Saturday, 27 April 2013

Fresh food markets - don't mind if we do

Baby markets last weekend and fresh foodie one this. Since baby bear came along, we've been even more concious I guess of eating well. I've recently opened up to the world - a whole-lot-more-fully - of additives and preservatives that are currently in so many of our foods and maaaaaaan, it's freeeeeeaking me out. I'm trying not to get too overwhelmed, but it is hard not too. Especially once you start digging.

Anyone who is interested, there is soooooo much info out there. As a little start though, I came across a great read when looking in to vegemite this week (I'd heard the other week that it has some bad stuff in it and wanted to check!) - by A Little Delightful which you can see here. Bianca (of A Little Delightful) has some useful insight and facts in there, as well as some particular additives to especially avoid, plus a bit about her own family's journey.

Foodie market

As much as possible and especially where Essie is concerned we're trying to give her a whole food diet and no processed stuff. This week, we decided to try out the Saturday Rocklea Fresh Food markets and picked up our week (at least) of fresh fruit and veges. They have a whole host of fresh foods, as well as your greens, you can pick up meat, fish, bread, cakes, honey, herbs and flowers. Saw a guy selling some lovely extra virgin, unrefined, cold pressed coconut oil ($17 for a litre) and celtic salt, a musical instrument man, as well as a little live band and lots of yummy eat now food stalls for breakie, brunch or lunch depending what time you get there. Had heard some people say that the food isn't that good there, but we saw a really good bunch of stuff, for pretty good prices. 

Tonight cooked up some yummy sweetcorn soup with the cobs we picked up there, after Granny bear suggested it yesterday.

Sweetcorn soup

For anyone interested it went something like this. 

800mls of chicken stock (made up earlier this week)
Added to the stock and cooked up:
1 medium sweet potato cut very small until soft
2 spring onions
3 corn cobs - kernels shaved - only takes about 7ish mins to cook
Splash of full fat cream at the end

Quick blitz in the blender once above is cooked. If feeding to baby, would recommend transferring to the mouli, to seperate the sweetcorn skin... can get a bit stuck in the back of the throat. Serve as is, or I added some roast chicken that I'd cooked up and frozen from an earlier meal, to give Essie some protein as well. Mamma and papa bear had there's straight though with some freshly ground pepper. Yum. x

Friday, 26 April 2013

This week in food: get your soup on

Been cooking up any yummy foods this week? A few new things on our menu included coconut vege soup, my Grandma's chicken soup - cooked with schmaltz an all (Grandma would have been proud although I left out the kneidlach this time, as I forgot to check for Matzah meal in the local grocery store), a tomato, carrot, celery, pumpkin and courgette pasta sauce and tonight I did a slow cooked chilli con carne, recipe courtesy of Jamie Oliver's America cookbook, but slightly adapted. Bubba bear enjoyed all of the above apart from the chilli, which I didn't give her. Not sure she ready for the HOT stuff yet.

By the way, didn't cook up the dessert in the pic, that was papa Wolf (photo bombing the carne below) bringing us a Friday night surprise home. Glad I not the only one with a schwwweeeeeeeeet tooth around here.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Bargain hunter

Zero to Five bargains.

Have to say, do LOVE a good bargain. Little bear outing this morning and we managed to pick some up at the Zero to Five markets. Was our first time and well worth a check out if  you're near to one. Check out the dates and locations here (just scroll down the page link and you'll see).

It's basically a whole host of mummas selling their second-hand wares for prices starting from 50c a pop upwards. As well as clothes, you'll find toys, books, prams & nursery furniture. There's also some new stuff, including a few hand made pieces. You will have to have a rummage, people do still try and sell stuff with big stains on, so watch out, but there's also some great little pieces to pick-up.

Here are our little finds:

1. Fisher Price activity set

I had one of these when I was little and loved it. It's not the old skool version I had, but the newer one. They had it up for $10, but Papa Wolf got it for $7. Wooohooo.

