As I’ve stipulated on previous occasions, I’m not generally one for advice blogging, particularly when it comes to parenting or food. Largely because I don’t consider myself an especially consummate cook, nor consummate parent for that matter. However, when I happen upon something that works, I do feel a certain obligation – in the spirit of parental collegiality – to share my discovery.
I have an inherent moral standpoint regarding children and food which I struggle to get past: I don’t like to make my children eat anything I wouldn’t. Within reason of course. I don’t really care for fishfingers, but obviously I make allowances in cases such as these; they are, after all, so popular with the under 5s. In and of itself, this isn’t a problem but it does mean I have a penchant for seasoning which is perhaps inappropriate when it comes to first foods. People often balk when I tell them both my children are huge curry fans, but given the level of flavour contained in such dishes (even if I’ve managed to restrain that sodium heavy hand of mine), its hardly surprising they wolf it down.
Having gorged his way through the pureed fruit and veg diet, Child Two is now ready for something more complex for his neophyte palate. But coming up with new combinations for baby food can be mind-numbingly boring, not to mention frustrating if the combination gamble doesn’t pay off. My freezer is currently experiencing a glut of frozen bags stuffed with an unsuccessful spinach and lentil concoction which, after embarking on its maiden voyage, rapidly ended up sprayed across my face in a fit of brutal culinary rejection. Why the bags remain in the freezer, I’ve no idea. Perhaps I remain hopeful that inspiration will strike and I’ll find some way to successfully doctor them. I doubt it.
I’ve tried a number of suggestions from online forums (netmums/mumsnet, etc), a lot of Annabel Karmel; sometimes they work, but other times not really. I thought I was onto a winner with her chicken, sweet potato and dried apricot number but it disappointingly resulted in an irritable, farty baby who now screams whenever I try and feed him chicken in any form. I think I may have inadvertently produced a vegetarian.
Fortunately, I seem to have stumbled onto a small yet very welcome nugget of success – and its green! I must however provide the following disclaimer: it tends to make one’s baby smell rather… oniony.
Curried Peas and Cauliflower
Melt a knob of butter in a pan. Add half a purple onion (diced) and cook until translucent. Add the chopped cauliflower (about half a head), stir to coat in the buttery onions and fry for a minute or two. Add half to one teaspoon of turmeric and half a teaspoon of garam masala and fry off for another minute. Add a cup or so of frozen peas, mix to coat, then add water, cover and leave to simmer until vegetables are tender. Blend.
For variation, you could also add some split pea, red or yellow lentils, but I would be inclined to use a low sodium* vegetable stock rather than just water in that case, otherwise the lentils end up tasting like dirt and you may end up with a face full of it, as opposed to it sitting contentedly in your baby’s tummy.
*I only say that to be PC. There’s no such thing as low anything in our house. I use regular – albeit, organic – vegetable stock.