Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How to make/store baby food

Ok, this tutorial has been requested a few times, so here it goes. The best part of this method is it doesn't require a fancy baby food processor (I didn't have the $ laying around for one after having a baby!). You can use any old muffin tins you have, but I highly recommend investing in a couple silicone muffin tins. They're great and they don't rust.

There are tons of great reasons to make your baby's food from scratch. It's cheaper (I was able to feed munckin almost 100% organically for less than it would cost me to buy regular ol' Gerber). It's healthier (canned baby food cooks out tons of the nutrients, just look at the colors, or lack thereof). It helps get your babies used to eating real foods with real tastes and textures and once you get the hang of it, it's actually super easy! Let's get started, I'm going to show you with carrots, but you can do almost any fruit/veggies, just make sure it's soft enough to be pureed. I also did chicken thighs this way. I just baked them and added a lot of water to the blender. I loved this website for tips on what and when and how to feed baby.

Step 1: Peel and cut your carrots (or other veggie) into roughly even sized chunks that won't take too terribly long to cook.
Step 2: Bring a pot of water to a boil and throw in your veggies (I only used a few inches of water, so it's sort of a cross between steaming and boiling. The lost nutrients in the water will probably get reused to thin out your puree.)Step 3: Do the fork test to see if their done. If it easily breaks apart with the fork, they're ready for pureeing!
Step 4: After letting the veggies cool for a while (I prefer almost room temperature so no steam builds up in the blender), puree as much as the veggies as your blender can handle. If you need to add water and you probably will, remember to use the water you boiled your veggies in. Don't let those nutrients go to waste!Step 5: Scoop your puree into your muffin tins. I used 1/4 cup when munchkin was really little, now I use 1/3 cup. Put them in the freezer until solid.
Step 6: Before you pull your muffin tins out of the freezer (or if you're using metal tins, take them out now to defrost just a little so you can get your pellets out). Cut out squares of wax paper roughly the size of your pellets, so the pellets don't touch when stacked.
Step 7: This is where having the silicone tins is great, you can pop the pellets right out rather than trying to ease them out of a rigid metal tin.
Step 8: Put your pellets on the squares. Aren't they cute?
Step 9: This is the only step that takes a little practice, stacking your pellets. It helps to tip the bag diagonally, like so:
Stack the rows tightly to keep them from sliding around in the freezer. I did seven with the 1/3 cup pellets, you might get 8 out of the 1/4 cup portions. I don't remember. Now you're done, stick it in the freezer and pull out pellets as needed!
P.S. This cost me roughly $2.50 for more than 24 portions (some of the puree ended up in the fridge) of organic baby food. Yay frugality!

Valentine's Day Heart Garland

Ok, this is going to be a quick and dirty tutorial because 1. I'm lazy, 2. I didn't really intend to do a tutorial so there are very few pictures and 3. It's a really easy project!

Here's our finished project (or one of them, I made two):For this project, you will need:
- 3-5 sheets of pretty papers, depending on what size hearts you make and how long you want your banner to be.
- Several feet of ribbon or twine (I used twine), again, however long you want your banner to be.
- scissors
- tape
- cardboard for templates

Step 1: Pick out some pretty paper. I've been using this package of scrapbook paper I found on clearance (score!) for everything. I've made collages, matting for pictures, cards, you name it. Best find ever. Step 2: Sorry, no picture. Cut out your templates from a piece of cardboard you have laying around, I used a cereal box. I did a big heart (approx. 4" tall), medium heart (3" tall) and a small heart (2" tall). Do whatever works for you. I made two different patterns:

1. small-medium-small-big-small-medium-small-big:

2. small-medium-big-medium-small-medium-big-medium-small:
For pattern 1 you'll need to cut out 4 big hearts, 5 medium hearts and 10 small hearts. For pattern 2 you'll need 5 big hearts, 10 medium hearts and 6 small hearts.

Step 3: Cut out your hearts. I like to trace my templates onto the back of one sheet of paper, laying the hearts out to maximize the amount I can cut out, keeping in mind the ratio I'll need (don't want too many excess small hearts, not enough medium hearts, etc.). Then I stack all my paper together and cut them out at once (I've got great scissors, it helps!).

Step 4: Plan your pattern. Lay all your hearts out, mixing the patterns so you get a nice mix. It helps to take a step back and look at it (you don't want it to be heavier on red on one side, the same pattern next to each other...).

Step 5: Now your ready to tape the hearts to your twine. (I stacked mine up off the floor in the right order, so the munchkin wouldn't destroy my hard work). I didn't have any tape in a dispenser laying around, so I had to use my packing tape and just cut small strips. Be careful to leave a little space between the hearts (a quarter inch, maybe) so when you hang the banner it doesn't scrunch up on you.
Step 6: That's it! Hang your banner where ever you like! I'm sure you'll have a better spot to put yours. I didn't have a very picturesque spot to put mine, but I promise, they look adorable and very Valentiney!