Cooking With the Mighty Zah
February 14, 2012
Happy Valentine's Day, everybody! And good news! Thanks to the money-grubbing powers that be (AKA MY OWN SELF), I accidentally scheduled a sponsored post for today so y'all are spared having to read something goopy about my husband. Instead, we're going to talk about vegetables, thanks to Hidden Valley Ranch.
Vegetables are romantic, right?
(I know where your mind is going right now and I do not like it. I LOVE IT.)
Specifically, I'm supposed to talk about getting kids to eat their vegetables. LIKE I HAVE ANY IDEA. The only kid in my house who is currently not a jerk about consistently eating his vegetables is the baby. Because vegetables are pretty much the only food group he is aware of.
I make all of Ike's food, and I...well, I make his food because I think it's fun. It's very easy and satisfying and it makes me happy to see my baby's face light up when he tastes something fresh and delicious and baby-birds his mouth for more, more, more. Plus, it's cool to have a baby who eats vegetables beyond the jarred green beans and carrots. There's only a short window before the Great Beige Food Phase, so I like making the most of it, while I can.
The variety in Ike's diet, however, is also owed to a certain older brother's tendency to grab random things in the supermarket and sneak them into our cart. So then it's like playing a game of Chopped at home, as I try to figure out what to do with celery root, kale, a pomegranate and two tomatillos.
The good news is I can put that same big brother to work in the kitchen. My homemade baby food insanity is contagious, I guess, because Ezra absolutely LOVES helping me cook Baby Ike's Veggietabuls.
First up, baby veggie stock (to cook stuff like rice, grains, lentils, etc.), adapted slightly from this cookbook. Peel a shallot (or leek, or some spring onions...something mild) and cut into pieces.
Crack open a sweet potato like an egg. (Then, you know, peel and chop it like a sweet potato.) Use two for a more intense flavor, or if they're small.
Add about six lightsabers' worth of asparagus.
Four cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until the vegetables are soft. Mash and strain them. Refrigerate or freeze the stock; use the leftover veggies in a puree. The broth makes a nice drink option in a sippy cup, and will add extra flavor to bland baby cereals. Ezra also recommends adding pasta noodles or crackers to it for a big-kid lunch.
Next up, roasted parsnips. Apologies for the blurry photo but OMG PLEASE DON'T PEEL YOUR THUMB OFF IN THE TWO SECONDS IT TAKES TO SNAP A PICTURE OMG.
Preheat oven to 400, arrange in baking dish.
Drizzle with olive oil and add some thyme or rosemary, if you want. Bake for 20 minutes, then puree in a food processor -- thinning with water or baby stock until it's the right consistency for your baby.
Don't forget to save some of the tiny extra-roasted end bits for your super-helpful assistant. They're the best part.
Finally, some old-fashioned basic steamed zucchini. All those springs and summers where I had more zucchini in my garden than I could ever possibly use? I just needed a Baby Ike, because that kid will eat a bushel a week, if I let him.
But alas, it is winter, so I have no bumper crop out back.
Luckily I have a REALLY good supermarket-sticker-remover at my disposal. The best place for the peeled-off stickers is your belly button, BTW.
Bring an inch of water to a boil, put (unpeeled) zucchini slices in steamer basket, allow your child to work at the stove because you are not a paranoid helicopter parent and he needs to learn to respect the heat and OMG IF YOU TOUCH THAT BURNER I WILL GROUND YOU FOR A MONTH OMG.
Steam for a few minutes until super-tender, then puree. Don't add any liquid to this one, but DEFINITELY let your preschooler man the food processor controls, because that's like, flying-a-rocket-ship-into-space level AWESOME.
Since we had all three batches going at once -- stock pot, steamer basket, oven -- we made everything here in a little over an hour. (After the zucchini steamed I added the rest of the asparagus to the pot and whipped that up, too.) Not too shabby.
I was going to make a mango puree for Ike as well, but decided Ezra deserved a little snack break. He ate the whole thing. This veggietabul business is no joke.
Thanks so much to Hidden Valley Ranch for sponsoring this post, and to Ezra (who, despite SOME vegetable jerkiness, would admittedly eat a car tire if it was dipped in ranch dressing) for being so much fun to cook with. You're awesome, little chef-dude.
This post is sponsored by Hidden Valley® Ranch. Discover how you can make vegetables delectable!