First, an update on the weaning front.
It’s been a lot of fun. Before all this solids stuff began, I was a little bit apprehensive about… the mess. Without having any experience, I had this mental image of a flailing baby smearing porridge into his hair and getting it into his eyes and banging his fists on the high chair tray, and a frazzled mother trying to land food into his mouth by playing “aeroplane”.
It’s mostly none of that.
So far, there has been just a little bit of mess – occasionally I have to pick out some sweet potato from his hair, but nothing really gets flung out beyond a 50cm radius, and afterwards it’s a really quick two minute clean up. Maybe the theatrics will occur later, when Michael starts to learn how to use the spoon and really gets into throwing things in general, but for now I’m mostly spoon feeding, which is actually a really neat process.
He’s been practicing his pincer grip with small cubes of sweet potato, and it’s been like watching one of those arcade games with the mechanical claw that’s attempting to pick up the stuffed toy with its extremely weak grip, and drop it down the chute. Most times the food juuuust misses his fingers or his mouth. But he’s getting better at it, and it’s been incredibly entertaining watching him try to feed himself like a bona fide mammal with opposable thumbs, rather than a baby bird waiting for mama to drop the food right in.
So… what’s Michael eating these days? For quite some time, we were throwing in 6 different things into our steamer every day, just because we “may as well”. Resulting in meals that occasionally looked like this:
No doubt, Lyn and I have time. We usually do everything together – cook for him and for ourselves – during his morning nap. But one day, I found myself hunched over the sink, exclaiming “I feel like I’m preparing a ten course meal!” because just mashing, chopping, and occasionally frying 6 different things adds up. And it produces a surprising number of dirty dishes.
The thing is, Michael is an extraordinary eater. Eating is absolutely the highlight of his day. I think that if he got to choose between unconditional, sacrificial love and food, he’d choose food. Immediately. Every time. Which makes my job really easy, and really fun – and which also compels me to cook lots of things for each of his meals, for some reason. I feel like I need to excite his palate, just because he has an appetite. Anyway, now we try to stick to around 4 things, which is still a bit of work but more reasonable.
His favourites which are in constant rotation:
– Sweet potato. This is his staple, for every meal. Not as constipating as rice or bread, and I feel like it’s more nutritious than white potato because it’s yellow. Am I crazy?
– Pumpkin, with a proviso: He is not allowed to eat pumpkin for now because he started turning orange. I kid you not. He was eating so much pumpkin that he started to look like one. This also used to be one of his staples as well. But now he only gets sweet potato.
– Broccoli. I usually break off just one spear and throw that into the steam basket.
– Meat or fish. I have these frozen in little portions which we again throw into that steam basket.
– Chicken liver. We get this fresh from the market, and steam it together with some minced onion.
– Egg yolk. Either fried up into an omelette with onion, or steamed into a kind of custard with milk, cheese and spinach.
– Bread. Loves loves loves bread. It’s his drug.
He also eats most veggies and fruits that we’ve attempted, with the exception of stuff with skins on, like blueberries (still trying to get him used to that).
Things he absolutely hates? Steamed tomatoes (ew) and red peppers.
Lately though, I’ve been wanting to expand his culinary horizons a bit. If my dinner happens to be baby appropriate (like lentils, or spaghetti sauce, for example) – I reserve a small portion for Michael’s lunch the next day, before adding in the seasoning. Even so, his menu has started to bore me and I happened to read somewhere on the internet that babies need to be exposed to as many flavours as possible before 10 months because after that, their palate goes into some kind of lock down and he’s going to be a picky toddler, which I mostly disbelieved but also secretly panicked over, a little bit. Anyway, no harm being more adventurous, right?
So I’ve committed myself to introducing something different to him every week. This week’s new dish comes from a book which my sister gave to me, called Cooking for Baby, by Lisa Barnes.
We followed the recipe called “Baby’s Egg Yolks” which, after tasting the stuff, I decided would make a fabulous dressing for a potato salad. Here’s what we did:
Hard boiled egg yolk, a tablespoon of greek yogurt, a quarter of an avocado, with some black pepper.
It would have benefited from some chives, I think. But chives are not something I have hanging around in my kitchen on a normal basis.
I mashed it all up, mixed in some potato, which I eventually mashed too, because he wasn’t digging the cubes, for some reason.
Duuuuude. What is that???
Not a fan at the beginning, for sure. I think it was the sourness of the yogurt putting him off. He’s not a fan of sour. But by the end of the bowl he’d stopped making the above face, so I’m definitely going to try this again the next time I happen to have yogurt and avocados in the fridge. Adventures in food should push the boundaries without pushing him totally over the edge, so this was definitely a success. Next week – something with beetroot? I don’t eat beetroot. Who eats beetroot in Singapore? Nobody. But maybe he’ll be a fan, and then I can proudly tell strangers that my baby’s favourite dish is Beetroot with Feta, tossed in Balsamic Vinegar or something and they’ll be very impressed and a little bit frightened.