Monday, March 15, 2010

How can you throw four ingredients up and the air and come up with something interesting (and edible!)?

So as I have mentioned, B can have corn meal/corn flour (masa!!), arrowroot starch, bananas and pears. All basic "cooking chemicals" (sugar, baking powder, salt, etc) are freebies and we can use canola oil. I have also found that we are solid on vanilla extract, so hooray for a little added flavor! My main goals when trying to create/modify/find new recipes are simple--- nutritional value, introducing new textures, and most important for me, finding foods that will resemble "normal" little kid foods for B. For instance, she had a kind of corn/banana muffin with allergen free frosting and fruit sorbet for her birthday; the closest I could come to cake and ice cream. And it was still good!!!

We have a few more options than some, since our safe foods are fairly baking friendly, but it is still tricky coming up with home cooked goodies that exhibit some form of relative variety. So far, our recipe file is growing (I keep a working notebook with original recipes, modifications and ideas for modifications, recording later on if they actually work) and includes two sorbets, a frosting recipe, a muffin/cake recipe, a cookie recipe, a pancake recipe, and basic purees. I am currently working on a modification of banana bread, a new pancake recipe, a different version of the cookie recipe, and a few others that I need to wait until B passes a few of the ingredients.

So why bake? It is really a great way to introduce new foods and in an interesting manner. I have a couple "staple" recipes that B loves and when trying a new food that can be used in baking, I simply take a staple recipe and substitute the new food in place of something else. Now, I do have to look at the recipe and determine what that ingredient could replace, obviously, since certain foods react different ways (chemically speaking) when baking.

Bananas, for instance, are an awesome egg substitute and we actually go through bunches of bananas each week like some households go through cartons of eggs. Bananas are not only similar in texture to a raw egg (when the banana is mashed) but they expand when baking and really help to hold other ingredients together. When substituting banana for egg, you take 1/2 cup of banana (mashed) mixed with 1 tsp baking powder (if you can't have baking pwdr due to the corn starch, use 1/2 tsp baking soda with 1/4 tsp cream of tartar in place of 1 tsp baking pwdr.) It works great in most recipes.

If you want to learn more about what I call "baking chemistry" (how different ingredients react and interact chemically) and "baking math" (how much of each thing to substitute for how much of another), I have found my "Baking Illustrated" cookbook to be helpful. It was written by the lovely people of the Cook's Illustrated magazines, another excellent resource.

So check out my recipe pages if you need/want some ideas, or are simply curious about our weirdo recipes. :) I will warn you since pretty much everything we bake does contain corn flour/ corn meal and bananas, flavors often resemble varying degrees of banana-dipped tortillas, but with this in mind, my LO LOVES the recipes. And, if you were wondering if she just simply has strangely unique taste buds, I have tried my recipes on other unsuspecting and suspecting babies (who are of the non-FPIES variety, lucky little ones!) and on my wonderful husband, who will try anything that pops out of my kitchen, but is pretty honest about whether or not something is edible or awful.

Also, a word to the wise, when using fruit purees or mashed fruits in recipes, I found that fresh fruit or frozen fruit pureed before throwing it into the recipe works SOOOOO much better than baby food. You may have never thought of using baby food for that purpose, but a few times when experimenting with new recipes, I ran out of ingredients and for one reason or another, couldn't go out to get more, and foolishly turned to the baby food cast-offs in the back of my cupboards (from before I swore off all premade baby food for my daughter). It was a very VERY bad idea. Things never set up very well and the flavor was usually ten degrees to the left of nasty. So use fresh. Or frozen. Or maybe canned. Use something still resembling the fruit from whence it first came. You will appreciate the results so much better.

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