Thursday, March 29, 2012

Happy Birthday, Jude!

Last Saturday our little man turned one. I still have to pinch myself. It's insane that the past year has flown by this fast, that he is this close to walking and really talking and spoon feeding himself and on and on into toddler-hood. I'm so not ready to have a toddler! Egad! But there it is. And so we had to celebrate with the familia in Little Rhody at least for the big One. We kept it casual and didn't go too crazy, though I was tempted. I have been so busy with the shop lately (yay!), that I had to keep the handicrafts under control. It was hard, but I handled it. In the end I only made salads, cupcakes, pom poms, a mini cake, and some monster crafts. Oh, and invitations, but those don't count :) And now for some photo overload...

 The mini cake, made with my Aunt's Applesauce Cake Recipe tweaked for babykins. 
I'll do a recipe post pretty soon :)

Rocking his Maddie Bugs tee which I somehow don't have a full photo of!?

I don't think he liked our singing.

And he definitely didn't trust the cake.

 He ate two bites.

 Then he wanted to go play.

 And who could blame him when there's a bubble mower to push!

The last Picky Sticky. 
*le sigh* 
Happy Birthday, Jude!
Love, Your Mama

Monday, March 05, 2012

Beans and Greens and Bitchiness

It finally happened.

About a week ago I was in line with Jude at the grocery store behind a woman writing personal checks to pay for three separate orders. It was almost lunch time, so Jude was done with his toys and sitting in a cart. In order to keep the peace, I grabbed a container of Gerber puffs from the aisle behind me and poured him a big handful. "You're lucky," I told him, "You never get to have these!"

The woman paused and looked at me. "Why not?" she asked.

"Well," I replied, "I make most of his food."

She raised her eyebrows, "Oh, you're that kind of mom."

That kind of mom? Excuse me? Homegirl was lucky I was in a nice kind of mood or I would have said something along the lines of: "You mean the kind of mom who enjoys cooking? The kind who wants to know what's going into her baby's mouth? So maybe your kids were raised on blue box mac and cheese, and they grew up fine. That's great. So did my husband. So did I. But if you want to be all Judgy Judy let's start with that dye job. 1982 called and it wants its roots back."

Of course I didn't say any of that. But I was pissed. What is it about having children that makes people feel the right to pass out unsolicited advice or criticism? I was spared that when pregnant with Jude. Amazingly no one tried to touch my belly or asked if I was taking my pre-natals. Maybe it was the "Don't friggin touch me," look plastered on my face. Whatever it was, it has passed. Because obviously this woman felt the need to say something judgmental and nasty to me. Next time I'll be ready.

I went home and cooked. Another meal that works well for us and the babe. It's vegan and gluten free, too, in case you, like so many of my friends now, have dietary restrictions. Or babies with dietary restrictions. The only thing I can't figure out is how to lose the onions (sorry Jess!).

Garlicky Beans and Greens
Adapted from Bob's Red Mill
3 cups cooked cranberry beans (canned cannelini or kidney beans are also fine!)
4 cups vegetable stock
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. kale, chopped
1 small can tomato paste
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes, depending on your taste
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup water
juice of one lemon

In a large dutch oven, combine all but the last three ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until kale is tender, about 8-10 minutes. In a bowl, whisk cornmeal into water and lemon juice. Stir slowly into the pot and continue to simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Serve with crusty bread if you wish.

Adaptations for Young Babies:
Guess what, your baby can totally eat this. At about 7 months it's safe to introduce leafy greens and garlic, so go for it! You may want to do a few adaptations to reduce the amount of spices if your baby has yet to try them until you know he likes it.

Just start with the first five ingredients (beans through kale)  in the pot and simmer until tender. Puree as much as baby will eat and set it aside. Then you can add the tomato paste and seasonings to the pot and simmer for five minutes before adding the cornmeal mixture. That way you can still enjoy the full flavor of the meal and your baby can get a taste, too. Jude loves this. He's bean eating variations of greens and beans for months and it is one of my favorite go-to combos now!

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Is it seriously March already? March used to be my least favorite month of the year. It's the longest month for teachers because there isn't any single day off. I know all of you with regular 9 to 5's are all, "Whaaa whaaa! Shut up about the easy teacher schedule!" but really! Kids get totally insane by the end of March and it totally drives you to drink. But not on the job or anything. Honestly, what do you take me for?

This year March is a bittersweet month. In 24 days the Boy Who Was Once the Bean will turn one year old. I can't even stand it. I'm planning a menu and picking out clothes and decorations and making favors. All while trying to ignore the fact that Jude is quickly becoming a toddler and not a baby. Thank God he isn't walking yet! He's eating me out of house and home already.

I'm getting more and more into the habit of feeding Jude whatever E and I eat for dinner. At least sometimes. He's not quite ready for buffalo calamari. Until then, I try to make at least two meals a week that I can adjust for him and freeze for later. Chicken soup is by far the easiest. You can use a rotisserie chicken and low sodium boxed stock if you're in a pinch. Last week I roasted a chicken, then made a huge pot of stock from the bones so I could fill up the freezer. After the stock finished cooking I just tossed all of the ingredients in for this soup, but I always have this stuff on hand in a pinch. Chicken soup doesn't have to take an hour, people. I'm not about to waste a nap making soup.

Quick Baby's Chicken Rice Soup
4 quarts chicken stock
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
1 Tbls. fresh chopped oregano and parsley, optional

Heat a little olive oil in a large pot. Add onions and carrots and saute two to three minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add celery, chicken, herbs if using, and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until veggies are tender, about 7 minutes. Ladle soup into a blender of food processor and add some rice (it should be about 1 part broth, 1 part solids, 1 part rice. Very scientific.) Blend until smooth. Add more rice or broth as you need to get the desired consistency. Freeze whatever you don't serve in ice cube trays or store in the fridge for up to three days.

*To serve the rest of your soup to the big people, season with salt and pepper and add the rice to the pot to heat through.