2. Fisher Price Laugh N Learn Bear

Brand new and haggled for $7.

3. Clothes 

Cute little second hand cardis and one pieces, $1 each

4. Hair clips

Essie's first little hair clips. These were hand-made by Vee's Clovee, $5 for the pair and I LOVE them

5. Sleeping bag

Second hand - 2 tog - Grobag, $11, got them down from $15

6. Books

Set of Doctor Seuss books, $10 - an old fav of Papa Wolf's

So there we have it. I think we did good, or should I say baby bear did. :)

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Sweet & sour Saturday

At our local grocery store this week, they had some lovely bunches of rhubarb which I picked up. A fruit... although actually I think it's a vege, that Essie hasn't yet tried. Had a little search on the net this arvo on the best way to cook it up for bubbas - rhubarb can be quite sour and tart and many recipes call for a fair amount of sugar, which I wanted to avoid. I thought by using another fruit, like sweet apples, would be a good way to combat this. After reading a few cooking suggestions online I came across The Veggie Mama for the first time - love her site and her stewed cinnamon, apple and rhubarb..Yummy! I didn't have any rapadura (unrefined) sugar though and so substituted this for some organic maple syrup. Essie LOVED it and I figured why do babies have all the fun, so before freezing the rest, I scooped up a couple of portions for mumma and papa too. Schwwweeeeet Saturday. x

Thursday, 18 April 2013

LFW's mumma-to-be reading list

One of my old besties Campus, asked the other day, for a friend of hers, any must read pre-bubba/pregnancy books. I've kept the reading list short cos you can totally be overwhelmed with info and if you don't feel like reading anything, don't bloody bother. But just in case, here's my little low-down in no particular order:

Kaz Cooke's Up the Duff
I loved Kaz Cooke's Up the Duff, as well as having some useful info, it will make you laugh out loud. This is 'The Real Guide to Pregnancy'. It features everything from weeing and bosoms to nausea and stretchmarks. You won't get inundated with too much blurb, that goes in one ear and mostly out the other (baby brain is real you know!). It has a great week by week guide, so you can read it as your preg/baby bump progresses. You'll be sharing your pregnancy with Hermonie - The Modern girl's diary. Hermoine is part Kaz, part other people, part me and probably part you to be. Good fun + informative read = winner!

Juju Sundin's Birth Skills
Next up is Juju Sundin's Birth Skills. I'm not sure if anything really prepares you for labour. It is one of those big unknowns really, until you're there doing it. We're all so different and it could pan out any way. The key I think is, try not to worry, be open and just go with it. Yeah yeah Little Feather Wolf, easy for you to say... so don't listen to me, I've only done it once, but maybe listen to Juju. I found this a really empowering book. From it you'll learn what happens to your body during labour (good to know what's going on), techniques to get you through and how to turn the frightenedness (it is a bit scary quite frankly) in to a positive action...'good pain'.. yes such a thing exists apparently, plus info for your birthing partner.. make them read it too.

Bruce Lanksky 100,000 Baby Names
Everyone needs a good baby name book. We had fun reading Bruce Lanksky's 100,000 Baby Names. This is a super fun activity, I think. With soooooooooo many names out there, where to start, where to start? A good name book can give you inspiration and it's fun reading all the meanings.

If you want something really cool though, check out the net.I mean, how original is Flompy G, Sharkman, Tulip Teeth and Blunt Gordon. Papa Wolf found these beauties when we were looking. Luckily for our little bean Esme, we chose Esme, although Tulip Teeth Feather Wolf does have a gorgeous ring to it, don't you think?

