Monday 11 January 2010

Baby Food, Cookies and a Day at the Zoo

Recently I was made aware that I have blogging quite some time. I made fudge cookies and they tasted very like chocolate cookies I made a couple of years back. When I checked the post I was thinking of I found that both recipes originated from Alice Medrich in Bittersweet. I felt clever for recognising the taste, if not the ingredients list, and grateful to Sylvia for sharing some of her mashed pumpkin for a worthy cause.

I am still finding it a pain to be making different food for Sylvia to us but it is great to have mashed pumpkin in the fridge. It is really meant for her but it is so versatile in recipes that I find lots of uses. Last week my dad came up for lunch and I remembered we had some falafel in the fridge so I made some pumpkin hummus (a bit like this one) with a bit of Sylvia’s puree and it was delicious.

We took Sylvia’s highchair into the backyard and ate lunch outside. She ate well with a plate of grated carrot, grated cucumber, white beans and some bread (plus a rice cake in her bib). At first try a few weeks back she was just spitting out the bread, so I am pleased she is now enjoying it. I was surprised to find I have to buy more nectarines and cucumber because she loves them so much. She loves lots of fruit but I am still struggling to get her to eat savoury foods.

It is still quite a challenge to feed her. One day she eats terribly, the next she is biting my heels under the kitchen table because she is so hungry. Most days she wants to overturn her plate. Tips on feeding her are very helpful. Putting the just-cooked puree in the freezer to cool it down quickly (thanks Susie) and giving her another spoon when she wants to grab the spoon from me to assert her independence (thanks mum) are very helpful. I have also had good advice from here (Nicki) and Ireland (Chris and Fergal) that the Tommy Tippee sip and seal cup is the best one to take out and about without leaks.

I have started making Sylvia a simple pumpkin mash as an easy way to get vegetables into her diet. You can see that she enjoys this. (One of my most successful early puree combinations was pumpkin, apple and peach.) I find it easy to quickly mash up some pumpkin but I am hoping we will progress to greener vegies soon.

Meanwhile I have many uses for mashed pumpkin in addition to baby food. I love to include it in baking. So I was immediately drawn to a recipe that Sarah at What’s Smells So Good posted recently for Pumpkin Spice Fudge Cookies. I baked a double batch the day after I saw it. I made a few small changes including using a bit of buckwheat flour and some ginger. They were so good, fudgy and intensely chocolatey.

Imagine my surprise to find I had already made a version of these cookies. I was even more surprised because I confess this is one of the few batches of cookies I put in the freezer and had to throw out. Was it the addition of balsamic vinegar? I don’t think so. I suspect it was because I made them in the first trimester of pregnancy when I found chocolate made me queasy. Making them while breastfeeding, which makes me so hungry, is such a different experience. I can’t get enough of them.

But, despite temptation to scoff them down at home while E was at work, I was still able to share them. My family had an outing to the zoo last week so I got up early and miraculously arrived at the zoo before it opened at 9am. Unfortunately the rest of the family were an hour late and I had forgotten my mobile. I was quite impatient by the time everyone arrived. But there are some in my family who believe that having a mobile phone means never having to apologise for being late. Grrrr! ‘Nuff said!

I spent some time at the wonderful new seal exhibition which is calming and cooling. I never visit the zoo without seeing the giraffes. They were not cooperating with me when I got my camera out but one bold little ostrich was quite keen to play a starring role.

The Melbourne Zoo has had a lot of work to improve it since I was a child. My Irish brother-in-law was quite impressed with it despite his misgivings about going to a zoo. The elephants, orangutans and butterfly house were other highlights.

I had to leave early for a dentist appointment. I left Sylvia in the capable hands of my mum and she brought her home when I had finished. My little nephew came along too and it was amusing – and a little nervewracking – to watch Dash and Sylvia chasing after Zinc in unison. I was pleased to hear that in my absence, the chocolate biscuits had been enjoyed by the family over lunch at the zoo.

Pumpkin Fudge Cookies
Makes two and a half dozen
adapted from Alice Medrich
via What Smells So Good

¼ cup margarine, at room temperature
¼ cup castor sugar
½ cup brown sugar
cup mashed pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup plain white flour
¼ cup buckwheat flour
7 tbsp cocoa powder
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp ground ginger
cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line or grease a baking tray.

Melt the butter in a medium bowl in the microwave. Whisk in sugars, pumpkin and vanilla, until smooth. Add dry ingredients and stir until just combined into a slightly stiff dough.

