Amaro e Dolce

Life, unfiltered


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My food philosphy

Yesterday I cooked up a storm for the babies, and as my husband popped a BBQ turkey meatloaf-style meatball in his mouth, he asked what we would serve it with. I explained I would break it up and serve it with veggies. His response, “this is for the babies? I thought this was for us.”

My baby food philosophy

You see, I know that I was a picky eater when I was a kid. My husband is still a picky eater. I realize you can’t escape this, but my philosophy is that the more I introduce now the more we broaden our daughters’ palates – both in terms of flavors and texture. So they now are happily eating fish, meat, chicken, pork along with rice, pasta, risotto, quinoa and barley. They love veggies and fruits – we are lucky here.

Store-bought vs. home-made baby food

Many people don’t enjoy cooking, or they are too exhausted at the end of the day to fire up the stove. Since I work from home, I take advantage of down time to food prep and cook. I prefer the cook food for all of us because it’s more affordable in the long run, I know what goes in to the food and I enjoy cooking. This last point is important. If you don’t like cooking or you are intimidated by trying, making your own baby food is probably not a good idea.

When I make food for the girls, I divvy up my recipes in to things that I am exclusively serving them and things that the whole family can eat. As they grow older, I am moving away from exclusive food for them and towards family meals. When I look back, I don’t remember my mother ever making individual meals for us on the daily. And as much as I enjoy cooking, this is our home and not a restaurant. I don’t want to build an expectation that we have menus available.

Finger foods & babies feeding themselves

Z & E are becoming increasingly more independent. Crawling, walking and wanting to feed themselves. They are all about their sippy cups (and tossing them to the floor 752,000,000 times in one meal). This independence is fun, but also frustrating.

You see, I believe that they should have the autonomy to feed themselves, but at the same time I don’t want them to associate their meals with play. Perhaps it’s my European upbringing, but I believe that food should be respected and not played with. What I’ve started doing is prepping food that they can eat on their own, and we alternate hand feeding with spoon feeding. For example, today’s breakfast included scrambled eggs, waffles and ricotta mixed with homemade strawberry jam. So I put a piece of small waffle on their tray for them to pick up and eat. Once they were done, I spoon-fed the eggs. Then we finished with the ricotta/jam mix. This makes meal time cleaner and easier for all of us.

breakfast for babies

Z & E’s (and my) breakfast this morning

On toys at the table (or high chair)

When we first started feeding in the highchair, we put toys on the girls’ trays. Perhaps this is surprising, given my above statements about meal time and play, but hear me out. With our girls, we quickly realized that training them to sit in a high chair was actually more challenging than introducing them to foods. They don’t like feeling confined and they are naturally squirmy. So as we were feeding them, we needed a distraction so that they would get used to swallowing their food without being in our laps.

As they got used to the high chairs, we started taking the toys away. We did this slowly – experimenting with removing the toys towards the end of their meal, then halfway, then after the first few bites. Now we don’t use toys during meal times (this will probably change when they are toddlers, but whatever), but we talk (and sing on fussy days) throughout feedings. The theory here is that we get used to sitting and talking as a family over meals, instead of individually focusing on toys, phones, etc.

I realize that I probably sound old-school in my parenting philosophy when it comes to food, and that’s fine. I believe that one of the most important times you have with your family is around the table and it’s important to me to start now with enforcing these eating habits with my girls. I remember always sitting down as a family to dinner (whether we wanted to or not.) Now that I look back, I remember sitting with my family, chatting over dinner and I believe this was one of the things that makes my family so tight-knit.


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On cooking and creativity

I’ve come to realize that as I get older, I’m finding creative outlets in different places. Over the past few years, one of my outlets has become cooking. I’m no professional, but once I understand the basics of a recipe, I will never make it the same way twice. Which is both good and bad because I can’t create attachments. But I can get more creative.

So over the past few weeks, I’ve been wrapping up babies in my moby and picking up my cooking game. With all the calories I’m burning with breastfeeding, my appetite is through the roof, but eating out is both expensive and generally way too salty.

My go-to tends to be soups and stews since I can basically throw everything in my pantry in to a pot and generally have good outcomes. But these last few weeks I’ve been inspired to cook different things because it gives me something to focus on other than babies, diapers, insurance, sad news and politics. Some of these are repeats but overall these have made it in to my “Go To Recipes” folder:

Oatmeal Crumble Bars. I used raspberries instead of blackberries because I love them. Next time I am going to try this with blueberries and add lemon zest.

Oven baked fried chicken? Oh yes. I am going to add different spices to this until the cows come in. Just FYI. And a tip? Roast veggies in the dish afterwards.

Marinara. In the past few years I have switched over entirely to spaghetti squash. Except for this recipe. For this I still use real pasta. Delicious, delicious real pasta.

Cheap chicken curry.