Tizzie Hall's Save our Sleep

Tizzie Hall's Save Our Sleep is a bit like Marmite (English Vegemite). LOVE it or HATE it. Although saying that, I'm a bit more down the middle - so there goes that theory - but I do veer towards a strong like. In the book you'll find sleep routines from birth to 2 years of age, for breast and bottlefeed bubbas, advice on weaning, case studies and answers to questions you may find yourself asking. A great little sleep and routine guide, we found, to the big wide world of unknowness you enter, at the beginning of (and whole of!) parenthood. Sure we can attribute Essie's super evening sleep routine, which is bed at 7pm everynight and has been since she was teeny weeny, to the tips we got from this book.

Selection of mama and bubba mags
If you don't feel like doing the whole book thing, you can always pick up some good mumma and bubba mags, put your feet up - good excuse too - and enjoy a light read. Might pick up some useful info too, not that you'll remember it. Keep some by the loo as well, you'll be spending a fair amount of time there over the next 9 months!


Mumma's meeting

Weekly mother's meeting at our place today and I've attempted to make a cake. This is the 2nd cake I've ever made completely on my own. It's not hard.. well, according to the recipe and hopefully it will be a success. The hardest bit was sieving the wholemeal flour.. it took ages, could have used plain as per the recipe, but the perils of being 'healthy'. I won't mention the butter and sugar added.  Meanwhile, bubba awake and she can hardly be left for a second, due to her new found skill of climbing (so clever this kid!)... washing waiting to be hung up and mamma still in her PJs...did manage to clean the kitchen, although lunchtime now, so won't stay clean for long. Righto, must dash. Til later. Mwwwaah. x

Uno apple & sultana cake

Monday, 15 April 2013

Quick & easy Monday night eating

Quick, easy, Monday night meal for mamma and papa, that's still delicious. Thaaaat's what I'm taaaalkkin bout....

Roasted aubergine (40ish mins on 200c), courgette with a splash of white wine vinegar and red pepper all drizzled in olive oil and a little salt (20ish mins, same temp). Meanwhile mix up some tahini paste, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, salt, ground cumin, fresh crushed garlic and a little hot water. Remove aubergine from oven and smear the tahini concoction all over it. Cook up some Risoni pasta (you know the pasta that looks like rice), once al dente combine the above. Delish!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Healthy cookbook cooking for kids

It's been a pretty exciting week, foodwise, in the FW household if you're a baby bear. We've been cooking up a storm. Could be, due to feeling somewhat guilty, after our Easter break and Essie eating chicken, tomato and sweet potato every day and roast squash done 2 ways, plain and with spinach while away. Hard catering for babies when on holiday and if not wanting to feed them any processed food. So our first day in Hervey Bay, we dashed to the supermarket brought some bits and then came home and cooked them for that day and the week ahead. Since we started Essie on solids I've really tried to give her lots of variety. If she's anything like her mummy she won't be keen on eating the same things over and over. Variety's the spice of life hey? Meanwhile mumma and papa bear were Easter feeding on steak, scallops, prawns, fish... but bubba bear did get to try the later too... uncle Tony's freshly caught reef fish. We were all spoilt there and I was excited that Esme's first taste of the sea was caught freshly by Uncle T.

Uncle T prepping the fish and Essie and cousin Jess taking note

So, where was I... oh yes, Essie's food menu this week. Our aim really, I guess, is to work towards baby and adult all eating the same and although I've been known to snack on the odd single baby purée now they're around and in abundance we do like a bit more complexity in our food. So, first shared proper dish I cooked up last Friday was a Hungarian Goulash that went down well for lunch on Saturday. Recipe was from an old cook book, Conrad Gallagher's One Pot Wonders.

One Pot Wonders

This is sooooooooooooo my type of cooking. One pot, you stick everything in and cook with limited washing up. Ingredients: butter, beef topside, onions, paprika,  flour, carrots, potatoes and parsley. It also called for stock which I didn't have apart from the ready made cubes which are heavy on the salt and crappy additives, so omitted this for thyme and bay leaf soaked in hot water. Not quite as nutritious and tasty, but you know, kinda creative I thought. I also left out the seasoning although I have read a small amount of good quality salt might be ok. Recipe also called for tomato purée which I didn't have to hand and so skinned and diced a tomato instead. Not quite as rich, but it worked. This was Es's first taste of paprika and I've been slowly introducing her to different herbs and flavours. So far, so good.

