Friday, 25 May 2012

Baby Food why buy it?

So that happened to turn up in conversation. I wanted to try some human cheese, but it turns out that just as some people are taller than others, some women produce milk for longer after giving birth than others. As one of the many helpful aspects of society, it is possible for one woman to donate milk to another, (in some countries.) It turns out that this is hardly new, with wet-nursing having happened for a while, and even in my family in the last generation. So if any humans had spare milk that could be turned into cheese, then they really ought to be donating it, as I do with blood, (my own, I don't just give away anyone's.)

So the meme seems to be "breast feed as long as you can, and if you have to stop then no one is judging you." Personally I am in favour of breast feeding, but I guess I can step aside and give the little ones a fair chance. Actually I would rather see a baby being breast fed in public than have to watch almost any adult eat. Babies have no compulsion about food going in or coming out; Adults seem to have given up the Roman communal crappers, "hey can you pass me the moss_stick? I'm in the middle of blogging." so why don't they eat in little windowless rooms?

Jokes and rant over. I've been making baby food. Is is organic? Don't get me started, (that rant lives in another blog.) I am not a nutritionist or an expert so this is "try at your own risk/ask a Medical Doctor" situation.

It is so simple, (once you try the "progressive" (it is not) GFCD-50 food prep machine, break it, throw it out and buy a small electric food processor.) I ended up using a "Universal Electric Chopper" from Bifinett, (but I would suggest buying the cheapest professional food processor that you can get.) I think that Bifinett designed the little red device to chop basil into pesto, but I have put the two blades through beef, salmon, potatoes, pasta, and various green vegetables. I thought that it was designed to just chop, and it does that very well, but if you want purée, (baby food paste/mash) then it just takes a few more seconds, (no really 20-30 seconds and you are done!)

So what is my secret ingredients?

50 g of what ever meat that I am eating,
50 g any green vegetable or well cooked orange vegetable,
50 g of potato or pasta,
If you have it then 1 table spoon of (powdered) milk can help
0-50g H²O yup, just tap water.

I was worried that my little machine wasn't up to the job because things on the inside seemed to be moving too slowly. After unplugging and poking with a tiny rubber spatula I found that nothing could hide.
[ That was when I realised that the two blades turn the mixture into a dynamic flattened spiralling torus, but that has nothing to do with my point.] 

Why green vegetables? It is all going to be turned into mush so why not add some bell peppers? Because I find that the skin is a little tough on the digestion, (as seen later, like grape skins.)
 Courgettes are a perfect example. Peal them, boil them, and drop them into the mix. The 50:50:50 ratio seems to work out well and if it turns out a little thick then just chuck in a little water and zap it again, (you might like to boil the water first unless you are going to cook the mush later and are lazy.)

I would like to take a break to thank our sponsors and recommend that you look at the Nisbets website, (like the toyshop for chefs). [...and if Nisbets get enough referrals maybe my sponsors joke could become reality - you guys are great.] I have been buying from them for years and have yet to have a problem with a single product. (See my "Best kitchen grater ever!" post for more info.)

So where was I? Oh yes, "Where do I find the time?" Simple - just find one evening a month when there isn't anything on TV and play at cooking! (This plan was so good that I got rid of the TV and do awesome every night; I am happily uniformed rather than misinformed.) Try mixing and matching what ever you have in the freezer/garden. Here are a few of my recommendations:

Fried beefburger patty : boiled, (and then skinned) potato : peeled and boiled courgette
Smoked salmon off cuts from the bargain section of the shop : more potato : frozen spinach
Cooked ham : left over pasta that no one finished : broccoli purée from the freezer

I even managed an English breakfast version with bacon, potato, mushrooms and plum-tomatoes.

I like to take the frozen things out a few hours before so that I don't have to waste time or energy defrosting - this is the thing that I'm worst at remembering, but when I do I feel illogically happy that I'm postponing the heat death of the Universe, (rather than just saving on the oil/gas/electricity bill.)

This might sound a big commitment, but with the miracle of small plastic bags, (or any small food box type thing that you have); a scales; and a freezer once a month is all you need, (though it is so much fun you might just do it each morning, if you have the time.)

If you want to get serious then you can collect jars that have screw on lids with that button in the middle that you can only press once they have been opened. put the jars and lids into boiling water and then dry the jars in a medium oven, (don't drop the hot jars; The only thing worse then picking up broken glass is picking up hot broken glass.) Fill, (and I really do mean fill) the cooling jars with you latest creation while it is still hot, (I don't mean trendy, above 90 degrees Celsius type hot); add the lid by hand and then turn them upside down. If you have done it right, as they cool the button will be sucked in and then you can just store them in a dark cupboard or room. Try to use them so that you aren't using anything that is more than a year old, (but I had one from my 2005 vintage - seven years old - two days ago, and it was fine.)

What if your audience has a broader pallet or needs food to match their silly name or the media expectations of their ludicrous parents. Just add one pitted olive. Or two slices of gherkin. A few grams of freshly fried onions. A teaspoon of Bisto gravy granules. A gram of honey and three drops of lemon juice on the salmon.
 Don't go crazy - less is definitely more in this case, but search for flavours that you might not expect and add them in quantities so that your audience just can't quite tell what you have added.

If you happen to be a food processor designer, (processor professor?) then can I suggest that you always leave all of the metal in the blade spindle and none of it in the bowl - that way I can just chuck the bowl, (with or without its lit) straight into the microwave. Those of you that think that "microwaves are going to kill mankind by subtly altering our chi or energy body through the food that we eat until we are all sterile or something" can just put the mush into a pan or really show off by using a bain-marie.

So why the baby food? Have I recently been struck with the most human of afflictions? Nope - just needed something easy to eat when I had my wisdom teeth out and I've been making it every since for fun.
 Over the years I have found lots of uses for it, (spread for toast or sandwich filler; people with delicate stomachs; "instant" soup; baby food; [your idea here].)

If you find a magic recipe that we all need to try then please report it in the comments below.

With just a little planning all your food can be fast and cheap and last.

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