The ‘getting her to eat’ part is a sensitive topic these days and will be the subject of a future blog with detailed explanations for equally feed-obsessed moms on how to do the ‘airplane bite’ (a classic with a personal twist!), how to execute the ‘one bite for you and one for each of the Sesame Street characters in the book’ (having a lot of time is essential for this one), and the ‘feed mommy a bite and you eat a bite’ (here what you feed them makes a big difference!). Stay tuned.
Now, in the chapter of what crazy thing I cook for my kid, let me introduce crackers. By way of background, you should know that. I have made all of her food since she was 6 months old and took the first disgusted bite of rice cereal. By made her food, I mean down to grinding toasted rice, oats, barley, or millet into a powder that turned into a creamy cereal I mixed with all sorts of other things.
While I realize that my baby-food-making may not be suitable for all, I cannot help but wonder why it has become so difficult to feed kids well. Why has it become so easy to feed them quick and feel like we are doing the right thing? Hint- Earth’s Best may have helped with that one!
On my feeding-the-kid shit list today- the plates, the utensils, the food.
Oh- skip Tweety, the lovely small rabbit (that is the actual name of the plate set), and the French words; focus on isolated compartments. I have no recollection of ever seeing such a plate when I grew up. Isolated compartments for the different kinds of foods. Keep them separate- no touching allowed! In a chicken and egg sort of semi-conspiratorial dilemma, I cannot help but wonder whether the physical separation on the plate is how the don’t let the meat touch my potatoes kid is born. After all, why would the potatoes touch the meat when you are 6 years old if you learned they each have their separate compartment on your Tweety plate when you were hardly one.
Now, here you are- you buy your child feeding utensils hoping that the tyke will learn how to shove the home-made or store-bought food into his own head. You are praying for some cooperation and for him or her acquiring some human-like manners at the table. You get more than one set- everyone likes variety and are ready for table manners 101. But wait, there is no knife. Anywhere!
I am not saying let your kid brandish a new shinny Global, but seriously, no knife? We ‘protect’ them so much that we ban the touching this evil object- the knife! The same bluntness of a plastic kid fork can easily pretend to be a plastic kid knife. Just saying… And speaking of the fork…ah… the joys of trying to poke a piece of meat or even a soft vegetable with a very very blunt plastic fork!
And now onto the big daddy. This.
I wish I took a picture without the jar and asked you what you thought it was. I wish you smelled it and tried to guess. I wish you tasted it and attempted to identify it. Mission freaking impossible!
Earth’s Best organic bananas. Silky pink pureed bananas that smell sour, taste slightly tart and have a hint of an unindentifiable citric flavoring in them. They last on your local King Soopers’ unrefrigerated shelf for at least 24 months. But they are organic and fully natural- the label says so! They just don’t look, smell, taste, or last anything like the yellow fruit they sell in produce for 69 cents a pound, may I add cheaper than the 90 cents for a 2.5 ounce jar that Earth’s Best is tempting you to.
Any parent worth his title can mash a freaking banana. It just doesn’t get any easier. You may need an adult fork to do that. Maybe mix in some milk to make it creamier. Maybe put it in a blender or a food processor. Maybe mash just a half a banana and you eat the other half. But buying this? All I will say is this- once the toddler starts to feed you his food, you will have to ditch the jarred bananas – cause they suck!
The Crackers! A Thomas Keller- AdHoc-inspired recipe
Not that Thomas Keller suddenly cooks for kids but I used the AdHoc breadstick recipe. Except, instead of rolling and shaping into breadsticks, I rolled thinner and shaped into little crackers with these little cutters. You can shape in whatever way you feel like, but keep them small and thin because the bready dough may crack otherwise. I halved the recipe- if you decide on breadsticks- I'd double it.
Ingredients: 1/4 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees); 1 and a 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast (not quick-rising); 3/4 cup all purpose flour (loose, not packed); 4 tablespoons fine semolina flour; 5 teaspoons freshly grated Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese; 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt; 2 very full tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for brushing.
I swear you won't be able to tell the temperature of the water without a thermometer. Mine is cheap and easy to use and I never thought I'd see the way when I said I love something I considered so...extraneous...but I love my thermometer.
In a small bowl, combine the warm water and yeast without stirring. Let it stand for 10 minutes then stirIn a separate bowl, a larger one, combine the flours, cheese, and salt. Stir the olive oil into the yeast and water mixture and pour it all over the dry ingredients. Mix together with a fork without overworking until it comes together.
Transfer onto a lightly floured surface and knead until a smooth dough forms. Shape it into a ball, coated lightly with flour on your surface, and put it in a bowl covered by a damp towel. Allow it to rest and rise for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Roll the dough into your desires shape, lightly brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt (and freshly cracked pepper too if it's not for the tyke) and transfer onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake until golden and crisp- about 16- 18 minutes - rotating the pan half way through the process.
A warning: because these are basically a breadstick, they are dry. They are best in a soup or stew or with some sort of a spread to make them chewier and more moist, but I have along with my toddler nibbled on them plain as well. These should last in an airtight container for up to a week. Enjoy!
Photography by Jennifer Olson.