Hungarian goulash

Essie has had chicken done a number of ways now, poached, casseroled and Sunday she had her first family roast. Not only did I want to try another dish we could all eat,but I wanted the carcass as I bravely decided to make my first EVER stock. What's happening to me??? This baby girl just brings out the Nigella in me.

Since Essie was born mumma and papa bear have been quite concious I'd say... mumma maybe a bit more anxious too, about the delving in to solids. We are a family of foodies and I guess the thought of having a fussy eater fills us with nervousness. Am hoping that little bear will see what great piggies her parents are - and join in - and have the love for food we do. So, that's why I've very consciously been trying to, in the foods we give, make them tasty and not just sludgy lumps of blandness. Fresh veges and fruits were steamed at first to retain the lovely flavours and vitamins. Once the single tastes were accepted, we began mixing it up, combining veges and then proteins and then started adding stronger flavours with leeks, onions, herbs such as thyme, sage, parsley and bay leaves, and a little garlic now.

This whole cooking up a storm thing, I might add, does not come easy peasy to me. I'm not a natural cook. I'm not one of these wonder woman/men who can whip up yummy things from nothing. Usually I have to follow a recipe, pretty much to the T. And, I can find it all quite stressful. Simple is so the way to go for me. I am not in to showing off complexity - well, maybe I would be if I could!

Another one of the stresses I think is planning. The big old P. Planning what to make. Planning is sooooooooo boring, as if we don't have enough to do. So, to get lots of fresh ideas I did some research before the looming solids started, and spoke to friends to get some reccos on any good books and Annabel Karmel was suggested to check out. SO, I did some research and found one of her books, New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner. It seemed to have lots of great reviews and so we quickly picked one up off Amazon. If you're like me and are just starting out and have no clue, I'd really recommend this book. It's like an idiots guide, not that we're idiots of course. As if! It just spells it all out for you and I found it really supportive.

New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner

The book has some good info and advice on how to begin weaning, first foods to try with menu planners... which I LOVED. Hooray, you don't have to plan yourself. There in the book, you have the first three weeks mapped out which means you just concentrate on the feeding itself. You'll be starting off with one little taste a day in week one. Week two and three, Annabel suggests increasing to two little tastes a day and so on. After getting you through the first stages of weaning, she takes you on the second and then there's a chapter for nine to 12 months and up to toddler. So far, I'm about half way through the book and have used a fair few of her recipes from the super simple single purées to the more interesting combos. For example, braised beef with sweet potato, liver special, lovely lentils, trio of cauliflower, red pepper and sweetcorn etc. There's no great revolution here in recipes, but you've got lots of ideas in one simple book to get you going.

My newest book which I've mentioned before is Jude Blereau's Wholefood for Children.

Wholefood for Children

Have had a bit of a love hate relationship with this book so far. Honestly at first, I just noticed sooooooooooooooooooo many words. In fact a few friends did ask, 'Where are the pictures?' You don't actually even get in to recipes until something like page 84 and that's just starting with how to cook beans. However, after I got over my initial overwhelmedness with info, I'm really starting to love this book. The key is, well for me, to take it slowly and to keep referring back. It's a really great resource, packed with information... the starter tools on how we can feed our bubba's nutritious and delicious foods to help their little bodies develop healthily and happily. It was Jude who inspired me this week to make my first ever stock... chicken. I truly think this was a bloody good effort on my part, but actually when I got down to it and stopped stressing, thinking I don't have the time to be making stock, it was so easy and simple to do. In fact the hardest bit was transferring it in to my Wean Mesister pods to freeze. Note to self, next time don't use such a huge jug to pour.

