Balsamic for Babies?

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Freshly picked summer strawberries

Hi everyone!
Kirina picked these strawberries all by herself! Here in the Garden State we are lucky to live near such amazing farms, all full of fresh, homegrown fruits and vegetables.  Our favorite farm, Terhune Orchards, has a cute “read and pick” event every other Tuesday this summer.  It was so much fun! Was a bit hot, but we picked a little pint together (while I had the other little pint, Ela, 8lbs, strapped on me.  Wearing a baby and managing a toddler picking (eating, smearing) strawberries in the heat is not something I would recommend).  🙂

Farmer Kirina

What to do with all these strawberries?? Obviously, they are delicious and sweet on their own (particularly since they were locally grown), but there are tons of creative ways to feed them to your little one. Ideas to try:

1.  Strawberries & Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic for babies? Yes! This is an unbelievably tasty combination for grown-ups and your little one shouldn’t be deprived.  Strawberries are a great vehicle for introducing a new flavor to your little one.  For toddlers, simple mix a few drops of your favorite balsamic into a bowl of chopped strawberries and serve.  For babies (over 9 months), take about a cup of strawberries, chopped, and steam them for five minutes (a steamer basket is best for this).  Puree in a blender, adding a few drops of water if necessary.  Add a drop or two of balsamic and serve! For an even smoother consistency, strain the strawberry mixture before adding the balsamic and serving.

2. Strawberries & Mint

A pinch of mint offers a nice, fun, refreshing flavor! Simply take 1 or 2 fresh mint leaves (or a pinch of dried) and add to your strawberry puree or chunks as prepared above.

3.  Strawberries & Lime

One of Kirina’s favorite combinations! For toddlers, a small squeeze will do.  For babies, start with a drop or two and work your way up.  A little does go a long way.  For mommies, I encourage you to muddle some strawberries, add ice, a squeeze of lime, tonic or soda water and vodka.  No, I am not kidding.  Children, as lovable as they are, make you want to drink.

4.  Strawberries & Cardamom

Definitely more unusual, but since cardamom pairs so well with sweet fruits and desserts, a pinch of this ground spice really enlivens a strawberry mash.  As always, using a familiar ingredient as a vehicle to introduce your little one to a new spice or flavor is helpful.

5.  Strawberry Ginger Yogurt

For babies who are taking yogurt, puree strawberries with a thin slice of fresh ginger root, then add into the yogurt.  For toddlers, you can create a yogurt parfait, layering pureed strawberry and ginger in between layers of yogurt, or simply use the baby version and mix everything together.

From Kirina’s high chair to yours, bon appetit!

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Have an ear? Make it spicy!

Hello all!

Hope everyone’s Friday is going well! Had a fun snack from Kirina’s table this week to post.  I was thinking a lot about my mom, particularly since Mother’s Day is coming up (she passed away 8 years ago this June.  I miss her loads, and miss her cooking just as much).  We had a few rainy days here and it made me remember an Indian snack she used to talk about a lot from her childhood.  She said she would eat it during monsoon season in India, a terribly wet and muddy time in Western India.  I’m not sure what the official name of this snack is, but it involves fresh-roasted ears of corn and spices.  My mom said it was a nice, warm, treat when you felt cold and wet from the rain.

I thought Kirina would get a huge kick out of this snack (what kid doesn’t like eating things off a stick or a cob of some sort?) and also she could eat something from her grandmother’s kitchen and we could remember her that way.  It’s an easy snack and there are variations with the spices.  You know we are all about spices here when it comes to babies, toddlers, and adults! No one is too young to experience zesty food if you ask me.  So here goes…try this out on your little one and see how it goes.

Start with an ear:

This one happens to be sweet Jersey corn (New Jersey is the Garden State after all.  We are not just Newark Airport).

Make the corn naked (shuck the corn) and place on a medium flame on your burner if you have gas.  You do this on an outdoor grill as well.  And my mom only had an electric cooktop and somehow made it work too (stick to medium heat).

Keep rotating the cob until you start to see browning (be careful not to char too much.  though if this happens, it’s ok, just lightly rub it off with a paper towel).

Next, get your spices ready.  I tried to take nice pictures, but, as usual, they kind of turned out blurry, or in this case, just plain creepy, lol:

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I told you it was creepy. 🙂  This is my grandmother’s cutting board.  My grandmother! Her name is Gigi, and she is amazing.  Anyway, what you see on the board is paprika, chili powder, salt and lemon.  That’s all you need!

Here’s what the roasted corn looks like when cooked (the steam kind of messed up the picture):

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In a separate plate, take the roasted corn and rub all over with lemon first, then salt. And here is the variation…rub with paprika for a toddler just trying this snack out.  Adults eat full-on chili, and so do children in India who are used to the seasonings.  With Kirina I’ve started her on paprika because it is a mild chili flavor, and now we do a mixture of paprika and chili as she gets older.  That’s the great thing with introducing your little one to spices…it’s easy! And you can vary the amounts and strengths as your little one gets older. The goal for us is always to expose Kirina to new tastes so she gets used to all the yummy flavors of the world.  How did she like it?

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It was a hit! Though she didn’t like getting corn stuck in her teeth and we had some adventures with dental floss, but hey, I guess it got her to like dental floss and brushing more, so it was an added bonus!

For you adults who are curious, this is a flavorful way to prepare corn without the fat of butter (even though butter is totally my best friend).

Good luck and hope your little one finds it tasty.  From Kirina’s table to yours, bon appetit!