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NOAM'S FIRST MEAL | FOOD & DRINK
There is a lot to catch up on here at Jenée Sais Quoi as Baby Noam is already almost 6 months old !
This first post after maternity leave covers a big event: Noam's first solid food!
Over the years I have enjoyed writing about seasonal and celebratory
and entertaining with
in NYC. So of course, for me, Noam's first meal would be monumental.
This project meant more than just cooking food for my son. It was about setting the tone for a lifetime of healthy and adventurous eating. I even called a friend in San Francisco,
, a foodie and
, for her thoughts on this big event.
As I contemplated it, bought it, and prepared it, I thought about the bigger conversation going on concerning food in this country right now such as:
- Having a conscious about from where our food comes
- The injustice of poor neighborhoods not having access to healthy, fresh foods
treating food as medicine.
I wanted all of this to be considered and passed on through the food.
Our pediatrician recommended that we skip over the rice cereal and go straight to complex recipes. Whatever we eat, he can eat. This new way of feeding babies in America is thought to lessen food allergies and picky eaters- I'm a big fan of that.
I started the meal at the
. I decided whatever was organic, local and in season would be his first vegetable. There was a small stand with carefully placed bunches of veggies in wooden crates that looked inviting. Since I was not one of the early shoppers, the pickings were slim. Yet, this bunch of White Japanese Turnips looked like a beautiful first meal and Farmer Greg posed for a picture so that Noam can see who grew his first meal.
Willow Wisp Organic Farm Stand
I considered just boiling them because it was still unfathomable that a baby could handle more than one ingredient at a time. But I decided to go all out and make this recipe from
. Luckily I had all the ingredients laying around. With tons of love, I prepared
. I even served it in little tea cups I acquired during a trip to Japan many years ago. Then I unwrapped a special spoon sent to him by my friend Tiffany. We shared this food on a Sunday - Mom, Dad & Noam - a perfect day for our family's first meal together.
baby mush on bottom
As for Noam's opinion on his seasonal, local, organic, miso Japanese turnips- he could not get enough!!!! He was even licking his tray!!!
Hopefully the thoughtful choice for my son is the beginning of a healthy relationship to food, to his body and the world around him.
May he always enjoy breaking bread with family and friends as it's one of life's best pleasures.
Baby Products that helped make this a success:
(not an endorsement - just a tip to help other moms)
- Great for babies that are almost ready to sit, but def ready to eat.
- It's cute, easy grip, just the right size, and BPA free
ENTERTAINING | FOOD & DRINK
Before we know it, Autumn will be here so a few things need to be added to your to do list: update your wardrobe with new fall staples before the best ones are sold out and pick your garden before the cold gets to your vegetables and herbs. In my case I often have more herbs than I can use so I have to find ways to preserve them. When I do things like this, it makes me feel more connected to my great grandmothers I never got to know. My Cajun grandmother in Louisiana often tells me stories about her mom preserving all the foods they would grow on their farm. She says they were poor, but they always ate really well!!! For a Cajun, good food is good livin'.
This summer my father went crazy growing herbs and vegetables. He has the most incredible luck with plants. He sent me bags and bags and bags of different basil varieties from his gardens. So I got to work figuring out what to do with all of these before they wilted.
Here are some standard preserving techniques:
These are more fun (which is of course what I did):
- Infused Oils
- Infused Alcohols
- Infused Butters
LEMON BALM = LEMON BALM TEA
Many people think of tea as only being made of tea leaves. Yet any herb can be made into tea by simply steeping it in hot water. THAT'S HERBAL TEA! Fresh mint is my favorite. Lemon Balm feels like you are drinking a spa (in a good way)
Below it is shown as hot tea and cold tea.
For hot tea------
1/2 C FRESH HERBS
4 C HOT WATER (just barely boiling)
Steep in hot water for about 10 minutes, strain and drink.
|HOT LEMON BALM TEA|
1/2 C FRESH HERBS
4 C HOT WATER (just barely boiling)
Steep in hot water for about 10 minutes, strain into a glass jar, refrigerate and drink when cold.
|COLD LEMON BALM TEA|
THAI BASIL = THAI BASIL PESTO
Often I have made "regular" pesto, but figured the ingredients should change up a bit when using Thai Basil. A quick search online lead me to a few different sites with recipes. Using my own cooking and chemistry skills I put together this version:
INGREDIENTS: (yeilds 1/2c)
2 C THAI BASIL
1//2 C DRY ROASTED PEANUTS
2-4 CLOVES GARLIC (depends on your taste)
1 T FISH SAUCE
1 1/2 T DARK SESAME OIL
1 t CRUSHED RED PEPPER
1 t SUGAR
1 T RICE WINE VINEGAR
- Pick every stem off of basil and wash. This is labor intensive but worth it.
- Combine all ingredients except for oil in food processor or blender. Blend until finely chopped.
- Keep blending and slowly add in oil until it becomes paste like.
More oil can be added if necessary to get to this consistency.
- Store in a glass jar and refrigerate or eat immediately
AFRICAN BASIL = AFRICAN BASIL INFUSED OIL
This is the easiest of all. The only time consuming part is waiting for the oil to become infused.
Wash and completely dry herbs
Place herbs in clean jar
Pour in olive oil and seal bottle.
Store in cool, dry place for 1 week
If using fresh herbs it is recommended to store in refrigerator and use within a week. Infused oils will last longer if herbs are dried.