Anyway I was inspired to make the stock after Jude pointed out that it's one of the most nourishing foods you can offer a child. Ok, that got me! It's easily digestible nutrient dense and a rich source of minerals. Plus, all I had to do was use the chicken carcass I'd made for dinner on Sunday, stick it in a large pan with water, carrots, celery, onion, thyme, bay leaves, parsley, sage and peppercorns and leave to simmer all day. I didn't actually do the recipe fully to the T, as I didn't have any apple cider vinegar, but I do now for next time, and I didn't have extra chicken wings as they'd sold out in our local supermarket, nor did I have any chicken feet.

chicken stock

Still, I thought I did a pretty good job. Realistically though I know not everyone is going to have time to be making up stocks so if you are buying ready made ones, there are some on the market that are salt reduced, so look out for those.

So as well as my chicken stock, other recipes I've tried out this week from My Wholefood for Children book is ghee, baby kichari, apple and blueberry rice and pear with vanilla extract. Each one easy to do... which is always a winner for me, as you know, and packed with goodness.

Your ghee is so simple to make and it's great for cooking and adds a lovely flavour to your food, I know this as I tried it out when making the kichari.

The making and filtering of my ghee

Baby kichari was Essie's first taste of quinoa - total superfood, which I soaked as instructed for 6 hours before hand... you don't need to do this, but apparently it releases even more of the good nutrients, cooked with split red lentils, pumpkin, carrot and then a pinch of ground ginger, cumin, coriander and tumeric in my new chicken stock. Recipe though did say vege stock, but sometimes I will go a little off piste when I have to (i.e when I haven't got what's needed!). This was yummy and I made a batch for the oldies as well... great hit with papa bear.

Baby and adult kichari in prep

Mouli'd bubba kichari purée

Apple and Blueberry rice again was another winner and Essie's first taste of rice, which happened to be brown.
Apple & blueberry purée (left) and rice in the making

It really has been a big week of new tries as bubba also got to try her first spagbol, courtesy of daddy, who does a killer bolognese, part beef, part pork, served with buckwheat pasta. Yummo!

Pasta (from right to left), apple & blueberry rice, baby and adult spagbol on the go

We on the other hand haven't probably eaten quite as well as Essie this week. Half and half. I'm not even going to tell you what we had for dinner! x

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Starting solids? LFW Top 10 must have equipment

Starting solids? Geeez at first it feels like a bit of a minefield. It's not though and here are Little Feather Wolf's TOP TEN, things you'll need to get started.

1. Saucepan with lid

At first you'll be cooking/steaming your carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, parsnips, apples, pears and peaches to make purées galore and will need a good old fashion saucepan.

Bog standard saucepan

2. Steamer 

It was all about steaming veges and fruit in our household at first (this is one of the betterways to retain their goodness and vitamins if cooking). We didn't have a steamer, but just used our trusty colander above the saucepan, and enclosed the top with the saucepan lid. Easy and works perfectly!

Steamer, or if don't have... colander

3. Small blender or hand held one

A small or handheld blender for puréeing small-first-taste quantities. Also good for soft fruits. We were lent this baby blender by some lovely friends (thanks KD!).

Hand held or baby blender

4. Blender or food processor

Useful for puréeing bigger portions/larger batches for freezing. We have one of Breville's blenders, see below which we had already. It's a great for making adult smoothies as well as bubba purées now and is pretty powerful, with a BPA free jug.

Breville The Kinetix® Pro Blender

5. Mouli

Maybe not an essential if you have your small and large blender, but we also got and found useful our mouli. Moulis are great for puréeing potato as it can become sticky in a food processor because it breaks down the starch. The mouli creates, instead, the best creamiest mash ever. It's also good for separating tough fibres in the likes of dried apricots, sweetcorn or green beans which can be hard for babies to digest at first. I really like the one we have... it’s stainless steel, super easy to clean and has 3 different grates, so you can get different consistencies/textures of purée: fine, medium and coarse, great as baby develops.

