There comes a time in everyone's life when they must learn to eat food. Theoretically, anyway, and the eating habits of all the adults I know support that claim. But when it comes to my little man, this has been pie-in-the-sky idealism. Until now.
Let me backtrack: I assumed my baby would nurse until he was about five or six months old, and then he'd follow in the footsteps of every American baby, ever, and begin accepting the addition of puréed vegetables and fruits to his milky repertoire. I imagined that my husband and I would spend, oh, a few days, introducing the concept of eating and swallowing from a spoon-- Funny, isn't it, that we must learn to swallow ... twice? Apparently swallowing from a spoon is confusing to the wee among us-- after which he'd really take off because ... it's eating. And eating is fun! Also, eating can be messy and everyone knows that if there's one thing kids love, it's making a good mess.
Boy was I ever wrong. (I was not wrong about the mess.) My baby bear seemed curious about food, but really, he is curious about everything in that he wants to put it all in his mouth. While I applaud that inquisitive nature, I was really starting to grow concerned that someday I'd be the lady nursing a six year-old, and people would think I was making some kind of political statement. I would win an award for attachment parent of the decade. I'd have to be granted special permission from his school to join him for lunch. People would talk! Overblown? Perhaps. I have faith that all children, through some miracle, eventually eat. But we have spent over two months trying to feed our darling boy eight different foods-- one per week so we can adequately screen for allergies-- and I'll be honest ... after a few weeks, you start wondering if maybe you're the problem. (And probably, we were-- we were just too early for him.)
We tried, in roughly this order: sweet potatoes, carrots, rice cereal, apples, avocados, bananas, parsnips, and butternut squash. We served them plain. We added spice-- he loved Cayenne pepper (but was sure to spit the food out)! We mixed them together. We kept them separate. We presented them thinned with breast milk. We fed him while he was hungry, after he was sated, in the morning, the afternoon, before bedtime and after naptime ... you get the idea. Nothing worked! Finally I decided that before accepting my fate and joining the ranks of hipsters planning to nurse forever, I would try pears. Friends ... (lowers voice, makes sure baby is out of hearing range) it worked. He loves them. Not only that, but pears seem to be the gateway drug-- now he's willing to try anything! It's as though something clicked, and maybe it did. Or maybe pears are just that good.
I know I have said before that I am wholly against disguising food within another food to trick people into eating healthy, but ... the best I can guarantee is that I'll never make a black bean brownie or call a chickpea chocolate chip cookie the real thing. Now I'm pretty sure that pears are on the menu for the next 18 years, and yes we will be hiding things in them. Pears for everyone!
Vanilla Bean Pearsauce with Ginger
I am not typically a big fan of fruit purées for myself, but I wanted to make pears in such a fashion that if the baby didn't like them, they'd be grown-up enough for us to eat them ourselves. Simplistic as they are, fruit sauces are pretty versatile: I have sent this to work as part of the Physicist's lunch, I have swirled it in my morning oatmeal, my husband has hinted that it would be great on pork chops. I made a huge amount, which came to roughly just under three quarts, though now that the Bear has taken to it, much of it has been frozen as pear ice cubes for future baby consumption.
- 10 pounds pears
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- Wash, peel (if doing so), and core the pears. Cut them into big chunks and place them all in a large pot. Add two cups of water to the pot and turn the heat to high.
- While waiting for the water and pears to come to a boil, split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the pot with the pears. Add the vanilla pod to the pot and stir a few times to make sure the vanilla and the pod are tucked nicely down into the pears. Cover.
- Once the water has come to a full boil, lower heat to medium-low so that the pears simmer. Keep the lid of the pot cracked and stir occasionally.
- Simmer for roughly 45 minutes, adding the vanilla extract and ginger about thirty minutes in. The longer you simmer, the thicker and more strongly flavored the sauce will be. I kept ours relatively thin.
- Turn the heat off and remove the pot from heat. Scrape the vanilla bean pod off and remove it from the sauce. Using an immersion blender, purée the fruit until it becomes the consistency you like.
- The sauce will make your house smell divine and I wouldn't keep it in the fridge for any longer than a week. Freeze it, however, for about six months.