Baby food cooking inspiration

100_baby_pureesI got this book, Top 100 Baby Purees: 100 Quick and Easy Meals for a Healthy and Happy Baby, when Ollie was little and used it a ton. Now with Minna I think I’m using it even more. Partially because she seems more open to eating everything earlier than Ollie was, but also because with two kids I’m busier and stupider than I was with one. It’s nice to have a freezer full of healthy stuff that Minna can eat at a moment’s notice.

It’s pretty easy to make your own baby food but what’s great about this book is it just gives me a couple different ideas for flavor combinations I wouldn’t have come up with on my own. Funny as I was writing this I had a feeling I already posted about this book, so I poked into the archives. I don’t seem to have mentioned it, but I stumbled across this post about The Everpresent Kids’ Menu from 2007, before Ollie was born. The comments (and original New York Times article) are much more interesting now that I actually have kids and have dealt with the kids’ menu. Makes me think I’m due for an update post about kids’ menus!

Sex and the Sneakers

Strawberry_sneaker Here's a weird thing I'm struggling with: the "sexing" of shoes and getting Ollie to pick ones that are for boys. Nearly since he's been old enough to wander around the local shoe store, he's gravitated towards some sparkly Mary Janes. They seem to be coated in glitter or something, and he really likes the brown ones. Today he even tried one on (he fit the floor model), but I told him we couldn't get them.

Which got me thinking about kinda how unfair it is for kids, especially boys, that somehow lots of fun stuff's been associated with girls, even though there's no reason it should be. Why are brown sparkles more "girly"? Why don't they make a non-Mary Jane in brown sparkles? I can see why Ollie would want sparkles on his shoes, it's fun, they SPARKLE and SHIMMER. That's neat for a 2.5 year old, boy or girl. Instead he's supposed to wear some plain old navy blue things with streaks of silver.

We gave up at the shoe store and I set about looking online at Zappos for him where I spied sneakers with strawberries. I thought, "Ollie loves strawberries!" but then realized, no, these too were for girls. Somehow girls get strawberries, as if a fruit belongs more to one sex or another. What fruit could go on a boy's sneaker? Banana?

This isn't the first time I've struggled with clothing options for Ollie, nor will it be the last. It seems boys, at least in the US, are supposed to dress like mini-men instead of kids. Whoever designs their clothes and shoes seems to have lost touch with what was fun and neat when they were little: bright colors and shiny things and shapes and objects recognized from "real life". No one even seems to make sneakers with little dump trucks or fire engines on them. Surely that's something "right" for a boy.

Making crab cookies

Ollie making his very own crab cookiesOllie and I have been making cookies a lot lately, ever since I got the awesome Williams-Sonoma Message-In-A-Cookie Cutters. The other day at the supermarket we got a small rolling pin, just the right size for him. So while I rolled out the dough to make “Happy Bday Phoebe” cookies for a birthday party we’re headed to, Ollie rolled out his own dough and used his little crab cookie cutter to make his very own orange crabs! I couldn’t believe he did it, even going so far as using the spatula to lift the cookies off the counter and place them on the cookie sheet.

Pretty soon look for us to open “Kottke’s Kitchen” in the Village, a fancy cookie store where you can get decorated bright-colored cookies for $5 a pop!

No favorite food for a toddler

Our pediatrician's advice about feeding kids is pretty simple: give them whatever you're having, puree it if necessary. If they eat it, great, if they don't, that's it until the next meal. So this is what we've done with Ollie and it's worked fairly well. It means I don't cook anything special for him, or feed him a second meal if he doesn't eat the first, or alter what we give him based on what we think he likes. When Ollie was younger, he loved broccoli. Then he pretty much stopped eating it whenever it was on his plate. These days he consistently eats avocado and sweet potato.

So the other night I made short ribs for dinner with sides of baked sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli. I threw some avocado on his plate because we had a bit leftover. I expected Ollie to eat his two favorites, ignore the broccoli, and try a bit of short rib. Instead Ollie ate all his broccoli and didn't touch anything else!

Now I see how important it is to not develop any ideas about a kid's "favorite" food, and to continue to expose them to everything. This was so eye-opening for me, even if he doesn't touch broccoli for another six months!

Ollie loves mussels

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Though I posted this to Flickr, I can't resist adding it here because to me this is the MOST AMAZING THING Ollie's ever eaten. In general he's a really good eater, and he's always liked fish from about when he was weaned. But mussels? The past two times I've had moules frites while we've been out, he's asked to try the mussels and I've given him one or two. He seemed to like them. So last night I bought 2 lbs and steamed them for us and he went to town!

He plucked each meaty mussel from its shell and jammed it in his mouth. No kidding, he must have had twenty, if not more! Funniest part was that they weren't even that good. I was pretty so-so about them. Imagine when he gets a good batch?!

I'm so proud of him.

Exploring the real world Busy Town

Out and aboutOne of the most unanticipated effects of having Ollie's been the change in my relationship with our neighborhood and the city's streets. Ollie's big enough that he walks around holding my hand, so we spend a lot of time just strolling around, looking at things. Today on the way home from our swim class, we stopped to investigate some Con Ed workers around an open manhole. One day we walked along slowly as the garbage truck collected trash on the block, making just the right time so we'd catch it at each stop, it would speed ahead, and we'd meet again at the next collection point. Ollie loves watching all this activity and narrating it.

After we saw the Con Ed men, we stopped to watch a guy getting his car battery replaced on Fifth Avenue. Then we swung by our local fire house, a huge favorite. Alas the doors were down and the truck was out, so we peered in the window identifying coats and boots and spare hoses. What's really neat is how friendly all the guys are. The firemen invite Ollie inside to sit in the truck. The Con Ed man showed Ollie the frayed and burned section of electrical cable they were replacing. The car guy narrated as he installed the new battery.

It's making me feel so connected to the city in an entirely new way. I just worry that it all seems so male, so stereotypically boyish to see and visit these things. I've realized that there aren't a lot of female jobs on the street that we come across, aside from the rare policewoman or mail carrier. We do stop and look at babies in strollers, and chat with nice grandmotherly women who say hello. But somehow it's not the same. I'm beginning to realize a lot of "nurture" happens outside the house, beyond my control.