Emmanuel Mouli from Kitchen Direct

6. Containers to store/freeze solids

See selection below.

Babble silicone ice tray
We started off with the Babble silicone tray for Essie's first tastes, which by the way was carrot. I was so nervous about preparing the first food in case it was too lumpy and worried about choking, it was more like stained carrot milk, hardly any carrot in there at all! This tray didn't have a lid, so we'd wrap the cooked purées tightly in cling film and once frozen transfer in to a zip lock freezer bag.

At the very beginning, babies only eat a teeny weeny amount, ie. one 'cube'. A tray like this is pretty redundant though fairly quickly as your baby starts to eat more. However I found it useful when I wanted to spruce up the single purées and mix and match them. Goodbye lonely broccoli  make some room for your friends tomato and pumpkin. Vege medleys here we come.

Also thought this tray will be good with it's funky cube design, to fill with puréed fruit again, as Essie gets bigger to spruce up her water.

Heinz Press 'N' Pop freezer pods (30mls & 90mls)
Heinz Press 'N' Pop freezer pods (30mls & 90mls)
From a cube to a pod. Next stop for us was the Heinz Press 'N' Pop freezer pods, lent to us by friends. These held 30mls, which was more than our ice cube tray and so were a good progression. As the appetite grew, I started using two 30ml pods, either with the same contents, i.e. two chicken casserole, or I’d mix it up with one grilled red pepper/capsicum and one cauliflower cheese and another time one red pepper and one roasted pumpkin. You get the picture? Means it’s really easy to vary the tastes and flavours by doing lots of different combos.

I've also used the Heinz 90ml pods to serve food up in, but not yet that size portion to eat.

Wean Meister freezer pods
We purchased the Wean Meister freezer pods which are great for a bit later down the line. Each pod carries about 75mls and we use these most of the time now and have been since Es was about 8 months. These are silicone, BPA free and I love the fact it’s a tray and so you’re not juggling with multiple containers, they’re easy to clean (and dishwasher safe) and easy to remove the frozen food out.

Avent milk storage containers
I also use(d) the Avent milk storage containers. I didn't buy these specifically for food, I had them for storing breast milk, which I only actually used them for a few times. I find them useful for defrosting my frozen food in, could pop in one of the above frozen pods and leave them in the storage container to defrost with lid/and or in the microwave.

My selection of food storage containers
In summary you really don’t need as many containers as me although they've all been great. You could even get away with a good ice cube tray and keep adding an extra cube as bubba’s belly grows.

7. Zip Lock Freezer bags

Once your solids have frozen you can transfer them in to a zip lock, resealable, freezer bags. Make sure you get some with panels on the front for writing, so you can date and describe what foods going in it. Otherwise you’ll be overwhelmed with orange purées and who'll know if it's pumpkin or peach!

Coles small and large Snap Seal Resealable Bags

8. Bib

Invest in a good food catching bib. I think they’re great. Ok, they won’t completely stop you having to clean (can you tell I’m no domestic goodness!!), but every little bit helps right? And, means a little less food on the floor, plus you can recycle the spillage. Another mouthful for bubba! Mine were from Big W, they’re silicone and easy to clean.

Catchy food bib

9. Spoons

You’ll need a few good weaning spoons. I picked up a set of 4 when I was back home in England. They’ll be shallow with a soft tip, so nice and gentle on baby’s gums.

Shallow, soft tip, weaning spoon

10. Sippy cup

We started Essie on solids at 6 months and had read that this can be a good time to introduce using a cup as well (although some babies aren’t interested yet!). So along with the introduction to solids, Essie had her first tiny taste of water. From then on and with every meal I’ll always offer a little water in her sippy cup. Got to get her used to the good stuff!

Sippy water cup

I know I said Top 10, but one little extra must have:  invest in some good hand cream. You’ll be doing soooooo much washing up from now on in...
Really is, apart from the washing up, a really brilliant and exciting time. Enjoy enjoy enjoy.  X