Everything is really taking off here at Hook Mountain Growers and the new employee is beginning to demand a taste of the farm. Our new farmer Gabriel will soon be adding solid foods to his diet and we have begun to really focus on what we can grow to satisfy his needs both nutritionally and with attention to his newly developing senses. Though just shy of 5 months, the little guy has been heavily eyeing us whenever he sees us eat and this is all good timing because in the next month, he will be facing a bounty of food choices that we've carefully planned and planted in our farm. One thing is for certain, I am not going to start with boring rice cereal for this one.
He's already been introduced in utero to a wide variety of food and his breast milk has had a rotating flavor menu of various spices and eclectic foods. He's been exposed to harvesting, meal preparations and delicious aromas wafting in the kitchen. We hope this is all preparing him to understand the importance of food in our lives.
In his book, Feeding Baby Green, Dr Alan Greene encourages starting solids with vegetables because they are the toughest flavors to learn to enjoy. Grains and fruits, the most commonly introduced foods, take a back seat because they can be bland or too sweet. The idea is if you start with sugary flavors, the baby will seek out that sugary taste. If you give bland food like rice cereal, then addition of flavors and spices later on may be too foreign and not enjoyable.
So what do we have that's on the menu for Gabriel in 2012?
Purple, Yellow and Orange Carrots
Baby Japanese Turnips
Sugar Snap Peas and English Peas
Blue, red and white potatoes
Kale, Collards and Cabbage
Butternut and Rampicante Squash
Angled Luffa Gourd
Bush Beans, Long Beans, Fava Beans
Apples, pears and peaches
Blackberries, raspberries, and currants
I want to highlight HERBS because I believe baby food shouldn't be bland. What better way to start introducing flavors than adding them either to the broth the vegetable will be steamed in, or directly pureed with the vegetable.
We're going to puree the Japanese baby turnips with tarragon and the Sugar snap peas as well for the baby, but for us...
RECIPE: Baby Turnips with Sugar Snap Peas
Serves 2 as an appetizer
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 bunch baby turnips, cut in half or quarters
1 Tbs butter or Earth Balance if dairy free
2 Tbs bread crumbs
2 Tbs chives
2 Tbs lemon zest
Siracha hot sauce
Blanch the the turnips for 3 minutes and the sugar snap peas for 2 minutes. Heat the butter in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add the turnips and peas and cook for 2 minutes. Then add bread crumbs, chives, siracha and salt. Cook for an additional minute. Remove heat and add lemon zest and serve.