I do love living in Canada, but with it insists the tolerance of the unrelenting cold of winter in January & February.
December weather is endurable because it promises Santa, pretty lights and the first light snowfall, but come January, St. Nick is long gone and the novelty of shovelling the driveway has worn off.
Leaving the house in the morning isn’t quite as simple as it was in the more temperate days.
The calamity that unfolds trying to get Gore-Tex coats and snow pants on the kids in a timely manner is beyond belief, just like trying to jam mitts on these mini creatures you swear had opposable thumbs a minute ago is.
When you ask people how they manage to get through these two infamous Canadian winter months, a resounding, “by curling up with some comfort food”, is a beloved response.
The Oxford English Dictionary added the term “comfort food” to its 1997 list of entries defining it as, “food that comforts or affords solace; hence any food that is associated with childhood or with home cooking.”
An article on msn.com (food and drink) on the history of comfort food further goes on to explain, “throughout history and across cultures food arguably has always been associated with the provision of comfort. From the moment following birth, the crying infant is immediately soothed with mother’s milk.” “Only in the last decade of the twentieth century, however, did the notion of comfort food as a unique concept become part of the vernacular of everyday life.”
Wikipedia also has an interesting list of the top rated comfort food choices across different cultures…what Chicken Soup is to America, Tom Yum is to Thailand.
There is one comfort food that pops up on several people’s lists…macaroni and cheese!
So in honour of this cold, dark, hibernation instigating period, I’m sharing my mac and cheese baby food recipe.
I will add tuna, cauliflower and carrots to mine though.
The good thing about cooking for baby is that you don’t have to be deliberate about hiding veggies in the meal.
They can be right out there in the open in all their glory.
Babies don’t care what the dish looks like.
If they are introduced to veggies early on (6 months +) they grow accustomed to them, declare some their favourites and some not so much, but best of all, as they grow into toddlers and beyond they won’t refuse to eat them.
Unfortunately this is not the case with my pre-teen, anti-veggie boy Eric.
When I had him 12 years ago the closest I came to making homemade baby food was to put on a chef’s hat and chant “bon appetite” in the name of getting him to eat his jarred peas.
I think that’s evident today when he says things like, “I wish I had no taste buds, ‘cause then I could eat really healthy.”
The truth is, he refuses to even try new foods because he’s convinced they are horrible.
Geez…if only I knew then what I know now…it would have saved me years of trickery and trying to hide the veggies in the spaghetti sauce.
Tuna Mac & Cheese (may contain carrots and cauliflower)
Age – 6 months + (just make sure that baby has gone through the first foods stage and was introduced to each leaving a few days in between to watch for any allergies)
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1 1/2 cups chopped cauliflower
- 1 can of tuna packed in oil or broth (120g.)
- 1 cup mini alphabet pasta
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 tbsp. flour
- 1 ½ cups milk
- ¾ of a cup grated cheddar cheese
- Peel and chop carrots and chop cauliflower.
- Place carrots in a steamer over boiling water, cover and cook for 12 mins.
- Add cauliflower to carrots and continue to cook for another 8 mins.
- Cook pasta according to package directions but leave out the salt.
- Drain oil or broth from tuna and place tuna into a food processor or blender.
- Add cooked veggies to tuna and pulse until mixed well and reaches a consistency similar to scrambled eggs. Set aside.
- Drain pasta and put into a large bowl and stir in the veggie and tuna mixture.
- Now you can make the cheese sauce.
- Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat.
- Add flour to butter and stir with spatula until it makes a smooth paste, approx. 1 min.
- Add milk and stir until all lumps are gone and milk starts to thicken, approx. 3 mins.
- Add cheese and continue to stir until smooth and bubbly, approx. 3 mins.
- Remove from heat and pour cheese sauce over pasta, tuna and veggie mixture in the bowl and stir until well combined.
- Let cool and transfer to freezing trays that will keep well in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can also keep some in a food storage container in the fridge to be used within 48 hours.
Makes approx. 18 servings. (1 serving = 2 tbsp.)
We can make it through these next couple of cold, dark months…all it takes is a little comfort food.