Diane Keaton's Got Nothing On Me

Do you remember the movie Baby Boom? It's that late 80s classic where Diane Keaton "inherits" a baby from a distant dead cousin and goes from high-powered executive in NYC to gourmet baby food entreprenuer in Vermont, once she realized how popular the baby food she was both making for her daughter and selling in a country store was with visiting tourists?

Well, I've decided to channel my own inner domestic and dust off the infrequently used appliances in my kitchen in order to make Isabella's baby food myself. My motives are twofold.

First, after doing a lot of reading on the subject, homemade baby food really is so much more healthy and surprisingly a heck of a lot more cost-effective than buying the little jars in the stores. There are no added sugars, starches, preservatives or additives (all stuff babies don't need) in the food you make yourself. And since I've decided to go the organic route, I'll know that everything that goes into Isabella's mouth is pesticide-free, and contains 10-50% more antioxidants than traditionally grown vegetables and fruits. Homemade baby food is fresher, it tastes better, and you can make a ton of it in a short amount of time, and then freeze it and have food for weeks. And unlike the jars, which can cost anywhere from .60 cents to $1.20 each, you can buy vegetables on sale and your money goes a lot further.

How's this for an interesting statistic. According to this book, by the time American babies reach 12 months of age, each infant will have consumed an average of 600 jars of commercially prepared baby food. But by contrast, the average baby born in Western Europe will only have consumed 240 jars. And in Eastern European countires, only 12 jars! Of course, Americans (myself included) rely on convenience food far more than other countries, which is why we're more unhealthy than the citizens of most industrialized nations as well. So, in making Isabella's food, I'm doing my small part to ensure the healthiest diet possible for the wee one.

And second, making Isabella's food is oddly and weirdly satisfying. It borders on the ridiculous how proud I was of myself after making the first batch. It's not that the baby food was difficult to make, or even time-consuming. It was that I was cooking! I was baking squash and sweet potatoes in my oven, and I wasn't screwing the whole thing up, which, in itself, is nothing short of miraculous.

Okay, so, here's how my first attempt went down.

First, I did a lot of reading. And I mean, a lot. I bought two books myself, and was given two others. Because I am a massive nerd, there's really very little I do without first researching it extensively first. So, I schooled myself on food safety guidelines, storage practices, and the right kinds of foods to make and introduce first (in case you're curious, most experts recommend introducing vegetables before fruits, because the latter are much sweeter and if you do fruits before veggies, your baby might not take to the vegetables later on).

Next, it was time to buy the food. The nice man in the green apron at the grocery store told me that these are what are known as vegetables. So I trusted him, and brought some home.

Then, I assembled the stash of baby food-making supplies I needed, which actually were pretty minimal. A blender or food processor (in having tried both, I prefer the food processor), a potato masher, some ice cube trays in which to freeze the food, some small jelly jars to store the food in the fridge, a vegetable steamer, and some freezer bags were all I needed.

Time to get to work! I peeled a sweet potato, and then boiled it, and then let it simmer for 20 minutes. In my second batch, I ended up baking another sweet potato in the oven along with acorn squash and butternut squash.

Next, I let the cooked potato cool. Once that happened, I popped the little pieces in my food processor, and then pureed until smooth. Finally, I spooned the puree into my ice cube trays.

Once frozen, I simply popped out the cubes, stuck them in a freezer bag, and voila! I've made baby food!
But Isabella's first food wasn't something I made. Her doctor recommended rice cereal to start, so Saturday was the big day. I mixed up some rice cereal and breastmilk.
And presented it to one very eager-to-eat little girl.

The results? Well, let's just say she was underwhelmed, and leave it at that.

Luckily, the next day when I tried again, she gobbled it up.

19 Responses to “Diane Keaton's Got Nothing On Me”

  1. # Blogger Marie

    That's excellent, Kristi! That last photo is one for the books... Can't say that I blame her. That stuff is nasty.

    Maybe you'll even like Isabella's veges! The organics are more flavorful.

    (I have some little jars & magnets for them -- you're welcome to them if you want them -- the magnets are so you can tell when you put an item in the fridge)  

  2. # Blogger Christine

    Good for you, you domestic diva, you!

    And that girl and her expressions. She's awesome!  

  3. # Anonymous Anonymous

    GOOD for you, making Isabella's baby food. What a good Mom you are!

    I have pictures of that first spoonful of cereal for each of my boys... classic! I'm so glad you got a shot of that, it's too cute!

  4. # Blogger Marie

    ps -- the diapers are about to get very, um, interesting!!  

  5. # Blogger Damselfly

    Wow, bravo, Chef Kristi! I remember that movie. I vaguely remember those things you call vegetables, too. So babies eat those? Hmm. What a face on Isabella! Did she really feed herself?!

    I found a lot of helpful advice at wholesomebabyfood.com too. So far, I've made bananas and apples and will try making peas -- all organic, too.  

  6. # Anonymous Shannon

    She'll probably like the rice cereal better if you load it up with butter and sugar. Oh, and some of those tiny marshmallows. Kids love those.


