Monday, October 17, 2011

Recipe: Barley & Mushrooms

Henry "helping" in the kitchen

Whenever I write a post about Henry + food, I get several questions about why we're following the Montessori approach to weaning rather than "baby-led weaning," which--from what I can tell--is popular in the Attachment Parenting movement. I love this post by Kylie about the difference between the two approaches.

The truth is, we do primarily Montessori with a little baby-led weaning thrown in. Usually, I will feed Henry purees for breakfast and lunch at his weaning table. At dinner, he will sit in his high-chair pulled up to the table. We still feed him purees at this time, but we also feed him foods in their real form. Last night, for example, we went to a salad bar restaurant and let him chew on sticks of carrots and squash, cucumbers, pasta spirals, and sourdough bread.

We choose to follow the Montessori approach because we believe that eating at a child-sized table from real bowls with real utensils helps Henry develop his sense of self. Further, by introducing utensils so young, we hope to help Henry cultivate his independence sooner. I also personally believe that Henry needs the extra calories. He still drinks breast milk six times a day, but he honestly seems to sleep better at night if he's had a full day of pureed foods.

We choose to incorporate some baby-led weaning practices because we want Henry to feel like part of the family. We want him to join in our camaraderie and community and to explore the foods we are eating. We also want him to work on his pincer grip (thumb + forefinger).

The combination works well for us.

Just recently, I found a new cookbook on my shelf and realized that it recommended much more flavorful and diverse meals for babies (probably because it was written by a European). It inspired me to dig through another one of my baby cookbooks and skip ahead to the more complex meals.

I decided to make Barley and Mushrooms for the whole family. Yum! Here's how I did it:

  • Pearl barley
  • Butter
  • Garlic
  • Cremini mushrooms
  • Vegetable stock
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh Thyme
  • You first toast the barley in a dry saucepan for about 3 minutes and then transfer it to a bowl.
  • Then you melt some butter in the saucepan and cook the garlic for about one minute.
  • Next, you add the chopped mushrooms and cook for about 3 minutes.
  • Next, you add the stock, salt, pepper, and thyme and bring to a boil over high heat. You reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until barley is tender, about 30-35 minutes.
I made the baby stock by boiling a leek, asparagus, and sweet potatoes (all chopped up) in a big pot of water for an hour or so.

After I finished the barley and mushroom dish, I put it in two bowls for Matt and me and then pureed the rest of it. I served Henry a small bowl and scooped the rest into ice-cube trays to freeze and transfer to plastic bags. I also froze the extra vegetable stock by pouring it into a muffin tin. Finally, I pureed the leek, asparagus, and sweet potatoes for many more Henry meals.

It was a great way to multi-task! I ended up with a delicious meal for everyone (plus lots of frozen food for Henry).

As a side note, I had to watch Henry and cook dinner, since Matt had a super-important work thing to do in the other room. For a second, I bemoaned the fact that we don't use trays on our high-chairs in Montessori environments. I wanted to just stick him in the seat and feed him some cheerios! But instead, I let him crawl around the floor and inspect some things out of the kitchen drawer. It kept him busy and honored his need to develop movement. Win-win!

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Becca said...

That sounds delicious! My husband, despite being very good and trying them regularly, still doesn't like mushrooms, so I'd have to eat it all myself...

Thank you for the link explaining Montessori feeding. I didn't realise that it was Montessori, but that's how we are planning to wean, and I think that most people I know have done it that way.

Raquel.Somatra said...

Mmm, that meal sounds awesome. I had a Korean roommate that constantly had barley and nuts in the rice cooker, so I've come to love the smell.

I've actually purchased all the ingredients to make the dal one of your readers suggested in the Meals for a Year recipe request. And now I'm tempted to get mushrooms & barley at the market--!

little monkey said...

I would add to Karlie's list the flexibility offered by BLW. You can use plates if and when you want too, you can introduce silverware anytime you think your child is ready, etc. We've been doing BLW and from the beginning my baby has been using silverware, eating from bowls, etc. She started drinking from a shot glass long before that too. Interesting about the sleep; I have a hefty eater too, so I will have to observe if she sleeps better on days she eats more frequently.

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