Tacos and more tacos (it’s an added bonus that I could use the pineapple from our garden in this)

Up next? Lots of cool, summer beverages and more baking.


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Rain, Rain, go away

I’ll be the first to admit that I love rainy days. I especially love stormy rainy days. There’s something cozy about how dark and cozy my house gets – it makes me want to wrap up in blankets and snuggle with my cats.

But enough is enough. This is our dry season and I’ve been itching to go walking outside. But I can’t because it’s this constant drizzle with breaks for storms. I know we need the water, but I’m starting to feel like Neptune has taken a vacation to the sky.

So in an attempt to be productive, I’ve started trying to cook again.  Yesterday I made Gingerbread Biscotti (I modified the recipe to add a lot of chopped candied ginger which made it awesome) and today I am working on bread. I often forget how comfortable it feels to bake when the weather’s bad, as we have no real winter here. But there’s just something so homey about the smell of bread rising. It’s been awhile since I baked anything and I forgot how much I like it. It requires focus and precision in a way that my other cooking does not.

I may not be inspired to read about Analytics this week, but at least I am inspired to do something other than cuddle on the couch with my cats and binge watch Vikings. Hopefully I can also whip up some dinners with protein and veggies hidden in that I can store for the week.  That is, if the deluge ever lets up.


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Keeping busy

What does a girl in Miami do when her husband is out of town for the weekend?

Apparently I cook. (And spend too much money at Sephora).

It’s too hot to park 90 miles from the beach and it’s raining like water’s going out of style. So, to distract myself from working from home (no need for unnecessary stress) I started perusing all my favorite websites.

Two days later I have enough food for the month. I also made multiple runs to the grocery store for things like 1 onion. So when it was thundering and I pulled up a ravine for cake and I had no brown sugar, I may or may not have muttered something obscene about my lack of foresight. And by “muttered” I mean “loudly exclaimed”.

So I googled “how to make 2/3rds of a cup of brown sugar” and it turns out that I had everything I need. I used this recipe from Joy the Baker because it was the closest measurement to what I needed. I quickly eschewed the fork and used my hands instead.

Most people will DIY for the personal pride of making things themselves. I do it to not leave the house.

For those who don’t want to click the link, you need:

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon molassis (more if you like your sugar darker)

Combine the two in a medium bowl and mix with a fork (or your hands) until the sugar is evenly coated. Like Joy the Baker says, you will feel like it won’t work out – keep going.


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Readable

One of my goals is to write more, but I haven’t been holding up to that. One of my goals is also to start running again, which is happening about as much as the writing. But stay tuned, I’m cooking some things up. Ideas are bubbling up so I’m trying to get things in order. Until then, here are things to read:

Antique cooking turned modern

How to make Butter

Web features that should just go away

America’s best new bike lanes – hopefully Miami gets it together enough to end up on this list next year

Definitely proof that I need to pick up my gym game again

Interesting read

How to do the perfect pushup

Adding Maine to my travel bucket list

book love


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Inspiration

El Hombre and I have a tendency to wander about the city when we aren’t really sure what we want to do. Today was one of those days, and by chance we ended up in a Barnes & Noble.  While I am hopelessly devoted to my Kindle, I still like to wander the aisles of bookstores – and there are still books that I like to have in actual print. Cookbooks primarily – who wants to risk having a computer or an e-reader near the stove and ingredients?

As I was in the aforementioned cookbook section, I flipped through a few books written by bloggers. Not chefs or TV personalities, but everyday people who work, then come home and cook with standard cooking equipment. So to go from a simple blog to being published and sold on actual bookshelves is an awesome accomplishment.

From the cookbook section I ended up in the journal section — one of my favorite sections at B&N.  I used to be a huge proponent of writing every day and I would always covet all the different types of journals.  Now there is much more variety – from standard journals to travel journals, cooking journals and things like “one line a day” journals.

It’s smart, because if you write every day, even if it’s something short, you get practice.  Every so often I feel myself falling off the bandwagon, and I force myself to write something.  Not just so I have a random post, but so I can keep some habit going.  Afterall, I may not be after a book deal, but I still want to keep my writing fluid.  After seeing other bloggers make it to print, and flipping through journals that offer so much promise, I am reinspired to keep writing.

So, next time I am suffering from writers block, clearly I just need to go to a bookstore.


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Tuesday Jams

Sometimes the best feeling after a long day is coming home, cooking a meal and catching up on OnDemand with El Hombre.  We finally came to terms that 30 Rock is no more by watching the final episode. It’s one of my favorite shows so I hope Tina Fey comes up with another quirky, hilarious show soon.  She’s hilarious and one of my heroes — for a woman to move up in such a male-oriented industry is inspiring. Especially since she’s not obnoxious about it.

In other news – this song has been stuck in my head for days. And now it should be stuck in yours too:

Admittedly I have a little bit of an obsession with gypsy punk….