with. When a bit of sandwich hits the deck, it's gone for good. No dusting off and back on the plate here. I think she probably eats about the equivalent of one square before we are all exhausted from trying to catch the flying bits. Oh well, she won't starve. But I give her a breastfeed just in case, then it's straight in for a swim to wash her off. I don't think the rule about waiting an hour after eating before swimming really applies to babies either - especially seen as she's hardly eaten anything and "swimming" equals being gently swished around by us for about 5 minutes.

We were at Broadstairs, incidently, which is 10 mins up the road from Sandwich. I wish she had had her first sandwich (and sand) in Sandwich, then I could have had an even better title to this post!