Fruit Cobblers – cooking for baby

cherrybowl

One of my favorite things to make for Olive is various fruity “cobblers.”  During the winter months in this part of the country, the fruit that is in season is apples, pears, oranges, primarily.  I try my best to cook fresh produce that’s in season.  The biggest reason is obviously, freshness and quality.  But another BIG factor is price.  You think it’s too expensive to eat healthy?  That’s probably because you’re trying to buy berries in December, or fresh corn in February.  Fruits and vegetables in season just taste better, too.  The apples and pears this time of year are awesome.  And we’ve eaten plenty of them!  But it starts to get old and pretty soon I start eyeing those hot-house blueberries, tempted to pay the $4.99 just to have something different.

That’s where frozen fruit comes in to save the day.  Fruits that have been frozen are usually picked at the peak of ripeness and flash frozen.  This means really great, concentrated flavor.  So during the winter, if you’re planning on cooking the fruit anyway, buy frozen.  I really try to offer Olive something new every couple days, but the girl is well-versed in apples and pears.  So to branch out, I buy frozen bags of raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, mango, and I mix them with oatmeal or yogurts for a naturally sweetened treat.

Olive is not a fan of plain oatmeal.  But tell me, who is?!  So here’s what I do with the frozen fruit and this makes at least six- 2 ounce portions of baby food in one whack:

Fruit “Cobbler” 

One bag of frozen fruit (in this picture, I used black cherries)
2 tbs salted butter
1/2 cup rolled oats (I used Quaker Old Fashioned)
cinnamon
1/2tsp lemon juice

Empty the bag of frozen fruit into a large skillet.  I use my non-stick fry pan that’s about 10″ in diameter.  Turn the heat to medium and put the salted butter in with the fruit and let it all come up to a simmer.  I use salted butter in most things I make for Olive because I don’t add extra salt.  I find that it gives enough flavor while going easy on the salt intake.  I add a few dashes of cinnamon while it’s bubbling away, but really, you could add any spice you want – nutmeg, clove, orange peel.  Whatever you think would be good!  For that cobbler effect, a few squeezes of lemon juice really brings out the flavor of the fruit.  When the fruit has bubbled for a while and is thickening up a bit, I add about a half cup of oatmeal.  If it looks too thick, I add in some water.  Too thin, more oatmeal. But it’s rarely too thin. I don’t really let the oats cook, because I find that once they sit in the fruit and juices from the fruit and lemon, that they absorb and have the right consistency when you warm it up to serve after at least a day in the fridge or freezer.

I then transfer the mixture to a tall container and pulse it a few times with my immersion blender.  The immersion blender has made making baby food a breeze with minuscule clean up.  Then, I just transfer to 2 oz. containers and save one or two for the fridge and put the rest in the freezer.  Buying those cute little plastic baby food containers is fine, and I have a few sets of them and use them all the time (they’re great for taking in your purse to a restaurant!)  but I’ve found the easiest thing is to use a tin-foil muffin tin that can be found at any grocery store for about a dollar, and they are conveniently 2 ounce portions.  I just freeze the food in those, then pop them out, put them into a ziplock bag and done!

I’ve made this recipe with blackberries, raspberries, blueberry banana (the best ever that I may or may not have eaten myself), black cherry, mango, pear and apple.  I’m addicted to the simplicity, the variety and knowing that Olive is getting good stuff and trying something new.  I have also cooked down fruit and mixed it in with plain, full fat yogurt.  She loves it all, so far!

olive-ten-months

As you can see, she is serious when it comes to eating.

cherry cobbler

The Family Meal

Hi. I’m Alisa. The one on the right.

 paris-00524

I want to have this blog because there is literally nothing else that I do that inspires me like cooking for my family, thinking about recipes, reading cookbooks, watching documentaries about chefs, and eating weekend kitchen creations with my husband, Matt .  I am a photographer, and I love working with couples and weddings and especially love when they choose a good bakery to make their cake, but honestly I don’t stay up late thinking about photography. I think about food or cooking, or eating with my friends and family.  I had a little girl, Olive, in March of 2012 and since she started eating solid food at 6 months, I have found myself in the kitchen at the beginning of each week, excitedly coming up with stuff to blend up and freeze into little, multi-colored cubed portions of goodness that will keep her hair red and her cheeks rosy.  Hopefully.

ten-00012

 Eating with my new family is very important to me, and I want to start from the very beginning with Olive in the kitchen.  I plan on teaching her as soon as she can pull a stool up to the counter how to navigate the kitchen and make basic meals and follow simple recipes.  I think there is so much more than just cooking that can be learned in the kitchen.  Patience, timing, cleanliness, manual dexterity, care, concern, etc.  Our culture is governed by fast food and 10 minute lunch breaks and more foods in grocery stores that can live on the shelf than can live in the ground or on a tree or in a barn yard.   I want to do it better – I want to get back to the heart of sitting around a dinner table in laughter, or peace or even chaos, and spend more time there in the evenings than in front of the TV, or with my face illuminated by the glow of my phone.  I know no better way to accomplish this than to set the example for Olive.  If I don’t take time with my dinner, why should she?  If I snack randomly throughout the day, why can’t she?  If I am distracted by my phone during dinner, why can’t she play with her toys at dinner?  Teaching her will undoubtedly teach me in the process, and it’s already begun.

This blog will offer recipes for the family, blended up versions for babies and toddlers and advice for your cooking endeavors at home.  I plan on exploring these things along the way, as well, and tell of my successes and failures so that we can all learn together.

7G9A8488

(don’t worry, none of my recipes include mulch)