Book Review: Feeding the Whole Family

I started packing yesterday. I’m hoping to get a few boxes packed every day for mailing to Alaska, since we aren’t planning to send too much home, I think two weeks ought to get that job done. Then we are going to have a giant garage sale to purge everything else, then it will just be a matter of cleaning the house top to bottom. Which will be a daunting task.

Over our few years here I have accumulated a lot of books. I never used to buy books, I would just get them from the library. But while here, I made the conscious decision to start buying books regularly, sometimes even new, to show my support to what might become a dying industry. And to prepare for My Man and my future fantasy home library. His side– political revolution, deep ecology and legal strategy. My side– homesteading books, DIY, a complete collection of Wendell Berry, wilderness writing and cookery.

With that in mind I bought Feeding the Whole Family last year, instead of inter-library loaning it. It’s a great book emphasizing dinner as a meal for everyone, babies, children and adults. I would especially recommend it for anyone starting out with their first baby and wondering what the alternatives are to bottled baby food, and how to approach healthy food with growing children.

I grew up with hippie parents who just mashed up whatever they were eating for me. And yet when I had my own baby, I nevertheless had a panic attack about food rules. That first time around, it seemed so crucial what I feed our babe, and I felt intimidated. Brown rice and carrot purree were both straightforward and I felt fine about them, but she wouldn’t touch them. I struggled to get her to eat anything at all for the first several months. It wasn’t until she got old enough (about 1) that I started to feel confident picking through our dinner for the soft, smooshy parts. And then her desire to eat exploded! She loved food with flavor.

Feeding the Whole Family has a good section on what’s okay to feed babies (more than you think), another section on foods toddlers and children tend to like, and another on creating meals that serve the whole family. Most of the meals are pretty quick, basic, one-pot affairs using whole grains, beans and vegetables. It’s directed towards a beginner level cook, with thorough instructions. Although there are many different kinds of recipes, overall I would call the food style ‘hippie-asian’ with lots of tamari and sunflower seeds.

If you are still reading, and thinking this sounds like the book you need, I have a secret for you. Although this is a great book, I don’t need it. I have this kind of food pretty much internalized, and though I was grateful to read through the baby/toddler section, once was probably enough. So I’m going to give it away! I almost chucked it into the ‘sell’ box, but figured one of you lovely readers could get good use out of it. For the new mama who’s a bit daunted in the kitchen, this is the perfect book.

Leave a comment below telling me why you need this book. I’ll choose out the most deserving/desperate, and then pick randomly amongst you. Bear in mind, this is a used book. But if you are a real reader of this blog, not a giveaway troller, you won’t care– it’s in perfectly good condition.

Yes, I am going to leave this open to my overseas mamas (and papas?) because y’all rock and I want you to join in the fun too.

Begin! (Open until Tuesday, May 1st)

I Heart Coffee

Dear god is that some divine elixir.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet my daughter’s Night Waking. Yes, those words deserve to be capitalized. I don’t mean she wakes and cries out, needs comforting, then goes back to sleep (though she does that plenty too). No, I mean she sometimes wakes up in the night, as in completely awake, good morning, what’s for breakfast. When she does this, at least, she is usually in a good mood. But she does not want to lay all alone in her bed. Oh no.

Her Night Waking goes in phases. She’ll sleep fine for months, then have a bout of it that just about kills us. Because, oh, did I mention? When she does wake up in the night, she’s awake for a minimum of two but more typically three hours.

When she was a baby, we thought reassuringly, well, she’ll grow out of it. Then more recently I thought, well, it’s cuz she doesn’t know how to put herself to sleep (after weaning, Hubby would always walk or rock her to sleep, a source of some amount of angst on my part, which has just since late December resolved, and is an entire other story).

At any rate. I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that she suffers from at least some form of insomnia. Not surprising really since I did as well, up until age 24 when devastating heartbreak miraculously and unexpectedly cured me. Hopefully she won’t be cured by heartbreak any time soon!

And what does this have to do with coffee? Do I need to explain?

The Babe, having the better justification of being 3 months old, is no champ sleeper either and has been plaguing me with the Human Pacifier Effect from about midnight on of late. Last night, round about 4 AM, I can tell you that no one in our house was sleeping.

And so, that I could re-wake this morning at 7 am, on a mere 5 hours of sleep (in two separate and frequently interrupted portions mind you) and still have reasonable hope for my day and the world, is due entirely to my top favorite drug of choice, caffeine. Or, more accurately coffee, since I feel that there’s something else in coffee, some other drug as well. No amount of strong black tea has ever given me the rosy, hopeful, rising energy of coffee.

I’ll take that fair trade, freshly roasted, freshly ground, brewed in a stovetop espresso maker to americano strength, with a heavy hand of organic half and half, please.

Good morning!