Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Plum and Berry "Crisp"

I was making crisp one night, and realized that it would be super easy to make a "crisp" for the little man. Here's my recipe:

Fruit: Whatever is good at the farmer's market / grocery store, including plums, nectarines, blueberries, peaches, whatever. You need enough to pretty much fill the pan you're going to bake them in.

Oatmeal: Rolled whole oats

Put a layer of oats across the whole bottom of the pan. Cut up and place fruit (skin on) over the oats. If the fruit isn't too juicy, either add some water or cover with foil. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, or until fruit is cooked and oats have soaked up the fruit juice. Transfer to blender or food processor, add some cinnamon (and/or some nutmeg or cloves) and puree to desired consistency. This makes a great breakfast or "dessert"!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Homemade Baby Food

When it came time to start feeding the little man solid food, we started with Earth's Best Rice Cereal, like basically every other baby I know. After that, it was time to start veggies and fruit. Since we cook pretty much everything from scratch for ourselves, we decided we should treat the little man just the same, and make his food, too. It's actually quite easy (if you are used to cooking).

Our favorite baby cook book, and the one that gave us the basics in a helpful and well-organized manner is Le Petit Apetit by Lisa Barnes. We're still using it, since it has recipes for babies AND toddlers.

In addition to a good cook book, there are a few other essential tools to make your own baby food. You need a blender and/or a food processor, and you need at least two ice cube trays. A steamer is helpful, too, as steaming the veggies and fruit is a great way to cook them. And yes, you should cook more tart fruit such as apples and peaches too make them a little sweeter. I figured that one out the hard way!

When you make the food initially, you process it until it is all the way smooth. As your baby gets older and starts being able to have a little texture, you can leave it more lumpy. Once you've cooked and pureed/smashed to desired texture, you put the food in the ice cube trays and freeze it. The frozen cubes keep in freezer bags for quite a while, and you can put a few cubes in a bowl and microwave them when it's time for baby to eat. You can even mix and match cubes for more interesting meals.

To get the little man used to lots of flavors, we try to give him a variety of fruits, vegetables and grains, as well as a little meat. We also use spices in his food (we've been gradually increasing the additional flavors as he gets older).

Here's a (not comprehensive) list of the foods he eats regularly:
  • Bananas (no need to cook - just mash with a fork; they freeze great)
  • Peaches / nectarines (with skin included)
  • Plums (skin included - good for digestion!)
  • Mangoes
  • Pears
  • Apples (no skin - with cinnamon!)
  • Zucchini (with curry and/or chili powder)
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Green peas (with butter and curry)
  • Spinach (with nutmeg)
  • Brown rice (sometimes I throw a bay leaf in with the rice)
  • Black beans
  • Poached chicken
I also have a couple of my own "recipes" that I'll post soon.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Diaper Choices

A while ago (OK ages ago) a reader requested a post on diaper choices. There are TONS of good resources out there, so I won't try to duplicate them. I'll just explain our personal choices, and my view of some of the pros and cons.

We are currently a 100% disposable diaper household. This does cause some eco-guilt among the adults in the house, but we console ourselves slightly by using Seventh Generation.

  • Easy easy easy
  • Can use at day care (our day care required disposable diapers)
  • Rarely if ever leak
  • Not too expensive, especially if you buy using Amazon Subscribe & Save
  • So much waste!!

When the little man was born, we used G-Diapers. These are partially disposable, partially cloth diapers. We liked them, but stopped using them for two main reasons - 1) could not use them at day care, and 2) as he grew older, they tended to leak unless you changed every hour or two. They definitely did not work over night, even with two liners.

  • Much less waste, and all the waste is flushed down the toilet
  • Cute cotton covers looked great with just a t-shirt
  • DO NOT USE the flushing option if you live in an old house or have touchy plumbing (you can just throw out the liners)
  • I suspect that if everyone used G-Diapers, the sewage treatment plant would not be happy, therefore it's probably a sustainable option only if not too many people use it (which is kind of dumb)
  • Initial investment required, and disposable liners only available at certain stores (eg Whole Foods) or online
We have not used cloth yet, but I am definitely considering going to part-time cloth diaper usage. This is an idea I got from my neighbor. It's less intimidating than full-time cloth diaper usage, but still reduces waste. Now that the little man's bowels are more predictable, we could use the cloth during the times he's only likely to pee, or times when we need to change his diaper, but it's only a short time until his bath or something.

I can't really speak to the pros and cons of this since we haven't done it yet. I can say that the initial investment for these is quite high, too, but I believe you'd save money in the long run. Here are some good websites that I will consult before choosing any cloth diapers.
What are your diaper experiences?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Buying a Couch

I know, this isn't a furniture blog. But I've been thinking about my couches a lot lately. They are the couches that the big man and I bought right after graduating from college. One is from Ikea and the other is from Pier One (bet you didn't even know that Pier One made couches, did you?). And they are faded, spat up upon, saggy, and generally in need of replacement. Not to mention that the Ikea one has been detested by one member of our household virtually since the day it was purchased. Even I admit that it doesn't really go with our style anymore.

OK, so we obviously need new couches. But every time I look at all the spit up stains on our current couches, I think, well, maybe we can keep these for just a little while longer. You know, until he gets big enough to stop ruining upholstered furniture. When is that? When he's 18?

So my advice (this IS an advice blog, after all), is BUY NEW COUCHES BEFORE YOU HAVE CHILDREN. Get rid of the Ikea monstrosity. Buy a nice couch while you can enjoy it spit-up-free for a few years. Then when it gets all messed up, at least it's not 15 years old. And you actually can imagine keeping it for a while. And then you can use the spit up (and juice and chocolate milk and dirt and finger paint) stains to justify getting a nice new couch when your little one turns... 12?