  7. # Anonymous kross-eyed kitty

    LOL!!! I love the look on her face! Hilarious!
    And, KUDOS to you!
    If I might be so bold, I think you should think about starting a whole NEW blog about baby food recipes.
    I think you'll be a natural.
    No guff.  

  8. # Blogger kenju

    It's wonderful for babies to eat home-made baby food, and you are to be commended! No wonder you were proud of yourself.  

  9. # Blogger Michelle

    WOW! I am impressed. I've thought many times about making Madelyn's food, for the same reasons you noted (though I didn't know all of the statistics). So...tell me, what book should I buy should I choose to do this...which you are making it sound really easy and appealing.  

  10. # Blogger Editorgirl

    Good for you! I know so many people who do this including my Brother and his family. It really is a great idea. I particularly enjoyed the reminder of the movie "Baby Boom" I love that movie and reference it all the time - especially when people talk about making their own baby food :-)  

  11. # Blogger Hopeful Mother

    I just love those photos... I got a good chuckle of the before and after-cereal ones.

    I am impressed...!

    Just make sure you don't accidentally pop a butternut squash ice cube into one of your drinks. That would be a nasty surprise.  

  12. # Blogger The Princess

    I made all of Camille's food and rarely used the store bought, only in times of emergency (ie: ran out of food!) and even then we sprung for the Organic stuff.

    2 things that made my life easier:

    The Micro cooker by Pamper chef to steam all the food

    and then

    the Magic Bullet to blend.

    These 2 things made our lives SO much easier!  

  13. # Blogger Binulatti

    Bravo! See? you really are capable of cooking. Don't be surprised if you spontaneously begin to apply your babyfood skills in adult food cooking endeavours. And big, big ups for going organic. Conventional veggies are all about producing the highest volume on the least amount of resources, resulting in vitamin-anemic waterballoons. Just make sure you reheat in the stove. microwaving will foil your efforts in preserving antioxidants.  

  14. # Blogger sher

    I loved those photos, especially the last one!!! :) But, say, are you going to start a fabulous baby food business like Diane Keaton in that film! And what about Sam Shepard?

    I like Shannon's idea.  

  15. # Blogger MsPrufrock

    See, it wasn't bad after all! I would rather tear off my own toenails than eat any kind of squash, but I still give it to the kid.

    As The Princess mentioned, you might want to invest in an inexpensive steamer and maybe a hand blender to make your life a bit easier. I paid a total of £15 ($30)for both a steamer and hand blender. A food processor is great, but mine takes a lot of cleaning which seems a waste when you're only making one serving of something.

    I'm appalled at the statistic you gave about the amount of commercially produced baby food that is consumed. Depressing. I have some spare jars in the cupboard for emergencies and lazy moments, but I only use them once every couple of weeks if that. 600 jars...damn.  

  16. # Blogger Guinevere Meadow

    It's probably a lot more fun to cook vegetables for OTHER people. lol!  

  17. # Blogger sunShine

    That is awesome. You should be proud of yourself! I was so busy, I opted for the store bought. It got much easier when he got teeth to eat what we were eating. She is so adorable.  

  18. # Blogger Kristi

    Marie-Yeah, the cereal leaves much to be desired. I mix in some of her veggies to make it more palatable. And I'd love those jars and magnets. Thanks so much!


    Annie- We have photos AND videos of that very funny first feeding!

    Damselfly-Oh no, she did not feed herself. She was just grabbing at the spoon in an attempt to fling its contents everywhere. And thanks for the link! I'm going to check it out.

    Shannon-LOL. Kids AND their moms like that stuff. :)

    Ramona-Aww.. thanks. And that's a definite idea. I wish I had the time to do it. As it is, I feel like I'm neglecting this blog.

    Kenju-Thanks. It's silly how proud I am of myself, when really, it's not that big of a deal.

    Michelle-As I mentioned in my email, any of the books I have would work for you! Definitely give it a try.

    Editorgirl-It's cool that so many parents are into doing this now.

    Hopeful Mother-Ha! Ick. That would definitely be a horrible shock.

    Princess-Thanks for the tips! I am definitely going to look into the magic bullet, because my blender is too much of a pain to scoop the food out of.

    Karrie-Interesting about the microwaving. The author of the organic baby food book you gave me gives microwaving directions for every one of her recipes. Seems odd, no?

    Sher-If I could cook like you, I definitely would!

    MsPrufrock-Thanks for the handblender tip. My food processor is a bit of a pain to clean, but when I make big batches of food, I don't mind as much as when I'm just making a single serving or two. And I'm with you on the squash. Ick.

    Guinevere-Amen to that!

    Sunshine-Thank you!  

  19. # Anonymous Kari

    my daughter (also Isabella) is almost 11 months old now & she loves my homemade baby food. i've got 2 friends who have babies similar in age & we do a food swap. i'll make a large batch of a food & swap a few trays with my friend for a different fruit/veggie - works GREAT!  

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