The same steps can be used to infuse in alcohol such as Vodka or Gin. Though fresh herbs can last for much longer in alcohol. So consider making an infused herbal Vodka for the upcoming holidays!
This little guy made it all the way from Louisiana in the Basil. This is how you know my dad's garden is organic. This is also why you must thoroughly clean all of your basil before blending it into pesto!!! Thank god my sister was here to help me deal. I might have screamed a little when I saw this. I guess I've been out of the country for too long and/ or my hormones are out of control
SPECIAL THANKS TO MY DAD FOR THE GREAT PRODUCE AND MY SISTER FOR THE HOURS SPENT PICKING EVERY STEM OFF. XOXO
ENTERTAINING | FOOD & DRINK
One of my favorite Jewish holiday Fêtes is Purim because I love cookies! The food du jour on this holiday is Hamentashen. Usually I give up cookies and baked treats during Lent, but since we have a multicultural household now, I let myself indulge on Purim.
This year Elyse, the other 2 Non Blonde, threw a Purim Luau Party. It was all about the tiki plates, the fab florals, the island jewelry, the pink ukulele and...
THE FOOD: Jewish Classics with an Hawaiian Twist.
1: Arugula Salad with Chickpeas and Hearts of Palm
2. Lox & Pineapple Kabobs
3. Plantain Chips with Hummus
4.Assorted Aloha Series Ales from Kona Brewing Company
5. Capri Sun Surfer Cooler (for the little party goers)
6. Whitefish Sliders on Hawaiian Rolls *recipe at end of post
7. Falafel & Mango salsa
8. Pineapple Lukshen Kugel *recipe at end of post
9. Coconut Cream Hamentaschen
6. Coconut Peanut Butter & Banana Mini Pita sandwiches
Of course, this post would not be complete with out a mention of...
THE FASHION: It was still chilly outside in late March but warm inside. Everyone was ready to break into their summer gear!
Floral dresses, shirts and hair accessories were most popular. Authentic Hawaiian necklaces were even spotted. I brought along my best Hawaiian accessory = A Pink Uke
THE PARTY: see what happens when you hand people a pineapple and a Uke
|THIS IS THE HOSTESS (on the left)|
|PARTY OVER::::::::::::::::: this PHOTO COURTESY OF ALYSE PARRIES|
Series | How to Have that Jenee sais quoi
Recently I was having a conversation with a doctor of Chinese Medicine and he spoke of the need to adjust ones routines and regimes according to the season. It's all quite rational, really. In winter one should relax more and recoup from what should have been a vigorous summer. This reminded me of another conversation I had years ago with a guy at a dinner party during the winter . I knew him to be a very active person and when I asked him what he was up to he said that he took winters to stay in more, read more and reflect more. He happened to be a doctor of Western Medicine...
So this weeks advice on how to have that (jenée) said quoi is not only my personal recommendation but apparently "medical" advice too. Winter is a great time to get wrapped up in a long novel or several short ones. The background noise of wind and rain is the perfect soundtrack for the printed word. Then, for those inevitable sick days, getting lost in a character's adventures or misfortunes should be able to make you forget your own ailments.
My top 3 Book recommendations to aid in your hibernating this season are:
by Julie Orringer
This is certainly a book to get lost in and got me through the worst cold last winter.
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
by: Dai Sijie
This book I read many years ago as I became more interested in Chinese culture. Through these fictional characters I could better understand this exceptional period of Chinese history in the not so distant past. Like "The Invisible Bridge", it adds a human element to the harsh facts of historical data.
The surprise literary bestseller of the year, this is a beguiling fable that shines with the wonder of imagination, the beauty of romance, and the power of storytelling. Set during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the novel tells the story of two hapless city boys sent to a remote mountain village for reeducation.
HOW TO DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY
by: Kelsey Osgood
This book I plan on starting immediately. While I can't give a personal testament to how good it is, I can attest to how incredibly entertaining and thought provoking Ms. Osgood is. If this book is as well written as her emails are to me, then I feel confident recommending this for winter's hibernation.
More here about how we celebrated the book being published.
With attuned storytelling and unflinching introspection, Kelsey Osgood unpacks the modern myths of anorexia, examining the cult-like underbelly of eating disorders in the young, as she chronicles her own rehabilitation. How to Disappear Completely is a brave, candid and emotionally wrenching memoir that explores the physical, internal, and social ramifications of eating disorders and subverts many of the popularly held notions of the illness and, most hopefully, the path to recovery.
Coffee is an international drink, but I have many coffee memories growing up in Louisiana. My grandparents could not start the day without a cup of it. So when I slept over as a little girl, they made a cup of coffee milk for me. It was mostly milk with a splash of coffee and a spoon of sugar. It was delicious. I feel now it's already one of those old time stories that parents or grandparents would never do - give a child coffee!?!?!?!?
Offer several mixers to make coffee cocktails, appropriate glasses and mugs, and fresh coffee. Guests can experiment with coffee cocktail recipes which is part of the entertainment. It's coffee for grown-ups.
|Coffee Cocktail Recipes|
|Glass ware & Mugs|
|Cafe du Monde Coffee from Louisiana with Chicory|
|Going for the Bailey's Irish Coffee|
|Taste Testing the whipped Cream|
|A Bailey's Irish Coffee|
|Round II !!!! Espresso Martini this time|
(Painting by Tonya Engel)