Drop teaspoonfuls onto baking try and flatten slightly with the back of a spoon. NB: I smoothed some with damp hands but preferred the rough look when I kept the moulding to a minimum. Bake 10 minutes, or until set. Cool on tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

On the stereo:
Flood: They Might Be Giants


  1. Sounds like you had a lovely day at the Zoo. These biscuits look fabulous - so rich and chocolatey, you'd never guess there's vegetable matter in there. Although, I have to say I like my mashed pumpkin ...

  2. I love the snapshots of Sylvia, she does have the cutest wrists! What an adorable bib too, I've never seen that kind.

    Imagining her under the table biting your heels makes me laugh!

  3. Thanks for posting your experiences with feeding Sylvia. It's very interesting. I'm not a mother, but I'd like to be someday.

    Also, that recipe looks fantastic. I can't wait to try it.

  4. Oooh, I'm so obsessed with using mashed pumpkin in baking! Except it's more a theoretical obsession, what with my current-lack-of-kitchen and Australia's refusal to make canned pumpkin as ubiquitous as it is in America...

    Sadly, have no advice on the baby-front, as I've yet to even find the partner to make that a possibility :D But love the photos from the zoo, and completely with you on the frustration at people who think mobile technology negates standard social niceties!

  5. Pumpkin AND chocolate?! Sounds very tasty and I'm not surprised you're taking a tax from Sylvia's food :) Glad you had a nice day at the zoo, though sorry you had to wait for so long

  6. What a lovely day out and a great recipe I am going to have to try it out very soon :)

    Babies when weaning love sweet foods i.e ones with natural sugar so introduce a bit of herbs & spice to the mix to introduce savory foods. I used to mash parsnips with red capsicums after roasting it slightly in some olive oil. Sweet potatoes and rosemary steamed and then mashed together. Adding peas or sweetcorn with potatoes and rice with some cumin, cinnamon and coriander. Also add some coconut milk to bland foods. Good luck you will get some great days and others which will be a nightmare for some time to come but just keep trying and you will get there. :)

  7. Those cookies sound and look great! I would love to try them. I have never used pureed pumpkin in any dish before. I boringly just use it in soup or curry. We don't get the canned puree here either. I must make the effort. I recognise that green bib, Graham's mum bought it for Cooper.

  8. Thanks Cakelaw - no you wouldn't guess there is pumpkin in it - made me almost wonder if it should be in the name of the cookies

    Thanks Sarah - I have heard the term "nipping at your heels" before but never experienced it til now - the bib is ikea and is very cute - as for Sylvia's wrists - they are pudgy like the rest of her but I agree they are cute

    Thanks Jaime - hope you will find happiness either in this recipe or motherhood or both :-)

    Thanks Hannah - I don't think anyone in my family was surprised I didn't have my mobile as I forget about it often - but I don't mind quickly mashing up some pumpkin - a microwave, a plastic tub and a fork will do it quickly if a small amount is needed - who needs the canned stuff!

    Thanks Lysy - one of my favourite combinations - pumpkin and chocolate I mean, not family and waiting :-)

    Thanks Kiran - put a pinch of cumin in her pumpkin and potato tonight which seemed to go down well - will have to try this more - thanks for the advice

    Thanks Jacqueline - mashed pumpkin is great in baking and dips (and soups and curries). I make it enough to find it quite easy. Funny that cooper also has the bib - we got ours ages ago but it has taken me a while to appreciate how useful it can be.

  9. Wow, just look at how dark and intense those cookies look! I'm sure I'd love them, too. The addition of buckwheat sounds great. And glad Sylvia is eating (and nothing wrong with a lot of pumpkin!) :)

  10. Thanks Ricki - they were very good and very intense - so much so that I am surprised at the previous version which had some balsamic vinegar to deepen the flavour!

  11. Firstly can I just sya that even though I haven't seen Sylvia's face I know I'd think she was adorable as a) she has a cute frog bib and b) she has the chubbiest arms and I love chubby limbed babies! :)

  12. Thanks Lorraine - got to agree she is a cutie pie

  13. Nope, you'd never guess that those lava-like cookies hide a vegetable! heavenly. And oooh, giraffes! My favourites!


Thanks for dropping by. I love hearing from you. Please share your thoughts and questions. Annoyingly the spammers are bombarding me so I have turned on the pesky captcha code (refresh to find an easy one if you don't like the first one)