Jul. 13th, 2012

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I'm just now catching up from last week... one day of holiday, one day of volunteering at Kids Read Comics (where I fell madly in love in a non-creepy-stalkerish way with Raina Telgemeier.) I'll try to post more on that later, but in the meantime, catching up with some backlog...

Parents Need to Eat TooParents Need to Eat Too by Debbie Koenig “I feed my baby all right, but then it’s too much work to fix something for me, so I just eat toast or whatever is left over.” I’ve heard these kinds of comments distressingly often. It’s especially tough during the first months of parenthood, when this cooking around a baby thing is still so new and the baby is so demanding. Koenig’s book attempts to address this problem, with chapters of recipes designed to fill a multitude of specific post-baby cooking needs. Chapters include such themes as cooking from pantry staples if you can’t get out of the house, crock pot recipes, dishes to be eaten with one hand when you can’t put the baby down, nap-time cooking, fast recipes, big batch cooking, really simple recipes for non-cooking types, milk-boosting recipes, and nutritious snacks and desserts. Despite a preface with standard processed baby food feeding advice, all of the recipes happily assume that you’ll be feeding your baby real food and include comments on how suitable it is for babies of different stages. The chapter on nap-friendly cooking wasn’t quite what I was hoping for – more a way to split up cooking really complicated dishes into three parts to make them manageable with kids, rather than the “get it all prepped in one nap” that I was hoping for. I found recipes that I’d try in every other section, though, and especially liked the one-handed eating recipes, all individual portions wrapped in various types of starch holders, to make ahead for camping. (Can they be reheated without an oven, I wonder?) My husband, the major cook in our family, reads Cook’s Illustrated for pleasure and said that he found the recipes a little more simplified than he prefers. Despite that, he won’t let me take it back to the library and keeps cooking out of it. We’ve had a cauliflower curry, a tomato-mozzarella pasta salad, and the chocolate pudding, and contemplated many more. Really, the simplified recipes are the point. You can turn to any number of cookbooks or magazines for complicated recipe instructions; there are not so many that grasp the utter desperation that occurs when a new baby comes and throws a household into chaos. The recipes are straightforward, using mostly simple ingredients. Many of them are vegetarian or have alternate veggie/omnivore options. Koenig is a Weight Watchers devotee, and therefore many of her recipes are low fat. This was a little odd for me, as I think that nursing mothers need good-quality fat and plenty of it – but this is often easily fixed by just using regular fat versions where low fat is called for. I’ll note that I’m a fan of books for the completeness and portability and easy sharing aspects… but many of her recipes are also on her blog, linked above. Though it’s geared towards new parents, whether or not you are one yourself, if you’re in need of help getting real food on the table on a regular basis or want ideas for food to bring over to friends in need, this is an excellent choice.

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